Day 107 – Here’s Johnny!

August 17, 2013
28 miles today
Mile 2130

The lure of a breakfast without end sped awakenings and departures. Food, the great motivator of the masses. I forewent any formal breakfast and was the first to begin the climb to temple. The Timberline is located high on the slopes of Mount Hood. Famous as the setting for the film “The Shining” in PCT circles it is much better known for its three daily all you can eats. I zeroed in on the first one, shut off my brain and began grinding upward. A religious fervor undoubtedly shining in my eyes.

Here's Johnny!

Here’s Johnny!


Insert twins and say, "Redrum."

Insert twins and say, “Redrum.”


At first soft pine forests, then, progressively, the terrain turned raw. Great ash canyons carved by glacier melt took over. Stride shortened as I pushed up old ash dunes. Dancing waffles prevented rests. Altitude gave way. Over a rise and there was Mount Hood. It’s snowy peak belching clouds. A pivot and Mount Jefferson and the sisters rising up out of a gray inversion and my past. Volcano row. Where I had come from, where I was going. Around the bend and there she was. The Timberline, built in the depression by hungry craftsmen, before incompetency took over the architectural profession. It was a sight. A pilgrim to His Holy.
Hood with offspring waterfall

Hood with offspring waterfall

Hood with friend on high

Hood with friend on high


I was formally seated in the beamed cascade room despite the varied offenses of my appearance. My waiter long used to PCT refugees was to the point, “Please begin,” and I did. The beauty was it tasted better than my limited imagination had imagined. After two hours I threw in the napkin. Veggie, Orbit and Greenleaf soon thereafter waived their white napkins in surrender. Our waiter fist-bumped us in effort appreciation. A running group noticed our starvation and offered bags of leftover sandwiches. We gratefully accepted. Lunch secured, it was time for a waddle around the Lodge to look for moments of Shining.

Came upon the Waylo Room. Ping-pong table and piano beckoned. Veggie and I had it out on the table, while Orbit played a series of concertos for background. The game halted when she consented to play one of her original works written when she was forteen. It captured the angst and magic of that time like nothing I had ever heard. More waddling. Raided the abundant hiker box. Took an aperitif in the attic bar. Stalling. Finally ended up on the front patio adjacent to a 40-year class reunion. Seated in Adirondack of procrastination, we prepared for yet another goodbye. Veggie’s mother and sister will arrive tomorrow and he will take a few days of rest with them. Good hugs and off, but not. A sympathetic reunionite brought over two boxes and said “cram as much as you can in them from our private buffet.” I love the timberline meal plan. Happy 40th, you’re all looking good.

Makeshift bridge

Makeshift bridge

Mount Hood up close and personal

Mount Hood up close and personal


Loaded down with meals, our leaden waddles moved us slowly north, the path thick with day hikers. Ant skiers moved about the distant slopes in August. The PCT at this point was part of a 40-mile circumnavigation pilgrimage of Mount Hood. It followed a mountain base pattern of knife cut topography up a ridge, down the canyon and across a glacial melt till it chose to drop away. There we turned our backs on hood and headed down. A detour to Ramona Falls and her allure then a long slog up to a new ridgeline fueled by the 40-year lunch. If you’re up you must go down, as the PCT is never static. By the bottom my knees sounded like jake brakes on an 18-wheeler.
Ramona Falls

Ramona Falls

The final act in the timberline meal plan was held by a pass, Forest Road, in the unrealized hope that a passing motorist would be providing beverages. If it is a pass, dessert will involve ascent. Early in it we passed under massive power lines that crackled with effort. As a kid once I had carried a fluorescent tube under such lines and watched it light up. Stopped to photograph Hood in Alpine glow and then moved on quickly, a cancerous Pac-Man in hot pursuit.

Hood chute

Hood chute

The sky blackened, the terrain turned steep and flat campsites turned into an Iraq WMD search. The hike marched past its 9:30 deadline. Tired and slipping concentration brought on the stumbles. A known campsite lay an hour away. Gave up looking as each side forest search took the headlamp away from the path, resulting in slowing or stumbling. At 10:30 we joined a community of four others clustered on a cold ridgeline. Perhaps asleep before rolling out the bedroll.

