It was an unusually cold morning today, not really that cold compared to the desert or the Sierras, but compared to the preceding weeks it was. I got going a bit before sunrise still wearing my down jacket and warm tights. That got me wondering if it just was going to get colder and colder the further north I got.
Some miles into today’s hiking I got to a minor creek, which was the first water source of the day and the last on-trail source for the next thirty three miles. The was a water cache in between, but as I’ve talked about before, it is dangerous to rely on such. To not carry insane amounts of water I instead planned to take a two mile detour to a lake and got away with just two liters. Great decision, as I quickly got some miles down with the low pack weight. I passed a sign stating that we were at the highest point of the PCT in Oregon at 7500 or so feet, it wasn’t impressive compared to the Sierras. Compared to Denmark, however, it’s quite a lot more than our highest point, which is approximately 500 feet. The views weren’t that great this morning because the smoke was back. It would clear up a bit later in the day, though.
I had passed Icebear, Red, and MacGyver a couple of times but I was the only one who went to the lake, so I lost them at least for the day. The water in said lake was clear and quite warm, warmer than the air, it seemed. I therefore went for a swim there, which was amazing! I must somewhat forgotten how nice it was since I hadn’t had one for some days. The side trail was worth every inch of it. Oh, I am sorry, I have been neglecting the metric system. It was worth every 2.54cm of it. Carrying my backpack with 4.5L of extra water wasn’t as nice though taking it slower made things work. I have taken longer detours for water and carried more water in the desert. It has just been a while since then.
While going had gotten a bit slower, I made it to Windigo pass, where the water cache was, there were also trail angels packing down their trail magic, which was of course a bit sad to have missed, but I wasn’t really needing some cheering up, so it mattered less. It would have been the first trail magic for a month or so and the first in Oregon, well aside from a nice homemade cookie I was given by some day hikers two days ago. I got a liter of water there so I wouldn’t need to ration and hiked on. There weren’t any camp sites marked in the app near where I wanted to sleep, but I was hoping there would be some unmarked ones as there were sections with flat terrain. It didn’t look that good though, as there either was too many trees or a lot of downed ones. I was getting a bit worried that I would have to backtrack, but luckily about a mile in I found a clear spot and put up my tent. There was much better progress today than yesterday, but then again, there was no Crater Lake.
One thing that I have noticed here in Oregon is their big ants. I’ve seen them before in California, but not as many as here. They’re about 2.5 cm long but luckily don’t seem to bite. They are so large that I can hear their individual footsteps when they crawl on top of my tent. I have had them crawl up my shirt twice. While that isn’t a very nice sensation, nothing bad has come of it. A slightly irritating thing is when you put your backpack or anything else down and they crawl all over it and you then get it into your tent and have to export them when they crawl out of their hiding spots. Did that with two dozen or so today.
Some days a lot of things happen on trail and/or it might be a day that look like many others. Today was, as you can see, of the latter type. Such days leaves me pondering about all kinds of questions and, well, food. One of such questions is “why am I doing this?”, but not (at least as of yet) in the “why the heck am I putting myself through this?” – kind of way. I think there is not a single simple factor that can explain this. Is it simply a rite of passage or me wanting to prove something to myself or others? Is it in some ways like running a marathon? Slightly, I think. It would certainly be cool to be able to say that I have walked from Mexico to Canada, if things go well. I don’t think its my major motivation, though. Am I looking for a transformative experience that will give me insight or solutions to the problems of my life as it was before I started this? Am I hoping to grow as a person or gain a better understanding of who and what I am? As a person with a rather rational and slightly cynical mindset don’t think either of these scenarios are very likely, but it would be an added bonus. Is it simply because I enjoy hiking? I certainly have enjoyed it prior to setting out on the PCT and still enjoy it most of the time. Some sections of the trail are bound to be less interesting than other, but because you hike so long distances you get to places that other people won’t see due to the remoteness and it won’t be over crowded. Still I don’t think the hiking alone is the main reason. Instead it might be the sense of adventure and the experiences that comes with it. It is going on a long journey with some kind of purpose behind every step. It is also not knowing what each day will bring. Like when you go on a vacation and see and do things that you have planned ahead, which are nice, but then you also have a lot of unexpected stuff happening as you might have seen from this blog. These might be positive or negative but almost always are stories you look back on later.
Regardless of the complex nature of my motivation, there are certainly still some way to go and still many things I look forward to.
This days miles: 1849-1880