California, just around the corner

Walking into Ashland yesterday, I caught my first glimpse of Mt. Shasta. It felt like looking toward home.

I have less than 1,000 miles left on this little walk. Here in Oregon, northbound and southbound hikers converge (including some old friends of mine from the desert!).

Nobo or Sobo, I think we can all agree—we’re feeling a little worn down. The pressure is on. We’re calculating and recalculating a per day average that might still allow the occasional midday swim or nap, or unexpected rest day in town, or low mileage day just to give the knees or feet a rest. For me, a slow(er) hiker doing 26, 27, 28 mile days means that I have to start early and not take too many breaks. I check at 2 hour intervals, am I on pace? Am I going to get into camp late and hungry?

Still walking around 7:30 pm…

In reuniting with my Nobo trail friends, we swap news on other hikers. Is she still on trail? Did you hear that he’s injured and off for good? So many people I’ve met along the way have left the trail for one reason or another. Those of us still going, we feel some pride in our perseverance but mostly we just feel lucky. Lucky to have dodged injury or misery and just be keeping on.

There are some spectacular rewards to this crazy thru-hike thing, like sunrise on the rim at Crater Lake.

I’m actively working on avoiding what I call, “head down hiking.” When you’re just focused on maintaining as fast a pace as possible and mostly ignoring your surroundings. Headed south, we’ve passed many a northbound hiker in this mode. Some don’t even say hello as they stride past, headphones in.

Sometimes you’ve got to focus on the feet! So many trip hazards in these lava rock switchbacks near the Sisters.

The truth is, this hike is short in the overall scheme of things. A mere six months, over in a flash. Stay in the moment when you can, friends. This one too, shall pass.