Main tentpole in timberline

Main tentpole in timberline

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

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Welcome

Day 106 – Attempting to find the “inner forest” – ended up just walking

Day 106
August 16, 2013
29 miles
Mile 2102

Woke feeling ungrumpy even though I had slept on a hump that left my head and feet equally dangling. Packed fast in a non-thinking rhythm that comes from doing it the same way every morning. Out of camp first and on my way. Tried to look at the forest in a new way but it insisted it was the same. So I tossed around old ideas and came up with old solutions. Stymied, I finally just walked.

The price of light

The price of light


Pull-up bars I can't comprehend

Pull-up bars I can’t comprehend


The forest had an industrial feel to it. Like a crop, it had either recently been harvested or was waiting to be. Logging roads bisected the PCT regularly. The wildlife steered clear of this agricultural approach. Came to a lake that was popular with Oregonians. The path followed the shoreline then turned up an arm. Unsettling to be weaving through so much human activity. Got run off the path by two mountain bikers, which are prohibited the entire length of the PCT.
Good irony

Good irony


Came to a massive spring and sat down for a 10-mile snack. Orbit caught up full of numbers and hiking strategies for the September 3 plan. She had been crunching numbers all morning. So involved with her phone calculator that she had walked into a low hanging branch. The forehead snap so violent that she was reversed and ended up walking south for a few paces. I listened intently and asked her a few questions about adjustments that would feed her enjoyment through the afternoon. I left her to it and returned to the trail.
An attempt to float the PCT ends in failure

An attempt to float the PCT ends in failure


Stopped by a southbound day hiker named Rob. He handed out apples and Kit Kats in exchange for conversation. Happy to oblige. Still at it when Veggie and Orbit caught up for their rations. Onto it and lunch after 20 miles at a spring. There I adjusted my hiking plans a bit. The result of which I was I was able to eat two lunches in one sitting. Eating to reduce pack weight and not for pleasure made this an amazing meal. Emperor from Germany showed up for introductions.
Welcome

Welcome


Another six miles and a highway. There, Tallboy trail magic beers begged for consumption. We obliged. Then Veggie and Orbit hitched the two miles to a Chevron for carry out dinner. I hung out at a picnic table under the shadow of a bizarre multi story pull-up bar and journaled. I worked long as the hitch back proved tough. American distrust of hitchhikers is pervasive and cemented by the media. Got in my work out, just as delivery showed up. We ate the bizarre combinations that only a convenience store can provide for dinner. It was after eight and still seven miles to go. Through the shadows, charging towards the famous Timberline Resort breakfast buffet, a full moon assisting our headlamps. After a few miles we came to another picnic table and pull-up bar combo. It’s charisma acted as a non-passable gate. We called it a night. Make up miles belong to another day. Asleep to the low watt glow of a steady moon ball. The whirl of Orbit’s number crunching barely audible.

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

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Our favorite Boy Scout troop in the world!  Ice cream sandwiches and whiskey.  Right on.

Day 105 – Ice cream sandwiches c/o our favorite Scout Troop

August 15, 2013
33 miles
Mile 2073

Came to with a Smaka story in my head. Lia, at times, wants to be a wildlife biologist. On her cross-country road trip she discovered a new species, a frog snake. She snapped multiple photos to document her find and started working on a name. Her description: a long, thin serpent body with a frog head and two arms. Its movement accomplished by the arms hopping the head and body forward. A sudden deceleration from scientific greatness with closer examination. It was a snake eating a frog.

