Day 131: Faaaantastic!

Fri. 8/30/13
35.1 miles (Miles 2060.4 – 2095.5)
PCT Mile 2060.4 – PCT Mile 2095.5

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The sky turned pale, the clouds billowed in giant, thick puffs on the horizon, and the sun began to set. Then the sunset turned the forest around me to pure, beautiful gold… and I became the richest girl in the whole entire world.

I had a faaaantastic day, and it was a great follow-up to struggling through the rain yesterday. First of all, it didn’t rain. Second, I had awesome hiking company for most of the day. Third, I was treated to some exclusive, deluxe trail magic. Fourth, I came up over a crest in the forest to as opening to see a shocking beauty across the valley.

No rain: It turned out to be a beautiful day all day. The sun was out and shining through the trees, giving me glimpses of its warmth as I hiked, there were white, puffy clouds that floated across the sky, a light, comforting breeze now and then, and the overall temperature was simply pleasant.Aaaah. Perfection.

Hiking company: I met Legend briefly last night just before camp. He kept going for about a mile past me, but I met up with him again early this morning. We started chatting, and we kept chatting – we hiked together for 20 or so miles before he head off to meet up with his mom and sisters, who were visiting. What great company! He’s got a lot of amazing stories, adventures, experiences… all kinds of things to talk about. On top of all that fun conversation, we laughed about my Alaskan commune that we were going to call the Magoots Family Trust, or maybe the Tooty Frooty Nuthouse – with its pink and purple igloos. We also came up with a few great new definitions for Clackamas, which is the campground he was headed to meet his family. My favorite? A mass of hikers coming down the trail clacking their trekking poles on the rocks. We also discussed our mountain-lion wrestling fantasies, and how we’d totally win… and I like how Legend’s story ends with a tooth souvenier and a few broken trekking poles. Miles flew by so effortlessly – He and I hiked 23 miles by 2pm. That’s gotta’ be some sort of record for me.

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Whoa! Deciduous trees!!

Trail Magic: We met Kris through our Disco Pickle facebook page. She’s been following us and reading our blogs, and really wanted to meet us and provide a little trail magic. We discussed via facebook a place to meet and tentative times, which can always be tricky. I think Tears went through a bit too early, so they missed each other, but I ran into Kris and her daughters on the trail. I’d just filled a water bottle at a cold stream, walked around a bush, and Kris saw me and got this look of such excitement on her face. “Toots Magoots!?” I wished Tears was there, and I wished I had more time, but we made the best of the situation. Her and her two awesome daughters hiked with me on the PCT along Timothy Lake for a couple of hours. We stopped for a break right on trail and they pulled out treats! Ohmygosh! A smores muffin (yum), a cheese wrap, a cold Pepsi, some Starburst, and she included some Crystal Light energy in our favorite strawberry flavor. What a great bunch of treats! But get this… I think I received one of the best-ever, deeeluxe trail magic treats… and it wasn’t even food:

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Yeah… that’s right! That right there is an on-trail freakin’ foot massage! She’s done pedicures and relexology stuff professionally, so this was incredible. I warned her of my stinkish, dirty hiker feet, but she assured me she’s seen worse, and didn’t flinch or cringe when I took my socks off. She even brought some awesome, coconutty-smelling lotion. Wow. I can’t thank you enough, Kris! You and your girls were really fun company, and I’m so glad we were able to meet up!

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Trail party!

Afternoon beauties/Mt. Hood: After a sad good-bye to my new trail friends I cruised on and made a stop at Little Crater Lake. It’s a pond-sized body of water that drops off at the edge into an almost endless-looking crater straight down into the earth, and it’s filled with the prettiest teal water. If it wasn’t such cold water, and if it had been earlier in the day, I’d have thought about a swim. It had the glassiest surface, too. What a gorgeous little gem of a place!

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Little Crater Lake

An hour later, after trucking through a forest of hundreds of aged tree-giants towering above me, I came to a ridge with an opening… and BOOM!! Holy magnificent brilliance we call Mt. Hood!

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WOW

It was spiraled with a few clouds, and they were dipped in pinks from the sun’s setting glow. What a scene. I continued walking until dark and enjoyed the forest taking on a different light until the sun finally sunk below the horizon.

I started my day hiking with a most incredible, unique and hazy sunrise through some far off trees in silhouette, below a thick, low-ceiling layer of cloud… and I ended it with a dramatically lit sunset and a view of Mt. Hood… and sandwiched in between was some pretty great people, fun conversation, and great-feeling, strong hiking.


Tonight I love wild mushrooms (don’t worry, I’m not eating any!). They’re everywhere, and they’re all different and so neat-looking.

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Shroomity-shroom.

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Another...

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Getting paid in golden sunshine.

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Little Crater Lake's deep water

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Little Crater Lake.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 130: Mountain mood swings

Thurs. 8/29/13
32.8 miles (Mile 2027.6 – 2060.4)
PCT Mile 2027.6 – PCT Mile 2060.4

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Half sunny, half rainy.

Come on, mountains, whatchya’ gonna’ do?

I said this a few times early on today, but it got old fast and I gave up.

