Tuesday, August 4, 2015

PCT 2014, Day 108: The Tastiest Thing You've Ever Seen

DAY 108
August 10th, Sunday
1770.4 to 1782.4

The first line of my journal entry for this day says it best: “Wanted to get an early start but didn’t ‘cos tired!” We dragged ourselves out of bed long after most everyone was already packed up. We sluggishly ate breakfast, then shouldered our packs and found our way back to the trail.

The Oregon landscape thus far had been arid, but today it became downright volcanic. The trail was often a path of crushed red lava rock in between tumbled gray lava fields. Despite the uneven surface, the area was pretty cool! These moraines spilled between the trees, appearing on mountainsides like meadows had elsewhere. In the distance, we began to see volcanic cones, though we weren’t always sure which peaks we were seeing.

After ten miles, which we covered rather quickly, we stumbled upon signs for Pop-Up Trail Angels! Ecstatic, we hurried down the highway pull-off where they were stationed and found them with their mural-clad trailer, their pavilion, their picnic table, and their adorable little long-haired dachshunds.

Jerry and “Chef” didn’t recognize us, but we assured them that they had fed us well in northern California. We sat down with Mad Hatter and a few others and drank Crystal Light out of an old vodka bottle. The dachshund, who had last time been enamored with tennis balls, now had a new obsession: a lava rock the size of its head that it carried around, barked at, and wanted to play fetch with.

Chef made us another gourmet meal: salmon patties with homemade tartar sauce, egg noodles, and wild rice sprinkled with scrambled emu eggs! It was delicious in every way.

Thanking Chef again, we crossed the highway and headed back into the woods. The forest here was a bit closer and less volcanic. Thick, low bushes grew along the side of the trail, and we often saw Oregon grapes with their bright blue berries and dark waxy leaves.

Water was still scarce in this area, so Zach and I booked it toward the nearest water source, a little spring a bit off trail. When we arrived, we saw that Mad Hatter and Stumbles were already there and set up their tents, but there was room for another. We debated going further since it was earlier in the day, but then the overhanging clouds began to rain, so we quickly set up our tent! The rain slacked off and disappeared after a while, but by that time we were already set up. We drew water from the spring, made some mac n’ cheese, and sat with Mad Hatter and Stumbles, chatting.

Cool bark, lichen and pitch
Mad Hatter had been one of the people who had skipped from Old Station to Ashland, but he was never defensive about it and never let it shake his demeanor or diminish his label of himself as a thru-hiker. Despite my prejudice against people who had skipped, I never thought less of him for it— and I observed this odd standard in myself with curiosity. It was another small step in learning to let go of my judgmental attitude.

Stumbles asked us if we had been eating the huckleberries along the path. We said we didn’t know what they were. “What do they look like?” I asked.

“They look like the tastiest thing you’ve ever seen,” Stumbles said with a wide grin. “But that’s not very helpful, is it?” With that, she stood up and walked to the side of the trail to find some.

I went ahead and crawled into the tent; my stomach was feeling a bit upset. However, Stumbles soon came up and gave me a handful of huckleberries. They looked and tasted like tiny tart blueberries— the taste on my tongue after so many days of bland food was almost painfully delicious!

Zach soon joined me, his hand brimming with berries, and we devoured them before settling in for the night. Thanks to Stumbles, we had a new obsession— one that would happily continue all the way to Canada.


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