Hiking in Oregon begins with eating too much spaghetti at Callahan’s and waddling two miles up the trail to find a flat spot for the night.
We think this is an excellent start.
And then, life is not so excellent. A full twenty mile day through the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument. We’re filling up water at a spring (really a drip). The process of collecting enough drips to fill up three liters of water is very long. Long enough for Backtrack to say “I think it’s maybe time you get set free”.
His knees. Have given out. It hurts to walk. Up or down. This twenty mile day which I thought was normal, was torture for Backtrack.
I’m not ready to lose my hiking partner yet!
“Well, maybe we can get you to Hwy 140, and out to civilization then.” That will give me a couple more days to hike with him and prepare to go solo.
The next day, its all over. We’ve slowed down today. Gone about 10 miles, and are again filling water. This time at a campground.
“I can’t walk anymore.” says he. And just like that. His hike is over.
We were sitting in some shade with a view of Howard Prairie Lake. I had been cranky earlier and was eating and ready to nap. Hot afternoon. Late in the afternoon. But I didn’t mind that we hadn’t gotten very far yet.
Backtrack asks me how far I’m planning on going today. I know he’s hurting, and I reply that it doesn’t really matter to me.
To him, the thought of doing 9 more miles was too much. He couldn’t do it. The Aleve was wearing off. The knees were saying ‘we quit.’
After 1700 miles, surviving the ailments of blisters, strained calf muscles, more blisters, aches and pains, and everything else. It’s over. We thought maybe now that we were finally in Oregon (and Backtrack had new shoes), that he would be done suffering from one pain or another.
After everything California threw at us, aren’t we in the clear by now?
We walk a very slow, sad walk to the paved road by the campground. Backtrack makes a sign ‘PCT Hiker. Injured. Home’. He asks if I’m gonna head back to the trail now.
No! I’m not just going to abandon him on the side of the road. Team No Hurries doesn’t worry about miles. Team No Hurries doesn’t leave a team member without a final celebration.
We hitch out to the nearby Howard Prairie Lake Resort. Connect to the world. Figure out to get him home to Portland.
Drink a beer and tell trail stories.
It’s a sad parting the next morning.
I rather liked hiking with my dad. (Although it was really me flying ahead and he chasing me all day. We’d meet up at every break and share stories about the critters we’d seen and gummy worms would be thrown (or debris, or other bits of food).
Who will I throw things at now?
Suddenly, I’m alone out there. Have to brace myself. Prepare my mind to hike and camp alone. There aren’t many people out in the woods, on the PCT, in September. Most hikers we know are two weeks ahead.
It’s about to be a very different experience.
It’s about to get Real quiet.
Yet, I am determined. At least one member of Team No Hurries is going to make it to the end of the trail. It’s that stubborn red head gene. I just can’t quit once I’ve set myself to do something.
We’ve spent just about five months on the trail together. And we’re still talking. (I suppose since our family survived the teenage years of Blaze and myself, and no one was shunned, time on the trail was just more of the same).
Goodbye to Backtrack. Mom and the dog will be happy to have him home.
The Dancing Lizard is just going to have a lot more conversations going on in her head.
Here I go. I Am Team Not Hurried.