It’s been 3 weeks, and I’m finally getting to catch up on the blog. I’m excited to reflect on my Pacific Crest Trail adventure, and share it with you!
Getting to Portland:
I chose to pack my gear in my large North Face rolling suitcase (it barely fit, due to having a lens rental box, and Cole’s new Altra shoes). Then I brought a backpack as a carry-on. I was grumpy with the kiddos that day (we had the worst trip to the YMCA pool together, where everything went wrong, and I was starting to stress about my trip, cuz that’s what I do!)
My flight was at 6 PM out of Greensboro. Arrived at 4, because of course, I have to be early. As soon as I got through security, brother texts me that his flight is cancelled and rescheduled for the next morning! Then my flight gets delayed, but not too bad. I was still going to make my connection in Charlotte. Had Starbucks and jammed to new songs, then booked a hotel using my Marriott points for that night in Portland. So far, so good!
Flight to Charlotte was fast, but a bit of turbulence that made my stomach drop. Flight to Portland left at 8, and I arrived after 7:15, so I hurried to the gate in a different terminal. Next to the gate, I quickly grabbed a $10 dry-as-hell sandwich from a slim-pickins kiosk, and kicked myself for not bringing more food from home.
I lucked out and had no one in the middle seat (I had the aisle), so I put my backpack under the middle seat so I had leg room. The girl next to me was quite amusing—she sat down, and promptly unloaded a book, magazine, several journals/notebooks, water bottle, etc into the empty seat. Each time I looked up she was doing something different: reading, or writing in a notebook. I just had to laugh to myself at how busy she was on a night flight.
I felt so excited and giddy to be getting on my journey, and my music felt especially powerful and meaningful to me. This is my first solo, non-business, trip in a very, VERY long time! Too bad my glee would be short-lived. Disaster struck as I was drifting off, around 9 PM…
The one(ish)-year-old kid (cute as a bugger too!) in front on me started screaming bloody murder for about an hour and a half (of the 5 hour flight). My only thought: “My earplugs are in my suitcase, in the belly of the plane… how lovely.”
Each time I would drift off… he would scream again.
I somehow managed to get a bit of sleep, and we landed around 10:30 PM in Portland. Suitcase took awhile to come out, got the rental car but took awhile to exit the rental car parking garage, the drive took awhile from the airport to the Courtyard (the Marriott app said it was 6 miles away but reality was TWENTY miles away), and then…. After all that, it took more than ten minutes to get my room key because there were 3 people in front of me at 11:30 at night! I was like WTH… what else could go wrong? I felt like the whole day had been waiting, and now I was about to wait another 12 hours for Joel to arrive.
Surprisingly, I slept pretty well, and after a room-key SNAFU, was on my way to Safeway to buy water, drinks, and turkey baster bag–see gear list post for why! (more SNAFU’s there… goodness! Guess I should just expect things to go wrong?! Vowing to not do any more self-checkout for a long time!) and then to downtown Portland for a bit. Couldn’t find parking right away, but finally did. I didn’t really know where to go, so I picked the Tilikum Bridge, so I could see some of the downtown area. Walked a bit before going to pick up Joel.
His flight was on time, thankfully, after that massive 12 hour delay to our schedule. Our original plan was to land Sunday evening, around the same time, then drive through the night to get to Cole early in the morning. So, as of 11ish on Monday morning…Finally, we were on our way!
8/5/19: Getting to the PCT from Portland airport:
We only stopped three times in 7+ hours. Once for the track-geek in me to see Hayward Field (totally disappointing… completely under construction! Was still excited to see where Steve Prefontaine set so many records):
The 2nd stop was supposed to be a quick food-bathroom-gas break, but thanks to Carl’s Jr’s grill breaking down, it took WAY longer than I wanted. I did finagle some free cookies for the inconvenience though. We also got some coffee at Dutch Bros so we’d be totally awake for our drive 😊 Yum!
The third stop was in the town of Mount Shasta, CA (VERY cute town, reminded me of Black Mountain, NC). We needed to buy an MSR canister (gas) for Joel’s stove, so that we’d have hot water on the trail. We also had to stop at the grocery store since Joel didn’t bring everything he needed with him (ahem, TP and wipes!)
Plus another gas up—wow is gas expensive in California! I also bought a cooler, ice, and some various carbonated beverages for Cole and his friend to have a cold drink when we arrived—trying to be a nice cousin (and guest hiker)!
It was another hour to Burney Falls State Park along Route 89. We lost cell signal on the way there, so we were really hoping we could find Cole after we got there. Thankfully, we saw him as soon as we pulled in (after paying $30 to keep the rental car in their parking lot for 3 days. Small price to pay for security! I had been worried about the rental car getting towed or broken into). It was about 6:30 PM. Cole was thrilled for the shoes, the cookie, and the Coke! His friend AM was also happy for a cold beverage–I would soon realize how refreshing that would be!
I felt absolutely PUMPED to meet up with him and finally be on our way! Joel and I had to get our bags situated, but we hurried since we were losing daylight. We stepped off at 7:01 PM (per my Garmin data):
First, we checked out Burney Falls–freakin gorgeous! I loved how the water looked like it was coming straight out of the rocks:
I took a lot of pics (camera happy much?!) and we soon crossed Lake Britton Dam.
After about an hour of walking, and 2.8 miles later, we found a campsite to set up for the night. Cole shared that he had a bad experience of setting up in the dark once, so we hurried to set up camp and heat up dinner. I was surprised to see both Cole and AM didn’t have a stove–they ate cold meals every day! Joel heated up our water, and I enjoyed some chicken pad thai (freeze-dried meal from REI). Cole ate the portion I couldn’t finish 🙂
I only made a few rookie mistakes that first day:
I left the tent flap open, so bugs could’ve gotten in while we were eating. Thankfully, there weren’t many bugs! I also quickly realized I forgot the allen wrench, to be able to use my camera (sans clip) with the tripod. I suppose I could have ran back the 3 miles to go get it, but I didn’t want to hold up the group, so we lugged a tripod along and couldn’t use it–bit of a fail there! I also couldn’t find my Chapstick, but thankfully found it the next day. For some reason, I can’t sleep unless I have some kind of lip balm.
The last mistake was that Dutch Bros coffee from hours ago–I was wide awake at 9 PM, but finally managed to fall asleep. What an eventful first 24 hours of my trip!
Read on… day 2 here.