Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Entering the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.
I knew there were wildfires burning in the
reservation, but fortunately, not on this section!
Even a major holiday like Christmas won't slow this blog down. (It's slow enough already, don't you think? The stuff I'm posting about happened on August 23rd!)

To continue on with our story, I had finally made it around the fire closure and was back on the PCT about a dozen miles up from where I left. It was a long day of hiking to cover a mere dozen trail miles, and I felt an urge to hit the trail as early as possible to help make up for lost time. I figured the fire detour put me almost an entire day behind my expectations, and a day late to check in with Amanda and my mom. I didn't want them to worry about me by not being able to contact them when I predicted I would.

So I left before Eric and Tracy even woke up in their tent. I could hear Ramsey poking around, though.

The day's hike was pretty boring--most of it was in the trees with no views. The trail skirted along the edge of Warm Springs Indian Reservation, and much of the area along the trail had clearly been logged recently. Some of the time, I could even hear chainsaws rumbling in the distance. Not a particularly impressive section of trail.

Once again, I saw no northbound thru-hikers. I did pass some section hikers heading southbound, and I warned them about the fire closure they would soon experience and suggested options for how to hike around it. I wasn't sure how applicable my suggestions or advice would be--situations can change over time, after all. I let them know that there was generally plenty of water sources available along the road walk so they wouldn't have to carry large amounts of water like I did, assuring them that the longest stretch between water sources was about five miles. All of the southbounders had already heard that there was a fire closure, but none of them had any solid information about the closure or the alternate routes. I wasn't even exactly sure where they blocked off the trail for southbound hikers--I never passed any trailheads that showed the PCT as being closed after I reconnected with it. The official closure must have been somewhere south of it--probably on the road near Olallie Meadow where I nearly left a gap in my footprints, and southbound hikers were expected to walk out on the road like I did.
The views all day pretty much looked
like this. It wasn't very interesting.

At the end of the day, I set up camp directly on the trail, on a steep slope with an incredible overlook of Mount Hood. After sunset, once it started getting dark, I could even see the lights of Timberline Lodge and, presumably, the headlights of a snowcat grooming the snow field above the lodge. Timberline Lodge is the only ski area in North America that offers skiing year-round. Late August, and the ski slopes are still open! Incredible!

The overlook was also the first place I could finally use my cell phone, so I called Amanda and my mom to tell them about my fire detour and not to worry since I was well past it now and all was well. 

Because so little happened this day and there's so little to write about, I'm going to talk a little about my diet on the trail. =) Breakfast would usually consist of cereal, while dinner usually consisted of Hamburger Helper or mac and cheese, or some other easily prepared meal that can be thrown in a pot and heated. Neither of those have changed much in all of the long-distance hikes I've done.

For lunch, I'd usually eat various snacks throughout the day, and that has had some significant changes with every hike. On previous hikes, Pop Tarts were a usual staple. On the PCT, I started carrying Pop Tarts, but by Warner Springs--a mere 100 miles into the hike--I grew to loath them and hadn't had a single Pop Tart since then. That's right--over 2,000 miles of hiking without eating a single Pop Tart! Incredible! =)

But I still needed to eat. On the Florida Trail, I started eating a particularly large number of M&Ms, and I was still eating those, but I had grown a little tired of them as well and started adding more Skittles to the mix. But then I started growing tired of the Skittles until I started buying several different flavors of them and mixing the multiple flavors together. The one downside of Skittles is that I could never eat them early in the morning. It was too cold, and chewing them felt like eating rocks if the temperature was cold. When I did eat them early in the morning, I'd sometimes just suck on them for a minute or so before I started chewing them to give them a chance to warm up first.
A creek crossing. I loved drinking this water. =)

The other candy I started eating on a pretty regular basis were Jelly Bellies. I know exactly why I never ate these in any large quantities on earlier hikes--they're so darned expensive compared to other candy options!--but I always enjoyed them. Now that I had a fairly stable income from Atlas Quest, even while hiking, I threw caution to the wind and splurged on Jelly Bellies every opportunity I could. They weren't as prevalent as Skittles. In many of the smaller towns I couldn't get Jelly Bellies, but I'd try. They had a couple of other advantages over Skittles. Early in the morning when it was cold, they didn't feel like rocks in my mouth. I could actually chew them! =) I also liked the fact that there were dozens of flavors in every bag. The sheer variety of flavors kept my interest longer than the relatively few Skittle flavors. The one flavor of Jelly Belly I did not like at all was the black licorice. I'd pop a mouth full of Jelly Bellies and if there was even one of those in it, it would ruin the whole bunch. I started picking out the black Jelly Bellies. I'd eventually eat them anyhow--I paid for them and carried them all this distance, and I wasn't about to dump them out on the ground--but I'd pop a mouthful of that one flavor. Which I didn't enjoy, but then I'd follow it up with a mouthful of flavors I did like. =) The Jelly Bellies also seemed to fill me up better than Skittles did. I'd eat a bag of Skittles and still feel hungry a half hour later. Jelly Bellies seemed to have more punch in them and filled me up better.

Because of the hardness of the Skittles early in the morning, I tended to follow a pattern that I'd eat Jelly Bellies before noon, then eat Skittles the rest of the afternoon.
A stroll in the woods.... You can't tell
in this photo, but perhaps a 100 feet
off the trail, the area was clear cut.

I also started carrying Wheat Thins on a pretty regular basis whenever I left town. Wheat Thins are brittle, though, so I usually put them in a ZipLock bag and put them in a pocket on the outside of my pack, near the top, where they wouldn't get mooshed up. And that would be the first thing I'd eat coming out of town. Skittles would keep. Wheat Thins would not. They held up remarkably well, though--much better than I would have expected.

