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M O Canada!

by Eric Gjonnes

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Article Summary:

Once we left the snow behind, we really picked up momentum. As I mentioned in my last article, Teresa and Butterfly began following us with the car in northern California. This plan had two possibilities. It could either slow us down while enjoying family time or give us a little wind in our sails. I think we struck a good balance there. Because we were "slack packing" often, we could hike higher miles in fewer hours, not to mention the carrot of seeing the family many nights.

This strategy sometimes became tricky, because roads marked on the map weren't always open or even still in existence. When a rendezvous looked questionable, we would add sleeping bags and dinner back into our otherwise fairly empty packs. The day before crossing the California/Oregon border we tested that measure. Teresa was supposed to meet us at Alex Hole Spring at 4:00 PM after a 28-mile day. It was hot, and we arrived two hours late, excited for dinner and cold drinks. However, Teresa and Butterfly were not there. I realized that either something out of her control happened or the muddy road was closed to traffic. Though snow was no longer a hindrance to hiking, there were still many large drifts left over that could easily close a road. I decided that we had better keep moving and really hoped that we would see her on one of the rough logging roads spider webbing across the forest ahead. As we walked away, I realized that there was a high possibility that we would be camping on the trail with no tent that night. I wasn't very excited about that idea, but continued to push on. While I was grumbling loudly, not quite to myself at mile 34, I spotted our little blue car as we emerged from the forest. They had dinner on and camp set up. Teresa explained that the map was way off, and she had spent much of her day lost. We woke up bright and early the next morning, (August 12) excited to reach Oregon in just two miles.

During the first several days in Oregon, we ate lunch with Teresa and Butterfly often, depending on where the jeep roads crossed the trail. The hikers around us appreciated this as well, because Teresa was able to help them throughout the day with rides, replacing equipment, cold drinks, and snacks. We began reading in others' blogs that this had earned her a new trail name of "Mother Teresa." She didn't really care for this, because it was a grade school nickname that kids would tease her with. I tried to explain that it was better than her previous trail name of "Jelly Butt," which she gained by sitting on Sunshine's open PB&J several years earlier.

Butterfly was able to hike with us for two to six miles at a time, allowing Teresa some quiet time while waiting at the next road. The three of us had so much fun together, and Butterfly did a great job keeping up and even leading at times. I was even able to con her into carrying my pack for four miles. Her company on the trail made the first few days in Oregon really feel like home.

With this steadfast support system, we were really able to start making up lost time from the Sierra. We hadn't had a day off in over a month. We were making great time, but by mid-Oregon, the hike was becoming lonely and arduous, with high 20- and even low 30-mile days. We hadn't seen many of the friends we'd started out with since the last 200 miles of California. We realized that the hike had transitioned from "happy fun time" to work. We did however, enjoy meeting many new friends among the "front runners" and seeing very familiar sights, while passing through our "backyard." We had several friends and family members come out to visit us along the trail as well. We promised ourselves a well deserved day off at the Washington border, longing for a "zero day," but we also didn't want to lose momentum. As we got closer to Washington, we became acutely aware that we would be hiking well into September. We had hoped to avoid this, as Washington is known for rain and even snow throughout that month.

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