I started hiking at 5am this morning with the intention of hiking 35 miles before dark. If it wasn’t for the weather and some dumb decisions on my part, I’d have made it. All things considered, though, I’m happy with how far I got.

I started out in the dark for an hour. It’s tough to hike in the dark. I was having a hard time seeing dips in the trail, so I nearly stumbled a few times. My favorite part about hiking so early is being able to see the sky wake up. This morning it was a cool gray overcast that reminded a bit of an early winter Wisconsin sky. Then it changed. Big, low, puffy clouds lit up in pink and floated overhead, and a short time later most of the sky lit up in a coral hue, reflecting onto everything around me a really pretty glow. Then it changed again. And again. And again. The mountains were working something up… clouds started forming at the peaks, then they started rolling up the sides to join the bigger plumes. Uh-oh..

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Amazing morning sky

It started to rain, so I brought out all the rain gear. About an hour later it stopped and blue sky took over with a few really low, whispy, foggy-like clouds, so I took the rain gear back off. During a bathroom stop it started to sprinkle again, and then that stopped. I got a dry break in at 8am, and that was my last real break until 2pm. That was my biggest mistake today.

I’m learning how to deal with lots of hiking in wet weather. Not taking breaks because I’m afraid I’ll get wet is not a good strategy. If it rains again tomorrow, this is the first thing I’ll change. Even though I was munching on snacks, it wasn’t enough. I needed lunch – substance. And because I was being stubborn and trying to push on, to get out of the rain, the wind, the cloud I was in, I lost a lot of time. I was practically crawling by the time I finally took my lunch break. A good lunch was all I needed – the rest of the afternoon was a ton better, and it still rained on and off.

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This is what I was trying to hike through with no break. Oy.

There was a summit climb today with a really spectacular view… which I didn’t see any of (unless you count rain, clouds and small hail). I did get some gorgeous flying clouds going right past me – but when I stepped out of the trees and to the summit, I couldn’t see anything but white 15 feet in front of me. The climb down the other side was slow-going, too. I was still on my “no-lunch” snail pace, my feet felt like hamburger because they desperately needed a rest too, and it was a rocky scramble with a couple of snow fields. There weren’t even any trees – the landscape totally took me by surprise. Was I transported back to the Sierras on some high, stormy pass? I was navigating by looking for a rock cairn through the thick, cloudy air, then scrambling toward it, and continuing that until I made my way to a meadow where I could clearly see the trail again. Boy, it was an exciting day!

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Two little cairns at the top of that little hill

Oh, and Russell Creek… a scary river crossing. It was probably a little scarier because I was alone, and the clouds were flying up the river canyon in an eery fashion. I felt like I was stuck in a horror flick… about a girl hiking… and crossing a river. I know, scary, right!? But really… the river was rushing strong, and there weren’t any places I could safely rock-hop, especially since they were all wet from the rain. I just forded straight across in my shoes and all – they were already soaking wet anyway – and with each step, I’d wedge my foot in between a rock and the current until I finally was safely across. Whew!

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Doesn't look so bad, right?

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Milky glacial water.

I hiked pretty steady in the afternoon until I found a little flat spot just off the trail to set up my tent just before it got dark. A little while later Danny and Mike came down the trail looking for a spot, so they joined me. It’s always nice to have campmates – and these guys are both super-nice. They’re section-hiking – training for their 2016 PCT thru-hike!

So in the end of all the wet rain… I learned a lot today. I hope that I’m able to conquer the next wet day and come out laughing at the sky. I’ll get there…


Tonight I love how the rain drops bead up on all the plants and flowers.

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I love my gaiters...

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Fuzzy pretty whites

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Shy purples

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Funky reds

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Really cool high, rocky flowers

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I stood and stared at this sign for three minutes. I took a 20-minute nap against a tree instead.

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Rain...

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 129: Great skies

Wed. 8/28/13
20.2 miles (Miles 2007.4 – 2027.6)
Santiam Pass – PCT Mile 2027.6

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Mt. Jefferson

I woke up in the warm comfort of a hotel bed this morning. I got up and showered nice and early, then Adam left for a bit to pick up Cuddles’ cello – he’s bringing it to Portland for him – and while he was away I laid back down on the bed and fell asleep. When he got back he fell asleep too. We slept in until 10am. So much for getting on the trail at 9! Haha! Oh, well. Sleeping in those extra hours were really fantastic, and totally worth it.

I did eventually get back on trail at 12:30pm. It was hard to say bye to Adam again. It seems like I just can’t get enough time with him lately. Next time I think he should hike with me! I look forward to seeing him in a few days again, but it will only be for a few hours for resupply, then we’ll get right back on the trail again. He and I have been talking a bit about ideas to unwind when this is done. I look forward to that, so it wasn’t too hard to think about.

I wanted to get 20 miles in today, so I’m happy about getting just over that. I’m 80 miles from our next rendezvous, and I hope to catch up with Tears so she doesn’t have to wait too long for me before we can head out again. I have a pretty hefty goal in mind to accomplish that, so hopefully it’ll work out and my body will cooperate.

