Saturday, August 11, 2012

sad day in paradise

We arrived a week ago here in Ashland, OR.  What I haven't mentioned is that Roxi went to the vet the moment we got into town.  She had been having a fabulous time, truly a Rockstar.  I first suspected something wrong a week before, her feet were sore and I was guessing it was the rocks we were hiking on, despite her pads looking great.  I lightened her pack and gave her some anti-inflammatory meds to help her feel better but the limping and general soreness continued.  I carried her pack the rest of the week and she continued to be excited about hiking but she was not improving, in fact her left elbow and right knee were a little swollen the day we hitched into Ashland.  She tested positive for Borrialia burgdorferi, LYMES DISEASE.  The rest of her bloodwork was normal, thankfully, and she has been on meds and resting here in town.  It took her 4 days to start feeling like herself again but she is still not back to the Rockstar that she needs to be for the PCT.  She will be on antibiotics for at least a month and her knee and elbow are still swollen.  The only decision to be made is obvious, it is time for us to go home.  Life catches up with us all and Roxi is in no condition to be hiking one of the most physically demanding trails in the US.

That's life, it is a culmination of the decisions we make and the outcome that follows.  I will never regret bringing Roxi, we are a team, she is my co-pilot.  She is a decision I made 6 years ago and our journey has been simply incredible.  This adventure of hiking the PCT was a monumental undertaking.  I understood Roxi is not the pup she used to be when we did the Appalachian Trail, she absolutely thrived on that trail, truly one of the only moments I have seen her insane energy in a state of fulfillment.  But even at her age there was no reason not to try.  She is a cancer survivor with a big heart and a passion for long, hard hikes.  Truth is, she could have gotten sick the first day, or even the last.  Heck, with life's uncertainties any number of accidents could have happened to either of us every single day, we have certainly been in some precarious situations.  There are no guarantees and we have been so incredibly blessed to have the support of so many good friends that made this trip possible.

One of the biggest life lessons that a thru-hiker learns is that it is about the journey, not the destination.  This trip is not a failure, not even close.  We took in over 600 miles in the beautiful Cascade mountains and it has wet my appetite for doing the entire trail when the time is right, the trail will always be here.  I took almost a thousand pictures and have many incredible stories from beyond the trailhead, it has been worth every moment.

With heavy hearts, we are going home.

Peace and Love,
Beads & Roxtar

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ashland, OR

GREETINGS!!!!!!  Wow it's been a long time.  Since our reprieve in Eugene our resupply stop was in Crater Lake National Park where there are no computers for which to update blogs.  As I tell my mother, no news is good news =-)

Up in central Oregon, just north of the Sisters Wilderness, we found our first miles on lava.  This stuff is insane.  We felt like we walked onto a moonscape of sharp, black, rolling rock.  It was sharper than sandpaper and the exact reason Roxi brought her booties.  This stuff can shred hiking boots so doggy paws certainly need extra protection!  She zoomed through the tumultuous trail so fast it was difficult to keep up!

The Sisters Wilderness and various other pointy bits further south proved to still have a bit of snow, nothing dangerously vertical in nature but enough to slow down the pace a bit, the weather had been co-operating quite nicely so the slow going was easy to forget with a stunning mountain above us.  As expected, the snow also had swarms of mosquitoes.  Roxi even has her own head net which she wears happily when the numbers are so overwhelming that she can't even pant without choking on some extra protein.  She'll even sit in front of her food bowl and look at me so I'll take it off so she can eat.  Too Cute!!!!

Continuing further south, the famous Oregon Highlands are a sight to see.  Up at 6000' there are lakes and ponds galore, yet another reason the mozzies are thriving I bet.  The larger lakes have rustic mountain resorts and the smaller ones are too small for trout and tend to breed the most bloodsuckers.  Once we dawn our head nets and long pants and sleeves it is easy to look past the thousands of buzzing bugs dive-bombing at your face and admire the serene mountain lakes around every corner.