And I became a huge fan of Clif Bars along the way. And I definitely had favorites and non-favorites. My least favorite of the most commonly found flavors was the chocolate chip ones, although strangely, I still liked the chocolate chip peanut butter variety. I don't know why, but chocolate only seems good to me if it's mixed with peanut butter. *shrug* And crunchy peanut butter was also pretty good.

Those three flavors I could find almost anywhere, so I tended to eat a lot of the chocolate chip peanut butter and crunchy peanut butter ones. I'd still eat the chocolate chip ones if that was all that was available (sometimes happens in those small trail towns that hikers can clean out trail food inventory pretty quickly), but it was my last choice.

When I had a larger selection of flavors available, I'd never take those three "standard" flavors. As much as I liked them, they still got old after awhile. So I'd try all of the other flavors. I remember biting into that first black cherry almond Clif Bar and being in heaven. Wonderful! Amazing! I'd probably have grown sick of it if I ate it all the time, so it was just as well I had trouble finding that flavor in most towns. =) White chocolate macadamia was also a regular favorite when I could get my hands on it.
This is an old trail marker. This style of
marker isn't used anymore, which is a
little sad to me. I kind of like it. =)

Early in the hike, I tried carrying Red Vines, but they tended to disintegrate in my pack over time. On a lark, I switched it Twizzlers. I didn't enjoy them quite as much, but I wanted to see how well they held up to trail abuse, and the Twizzlers were absolutely indestructible! Probably not a good sign nutritional-wise, but after that, Twizzlers become a much more regular part of my snacking regimen. 

Individually wrapped cheeses were also popular with me. They seemed to last longer when they were individually wrapped, even though I hated carrying the extra wrappers afterwards as trash. I'd eat those first thing after leaving a trail town--they would go bad if enough time elapsed. Skittles, Jelly Bellies, Clif Bars, and Twizzlers would keep.

And another common item I started carrying was hunks of salami. I sometimes carried beef sticks in the past, but after Tomer shared a slice of salami with me in Southern California, I realized he was onto something. The salami just seemed to taste better. Juicier. And if I was feeling hungry, a hunk of salami (or beef stick, when I couldn't find salami in a town) sat in my gut and seemed to digest the entire day. It filled me up.

I'd also eat tortillas, but usually not until several days after leaving a trail town. I'd buy tortillas for burritos while making dinner, but only after running out of burrito makings would I resort to eating the "extra" tortillas as snacks throughout the day. Which is why I never ate them immediately coming out of a trail town. I had to finish the burritos first. I didn't necessarily know how many tortillas I'd need for burritos, so I'd buy more than enough to handle the situation, then eat the extras later as snacks. Sometimes I'd put cheese or salami into it, but usually I just ate them plain. =)
This was one of the best views all day--
but only because they clear cut the
area around the powerlines. =)

Motor carried a bag of popcorn when I saw her near Lake Tahoe which inspired me to buy my own bags of popcorn on a couple of occasions. The popcorn held up remarkably well, but it would be one of the first things I'd eat coming out of a trail town since it was so bulky. Very light, but very bulky.

And that probably covers about 90% of my lunch menu, most of it quite different than what I consumed on previous thru-hikes.

One of the more elaborate structures marking a trailhead.
This was along Road 42, near Clackamas Lake.

A lot of people are fascinated by springs. "Just water coming right out of the ground?" It almost
seems like magic. This spring bubbled out on the side of the trail and immediately drained into
the creek behind it. Since I almost never treated my water, I always preferred getting water from springs.
It certainly doesn't guarantee that the water is safe to drink, but it's probably a lot safer than
water taken from creeks. Less opportunities for it to become infected with something bad.

Timothy Lake

Sounds like a nice place! I wondered where The Graduate was. He was far ahead of me on the trail at this point.
I stopped to camp at this overlook on the trail. I didn't realize it until after I finished the trail while
going through my photos, but this is the EXACT same view as the photo used in the
trail magic note from the previous photo!

A close-up photo of Mount Hood. You can see the groomed ski area near the middle of the photo if you
look really closely. Timberline Lodge is just below that (at the timberline!), but it wasn't readily
visible until it got dark and I could see the lights on.


Anonymous said...

And Merry Christmas to you and Amanda! Wendy

Funhog said...

Not only is your shot of Mt. Hood the same as the one on the hiker magic sign, have a look at the photo on the August 2007 AQ calendar!

Ryan said...

I didn't realize that was the same picture you took, Funhog. It looks like nobody can pass this particular viewpoint without taking a photo! =)

-- Ryan

veganf said...

I would comment about the lack of nutritious food...but I love Twizzlers and would probably eat a pack a day on the trails, LOL. I suppose it would cure my addiction in about a month by the sounds of it!

sarcasmo said...

Beautiful shot of MT Hood, thanks for sharing!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Very interesting to read about your trail food. You used to eat a lot of GORP and granola on the AT. I'm guessing that got old, too?

I wonder what it is about black licorice? So many people dislike the flavor. It's one of my favorite flavors and I like it better than red licorice.

So, did you spend the night at the Graduate's family's place? Would be a shame if you had not. Seems like it was a great place.

The photos are amazing, but after Mt. Saint Helen's exploded I just can't seem to appreciate the beauty of the PNW's tall volcanoes.

I even think it's weird to call them mountains, but I suppose if they were called Volcano Hood, Volcano Mazama, Volcano Jefferson, Volcano Sisters, Volcano Bachelor, Volcano Shasta, Volcano Lassen, Volcano Adams, Volcano Ranier, Volcano St. Helens (ad nauseum, because the West Coast is covered in volcanoes) they would seem more foreboding and people might take them seriously and not make their homes within the kill zone.

Well, sheesh! They should sound foreboding and dangerous. They're freaking volcanoes for goodness sakes! *rolling eyes*

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers