Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oregon

The other day we just crossed our 2,000 mile mark! That was very exciting! After walking 2,000 mile you'd think there might be a couple of trumpets and a cheering crowd. Sure, we've got 660 miles of the trail left and all of Washington, but walking a distance 5 times as long as most European countries seems like a notable event to me. Yet the only cheer we heard was that of the birds as they chirped out their usual songs and the only banner we got was a small rock pile and a couple of stones layed out on the ground that read out "2000". We knew what those stones meant. They didn't have to say anymore. They didn't have to be written on an official forest service sign, or be carved into a plaque. Someone had just spelled out 2,000 with a couple of rocks. But that's how things are out here. No billboards or banners. No neon or flashing arrows. At best someone may put a few sticks together to make a makeshift arrow to show us where to go when the trail diverges. And when we left California, after 1,700 miles of walking through a gigantic state, we got a simple wooden sign posted on a tree that read "Oregon/California" marking the state line. But the woods don't often go by the rules of modern man. They are their own reward. And they remind you that state lines and round numbers are just a thing made up by man. Long before Americans ventured west, the birds were still singing and the trees were still waving in the wind, praising their creator. So, I suppose that we should be happy to be part of something larger and longer than the couple of years we've been around these parts.That's kinda what you feel in Oregon. You spend the first couple hundred miles from Ahland to Sisters walking through ancient mossy forests. Giant trees surround you and off each tree hangs decorations of faded moss as it flaps in the faint breezes. Through the thick wall of trees and the layers of green fern you can peep through and gaze upon either blue sky or misty gray hovering clouds. The sky seems to alternate. For a couple of days it will spit from overcast skies, then it will clear up and we'll put away our rain coats and dry our tents under the sun's welcome rays.For the first few hundred miles of the 450 miles of Oregon, the trail tread is pretty flat and easy going. Most thru-hikers are wlaking 25-30 miles a day here so they can get a little closer to their goal before the snows. Rose and I have consistently been doing 25 miles a day and walking from 8 am to 9 pm, using almost hour of daylight we can afford. Somewhere in the middle of all that, we'll take a lng lunch and laze around a placid lake and maybe even take a dip if it's warm. Once in awhile we'll even take a nap under the summer sun.Highlights of Oregon thus far:1. Crater Lake - this is the bluest blue lake I've ver seen. It is the deepest lake in America and the 7th deepest in the whole world. It was formed as a volcano exploded and then collapsed upon itself to form a 5 mile long crater that soon would be filled from form the purest snowmelt from its towering 8,000 feet high walls. There is even a little "mini-volcano" peak in the middle of the lake called Wizard Island and there is a ferry that takes a tour of the lake and drops you off to explore the island for a day. Crater Lake is so popular as a destination, and has such a draw as a natural wonder that it dons the Oregon license plate. We took the Pacific Crest trail around the lake as it traverses the rim of the lake and circles nearby Wizard Island. Just parallel to the trail, circling the whole perimeter of the lake is Rim Drive where tourists seeking views of the lake will drive around and stop off at one of many outlooks upon the stretches of marvelous blue. Rose and I were fortunate enough to have our friend from the Mercy Ship in Africa drive up from Grant's Pass, OR (a week before his wedding no less with a very hectic schedule). He picked us up at Crater Lake, took us in and let us use his showers and a nice comfy bed and then returned us to the trail the next day where we got to gaze upon the the sunset as it swirled and blazed over the Rim of the expansive lake. And with that we were off to see Rose's mom at Shelter Cove Resort on Crescent Lake...2. Seeing Rose's mom was also a highlight. Since she works 1 week on and one week off as a nurse in Portland, she has been able to drive down and see us a couple of times. This has enabled us to get a little cottage both times and spend some quality time together as a new family. Both times it has been super cool to conk out in a bed with comfy cotton sheets and eat real food that isn't Ramen or Snickers. It was even better to catch up with our mom and see what has she has been upto as well!3. The Sisters - these are some BIG volcanoes! Three of them loom at 10,000 feet in the distance and dominate the landscape for 50 miles of the PCT. Each of them is covered with snow and is massive, but each also has its very unique features. One is made of bright red rock and is quite obtuse with broad, spreading lines, while the other two are black and seem to have a more pointed, acute angle that gives them more of a "typical volcano" shape. The PCT never goes over these behemoths, but it does wind around them which makes for some very spectacular walking. After 200 miles of being surounded by lush green forest and being enveloped by mist on relatively flat grades, sudddenly we were transported to land of giants and we we were traipsing between their feet! The walking here is on and over several lava fields. The PCT carries you through lots of sharp lava rocks which make a consistent clacking noise as you traverse them and them rub against each other under the pressure of your foot. It is neat that someone took the time to make a level trail of rocks and pebbles where once their were only miles of sharp, broken rocks that would be hard to navigate becuae of their size and sharpness. After McKenzie Pass, we walked for miles over such a lava field. This felt like we were walking on the moon! Solid red and and black rocks littering the lanscape as far as the eye could see! Occasionally there was a small shrubby fir tree making it's intrepid way out of the piles of moon rock debris. One could only wonder at how such a tree put down roots and found nutrition in such a place where there wasn't anything remotely soft or soil-like for miles!At the edge of the field, when our feet were well ready to get back to the cushy tread of the dirt and conifer-needle trail, we finally stepped back into the woods and left the harsh but intriguing surface of the moon... (to be continued....)

8 comments:

Danielle said...

Hey guys,
Have no idea how to get in touch with you since I know you're traveling... and almost finished! Yay!

Me and Simon's wedding is in 22 days, and really need to know if you're coming. Hopefully either you can read this or someone can relay the message.
I've emailed you rosie with my phone number.. so hopefully you can get back to me in time.

I hope that everything is going well, you're in our prayers. So cool that the trail ends close to me!
Love you both,
Danielle

megan petock said...

Hey Ben and Rosie!!! How are you guys?!!? I can't believe how much you have hiked!!! Where are you living now? If you get a chance email me at megisinafrica@gmail..I'd love to know how you are doing!!!!
God bless!!
megan

Dana said...

So I was doing a little research and came across your blog and I think it's a great concept. It's nice to see that running has become such an important part of your life!

I work with Sof Sole and we are looking for bloggers who run, just like you, for a little feedback. For more company info, go to http://www.sofsole.com. Please feel free to contact me at sofsole.experience@gmail.com with your mailing address and shoe size and I will be glad to send some free products out to you. We would love for you to blog about your experience/reactions to our product! Thanks.

Kris Henderson said...

So, I been awaitin for a loooooonggggg time to see if you would post sumthin. Did yiz part wayz? Are you alive?
Did you have a youngin or what????
what the hick happened. I'z can wait no longer....
Your story is unended!

kizzy said...

Love your post..I enjoyed reading wishing for the sequel to arrive soon..

arcteryx

Chelsea Clark said...

congratulations on your achievements and posting your efforts to inspire us all….my elliptical trainer has not only allowed me to running longer distances, I have lost 30 pounds!!!!!

Ammon said...

I just found your blog, and I must say I'm amazed you both ran that far. You couldn't have chosen a prettier part of the country, either. But where's the rest of the story???

For all you runners out there, I found a place where you can get Nordictrack Coupons. I saved $80 on my Commercial 1750, and I love it!

Mommy Ella said...

Hi Rosie and Ben! I just found your blog and love reading about your adventures. I am a new runner, or trying to be. I was recruited to test a new sports bra that is on the market and now I'm hooked on running, but I'd like to try hiking and mountain climbing. Rosie, if you're interested in trying a great new sports bra visit my friends site @ www.coco-designs.com. Happy trails!