The Oregon Trail

We are doing it again.

Last summer’s love fest with the Colorado Trail sparked a kind of obsession in me. Over the long dark wintry months I perused other people’s trail journals, drooled over ultralight gear, looked at maps and plotted our next adventure.

I decided we would hike through Oregon on the Pacific Crest Trail.


  1. We could drive to the starting point. No planes. I’m sick of planes.
  2. My uncle Jim and aunt Judi live in Sisters, which is basically right on the trail, about 250+ miles in. Perfect opportunity to visit them and their amazing ranch.
  3. My parents were born & raised in Oregon. Roots!
  4. If there is such thing as a bucket in my life, and a list to go in it, the PCT is in it.
  5. My good friends Ellen & Jay happen to live in Portland, and they said yes we could leave our car at their place and crash there the night before we started. Full disclosure: Jay brews beer and Ellen’s an amazing cook.

Marc wanted to go back to Colorado and hike the CT upside down. He’s like a little kid — you swing him around by the arms, and as soon as he hits the ground, he’s all “AGAIN!! AGAIN!!” He claimed Oregon would be hot and boring, full of mosquitoes and forest fires. Too easy.

I refused to be swayed by his lack of enthusiasm. I’ll just do it by myself, then, I said. I got the dehydrator back out and started directing Amazon orders to Ellen down in Portland. Ultralight umbrella – check. Permethrin – check. Freeze-dried scrambled eggs – check. She said she was getting to know the UPS driver on a first-name basis. I’m not sure how Jay felt about that.

Of course Marc came around in the end, but not without added complications. I’d allotted 4 weeks – plenty of time, since this hike is only about 430 miles and much flatter than the CT. But it turned out Marc needed to be in Vancouver July 23 and then Toronto August 16, giving us a measly 3 weeks on the trail.

I went back to Craig’s PCT planner and plugged in a faster hiking speed, longer days, and fewer layovers at resupply points, hoping the software would tell me it was possible.The verdict: we’d have to hike 20+ miles a day, but it was possible.

So here’s how we got ourselves started, for those of you like me who love logistics:

  1. Work-related dinner on the 22nd (rescheduled from the 23rd)
  2. Drive Vancouver-Portland crack of dawn on the 23rd
  3. Pick up rental car in Portland around 12:30
  4. Go to Ellen & Jay’s house and assemble scrambled egg dinners (Ellen is a fantastic cook and was appalled by our trail food – I optimize for high calories and nutrition and low weight, cost and effort, so our grub is boring and repetitive)
  5. Get ferried by lovely Ellen to Costco, REI and then the UPS store
  6. Apply permethrin to clothing, and pack up
  7. Drink gallons of Jay’s amazing home brew (a.k.a. electrolyte loading)
  8. Help Ellen celebrate her birthday with red wine and cake (ah, the hardship)



The next morning, Jay got up early and cooked us a scrumptious breakfast — eggs, sausage, kale, onions, and of course, COFFEE,

and we were on our way.


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