There are also countless areas in Oregon that have been burned by wildfires in recent years, which makes for an eery hike.  Giant charred pillars of old growth.  Skeletons black with soot or bleached white, the smaller ones all curled over in the same direction withering from the heat of the fire that consumed them.  Some even have fine branches still attached, killed by the heat but not burned.  The sky is open and the sun pouring down on us, fueling the next generation of saplings.  Grasses and wildflowers are the first to grow, almost immediately after the catastrophic event.  It is always important to remember that as much as this looks like horrid devastation, the forests out here thrive and even survive because of these fires.  They bring new life and some plant species actually can't reproduce without fires.  It's all in keeping an open mind and learning more about this beautiful and complex world we live in.

On that note, we had an interesting encounter the other day.  Walking along the trail there were 2 very large deer that were running down the trail toward us.  Naturally, as soon as they notice us in their path they veer 90 degrees and continue their rather frantic bounding.  Most people might consider the encounter over at this point but my mind very quickly deduced a very important question: what might the deer be running from?!?  As I very quickly take a survey of our resources and see if there is enough room for us to leap off the trail as well, in order to get out of the way.  Of what?  Who knows?!? Worst possible scenario is a cougar (which we have seen no signs of yet).  Most likely a mere human traveling in the opposite direction.  Of course the most likely scenario occurs most often and in this case the hiker thought they were elk.  After looking at the tracks I let him believe the 2 mule deer were elk so he could have a good story to tell his folks.  Anyway, just a friendly reminder that if you see a wild animal running toward you, dont forget to wonder what might be on the other side! HA!

Heading into Ashland and debating our plan of attack: post office, hostel, shower, groceries, dinner.  Or should we have dinner before getting groceries?  Maybe the hostel should come first? Finally I declare to Roxi, "I'm getting an ice cream sandwich.  I'm not even going to discuss the rest until I get an ice cream sandwich."

We are 25 miles from the Oregon-California border and so close we can taste it.  We are about to complete our first state and have almost walked thru Oregon!  At this pivital time I can't help but reflect on the purpose of this journey. We are so excited to be able to turn this amazing trip into a positive impact for the homeless animals of Louisiana.  The Terrebonne Parish Animal Shelter is one of the best animal rescues I've ever worked with, and I have worked in rescue for 14 years.  This is certainly a worthy organisation that stretches every dollar to do the most good for the homeless animals of Terrebonne Parish today and in the future. And I think it is important to note that every dollar goes straight to the shelter, our trip is entirely self-funded.  If you have not donated yet please don't hesitate to do so, there is no donation too small.  I can't help but think how awesome it would be if every person who read this blog gave just $5, that's a cup of coffee at Starbucks!  And when our trip is finished we will be inviting everyone to an evening of stories from the trail and a slideshow as a way of sharing our experience with you and perhaps even inspiring both young and old to explore the unknown and get involved in making the world a better place, each in our own way.

Hozógo nasádo - "Walk In Beauty" (navajo)

Happy Trails,
Beads & Roxtar

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mt Jefferson and Mt Washington Wilderness

As we approached Mt Jefferson the clouds rolled in and the mozzies started to swarm.  The most imposing obstacle in front of us was a 7000' snow covered pass that drops us into a steep bowl, not the place to be on a cloudy day.  We rolled into Olallie Lake Resort and waited for our bid at the pass.  The first morning we woke up to rain so we spent the day in waiting mode.  The next morning was clear, this was our shot.  The clouds stayed high and we only made one navigation error, which was pretty good considering some of the highly technical aspects that we encountered.  The snow fields were stunning and Mt Jefferson loomed, reminding us of the amazing place we were in that so few people get the chance to experience.

I had been traveling with my new friend Crazy Cloud through the most dangerous snowy bits, safety in numbers.  After a long day we came across Lake Pamelia.  The sun was still out and we eagerly dropped our packs (and other articles) and plunged into the crisp water for a rare chance to wash off the layers of sweat and grime.  After getting out and drying out bodies in the sun we realized there were hikers with day packs and a family just down the coast setting up camp.  There are many times we seem to come in the back door.  Spending many days in the backcountry, at times it is difficult to tell how close we are to civilization.  Most people are keen to hear of our adventures and also eager to see if we need anything... the marshmallows were super tasty!!!

