The plan is to follow the plan…until you want or need to change it!
Surprise, I’m now a southbounder (SOBO)! When I got cell service again getting into Sisters, I was delighted to get a message from Hemlock – where was I? Concerned about the already snowy and sleety weather in Washington state where she’d been hiking, she was planning to go south, it was just a matter of where and how. Wanting to hike with her, I was immediately excited about the possibility of meeting up even though we were hundreds of miles apart and neither had a vehicle. After reviewing our options it was decided to meet in Portland as we could both get there by bus and/or train. While food/resupply strategy is a bit messed up going “backwards”, in the grand scheme of things everything will work out. The updated plan is to hike south from the WA-OR border in Cascade Locks to Sisters, where I’ll head home and Hemlock will most likely continue on with her big section hike. This pushes back my itinerary by a day or so, but thankfully I don’t need to be back in Cleveland until the end of the first week of October. Surprisingly, it’ll almost be easier to get to an airport from Sisters – nearby Redmond or Eugene (accessible by bus) both have regional airports that fly to places where I can get a connecting flight back home. Regardless, the chance to hike with Hemlock outweighs all petty logistical issues!
As I write this I’m in Salem OR, waiting for the second bus to get all the way to Portland. This morning the western (toward the mountains and trail) sky looked incredibly ominous. I was very happy I wasn’t hiking out into that! In fact, by 9:30am it was pouring. Fully rain-suited up leaving my hotel to check out and walk the mile to downtown Sisters to have brunch, I promptly turned around and went back into the room after feeling the 40 degree damp temperature and seeing how hard it was raining. Staying dry and warm was more important than food! I resigned myself to eating some extra peanut butter I had – I figured I’d survive until getting to Portland or Cascade Locks. The Sisters Inn also had a very basic continental breakfast, so it isn’t as if I hadn’t eaten anything yet. By the time I had to leave to catch the first bus, it had thankfully stopped raining though it was still super chilly.
The quaintly named Valley Retriever shuttle bus was 20 minutes late, and I admit I felt a tad panicked after 15 minutes – if it didn’t come how was I supposed to get several hours down the road? Part of my anxiety was that the “bus stop” had no sign or indication that a bus ever actually stopped there! Probably because you have to reserve and pay in advance, but still it was disconcerting. Regardless, the tiny bus finally got there and I was on my way. Being driven through the mountains was pretty, and the trip seemed to go by relatively quickly. The heat was going full steam, and my head nodded, halfway to falling asleep. Why is sitting on my behind more exhausting than hiking all day?The second bus to Portland was delayed by about half an hour, but the trip to the city seemed fast. This was an actual bus (at least how I think of them), a 51 passenger monstrosity. Many seats were filled, and I was happy to have a row to myself and my pack. College kids, retired folks, and all manner of people (even another backpacker!) were on the bus. I had to wonder if it was because it was the weekend or if this bus (which runs several times a day from Eugene) was always this crowded. Ahh, the wonders of public transportation on the coasts!
As we pulled into Union Station, I texted Hemlock, and then “I see you!”. So incredible that this morning we were hundreds of miles apart, both on foot with no access to a vehicle, and we’re together at the end of the day. We easily met up with Heather, who had so kindly offered to drive us into Cascade Locks. We gabbed about trails and all sorts of things during the quick trip. As the day had remained misty and rainy, Hemlock and I decided to get a motel room for the night and start out fresh tomorrow morning. We had a great dinner with Heather at the Ale House, and then Heather had to be on her way. Thanks again Heather!
Health update: the feet feel great in the new shoes half a size bigger – but the real test will come tomorrow with a 2000 foot climb in the last 2 miles. Translation -that’s steep!