OR Day 1: 8/31/16

Oregon Section Hike, Day 1

PCT Mile 1717.5, 0.8 miles hiked today

I didn’t sleep well last night – not surprising for me before a big trip with anxiety churning in my tummy.  It felt surreal that I’d be sleeping in the Oregon woods tonight….but that’s the plan!  

Right now I’m on the plane waiting to depart Cleveland, and as I always do before long hikes I took a picture to remind me of home – today it is awfully cloudy and looks like a chilly day, but the temps have remained in the lower 80s and humid – the end of the dog days of summer.  

When I return at the beginning of October temps will be cooler and the nights crisp, the trees beginning to turn — ahh, autumn, my favorite season!  Definitely something to look forward to.  

After succumbing to the trail blues big time after my last long hike, I’ve been contemplating ways and means to be more resilient this time.  Happily, I’ll return to my business, volunteering with the my local Metroparks, and planning my next hiking adventures, both big and small.  Instead of wondering what to do with my career/life, I’m so relieved I have both a plan and list of to-do items to see me forward, even if it is overwhelming at times (and I definitely have shiny object syndrome).  The plan is to follow the plan!  At least until it needs to be adjusted – life, like long distance hiking, requires flexibility.  

While stuck on a plane for hours, next to a hyperactive toddler (who ended up being much better behaved after the 1st hour), I can obsess over my fears and hopefully get them acknowledged and out of the way.  One of my big fears is returning to that dark place of feeling so lost and alone.  Another is far more immediate and a tad more prosaic – having my pack be lost on my travels.  Unlike previous trips, I have a connecting flight and didn’t use my pack duffle bag as I’m going immediately to the trail this evening (thus no time spent in town to mail the duffle).  I’m trying to just relax and accept my loss of control over this situation – we’ll see how successful I am! 

I’ve had several folks recently tell me how impressed they are with how brave I am to do this – which has made me both proud of myself as well as a tad guilty for the praise considering how many fears I still have.  But not super guilty as at least I’m out here despite (or in some ways because of) the fears.  I remember how apprehensive I was as I began backpacking, and while my fears are different now, I have to wonder if any amount of experience and expertise makes fear go away completely.  I have a strong inkling the answer is “no” – everything that takes me out of my comfort zone is at least anxiety provoking.  

Time to adjust behaviors to a more simple life – keep apps closed on my phone to conserve battery life, rise and start walking along with the sunrise, and the absolute best – eat whatever I want (to carry) without guilt or regret.  

It’s the little things — I was thrilled to find that a Denver airport waterfountain that has the nice filtered “fill your bottle”water dispenser, and promptly filled my platy containers (yes, I was dorky enough to carry them on the plane in the hopes I wouldn’t have to cram the 3L version under the motion detector tap in a germy bathroom – which is a lesson in frustration).  Even though my connecting flight was delayed to Medford, it gave me some time to relax, eat, get the aforementioned water, and charge my phone.  

Another was seeing Crater Lake from the airplane on the approach into Medford – I’ll be there in person, on the ground, in about a week.  What a wonderful thing, to have this perspective ahead of time.  

Ahhhhhhh…..back on the trail again!  Despite my fears, my pack came through the airlines and across the country intact.  I’m glad I asked for a big plastic bag to go around — the plastic was torn slightly in places, but not my pack!  

John from Cascade Shuttles was waiting for me as arranged and gave me a grand tour of Medford and Ashland.  Since I’ll be becoming back here to hike NoCal southbound next year, it was fun to see the sights and get oriented a bit. I saw hikers in town – and the wondering began.  Are they southbounders? Likely. Actually – as I learned in camp tonite, there are several NOBOs still about!  Yikes, residual anxiety left over from thru hiking for them making it to Canada before snow falls.  

Even with the flight delay and stopping to get stove fuel, I got on the trail just before 4pm PT.  Considering the time change and having been up since 5:30 ET, I meandered through the woods a mere 0.8 miles to the first campsite.  The next campsite via Guthook isn’t for another ~5 miles with an elevation gain of over 1000 feet – and so my decision was easily made.  Ahh, the life of a section hiker, I love it!! My goal had been to simply get to Ashland today, so the fact I’m camping on the trail and set up to go first thing tomorrow is a big win.  My first OR campsite: 

Sensory impressions:  smell that pine!  Oh lack of humidity, I’ve missed you.  And lower temps in the 70s with a cool breeze, too.  Slighty Smokey air from a fire to the south, so glad I changed my hiking plans to OR.  So quiet even with the far off traffic from I5.  So few mosquitos!  In fact, not many bugs at all despite a bumble bee who was interested in my dinner and evening tea.  

Gear notes:  while I didn’t buy much new gear for this trip (see below in addition to 2 pairs of toe socks), besides my annual backpacker allotment of ziplocks, of course.  

1)only failure thus far is a ziplock (one of the slider ones – I’ll never buy again, the slider thingie breaks constantly for me, at this point I’m just using up an old box).  

1b) addenda: I didn’t notice until I set up my tent but there are several holes in the fly – ughh.  Not sure where they came from, but I think I would have noticed during the rain storms in Montana.  I bought the newer version of the Big Agnes Copper Spur not even a year ago, so this is pretty concerning for long term durability.  FYI, the only problem I ever had with the old version of the same tent was the zipper got gummed up – and that was after over 2000 miles of use!  Well, here’s hoping BA’s warranty/repair peeps are as great as last time.  Many I got a lemon?  I’ve already had to see a small hole in the tent’s mesh.

2) the new back panel (8 sections from a therma-rest zlite) is glorious to lounge on, so springy!  

3). I’m liking the new trekking poles so far, though they are so clean it’s almost embarrassing

Hikers met:  camped with 3 NOBOs: Hans, Nutella, ? and ? from Japan – ? Several NOBOs came into camp @6pm, with 2 staying, guess there was no worry about camping alone, at least for right now!  Of course, I’m tired from the time change and traveling today, and really don’t want to socialize.  Plus, I’m telling myself they’ll be doing many more miles per day than me, so will probably outpace me quickly.  In fact, overheard conversation about some of them doing 30 miles tomorrow – that’s not me for sure!  However, I did emerge from my tent to slap some tape on my tent fly as a stop-gap fix, and to eat pudding for desert.  My Asian neighbors have a small guitar and have been serenading me with songs for the past hour – some in English, some in Japanese.  Love it!  What perfect ambiance to watch the sunset :).  


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