Racial diversity in flowerdom

Racial diversity in flowerdom


Moved on and out. Thrilled not to have pushed on in the night for the scenery about me. Movement slowed as I tried to take in the meadows around and the lurk of Mount Jefferson above. Stunning everywhere. I climbed to a pass that put me on a more equal footing with Señor Jefferson. There, Mt. Hood presented for the first time. Riches. Down and across the longest snow section of the entire trail so far. I attempted to glissade (a seated slide down a snow slope) for the first time. I ended up with a soaked ass, 3 inches of forward progress and a grade of ridiculous.
Backside of Mount Jefferson

Backside of Mount Jefferson


At the bottom of the pass, I turned wrong at a junction. I came to a lake. A sign informed I was on Indian land. An Indian drum circle was in progress. I stopped for a listen. Lost is the new found.
Extremely optimistic young pine tree

Extremely optimistic young pine tree


Lunch View Lake

Lunch View Lake


Snack View Lake

Snack View Lake


Recovered the trail and pushed on to a lunch branch off to the Olallie Lake store. They’re a person (no name to protect identity) treated us to an amazing lunch (details not provided to avoid possible retribution against host). Many thanks indeed to you who will go unnamed. Left the store full of caffeine and ready to run after two hours of porch lounging. After 4 miles of hiking came upon a man wearing an official hat and carrying a large amount of communication gear. Are you through hikers? Our affirmative response was radioed ahead.
Our favorite Boy Scout troop in the world!  Ice cream sandwiches and whiskey.  Right on.

Our favorite Scout troop in the world! Ice cream sandwiches and whiskey. Right on.


Turns out he was a scoutmaster of the Baden Powell Service Association Scout Group. We rounded a bend and there was the troop. Would you like a banana or a snack? No were okay we just ate. How about an ice cream sandwich? Absolutely. Dry ice is the answer to your question. The ice chest logged palaquin style by scout attendance. Their summer project random acts of trail magic. We were their first through hikers. How about a shot of whiskey to wash that down? Stunned affirmative nods. And uncapped. Straight from the bottle. We had walked into a twin peaks episode. Pictures, thanks and farewell. My kind of scouting and surreal event of the hike hands-down. Definitely not repeatable.
Caffeine, sugar and alcohol make a potent fuel. We destroyed the last 15 miles. Cutting through air I slalomed downhill through pines lit orange by the setting sun. It was a good day to be alive. Then my left big toe developed a pinched pain. I ignored it in the name of progress and staying airborne, until it became too much. I stopped to take off my shoe and investigate. Didn’t have to. Looking down I saw that a wood wishbone had positioned itself on the front of my shoe, one branch under the sole, one branch over the toecap, thus the pinch. What a strange trip of a day.
Mount Jefferson

Mount Jefferson


Mount Hood in the far distance

Mount Hood in the far distance


The minutes before headlamp

The minutes before headlamp


Camp by Warm Springs River, arrival 9:15. No more two-hour lunches, a foolish vow. Set up to cowboy camp. The heavens began tepid weep. Exhaled and set up the tent. The heavens dried up. Exhaled and cooked dinner. To bed at 11 waiting for a tent justifying rain that never came.

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

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Day 104 – Goal: Border by my birthday!

August 14, 2013
33 miles
Mile 2040

Our remote camping spot proved unremote. Within 100 feet lay trail junctions and parking lots. Passing early hikers, intent on the trail, conducted conversations at alarm bell levels. Thus, we did wait. Nearby was a magic catch. I scored a root beer and a Mountain Dew to accompany my oatmeal. A passing trail angel in a robe generously offered to get us high. I decided to stick with oatmeal and sugar water for breakfast. I packed up and reviewed our night conversation to see if it made sense in the daylight of intelligence.

Mount Jefferson

Mount Jefferson


Numerology has entered the picture. Its denial would be troublesome. Its obeisance a challenge. I’ll lay it out. My lucky number is three. Always. Every team jersey I wore was number three. Orbit’s lucky number is three. We both started on May 3. We both would like to finish the trail in four months or one third of the year. That would allow Orbit to surpass her Appalachian Trail finishing time of four months and two days. Four months would be September 3. Which happens to be the day that I turn 50 on this earth. To get to the end of the trail and Canada by September 3 and my birthday would require us to walk an average of, you guessed it, 33 miles per day. Three countries, three states. Who could ignore this? We can’t, won’t and are going for it. Wish us luck.
Orbit's treehouse

