Take a hike: Upwards and onwards toward the Great White North
Oregon! After 3 months, 5 days and 1,727 miles of walking, we have finally crossed into the second state along the trail. Coming out of the Sierras and entering the Southern Cascade Range has been a wonderful experience. Though the mountains may not be quite as vast they are still full of beauty and wonder.
As elevation drops, the amount of plant life increases and we often find ourselves surrounded in a forest more similar to what one would find on the east coast in the Appalachian Mountains. It is sometimes more like walking through a jungle than a forest. A few days we have had to continue walking after sunset just to find a clear spot to sleep on.
The towns in northern California are some of the nicest places I have ever seen. Almost every area we stop in has a market that offers local produce ranging from fruit and vegetables to meats and cheese; the local beers are absolutely delicious and we’ve passed so many breweries I have lost count! The freshness of the food is fantastic and it is difficult to leave town after eating such quality. The streets are all very well-maintained and finding a piece of trash on the sidewalk is nearly impossible. It’s easy to see that the locals take a great amount of pride in where they live, as we all should.
The trail for the past few weeks has been interesting. We passed Mt. Lassen and Mt. Shasta – both semi-active volcanoes – and have been walking on ancient lava beds that were formed thousands of years ago. The wear on our boots has been substantial due to the amount of rocks and their rough texture. After walking 30 miles in a day on terrain like that even our shin bones hurt. I suppose our boots aren’t the only things taking a beating, still the adventure is worth a little bit of pain.
We have also been walking in close proximity to a few fires. The past 300 miles or so our ability to see much beyond the trail itself has been very limited. The smoke has been so thick that it almost blocks the sun and creates an eerie scene like something from a horror movie just prior to the axe murderer showing up with his goofy mask and flannel shirt. Many mornings I wake up with a sore throat from breathing all the smoke.
Nonetheless, the journey is still enjoyable. As we continue our walk north we have approximately 900 miles left, which doesn’t seem like much at this point. In fact, it shouldn’t take us more than 5 weeks to cross into Canada and begin our journey home. We often wonder what it will be like to not be walking anymore. Will people back home understand what we have experienced? Will we be able to simply fit back into “normal life”?
Either way, Oregon and Washington await. The last leg of the journey is sure to be a test of logistical skill as well as a physical challenge. Of the 900+ miles remaining, we will only encounter two grocery stores, so food will be more difficult to come by. With legs already tired we hoist our packs and head into the great Northwest.
Aaron and Andy Agnew are using this hike as a means of raising awareness to the efforts of the Faith in Action Food Pantry of Keyser. They will be posting weekly to their website www.pct4hunger.com and monthly through Graffiti.