here we are, after all of these days and months of walking we find ourselves on the verge of crossing the columbia river and moving into the final stretch of this wandering journey through the cascade mountains of western washington. gradually, thoughtfully we move through changing landscapes and seasons, the sunlight fading, nights colder, wind with a bite and golden clear fall air surrounding us.
we pushed through northern california, hundreds of wildfires throughout the region and breathing in smoke-haze sky. through dry arid lands and and coniferous stands, weaving around mt. shasta, appearing and disappearing behind smoke blankets in the distance. slowly, daily feeling the change to the more temperate climate of the pacific northwest, dropping into deep ravines and finding the familiar species, tall old incense cedar rising through the mist, thick cracked-bark douglas fir groves, yew trees, moss-draped big leaf maple, sword and maidenhair ferns tucked into the shadows beside cool clear creeks.
near the california/oregon border i pulled up with an ankle injury, a strained tendon that was enough that i wasn't able to put weight on it. we hobbled to the next road crossing to find a fire crew sitting in preparation for the next call. after an attempt at walking on we turned back to catch a ride with a story-filled helicopter repairman. two days later we tried walking again and realized that my foot was going to need some rest. just over a week later we found ourselves in ashland, or with a lighter pack (sans guitar), clad with a new ankle brace, and 140 miles north of where we had gotten off trail (saving ourselves some october hiking). we spent a day with some hiker friends and then set off into the dry afternoon to begin walking again. the time lapse was evident all around us, wildflowers spent and crumbling in the heat, ripe patches of thimble and huckleberries, the days noticeably shorter, even new aches and pains and a seeming loss of our trail legs. within a few days they were back as was the methodical pace of walking and the forest...a slower reality than our high flying days in town and at eugene's indian lunch buffet.
traveling through serena's home region of western oregon, we stepped through the grasslands and forests of the cascade-siskiyou monument. awaking in the dark waning moon night there to the piercing howl scream of a cougar close by. adrenaline rushing and listening intently as it called out many times through the darkness. we spent the majority of two days passing through this landscape where the great basin and cascade and siskiyou mountain ranges meet, a patchwork of private and public lands, not yet funded enough to form a complete monument. days later we watched and listened as the red rising sun climbed over the mountains above crater lake, mats of clouds sailing overhead, incredibly blue marine water interacting with gusting winds and shifting patterns unfolding across the surface. swimming in lakes, rivers, and cold rains, a front moving through and wind driving snow specks as we crossed under the three sisters volcanoes, looking up to the rounded red peak of south sister before she was enveloped by clouds. thick forests, lake basins, renegade survivalist mosquito bands somehow braving the cold, big-berried bear scat, and the massive volcanic cascade mountains. along with this another familiar mark of the northwest, tracts and tracts of clear-cuts, old and new, walking through some active logging operations even, shrill machinery grinding and great old cedars and firs with spray paint markings of doom. we've scratched through these patches of choked brush and even-aged young spindling stands scarring the mountainsides from the trinity region up into oregon national forest and bureau of land management lands.
and now sitting beside the rolling columbia river, as close to sea level as we'll be along this trail, preparing for the washington cascades. with the final push of our hike before us we also hope to close the walk for wildlands fundraiser with success. each of the three projects and organizations will greatly benefit from any contribution, and sponsoring our hike will help to promote the completion of the cascade siskiyou monument through the pacific forest trust, protect the pct trail corridor with the pcta, and work to guide sound policy with the cascadia ecosystem advocates. please consider sponsoring this project at www.walkforwild.org as no contribution is too small or large.
thank you to all who have read, responded, contributed, and helped us along the way! serena and i will update more photos and journals as we are able through the final days of this venture. happy falltime, peace, jeramy
Tuesday, September 9, 2008