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Oregon

We were doing some 40 dull miles south of Mt. Hood on July 27 around 7pm when a strange man Tunnel Falls on the Eagle Creek Trail. Notice the hiker high above me about to enter the tunnel which passes behind the impressive waterfall. It's near the the northern end of Oregon's PCT. It's a nice place to take a shower if you don't mind getting pummeled to death by water.appeared, a man unlike any other.

He seemed to have come right off a tropical beach, yet was hiking an obscure, boring part of the PCT. This tall, lanky man in his mid thirties was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and tiny shorts that were in style circa 1972. His beige wide brim hat is more popular on African safaris than on the PCT. Despite his odd clothing, he seemed to be gliding on air, effortlessly turning a corner with his feet just barely touching the ground. He floated toward us, smoothly, and asked, "Hello. Where are you hiking to?"

"Mexico," I replied.
Maiu is fearlessly cooling off on Eagle Creek.
"Really? Where did you start?"

"Canada."

"Did you skip any sections?"

"Nope."

"Good," he said, "Can I film you? I am helping a friend who is doing a documentary on the PCT. My name is Scott."Left to right: Captain America, Meadow Mary, T-Minus, Francis, Maiu, and Billy Goat. These Nobos had skipped the Sierra Nevada and picked up the trail in Oregon. We enjoyed the best all you can eat breakfast on the trail at the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. They planned to skip down to the southern Sierra once they hit Canada. We thought we might cross paths again down there and we were right!

"Are you hiking from Mexico?" I asked.

"Yes."

I got excited and declared, "So the first northbounder and the first southbounders meet!" Only once in each season do the leaders of each group cross paths.Left to right: Francis, Scott Williamson, Maiu. Scott is the only person to ever yo-yo the PCT. That means walking from Mexico to Canada and back again in one season. In 2004, on his fourth attempt to yo-yo, he succeeded. In 2006, he did it again to shave off some time from his record. We ran into him around 7 p.m. on July 27 in an incredibly boring, flat section in Oregon between Ollalie Lake and Mt. Hood. After chatting for 30 minutes, we headed our separate ways. In mid-August he would hit the Canadian border and start walking back to Mexico, arriving there at the end of November, taking 191 days for his roundtrip.

Scott confirmed that we were at the front of the pack.

"I am actually trying to yo-yo this year," Scott said, "I did it last year, but now I am just trying to beat my record."

To "yo-yo" means to go to Canada and then walk back, or yo-yo, to Mexico.

"Wait," I said. "Does your last name start with a 'W'?"
Maiu sent her heavy and hot boots home during a heat wave, because she expected to pick up new shoes in just 75 miles. She bought $4 flip flops at Cascade Locks which did fine for those 75 miles. In fact, she even did a 30 mile day heading up to Mt. Hood's Timberline Lodge. However, the package didn't arrive at Ollalie Lake and so she had to hike another 75 miles in flip flops, including through snow fields around Mt. Jefferson at the end of July.  She was in pain. She tried to go barefoot on the volcanic sand, but that didn't provide any relief. She was miserable.
"Yes. Scott Williamson."

Scott Williamson is a famous thru-hiker. He has done the Triple Crown (PCT, Appalachian Trail, and Continental Divide Trail) and was hiking the PCT for the 8th time! He is the only person to have ever yo-yoed the PCT. He tried to do it three times, but was stopped twice on his return through the Sierras by early winter storms. He did it on his 3rd attempt. This year, by leaving from Mexico on May 22, he hopes to shave one month off his own record by returning to Mexico on Nov 5.
Barefoot
"So how are you doing?" I asked.

"I am 4 days behind schedule. I never filter my water and I got sick. I was out for 5 days and lost 20 pounds. It's been hard putting my weight back on when I have been averaging 38 miles a day."

