Total Miles: 1702.2
The sound of the morning was an unusual one: a distant chime and then a cluster of them, faint but clear. High on a ridge near 7,000 feet, the list of possible sources was quite limited. As it grew louder, the chimes revealed themselves for what they really were: cow bells. The patchwork of meadows we’d seen since yesterday were the perfect place for a herd of free-ranging cattle to graze. Unexpected as it was to see several large cows off to the side of the trail at this elevation, the looks on their faces appearing more quizzical than our own, it transported my mind back to Switzerland, where the sound of cow bells from similarly roaming cattle meant that town was just around the next bend in the trail. It was a start to the day that had my mind sifting through memory.
Three hours later, there it was: the Oregon/California border. Transported by the cooler weather that had blown in last night and seemed to being ushering in a new state, the border appeared like most things on the trail with little serenade and in an unmemorable portion of forest. About as surreal as you might expect, it was hard to grasp exactly what this moment meant. On its surface it was just another sign in the woods, but it had the effect of forcing my mind to scroll through a Rolodex of memories from the past 3 months and 5 days. California was officially behind us, and Oregon was in front of us.
Accompanied by a sky of pleasant looking clouds that have been quite foreign for these few months, the trail was about as pleasant as I can remember a stretch being, and Beardoh, Sweet Pea and I covered the miles more quickly than usual, passing through alternating stretches of deep forest and open highlands.
The milestones weren’t quite done for the day as we crossed the 1700-mile mark, feeling as though we had passed the 1600-mile mark only a day ago. Always a cause for a brief celebration nonetheless.
At the end of the day, as I sat absorbing my first evening in Oregon I found it hard to believe that I was actually here. Appropriately for a day filled with memory, I thought back to all the preparation for this hike, the yearlong delay in its coming to fruition, and all the anticipation that had built up for years. Removed from all the logistics and pre-hike overthinking, here I am. What was once only a date on a rough schedule a year ago has now been transformed into my being here, over three months into a journey that has brought me to the very southern reaches of Oregon. It’s hard to imagine that it has all actually happened.