Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thoughts on walking north

In 28 days! I will begin a a journey that has been in my thoughts for years. "Years" sounds silly to say, but I guess its true. It must have been the summer between 7th and 8th grade, or sometime around there, that the romantic idea of a "thru hike" got superglued in my head. My good friend Matt, and his dad had a goal of hiking all sections of the  Oregon PCT before he was out of high school. Or something like that.  If  I recall right, my dad and I were able to join him for a few summers worth of hikes, and it was on one of those fifty milers  that lead me to the ordeal I'm in now.

That summer we were on the southern Oregon section of the PCT that goes through the Sky Lakes Wilderness. It might have been the third day of our fifty mile section hike, and it was hot out. And we were going up hill. And right there in the middle of the trail,was the dirtyist, smellyist, most happiest looking person I had seen. An older greyish hair guy in a dirty shirt and running shoes. Sleeping. Asleep, and directly in the middle of the trail, in our way. Like he lived there or something.

It must have been the heavy breathing, or the smell of laundry detergent still lingering on our cloths that startled him awake. After a quick apology for the road block, he introduced himself. I don't remember his name, but it is not important. He was a thru hiker. Coming from Mexico, headed to Canada. Three three and a half months earlier, he had started walking north, and here we ruined his afternoon nap.

We threw our overweight packs in the dirt, and before we could get out the fruit roll-ups to snack on, this guy had pulled his pack apart to show us all of his cool gear. He was very eager to talk, I think he may have been a bit lonely, but we, or maybe just I, was excited to see how some one walking this distance could be living out of such a tiny pack. His pack was less than half the size of mine. He wore running shoes. his stove was made out of a Pepsi can. The only pants he had were rain pants that looked like they were made of paper.  AMAZING! He told us where we could read about other thru hikers, and gear, and how to plan for our thru hikes.

Before that, I had never even considered a hiking trip longer than 10 days. This was great! We finished our snacks, and heard more stories of the trail. When we left, we continued south, in the direction of the car, only 13 miles away, which would take us a day and a half. The tennis-shoe wearing thru hiker went north, closer with each step to his goal, walking at least three times more miles than we did that August day.
A sweet spot on my Oregon sectin hike. Mt. Washington, Three Finger Jack, and Mt. Jefferson
to the north.

So lots of time passed and the dream has continued to linger. I had a hope of thru hiking in 2008. My lack of planning, and training, and funding, led me from a 5 month hike to a 3 week, 500 mile practice hike. Walking the Oregon section of the PCT was a long distance hiking sampler. Turns out walking is hard, and sometimes lonely, and there's lots of mosquitoes. and it was one of the best experiences I have had. Nearly every thought in my brain since then has been of this thru hike.
I have spent the last six months planning and training and dreaming and passing the time. So now I sit here with under a month until I actually get to do it.

I feel very excited. And very nervous. And I think feel sure and unsure at the same time. I guess I cant quite describe what I'm feeling with 28 days left at home.

couple links to enjoy:

Robert from Robert's Northwest Surf Boards and Pura Vida Surf Shop (my surfing sponsor) just got me some killer shirts to hike in. pvsurfshop.com

And since I just got back from five days of surfing in Newport, here is a clip of the smoothest surfer ever. Joel Tudor

American Long Distance Hiking Association

Spirit Eagle has some good thoughts on thru hiking. See the Thru hiking Papers

No comments: