It’s nearing the home stretch, and I’m proud to say, that I’m sad to realize it. Have you ever been at a place in life where you just want to remember every bit of it? How it smells, how your body feels, how you reason, your emotions, even the dirt under your fingernails….the taste of the air, the spring in your step…..the love.
Ooooofta. Where to begin? These last couple of weeks I’ve spent such quality time with loved ones. Great moments with both of my parents. My mom in person, my dad via phone. My best, good friend, Hannah Cooper. My Eric. Mitchell. Chelsea and her happy little one-year-old Gavin. All my relationships have grown into something deeper.
I’ve had so much fun in Oregon. What a state! The beer is hoppy, the locals are healthy and smiley, dogs are everywhere, the trail is flat and stunning, and life is being so good to me.
With my mom’s help, I got to go for a trail run. 11 miles, in just over 2 hours, felt like flying. Had a hiking buddy, Beads, for a week. Together we hiked 209 miles in 7 days. Which involved 5 days in a row over 30 miles. We got stormed on a little and yelled, “Waaaaaahooooooooo!” loudly back at the thunder. Then we climbed a ridge and turned around to see that the smoke we had smelled during the storm was a fresh lightning fire, ridiculously close to where we’d been walking. We laughed and walked on.
We found ourselves really comical. We’d put ourselves in an interesting state, having gone for a run the day before our 7 day stretch. Of course (any idiot would expect) our bodies hurt. Those just weren’t the same muscle groups. But hey, soreness is just part of being alive. And then there was the cold, hard truth. *A hiker will do just about anything…..for beer.* All this rushing, 7 days of kind of pushing it, in order to make it to the lovely town of Bend, OR for a Saturday night pub crawl.
And make it, we did. Gloriously. On the most beautiful day, through the flower-strewn meadows at the base of the 3 sisters, I sang my heart out. I skipped around, met so many nice locals and talked their ears off. So much, in fact, that we met the most enjoyable women around to get a ride to bend with from the trail head. Maria (an enthusiastic world traveler) and Chin Ling (a sweet woman on a short visit from southern Washington). They took Beads and I into Bend, and we talked the whole way about how great it is to grab life by the horns and see the world. They were even willing to pick up our friend, Cowboy, as long as he was willing to jump into a moving vehicle. Which was a joke. But we pulled up to him with the window rolled down and yelled “Now!” in case we could really get him to jump. Together, a car full of 5 people who don’t really know each other laughed heartily. I hope everyone gets that experience sometime.
When we pulled up to my friend Mike’s, he stood out on the porch and shouted, “Whoooooooooooo!” It felt like we were a rock band or something. He ran across the street and gave me an epic jump-and-hug. Spun me around and hooted and everything. Then he put me down and hugged Maria and Chin Ling and said, “Thank you for bringing my friend!” We all hugged Maria and Chin Ling and hoped to cross paths again someday. We were 6 people hugging and shouting in the street. I hope that happens to me many times in my short time on this earth.
Then, guess what? We suck-diddly-ucked at pub crawling. We ended up only hitting 2 breweries and getting super wiped out. Didn’t matter though. It was the journey to beer town, not the destination.
The next day we said goodbye to Mike and hitched to Sisters. We had our thumbs out for about 90 seconds when Todd, the A & P teacher from TN, picked us up in his open jeep. He was great. He stressed how awesome Bend is, and his appreciation for what we were doing. It was crazy to watch the pavement fly by in all that open air. First real jeep ride. Plus, I spend many days not getting my speed above 3.3 MPH, which feels fast, by the way.
Sister’s was adorable. Happy too. And, wouldn’t you know it, I got another epic jump-and-hug when my best friend Hannah Cooper came around the corner. She came bearing fresh fruit and with my mom. So many good things all at once.
I had a great afternoon with Beads, Cowboy, Hannah, and my mom in Sisters. My mom bought me a pretty dress. We had some serious ice cream. Then said goodbye to Cowboy, and hit the road to Eugene. Where we dropped off Beads and said our goodbyes. Then we were off to the farm.
Staying with Hannah and Tuula was great. They just took the most extraordinary bike trip across America. Changed the world by inspiring many. We ate a delicious meal, all right from the organic farm that they work on, and talked about adventure, people, and dirt. Hannah is a friend I truly cherish. We know each other so well, and I find so much comfort in our time spent together again. Old friends who can say so much with just thier eyes.
Of course, there’s more. There’s always more. But for now, I just want to be where my feet are. My feet are in the home of two trail angels. Pocahontas and Legasorus. I’ve had a week off. Got to be with my boyfriend for his birthday. Got to be in Portland for the weekend. Have been given gems and riches beyond my imagination. Feeling stoic, feeling strong, feeling full and steady.
Long may we walk.