And for a small reprieve,  we are spending a day in Eugene, OR with a very good friend from college.  Last night was an odd case of being within a half mile and totally missing each other.  Of course without cell phones the best we could do was keep looking.  Finally, at 11pm, Chris Boveroux was driving back home from Mackenzie Pass with a very tired hiker and traildog in his car.  A true Trail Angel!!!!!

For the rest of Oregon Highlands we are expecting to encounter a bizarre combination of snow and swarms of mosquitoes.  All part of the adventure!!!

Happy Trails!
Beads & Roxtar

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Timberline Lodge, Mt, Hood

Three beautiful days of hiking has brought us to the stunning and historic Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood.  We started by hiking up the Eagle Creek Trail which joins the PCT 14 miles south and is an incredible detoure.  The valley is lined with basalt pillars and the steep sides produce endless waterfalls all around. There is even a part where the trail goes BEHIND a waterfall that is easily 200 feet.  Stunning.  We spent the night by a small lake and fell asleep to the sound of osprey diving for their dinner.  Even at 4000 we encountered the odd snow patch still holding on to the north side of the ridge.  In high rockfields we would hear pika warning calls but never got to see the cute little critters, i suspect they smell Roxi and are extra cautious about showing themselves.  On the north side of Mt Hood we spent the night near Ramona Falls, a gorgeous cascading waterfall that is a very popular hiking destination. 

Then the long climb up a buttress to Mt Hood itself.  Glacial morrains and giant glacial carved valleys with silty rivers cascading over boulders.  The boulders tumble down stream with the gushing glacial meltwater, across the valley rocks slide starting a small avalanche of boulders and silty sand, and up above us we hear the deep gutteral rumble of the mountain breathing, likely a rockslide, avalache, or a glacier creeping down the mountain.  The snowcover starts at 5000 feet and is entirely covering the ground at 5500 feet.  Up on the partially exposed mountianside a rogue thunderstorm rolls by tossing bits of hail on us.  We came across many day hikers that had hopes of strolling around to some popular day-hike spots, wearing sandals and looking hopefull that perhaps the snow might magically dissapear around the corner.  I reiforced that the snow is very much still present and to "have a great hike!".  Then comes my favorite part, roxi and I had to wait on the trail while snowboarders go whizzing by before be can safely cross the ski slope just above Tiberline Lodge. 

I have met another southbounder named "Crazy Cloud" and 3 northbounders, the first of the season.  Being in their presence is calming and wonderful.  Thru-hikers are another breed of human and many say you need to do it to understand.  These guys are the superheros of the thru-hiker world, they do 40 miles a day and still find time to enjoy a couple brews at the pub.  I think Lance Armstrong should give this a try and see how he measures up!  The main group of northbounders is still a long way off but it is really fun to be able to cross paths with the real legends, average Joe's in the real world but completely at home and thriving on this crazy trail. It is interesting to note that no-one has heard of a single southbounder that is managing to complete a true southbound thru-hike.  Because of the weather and formidable conditions, everyone has bailed or come up with other plans to continue on further south.  Meeting nourthbounders is also a prime resource for trail conditions ahead.  They report major snow still on the ground for significant stretches in the Oregon Highlands.... maybe we'll get lucky and it will melt before we get there =-)

Peace and Love,
Beads& Roxtar

Monday, July 9, 2012


In the interest of time, we are heading to Portland, OR today and will walk south from Cascade Locks on the Columbia River tomorrow.  We have had our share of fun in the Pacific Northwest while the weather sorted itself out, and it is now time to put our paws in motion.  We are certainly saddened with not being able to achieve our original goal, but as many say, "the mountains will always be there".  The remainder of our journey is no small feat indeed, we have our work cut out for us and we are more excited than ever to explore the next chapter of our journey on the PCT.

Peace and Love,
"Beads" & "Roxtar"