Orbit’s treehouse


Three-Fingered Jack

Three-Fingered Jack


The path climbed through dead forests that provided no oxygen. Sad, but gifting a perspective of geology that would otherwise be obscured. Around a dog leg and the haunted crags of Three Fingered Jack Mountain. There is that three again. We passed under the shadows of his mangled hand. The power of a snow year obvious from the crushed trees at the bottom of avalanche chutes. A most beautiful of mountains.
Dead line

Dead line


The day cool. The past bipolar in it’s confusion between both long stretches of water absence and excess. Lunch was at the serene Rockpile Lake. The sight of water brings out my appetite. The absence also. Perhaps I have something in common with the path. Nineteen miles to work for after lunch. NPR assisted. Massacres in Egypt and plans to halt global warming by injecting sulfuric acid into the stratosphere were equally disturbing. Soon I returned my attention to the forest.

A long downhill was fueled by handfuls of picked wild blueberries. I approached a well-stocked camp with horses. Closer inspection revealed the horses to be morphing into lamas. I paid for the diversion of eyes with a severe stumble. The campers grinned. To cover up my indignity, I inquired about the availability of a gin and tonic. Unfortunately their mixologist was on break. However, one camper advised me that the upcoming stream was dangerous to cross. He suggested I would need water shoes. I look down at my only shoes and shrugged..
Oregon skyline without the trail

Oregon skyline without the trail


Orbit and the dark caught up at the same time. She hadn’t heard the beast that stomped and snorted through the previous night. It had woken me. I guessed a bear or elk or something from mythology. Still thinking about it when we came to Russell Creek and it’s milky glacial melt. The current was nasty and aggressive. The darkness pitched in an ominous bent. Upstream and downstream were searched. Patience rewarded with a doable rock hot. Happy for dry feet I immediately plunged into a deep mud puddle.

Packs heavy with lugged water we passed stream after stream unmarked on our maps. Pushing to possibly meet a friend of Orbit’s at a distant trail juncture, we ran into the demands of sleep, this time by a highway of water. Soothed, I reached for war, but my hand never made it.

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

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Leah, Orbit, Sisters and Sisters

Day 103 – Sisterhood

August 13, 2013
19 miles today
Mile 2007

Cheated death by opening my eyes. Some other day, I suppose. My coffin back to a closet with the light of morning. Juice was delivered to me. I was really starting to enjoy my space. I became reluctant to come out. My fellow residents encouraged me to come out of the closet. A big step. Eventually, with their support, I felt safe enough and came out. It was better to be out. I felt more comfortable about myself. A new day and a new start.

Live mountain over dead forest

Live mountain over dead forest


An abbreviated town day. Resupply, laundry, paperwork, mail, computer work and so on. The requirements of civilized life compressed into eight hours. Sandwiched between bouts of binge eating, (a nutritionist suggested to a fellow hiker that binge eating was acceptable for through hikers,) a departing lunch of sushi, followed by panicked milkshakes as the trail drew near.
Leah, Orbit, Sisters and Sisters

Leah, Orbit, Sisters and Sisters

But the real show was the 21-year-old Smaka Sisters. Identical to the distant eye, covered by tattoos that distinguished when closer. Mirror personalities when closer still. Two completely different individuals when they opened up. As they walked down the street they would silently bump into each other at intervals, seemingly to exchange information like the phones in the commercial. Descriptive words that could be attributed to one or both: musicians, profane, snowboarders, artists, wild, welders, risk takers, jokesters, knife throwers, partyers, and slingshot experts. Dressed to the hilt as New Yorkers, they drew stares wherever they went. Their unspoken response: You want to stare we’ll give you a show. I knew them for 20 hours and enjoyed their company tremendously.
Five of us, plus packs, plus all the Sister’s possessions for a move to Portland, were jammed into a small Hyundai. Various laws were humiliated as we groaningly climbed back up the pass to the trailhead. A sad parting beneath a volcanic observatory, and back to the cinder grind. Our goal, a second pass called Santium Pass some 19 miles distant. A late start promised a late walk. A promise delivered as the sun angle low. The path turned west. The sun so bright that I felt I was hiking into high beams. I had to stare at my feet to move forward.
Observatory of rocks

