Moving ahead through the second half of Oregon proved to be “prettier” than the first half of the state. At least, once I made it through more burned, scorched areas, and eventually I was to find out, Lava fields and lava mountains. The forest, when it was green and thriving, was coated with a thick ground cover of wild huckleberry bushes. They were Dee-liscious!
I was counting down the days until I would reach MacKenzie Pass at Highway 242, where my Dad was to meet me and spend a couple days with me in the quaint town of Sisters, Oregon. He would be flying up to meet me there and spoil me with all the good things a Dad can bring, in addition to love, things such as my resupply box, a car to drive me around for all my errands, and a hotel room with a hot shower! Whew hew, life is good!! So my days became motivated by my upcoming visit with my Dad and the promises of civilization. I was able to pull a few days of decent mileage due to this motivation and the terrain was becoming flat for longer stretches where I could speed up. It was nice to be able to make some miles relatively easily, and in less pain. I started to realize that thru hiking is really just a bunch of speed walking. This is especially true when it’s flat.
Oregon near Sisters is not only quite flat, but also the beginning of the land of Volacnoes. As we had already passed by Mount Shasta in Northern Californ, now it was time to enter the land of the three Sisters and Mount Jefferson up ahead. These triangular masses of Earth are quite imposing, and when you turn a corner and one comes into view, it’s really quite breathtaking.
The views became more stunning as I approached first South Sister, then Middle sister, but eventually the lava previaled. After all, this is the land of volcanoes, this turf has been shaped by massive uproars, melting, flowing hot lava covering up the trees, then cooling, cracking and pushing everything out of its way. It is beautiful in its destructiveness.
Fortunately, with aching feet, and fatigue, just as planned my Dad was waiting for me at the Highway. With cold beer to boot! Turns out Mama Lion and Boone were also there, finally I had caught up with them! They were actually just getting back ON trail, so we sat and enjoyed a beer together, and they were off and so was I. My Dad swooped me up and took me town town for a wonderful couple of days off in the town of Sisters. We had the best time, and of course, it went by way too quickly.
I was able to get all my town chores done and enjoy a nice visit. I particularly enjoyed the Sisters Coffee Company and we even went to a fancy dinner at a “fine dining” restaurant called Latigo. We ate very well. We visited well. We enjoyed our time. How wonderful of a gift to have family meet me along this journey, offering love and support. The familiar comfort is worth so very much!
All too soon, it was time to get back on trail. After a great cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich my Dad drove me back to the lava land. In a rush we said a quick goodbye, as he was tight to make his flight back home! I toured around the lava rocks area where lots of day visitors were milling about. I enjoyed playing “tourist” for a while, and talking to some folks about my hike. Out in the distance ahead of me, was nothing-but-lava.
Yes, I am wearing a new dress, thanks for noticing. This was formerly my “town dress” back in the “early days” of my PCT adventure, now it is my hiking dress. My lovely yellow shirt made it nearly 2000 miles. It was time.
After about five miles of pure lava, my feet were a mess. In addition to that, my pack was heavy, and by mile twelve I was positioned perfectly to make it to Big Lake Youth Camp, just off trail. I had heard this place was amazing, super hiker-friendly, and that they served communal meals for a donation, and they had free camping. Done. And Done. I made it over there by about 6:00pm, just in time for dinner. Dinner was incredible. A full salad bar, real bread and butter, fresh fruit, the works. I piled my salad high and found a cute little kids table with an umbrella to sit all by myself and be anti-social while I looked out at the lake eating my dinner. It was perfect.
After dinner, I scouted out an alcove on the lakefront for a prefect place to cowboy. I got all set up and I was the first hiker there, wondering where everybody went? Shortly, I was joined by one other section hiker and then a group of thru hikers pitched their tents just a little down the way on the beach. I positioned myself by the lake on a warm rock to meditate and enjoy the most spectacular sunset I have seen on trail.
The next morning after a lovely waffle breakfast at the Youth Camp, I set off for real, this time working my way toward Mount Jefferson and eventually Mount Hood, where I would be stopping at the famous Timberline Lodge. My feet ached and my pack being heavy with a full food supply, I just had to slow down, take lots of breaks. Turns out I was rewarded by slowing down. On one particular day I was on a long climb when the views of Mount Jefferson kept getting better and better. Or as Prince would have said it, “this hike is getting epicer and epicer”. I ended my hiking day a few miles early in order to enjoy this spectacular view and campsite.
I sat and ate my dinner staring at this gorgeous volcanic mountain, absorbing the great grounded, solid energy, admiring the glaciers and thinking about the time it took to carve out sections of solid dense rock. I felt the feng shui of this campsite was sure to bring me strength and insight. I slept very well, so well that I slept in the next day. I took a leisurely morning too, as I sat there meditating and eventually sitting bare chested in the sun, warming my back. As I sat there in the stillness, enjoying the moment so very much, I came to a place of peace with my hike. It was like a moment of clarity, but a moment that I knew would stay with me. As I have been so focused on miles, foot pain, lack of miles, foot pain, and ultimately making it to Canada, somewhere in all that it becomes easy to loose sight of the journey. “We all have more miles than time” I once said to Prince. So true, so true. I felt in a deep sense that this journey is more important than the destination. This time, these moments, are the reason I am out here in the first place. All I can do is get up every day and see what life presents to me. I am grateful. I am here. I am still enjoying my time. I faced the volcano and stood with hands clasped in prayer, with reverence, and just opened my heart in gratitude.