That's an insane pace, especially considering that he encountered snow for most of his journey. He will average over 40 on his return despite the shorter days.
This is what your feet might look like after walking 150 miles in flip flops in six days. Maiu took a zero day to recuperate.
Scott had hoped to do Oregon's 430 miles in 10 days, but had problems with a mail drop and had to do it in 11 days. He'll try to do it in 10 days when he returns to Mexico. We took 18 days to cover the same ground.

"Why is Maiu hiking in flip flops?" Scott asked, noticing her battered feet.

Maiu hiked in big heavy boots in Washington because of the 300 miles of snow After an hour of scrubbing rigorously, Maiu's feet still had Permadirt.we encountered. However, by the end of the state, the snow was gone and a heat wave had hit. She expected to get new shoes in just 75 miles at a remote guard station that had no outgoing mail facility, so she sent her boots home and bought $4 flip flops that she could toss at the guard station.

When we arrived at the remote Ollalie Guard Station we learned that for the first time in 25 years they were no longer receiving packages. Maiu's shoes got forwarded to the next closest location - 75 miles south on the trail. That meant that she would have to walk a total of 150 miles in flip flops. Despite the pain, she managed to walk 30 miles day after day. By the end, Maiu's feet looked like she had fed them into a shreader.Squirrel enjoying the view of Mt. Jefferson and Ollalie Lake.

After talking for 30 minutes, we said good bye to Scott. Just as I started walking south, I turned to get one last look at him walking away, but he had already vanished.

Oregon had some amazing areas, including my top 5:

1. Crater Lake
2. Jefferson Park
3. Three Sisters Wilderness
4. Mt. Hood
5. The Lakes south of Ollalie
Three Fingered Jack was a tempting side trip, but not smart when Maiu was wearing flip flops.
The spectacular scenery was spaced out among some incredibly boring flat forests. The Appalachian Trail also had plenty of monotonous sections; however, they were frequently extremely steep. Therefore, while I was in Oregon's dull sections, I reminded myself that it is better to walk on boring and easy trail than to walk on boring and back-breaking trail.

We bumped into Ben Schifrin, co-author of the PCT Guidebook, just north of Summit Lake in Oregon. We ended up talking and hiking about two hours together. It was a special encounter on the PCT! He's brilliant and fun to talk with. I told him that the Pacific Crest Trail is a stupid name; everyone calls it the Pacific Coast Trail and it's rarely on the crest. He seemed to agree that there might be a better name out there. Even my wife calls it the Pacific Coast Trail, he confessed. I'm lobbying for the Pacific Mountain Trail (PMT).


We got through Oregon's 430 miles in 18 days, significantly faster than Washington. Washington took 32 days, yet was just 500 miles. The difference is because we took a week off in Washington and we had about 300 miles of abundant snow.

With Oregon and Washington behind, only California remains. Although we have walked 2/3 of the states, we have done only 1/3 of the miles.

Sponsor spotlight: Pristine

Just as we were leaving Oregon we met a young man named Ryan who looked like he had Death on his shoulders. I asked him what was wrong.

"I don't purify my water and I got some nasty bacteria in my system. It's been a really long day. Drinking water makes me want to throw up. I need to go to the hospital," he gasped.

"Where did you think you got it?"

"There are a few cow pastures near the border. I wasn't purifying," he panted.

Most PCT thru-hikers do not purify 95% of the water they drink. Most of the time the water sources are high in the mountains and very safe. However, it is a judgment call and when I am not sure I use Pristine.

Pristine weighs a fraction of a water filter and doesn't have the nasty taste or side-effects of iodine. Its two part solution results in chlorine dioxide, which is safe and used by municipalities.

Find out more at: http://www.pristine.ca. Crater Lake National Park in Oregon was one of the most spectacular sights on the PCT. No picture does it justice.

 

This panorama of the Three Sisters Wilderness in Oregon shows off the South Sister. I wanted to climb it, but we would have been descending it in the darkness. I'm walking with my umbrella at my regular pace of under three miles per hour. As slow as that is, Washington and Oregon went by so quickly.

 

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