Observatory of rocks


The dark set in. We came to packs by the side of the path minus carriers. A mystery. A ways on, a familiar laugh carried up the trail. We hid in the bushes. Soon Ole, Track Meet and Slack began their pass back from a quick touch of 2,000 miles. We jumped from the darkness screaming. They jumped back into the darkness screaming. Age old human entertainment. A reunion. Some small talk and a real goodbye on the trail where it belongs. The boys plan to hang in Bend for a while. Orbit and I plan to push hard for the border. Barring unforeseens our paths will not cross again on the PCT. We all know this. It is the way. Hiking is not a team sport. Groups of independent individuals may move together for extended periods of time. But in the end, everyone must hike their own hike. Alone or with others or both. All alone in the end.
Unknown guardian

Unknown guardian


The dark swallowed us each as we moved South and North. Soon, our own quick celebration of 2,000 miles. And more to the night. Focused movement and the silence that it brings. The sound of silence broken by the pitch of climbing motors. A highway cross and left beer. A halfhearted attempt to climb away from the noise. A home in a field of burnt out trees. A beer and a bagel for dinner. And an internal combustion lullaby to sleepland.

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

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Day 102 – I try out my new coffin

August 12, 2013
41 miles today
mile 1988

Up and on the road by 6:30 AM. A third-party cowboy-camped nearby asleep when we arrived and yet to stir at our departure. Jealousy at such a fine sleep. The sun circled up and started in on the lakes. Their steaming a reflection of a renewed acquaintance. I watched two River Otters play in the new light, their exhales carrying across the caused ripples. It’s good to walk in the early hours.

Lake tries to cool the sun in the early morning hours 1

Lake tries to cool the sun in the early morning hours 1


The path forward

The path forward


Crossed paths with Bandleader yet again. He is pushing to meet his father at the Timberline Lodge. A lost zero when calculating their reunion led to bad math. Which translates into 40-mile days as punishment, should he want to be there punctually. He took it all in good stride and strides well.
Broken top mountain

Broken top mountain


Wandered for miles through damp, mossy forest. Immersion in a landscape creates a permanent reality in one’s head. This is all there is and all there ever will be. An end to permanence causes a shock. And so it was when I broke out of the forest to behold the first of Triplet Sisters. The three volcanic mountains are fraternal, not identical. Can triplets be identical? Regardless it was quite the eye feast. Also on the new pallet were the aptly named Brokentop Mountain and Mount Bachelor. Luckily, the glue of the PCT suppresses the urge to leave trail and start climbing. The path gathered residents. Passed many day hikers, also multiple dogs schlepping packs. Two Rhodesian Ridgeback’s caused a bout of homesickness, being twins of my own. Then a pack train for horses allowed us to pass and then gleefully tried to run us down on a big uphill. The terrain pushed the forest back. A second sister made her debut. We forged down a wide glacier-formed valley. An uninvited lava flow had rudely covered about a third of it, the meeting point stark.
A lava wall

A lava wall


The miles flowed past like a boat floast on a lazy river. Lunch in a meadow cut by a shallow stream. Entertainment provided by the Pack Train’s arrival and refusal to cross said stream, much to their cowboy’s unsuppressed frustration. More float. We would easily make our 8:00 PM meeting time. The pace quickened as Orbit’s excitement at seeing her friends grew. I turned on a radio station, the only one I could get. It played the 60’s through the 80’s. Restored to my youth, I sped up in nostalgia of that faster time.
Orbit heading skyward through last stretch of lava

Orbit heading skyward through last stretch of lava


Obsidian chunks

Obsidian chunks


And then, when all was looking good, the trail turned on us. The float went over a waterfall. Into the lava fields we plunged. The last 10 miles were tortured. Twisting and turning, up one side and down the other, and forever crunching. Our speed butchered. But, oh, so beautiful. To see it, though, required a full halt. Eyes off-path plus movement equals trail suicide in the fields of our Lords lava. Orbit was having none of it. It was reunion time and she pulled away. I took in the sun’s retreat across the landline of lava. Savoring it and the trail magic mountain dew that fueled my final steps.
Obsidian falls

Obsidian falls


An emergence from lava onto a dark highway and alone. No signal to call. What to do but sit down to war. In the midst of a battle, an only chance, car. Aces in the back with a warm root beer and listening to Orbit and her friend, Lia, playing the catch-up game. As always, Orbit had gone down a different branch, thus our emergence on two points of the same highway.
Moonscape

Moonscape


Diamond ground

Diamond ground


First up, the Town of Sisters. A saloon fed me a pork sandwich that I will forever be grateful for. Then to a further reunion in a hotel room in the town of Bend at the well named Bend In Hotel. There we met Lia’s identical twin sister, Logan, followed by a surprise out of the bathroom from a third close friend, Leah.
Everyone carries their load

Everyone carries their load


Two sisters await

Two sisters await


Departing view of sisters

Departing view of sisters


The happiness and estrogen were bouncing off the walls. Orbit was finally surrounded by females. Out came a banjo and spoons. Music flooded. I faded. It was after 11. Time to hit the town. I passed and bid good night and crawled in the closet. Seven feet long by shoulder width, it felt like a Temple Grandin hugging machine. I closed the door to seal the dark. My thoughts arrived at a conclusion. “So this is what a coffin feels like. I think I’ll be cremated on that approaching day.”
Yet another day surrenders

Yet another day surrenders


End of show

End of show

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

If you’d like to help out and donate, please click here!

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Scene of the breakfast battle

Day 101 – Long live leftovers

Day 101
August 11, 2013
33 miles today
Mile 1947

Thoughts of Jack’s parting words echoed through my awakening. “It is an honor to serve folks walking so far.” Right back at you, Jack. It was an honor to sit at your table. Left my tent lethargically suffering from a food hangover. Cockadoodlepoo as Ole would say, room for more. Crossed the tracks to the better part of town. Thought of the locomotive Veggie and I had beaten across our intersecting paths the other night. The conductor had tooted us but then cut his lights to limit our blinding. It’s the little things.

Tried to summit the mountain of leftovers, in fact we all did, but like all summits, there is wisdom in knowing when to give up and turn around. More fatalities on Everest happen on the way down then on the way up. Today was not to be our day to conquer. We left the summit for others and at 11 we withdrew and headed for the trailhead. Tammy, being her father’s daughter, smiled in triumph but did not humiliate the vanquished. It was good to see my friend and renew our ties. As I struggled away, I was immediately made aware of the impact on my knees of thousands of new calories.

Scene of the breakfast battle

Scene of the breakfast battle


Luckily, there was mercy in trail terrain. The path lazily passed the gorgeous, Catholic-inspired, Rosary Lakes. Each one beckoned a float of my bloat, but I stayed true to purpose. Slack caught up to me and we sorted through upcoming plans. He is coming up on his old stomping grounds of Bend and Sisters. His thoughts are of a couple of days catching up with friends and climbing. The pause would allow a reunion with Red Beard. Our meeting ended when we came upon Veggie, Ole and Track Meat already feeding their next growth spurt. Slack sat down to join the feast. The steaks of Tammy’s buffet not yet two hours old in their stomachs. Beyond my ability to grasp, so I kept walking. And walking.

Found my stride. On my own for hours with no recognizable footprints to track, my own plans began to percolate, then a familiar shadow, Orbit, caught up. Her lake rest had allowed me to pass. She told me her East Coast friends were passing through and could pick us up at the trailhead Monday night. This would require a push of 74 miles in 33 hours. Feasibility hatches plans.

Two good sounds from the forest today. Many trees had grown into contact in this area. Every gust of wind caused a rubbing groan. The other was the constant chatter of chipmunks. The sound similar to stepping on a child’s squeaky toy.

I lived on the fuel of leftovers into the night. Skipped lunch. Finally sat down after nine hours by a lake to attempt a bagel. The mosquitoes were having none of it. There, swarming prevented even a bag opening. So be it. Kept pressing. At 9:30 we called it. 10 1/2 hours, 33 miles and still fueled by the Dean Family generosity. A little soup, a big war and a day brightened by an old friend.

