Today I crossed the bridge of God's into Cascade Locks, Oregon completing the 514 mile State in approximately 3 weeks and over 550 miles total.
Tomorrow is a mark of firsts..
A new state and a new set of shoes!
Most animals are seen directly on the trail. Usually I startle them and occasionally the startle me. Which is in close proximity.
I have seen a dozen deer, 1 steelhead salmon, 1 black bear, 63 mountain goats, 3 snakes and four separate sightings totalling about 14+ Elk:
- A doe and two fawn
- A couple bucks
- A single buck
- Group of 8-9 Elk
I startled the the bucks that were right in front of me, they crashed through the forest and across the trail stopping me in my tracks..
Any closer and I would have been trampled.
The trail plays with you physically and emotionally. It is challenging..
The part that I am working on is balance because I left later in the season. About 2 weeks after most South bounders(from what I am told)
I feel a little pressure as though I have to make up some ground. That I need to be through the Sierra's by the end of September. To avoid usually/potential snowfall that could make the trail unsurpassable. This also means more miles, longer days and harder on the body. I am also carrying a heavier pack than most as I have electronics necessary to document this trip.
On the other hand, I am travelling through some spectacular scenery and want to take it in, be present and enjoy my surroundings.
I have seen in some people almost an obsession with miles, speed and light weight technical gear.
Head phones in, eyes to the dirt and away they go - missing much of the reason they are out here.
I must admit I have had moments where I've been focused on speed and mileage and had a number of days over 30 miles (~ 50 km). I have also caught myself, and slowed down at a beautiful lake, and dove into the refreshing mountain lakes and rivers. Taken moments to observe wildlife, the fascinating views or even have a conversation with passing hikers.
Thus far, I have met some incredible people. Out here there is no status. There's no sports cars or flashy possessions.
We are humbled by are few necessities. Really just food, water and some basic form of shelter. And with this, I have bared witness to some of the most kind and generous souls in a long time. There is a generally sense of respect amongst us.
The northern trail is much more remote. There were days when I wouldn't see anyone. The more south I go this shifts, one because the trail is more accessible to higher populated areas and secondly I am starting to see some Northbound hikers coming through from the South who left back in March/April from Mexico. Many whom had injuries or skipped sections.
There is a growing culture and respect for hikers in the local communities and villages. We "thru-hikers" especially are treated with a generous presence. Hitch-hiking usually works out well into towns and at certain re-supply areas I have been given fresh cherries, nectarines and even pizza and BBQ chicken from a local fisherman.
This generosity of something so small or simple makes your day! After being in the bush or forest or mountains for days. These simple acts of kindness restore your faith in humanity & lift your spirits after a long tough day or week on the trail.
Tonight I stopped into a local micro brewery and ordered a beer. The lady tender looked at me and said
"This one's one the house"
This was kinda like a pay it forward gift from visitors who would buy a beer for a future thru-hiker they didn't even know. She pointed to a jar and that had tokens on them.
On the back was written: