Living in a Cloud

We woke up to rain on the tent and on our tarp. We were able to take down the tent while leaving up the tarp, eating breakfast in its rainshadow. It rained on and off for the rest of the day, clouds racing by over head, some of them darker and heavier than others. The sky seemed aware of our hiking, allowing the sun to break through whenever we had to go up a hill, making us curse in our full rain gear, and drizzling on us whenever we stopped for a break, cutting our breaks short. Hiking in the rain wasn’t the worst thing in the world, we kept a solid pace but didn’t run, so we were able to wear our rain pants and coat all day. Our feet however were soaking wet, and cold, especially when the wind blew.

We stopped for dinner, and took the time to set up our raintarp, so of course it didn’t rain at all while we were eating. We pushed further to camp, another 30 mile day, and set up the tarp again even though it wasn’t raining. Paranoia was ever tapping on our shoulders. The next day continued to be soupy and grey. It was as if we were walking in a cloud. This is Washington, and neither of us felt surprised, we knew there would be a couple of rainy days. As we neared the boarder we began to come out onto open balds, where we knew a view of the boarder was probably possible on a good day, a view of Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson if we could have seen through the mist, but instead we just saw a gradient of grey and Kyle’s beard collected fog. Which has us planning all sorts of beard water harvesting techniques and businesses. I think the hipsters in Portland would go crazy for “Beard Fog”, and ethically sourced and collected natural water source, bottled in a mason jar. So those are the kinds of things we think about when there are no views to look at.

Also, hiking in a rain jacket produces some more interesting than usual smells, marinating all the of the stench inside a wet clammy hot shell. Sometimes I think that the smell I am producing is akin to wet paint, but wet paint that is covering up something very rank and foul, something rotting. But of course, that is the smell that my body produces early on, after a couple of days it turns from an astringent medicinal reek to a more human food like smell, like Doritos topped with onions on a beef patty. And I have to admit, sometimes I am so hungry it smells like food that I want to eat. Which I am immediately repulsed by, but also I am still very hungry. Speaking of disturbing human smells causing hunger pangs, sometimes when Kyle farts at night in the tent it smells exactly like summer sausage. And in my heart of hearts I know it’s not summer sausage, I know it’s farts, but still…

Bottom line, we hiked in the rain for a day and hiked in the clouds for a day and all that time we neared Oregon. The night before crossing the boarder we ate an incredible meal on top of a ridge line, a home made curry dehydrated before the hike and then we headed down to the campsite, which turned out to be very crowded. We had finally met a northbound bubble, and rumor had it the next couple campsites up were full too. So instead of trying to hike further and find something else we just squeezed our tent in between two logs and sweated the night out in the humid air beneath the maple trees. The next morning we woke up early, because we had a couple of climbs between there and Oregon and we wanted to get into town. It was a long day, only because we were trying to fit twenty miles in before two, and at the end we had a long steep down hill to nearly zero feet at the Colombia River. The sun had broken through the clouds and everything was treeless and hot and windy as the gorge often is. We felt like we were hardly inching closer to the river but finally we were walking next to a road and then popping out across from the Bridge of the Gods. At last, we had made it to Oregon. A state we should have entered much earlier, but instead we have been circling around it, honing in, and now, after one easy bridge crossing, it was ours.

Cars honked their congratulations as we walked over the bridge, staring down at the river rushing bellow the grating at our feet. Seagulls soared over us and Cascade Locks lay ahead. A milestone to be sure, but also so much more left to hike. And Oregon welcomed us, with forecasted 100 degree days ahead. So there was that to look forward to. But first, a zero day of food and rest and Olympics and blogging. Life on trail is good.

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As Edward Abbey said, "An indoor life is the next best thing to a premature burial."

6 thoughts on “Living in a Cloud

  1. ‘…sometimes when Kyle farts at night in the tent it smells exactly like summer sausage. And in my heart of hearts I know it’s not summer sausage, I know it’s farts, but still… ‘ Ha, me thinks you’ve been on the trail too long 😉 Bridge of the Gods must have been a truly great feeling! Congrats!

  2. You had me chuckling away and slightly repulsed at the same time. Let’s hope the Donner party wasn’t thinking the same thing in their wilderness experience 😳 Oregon yahoo!!

  3. I’ve been following your guys’ travels vicariously for several months now, from Beijing China. Been waiting for you to cross the border into my home state of Oregon! Thanks so much for the great write-ups and all the gorgeous PNW photos, I can feel that misty mountain air from here!

  4. Oh dear, you are ready to be done. When you talk about odors making you hungry and sausage farts? Me guesses the mind is on the way out. LOL

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