Sun 8/7, Day 97, 31 miles, mile 1802

I could easily sum up today in one word – blowdowns. We were hoping to put in a big day so we started out at 5:30. Right out of camp, with headlamps on, we hit our first blowdown. Blowdowns are trees that have blown down across the trail. Some you can step over. Others you have to walk around, climb over, climb through, duck under, or crawl under. We did plenty of all the above.

They went on for almost 21 miles! Late morning I took a count of how many we ran into in 1 mile: 128! And that didn’t count the blowdowns on the trails around the blowdowns. Even if that sample was a little heavy, there were at least 100 per mile, giving us over 2000 blowdowns for the day! I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like a group of giants started a game of pickup sticks and just walked away. We figured we had to walk around half of them. At an average of 20′ per walk-around, that totals 4 miles of just walking around blowdowns. As exhausting as it was for me, it was worse for 5’2″ DC, who had to climb over many trees I could just step over.

Water has also become an issue. From camp, we had 10 miles to water. From there it was 15 miles to the next water. And from there, it is 20 miles to the next water, at Mazama Village at Crater Lake. So we are carrying more water than we have in quite a while. At 2.2 pounds/liter, it adds up quickly.

A quick update on my friends. Mountain Man is doing well and is expecting to be near Ashland 8/8 or 8/9. Gazelle had hiked ahead to meet some friends in Ashland and she will meet up with Mountain Man there. Beardoh! came down with an illness that caused him to retreat and find a doctor in Mt. Shasta. He is better and he and Sweet Pea are back on trail. XC is blazing ahead and is about a week in front of us, on schedule to finish on his 30th birthday: August 30. Lid is somewhere between XC and us. Tiptoe and Weta are one day in front of us. Billie is still off trail but headed to Colorado to hike with Jess on the CDT.

I’ll close today’s blog with a little poem entitled, “Ode to a Blown Down Tree”. It’s not long enough to be an ode, but my publisher has me on a tight deadline. For those keeping score at home, you can add poet to the the growing list of things Proton does poorly: storytelling, singing and dancing. Don’t worry, these will all go into remission when I get off trail.

It once stood tall, its stature was great
A big wind came along and sealed its fate

It blocks the trail, it’s nature’s way
Of telling hikers, turn back, go away.

Try to pass and it puts up a fight
It cuts, it pokes, it jabs with all its might

It rips your clothing and tears at your pack
It grabs you and refuses to give you back

But press on we must, for with Canada we have a date.
If it doesn’t let go soon, we’re going to be late.

The simple walk-around blowdown

The climb-over blowdown

The duck-under blowdown

The crawl-under blowdown

The pommel-horse blowdown (note the Olympic theme, in keeping with current events)

The how-am-I-going-to-get-through-this-mess blowdown (DC is in there somewhere)

One token scenery picture of Mt. McLoughlin because I loved the clouds. We haven’t seen pretty clouds in a while.


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