August 16, 2015
Large Pond after Mount Yoran trail junction (1907.9) to Irish Lake (1936.7)
28.8 PCT miles today
1979.0 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 3,355 ft, – 3,853 ft
I’ve got to be honest, Pickles and I are kind of impressing ourselves. We just looked back over our mileage since leaving Ashland, and our average daily mileage has been right around the length of a marathon. That adds up to about 9 marathons in a row, back to back, carrying 25 to 30 pounds and climbing up, over, and around Oregon wilderness. It is important to note that this has not been easy. Every day is a challenge, and our feet have cried out in pain, sometimes with every step, but we’ve realized more this week than ever before just how strong the body can be when the mind tells it it’s able.
Today was all about getting in the miles. We are definitely back in the land of lakes, and along with many of the lakes have come local campers and backpackers, a somewhat foreign sight out here on the trail. I have to admit I felt a little jealousy as I watched them cook up tasty food at their well-stocked campsites, float around on their rafts in the crystal-clear, warm-water lakes, or sunbathe on the rocks with a paperback in hand. I just kept reminding myself that there would always be time for weekend camping trips…this summer is meant for something more.
And more it is. By walking over 28 miles today and yesterday, we have covered enough ground to physically see our actual progress through Oregon. Today we walked across Willamette Pass, and as we hiked along a ridge just east of Waldo Lake I remembered with nostalgia my time spent in the area working as a wilderness therapist. Each time we glimpse the Sisters, Pickles is brought back to his multiple climbs and camping trips with some of his best friends. Even though Tahoe is our home now, we have both spent significantly more time exploring the wilds of Oregon, and it feels great to be back.
We took a lovely lunch break at Bobby Lake, and it was incredibly tempting to not splash around in the water and call it a day after only doing 16 miles. When we started back out, I was feeling especially irritable and unmotivated. I was sick and tired or being sore and tired and all I wanted was to go back to that big blue lake and spend the rest of the summer right on its shores. Fortunately, I’m not in this alone, and Pickles used his kindness and motivation to keep me going. But the fact of the matter is, no matter how I may have “felt”, there was simply no way I was going to stop hiking short of our day’s goal. Both Pickles and I always have the big end-goal in mind, to get to Canada before the snow starts falling, and we are fully aware that meeting that goal means meeting all of the little daily goals along the way. Once we have our minds set on a goal, it takes an awful lot to prevent its accomplishment.
So even though I didn’t feel like hiking and my feet hurt and my pack felt heavy and it was hot out and I was starving as usual, we still pushed on, Pickles played me some Dave Matthews over our speaker, and we got to our desired destination before 7pm, only 22 miles away from our pick-up location for Bend.
With the mind having control over the body like this, who knows what we could accomplish. Running a marathon feels quite doable at this point, and the challenge sounds enticing to both Pickles and I. Even things like skiing extra steep terrain or mountain biking up steep mountains seems more manageable than ever before. I truly hope that we’re able to maintain and utilize the strength that we’ve developed in our minds as we return home and eventually take on new challenges. We won’t always have to hike 28 miles a day, but in real life most days present some sort of challenge, and sometimes all you need to overcome those challenges is the ability to put mind over matter.