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

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Bar Facebook photo immortalizing PCT raid

Day 100 – Happy Century Day!

August 10, 2013
0 miles today
Mile 1912

Big sound screamed wake up, ever-increasing, ever more alarming to the groggy. Reached for the panic button to pump adrenaline and flee. Then the locomotive passed. The wisdom of camping 100 feet from train tracks a morning topic. Wandered down to the store for a bulk cereal and milk breakfast. Took it by the fire pit that had been taken over by PCT hikers, the heat of the fire good against the chill of an Oregon winter morning. Happy Century Day to Orbit and Myself.

The Alaska hikers, with their huskies, departed just as Ole and Track Meet appeared, their pursuit complete, and then my reunion with Tammy Dean, an old and good friend who I had taught with in Japan and who is now the CEO of a bumper car company. At times I have modeled on her bumper cars at tradeshows. This demonstrates either the height of friendship or a serious misjudgment of talent on her part. She came bearing cupcakes, toys, friends and the keys to a pontoon boat.

The friends were Martha and her three kids Alma, Sam and Jacob. Loaded up the boat as the sun suddenly showed promise. I was appointed captain. As soon as I figured out F, N and R on the shifter, we were off. Buzzing around the lake at full throttle with five bearded pirates made boarding other boats difficult to resist. Decided to spare the children from bloodshed and instead stopped and ordered a full bathing for the unwashed. Then Martha tortured us with descriptions of the menu at her organic restaurant. An oncoming storm forced a retreat to Harbor. There, my pathetic attempts to dock resulted in an injury to deckhand Slack. Leaping for the dock to end the hopelessness, he came up short. A ricochet. Blood in the water being part of the life of a pirate.

Jack and Sandy, Tammy’s parents pulled up to complete the reunion. No two better people live in Oregon. Jack is famous for having lived to tell about a chainsaw that pierced through his stomach and out his back. They had brought 18% of a supermarket and every form of portable barbecue that exists. His simple challenge “you can’t eat it all.” “But we can,” the collective response. It was on.
Dau 100_Old-school bridge
An umbrella tent went up, for the rain came down. Steaks came and went. Ole tried to regain his lost 40 pounds in one afternoon. A silent concentration hovered over the picnic table, and then a savage realization that the battle was unwinnable. Jack smiled as one by one his victims fell away from the picnic table. He continued to cook and gloat in the rain. A roll call of his victims, Veggie, Slack, Orbit, Track Meet, Ole, and Blast. Jack’s victory pose consisted of holding a plate of steaks and gently asking “room for another?”

PCT general meeting concerning average mileage

PCT general meeting concerning average mileage


Games on the grass with Alma and Sam followed and then a run into a supermarket for resupply. Getting caught up with radio station music put everyone in fine spirits. With multiple musicians jamming in the giant truck cab, improvised riffs on impoverished pop songs had laughter echoing. Upon return the mandatory face paint by Alma’s face design. The winter moon came early and the cold began to bite.
Action billiards

Action billiards

Bar Facebook photo immortalizing PCT raid

Bar Facebook photo immortalizing PCT raid


In search of warmth, we moved to the fire pit, but it was over its occupancy limit. So it was off to a bar. Warm and with three pool tables, we were good to go. People kindly ignored the target painted on my forehead, Veggie’s dropping ass flap and our general malodor. The bartender even took a group photo of the PCT raid for the bar’s Facebook page. At midnight, shop shut down and we returned to air that hinted of snow.

Back at camp where the conversation revolved around news that two hikers had broken the speed record for the PCT this year. A man finished in 59 days and a woman in 60 days. The man was supported while the woman was not. This smashed the old record of 64 days. Crazy impressive. But as I walked back to my camp by the tracks, meteors showering overhead, I wondered how many games of pool did they get to play?

