Day 118: OREGON!

It only took 1,690 miles and nearly four months — but we’re finally in a different state! We started hearing cheering at about noon today, a half-mile south of the border, and kept hiking…when we approached the border itself, we saw a big group of hikers sitting there, eating lunch, and cheering each person to come cross the border. In other words, this is a big deal for PCT hikers — and it sure felt good to us!

California alone is nearly two-thirds of the entire PCT — 1,690 of 2,650 miles. From the start of the PCT to where it crosses the Oregon border, it’s only (“only”) 739 miles as the crow flies, but well more than double that as you hike. California contains the southern desert, the High Sierra, and the endless forested mountain range called “Northern California” on the PCT. It’s so epic in and of itself that it’s easy to forget that there are, actually, other states on the PCT.

Mentally, however, since not long after we left Sierra City, this border has been our goal. It’s been the next big landmark for over five hundred miles, and the forthcoming start of something new for just that long, too. While — of course — it’s not as if the landscape changes dramatically at the border (although it does seem to change fairly rapidly, even if that might be just psychological), Oregon has its own reputation and things to look forward to on the PCT. Oregon is known among hikers for being relatively flatter (note: I said flatter, not “flat”) and thus faster hiking, as well as a good place to recharge a bit before hitting the mountains of Washington.

Some hikers “do Oregon” in two weeks — that is, hike through the entire state in fourteen days. Needless to say, we won’t be doing that; that means averaging over thirty-two miles a day, and that’s quite insane, in my opinion. However, I do look forward to things being a bit easier for a while, especially after the brutal climb out of Seiad Valley just yesterday.

We also crossed another point of note this evening, just before stopping to camp: we’ve now completed 1,700 miles of the PCT. These hundred-mile markers seem to go by faster and faster these days, and it’s kind of amazing to me how far we’ve come. As always, it’s even more amazing to me that we still have more than nine hundred miles left to go…but I know that’s likely to disappear just as fast, given how much we’re hiking these days.

So far, Oregon’s legendary flatness hasn’t come to bear on us; there’s been a lot of up-and-down to this point, early though it may be. There’s still the same thick, thick haze from forest-fire smoke in the air; at this point, it’s been here for so long that we’re used to it, and I don’t even think about it most of the day. It makes the far-off mountains beautiful in their grey-blue haze, and the valleys and hills around us are lush and greener than ever — I really like it. There are yellow flowers covering some hillsides, beautiful springs in tall grass…it’s more and more like the Oregon that lives in my mind.

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