Day Seventy Nine

Today's miles: 29
Total miles: 1719

We woke up this morning with wet tents from last night's rainstorm, so we stayed in camp until 8:00 trying to dry them out in the sun. It was a funny sight to see the tents of seven people draped over every available tree and shrub. While we waited we took a bunch of silly photos of ourselves posing in odd positions, what we liked to call the "band cover photos." Everyone was looking pensive and disinterested and even turned in the wrong direction, like Watson.

Left to right: Wocka Wocka, Honey Bunny, Bramble, Sunshine, Sneaks, Watson

When we had mostly dry gear, we packed up and hiked on. It was only nine miles to the Oregon border, and we were stoked about arriving. We had been waiting for this moment for 1700 miles! (Interesting fact: California as the crow flies is only 734 miles long, and yet the PCT traverses 1700 miles to get through the whole state!! Stupid switchbacks.)

It was a big moment to arrive at the border. There was a large group of hikers already there, celebrating and having the trail magic cookies and soda that Katie's boyfriend Bryan had brought to the occasion. It was a group I hadn't hiked with before, but we had been running into them for a few days lately. They called themselves the "Magic Schoolbus" and consisted of three younger hikers who all looked to be in their early twenties or late teens: Moonshine, Leaky and Sagitar. An older hiker named Birddog had been hiking with them lately, too, so we jokingly called him the "Ms. Frizzle" of the Magic Schoolbus gang.

Back row: Sneaks, Moonshine, Sagitar (behind), Giddyup, Watson
Middle row: Birddog, Honey Bunny, Leaky, Sunshine, Wocka Wocka (behind), Bramble
Front row: Treekiller

We stayed by the border for an hour, toasting with champagne and enjoying the realization that we were in Oregon! We were less than 1,000 miles from finishing the PCT! And since we had been hiking so many daily miles lately, that number didn't seem as daunting as it had four months ago.

As we prepared to pack up and hike on, Bryan proposed that he could slack pack us twenty miles to our next campsite. We agreed to this, since it would give us an impressive 29 mile day and it would be easier to accomplish with lighter packs. It was already 1:00 by that point, so we had less than six hours to do 20 miles, an impressive feat. We unloaded our sleeping bags, tents, extra clothes and other accessories into Bryan's car and then took off down the trail. Katie and Bryan drove ahead while we set off at a fast pace. I was last in line, as usual, behind Treekiller, but even I started at a 4.5 mph pace. Unfortunately, I couldn't keep it up since the terrain had a fair number of hills, so eventually I slowed to 3.5 mph. It felt to me like running a marathon, like we were just trying to get through a huge number of miles in as short a time as possible. We didn't take breaks, we didn't stop and joke together, we didn't fill our water, we just ran and ran and ran. As the hours went by I grew more exhausted by this trek, and I ultimately decided I didn't like slack packing very much. The best part of my day was when we stopped at each break and had fun together as friends, and today's hike cut out all of that.

Not only that, but the weather was growing very iffy. All day we were outrunning storms and trying to keep ahead of the rain and thunder. It never rained on us, but ominous clouds surrounded us on all sides.

By the time 8:00 rolled around, I was limping down the trail, hungry, tired and exhausted. But we had hiked 29.5 miles and beneath my exhaustion, I was proud of that. Hunger altered my mood, however, so I quickly set up my tent with everyone else and shoveled down my dinner in relative silence, trying to balance out my calorie-deprived body. I passed out shortly after, having barely enough energy to clean my pot and inflate my sleeping pad.

But we were in Oregon.
And that was something.