Our trail friends packed up camp quickly and started hiking before Journey Man and I had even eaten breakfast. This was normal; Journey Man and I are usually last to leave camp. They raced ahead of us down the trail. Today was a big day for them—they were going to pull big miles to get to the California/Oregon border. They would have to do twenty-seven miles to get there, and maybe an additional mile to find a campsite.
The thought of crossing a border was exciting, sure, but it didn’t have the same pull on me. I skipped 622.3 miles of California to flip up north of the worst of the snow. It almost felt like cheating to celebrate reaching the border when I had so many miles to finish, even though I know it’s not cheating at all.
My friends skipped similar miles too, and they are justified in their excitement to cross a border. After all, there are only three (California/Oregon, Oregon/Washington, Washington/Canada). “What’s so special about this border?” my friend Pantry asked later in the day, “Why do they need to get there today?” I repeated what Mini Chimi said to me that morning, “I dunno, I guess they just have border fever!”
As I hiked, set from the start on not making it to the border that day, I thought about what drove me forward if it wasn’t border fever. What makes thru hikers step one foot in front of the other for hours, miles on end? What invisible thread pulls me along, motivates me to continue? The answers are fluid, they change weekly, sometimes daily. I’m excited for upcoming waypoints, like Ashland or Crater Lake. I’m hungry for town food. I can’t wait to take a step back and reflect on how I’ve changed. I wonder what conversations, which people, will stick with me. I experience indescribable beauty, bodily pains, mental gymnastics, comfort from strangers, hilarity, unending kindness and I look forward to each day knowing only that I can expect the unexpected. Motivators differ per person, per day, and that’s part of the beauty, too.
Our hiker friend Twist grew up in Portland, OR. He had a whole itinerary of people he wanted to see on particular weekends. Lucky for Journey Man and myself, Twist invited us to join him for a couple weekends. We first met Twist’s parents, Steve and Laurie, in Sun River. They
A couple days in to the time off trail in Seattle, I had to sit with myself and ponder the real possibility that I might not return to trail. It was such a disappointing thought. It made me mad. And sad. I didn’t want to be done hiking. I had two of the most talked about sections still left to complete—the North Cascades and the Sierra...
Due to injury and wildfire-induced trail closures, Journey Man and I flipped back down south to Northern California to fill in miles that we skipped previously— 622.3 miles to be exact. We hopped back on trail from Burney and took our time working up the miles.