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

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Waylon and Willie

Day 99 – Goldilocks meets Waylon and Willie

August 9, 2013
25 miles today
Mile 1912

Awoke to a specific destination. A longtime friend will meet me and new friends at Shelter Cove on O’Dell lake. The plan is to diverge from the PCT in six miles onto the Oregon Skyline Trail. Then follow it to the Cove. All seems attainable. Orbit, being the only one smart enough to carry maps on a hiking trip, set off first. I second, some 20 minutes later. At six miles, Orbit left a wooden arrow indicator and a section map. I left the map for Slack and Veggie and dutifully turned right. After a mile another arrow, I turned left, my Goldilocks imitation perfect so far.

A nag as I hiked, sign after sign I did pass, but no mention of the Oregon Skyline Trail. As the miles passed I turned my back on the nag. The trail was not much used, Orbit’s footprints were thus clear. If she was lost so was I, if not, not. I relaxed to a fate not in my hands. But oh how I wished she were taller, as I face whipped spider web after spider web. If it was the Skyline Trail, then the name was a fantasy, because the path passed through low, swampy terrain. Scrub pine and mosquitoes supplied the vista. The sky was up there, but never at eye line.

Atmospheric rainforest moss

Atmospheric rainforest moss


More arrows and twists and turns. I kept picking up breadcrumbs. To pass the time, I listened to NPR, all interesting until the presidential news conference. The big news was yet another wildfire threatening the PCT, this one again in the Angeles national Forest – 20 mi² and 16 Homes destroyed. Bearing down on Cabazon and Ziggy and the Bears I wished them spared. As I listened to the President come up with the incredibly original political idea to form a committee to study the problem, I came to a T-road juncture puzzle. Heeding Mr. Obama’s advice I decided to sit down and wait to form a committee.

As the last of my sparse food became stomach tenants, Slack and Veggie arrived. Veggie had grabbed Orbit’s last map offering. We tried to study it. The issue, Orbit has 20 negative 10 vision, so she had shrunk her maps to microscope scale. This makes the paper lighter, but unreadable to normals. The arrows had dried up so we were left with the postage stamp. I could just make out a black line, a red line and a blue ink smudge. I declared the smudge to be Crescent Lake, the black to be our road and the red to be our destination trail. Alternatives, none. I picked a possible direction and we walked.

A pine eats its namesake PCT symbol

A pine eats its namesake PCT symbol


More signs but no skyline. False turns and explorations. Arguments and doubt. A gaining certainty on my part that we were on the right track. The gut instinct I’ve learned to trust over the years. On a path we ran into three women on horses. They bestowed a photocopied map that had readable information. Then proceeded to point us in the opposite direction of where their map said Odell Lake was. I went with the map. Some more chatter but I was short and obstinate. A way I get when hungry.

And then they matched. We were winding through a horse camp and the map said Horse Camp. If that is true, then the path must be “there.” I pulled out Orbit’s map to cross check. Low and behold there was a tiny horse head. I couldn’t believe it. Then I couldn’t believe it, because I scraped it and it turned out to be a smashed mosquito. We walked to the “there” and, multiple trumpets, there began the path to Odell Lake. Orbit signaled approval of our arrival by leaving another postage stamp on the trail post. And of course, still no Skyline Trail sign. I think Oregon disowned their skyline.

I strapped on the headphones, cranked up NPR, and jammed down the highway to hotdogs. I listened to a long discussion about top female corporate execs leaving the corporate world to raise a family, and changing their mind and the difficulty of reentering. I shuttered with pleasure at my avoidance of the hooks of a corporate life. The stories stacked up, as did the miles. My attention diverted from starvation. The path left the swamps and turned down into a fantastic gorge. The falling stream crashed through the headphones. Rainforest thickened and moss hung theatrically. What skyline there was withdrew. I closed in on dogs.

Waylon and Willie

Waylon and Willie


And then Orbit under a tree with a proper six pack of beer and a beeline to the store, the hotdog even bigger than my inflated imagination, followed by everything else edible in the store.

The night turned grey and cold. Oregon summer weather. The forecast miserable. My friend to arrive tomorrow. A big group fire was going on. I drifted over. A seat was put under me, a beer in my hand. My chill lifted. Two guitars appeared. I listened to Lukenbach, Texas, through the sparks. My smile grew ever wider. Thanks Oregon Skyline Trail wherever you are, and happy 100th day to Red Beard and Slack.

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

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