If it wasn’t for my holey shoes and the dark stains on my shirt from my pack straps, I could’ve been mistaken for a weekender today. I had freshly-cut hair, a new skirt, and a shiny new backpack, which did okay, by the way. It definitely feels different than my last one because it’s a different torso length – to correctly fit, actually. It’s going to take some getting used to simply because it’s a different fit. My hips hurt for a little bit, then my shoulders, and they sort of just took turns. But it’s really nice having it ride a little higher on my back. I think I’m really going to like it.

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Mt. Jefferson Wilderness

At the start of the hike today, I entered the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, and it started off with a burn area. For the rest of the day the trail switched around hills from green forest to another patch of burn, then back again. This fire must’ve really been a jumper!

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Sculpted burned trees.

As the day went on, more and more clouds formed above me, quickly floating along, rolling and turning as they went. It kept changing shape and color, and when the sun started to go down the clouds on both horizons took on a pale pink hue with blue streaks running through it. I hiked up high along a ridge and actually appreciated the burn zones, as they opened up the views so the amazing sky could be fully appreciated.

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It started to get a little dusky out, and I came across two deer munching on the huckleberry leaves that lined the trail. One of them just stared at me for a second, then continued to eat. I had to walk toward him quietly until I was about just 20 feet away, and he finally  stepped off the trail and slowly made his way down the hill. I really enjoy the deer encounters I have out here.

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Save me some huckles, Mr. Deer!

I found a sweet little flat spot to set up my tent right at the top of a ridge before the trail winds back down into the forest. I have a nice view of Mt. Jefferson, too, but I can’t see it because my ran fly is on. Just as I got my tent set up a few raindrops plunked on the fly. I got in and took care of everything I needed to do, and I probably won’t get out until morning.

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Nice view of Mt. Jefferson and that sky!

Weird thing for today – my appetite is gone. I was so hungry last week, and now I have all this extra heavy food packed and I don’t really want anything. I ate a Snickers for dinner and a few spoonfulls of chips… I hope my hunger comes back tomorrow because it’s really hard to hike otherwise, and making myself eat when I don’t feel hungry is tough. I’m not too worried yet – I do have some pretty tasty snacks packed.


Tonight I love huckleberries. I did want to eat those, and they were everywhere again today. It seems like they’re getting bigger, plumper and sweeter the further north I go, too!

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Great trail magic from Hops. I kinda wished I hadn't just come from town!

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New sign on an old, burned tree.

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More afternoon sky through the old burn

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 128: One more zero…

Tue. 8/28/13
0 miles, currently at Mile 2007.4 at Santiam Pass

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A day for just the two of us.

Ahh, another day in Bend. After a scrumptious breakfast of one of the best scones I’ve eaten and cinnamon french toast at McKay’s Cottage, we swung by the post office so I could mail my old backpack back to Granite Gear. Then we dropped Tears off at the trailhead.

It was a pretty uneventful day, which was the idea. I got all of my hiker chores done yestetday, so all I had to do today… was relax.

I ate a tub of cottage cheese… that was a pretty exciting thing! It’s been my biggest craving, which is so weird. I’ll take the 50+ grams of protein that goes with it, though!

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Takes about three minutes to eat one of these...

The most crazy thing I did today was get a haircut. Aloha was going in for one so I just went with. I didn’t think I’d do anything like this the whole trip, but I’m glad I did. She just took a couple of inches off, getting rid of old, snarly ends. It feels really good, and I can still put it in braids.

Then as Aloha drove around to pick up snacks for our hotel-room-lounging, I napped in the car. I was tired! I even drooled all over myself!

Once back at the hotel, it was a marathon of sitcom reruns and mindless TV as we inhaled Chinese delivery, potato chips and some wine. It was nice to sit on a comfy bed and just chill out.

Tomorrow I’ll get back on trail and try to hike like a maniac to catch up to Tears. I pray that breaking in a new backpack doesn’t cause any problems! You’ll hear about it here if it does. :)


Tonight I love feeling relaxed.

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Scooooone!

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Keeping up on current events, reading The Onion that Randall sent.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 127: Zero day – what I ate and stuff.

Mon. 8/26/13
0 miles, currently at Mile 2007.4 at Santiam Pass

Zero Day in Bend, OR. Love love love this place!

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A new backpack!

Do you want to know what’s dangerous? Letting a PCT thru-hiker loose in an REI for two hours with her REI Visa in hand… after wearing the same outfit for four straight months and hanging on to a few pieces of nearly shredded gear… all I can say is what a fun day!

Actually, I didn’t go too crazy. I replaced my second leaky Platypus hydration bladder with a Camelbak version and I found a straight-valve nozzle to go with it (hard to find!), which was also leaking. I also got some Sweetwater water treatment to replace my 3rd leaking set of AquaMira (what’s with stuff leaking on me!?). I got three new pairs of Injinji socks to hopefully get me to Canada, a new rain cover for my pack (bring it on, Washington!), and two new shiny pieces of clothing. I got a pair of pants that fit me in case I need them in the chilly Wahington weather. My other ones were way too big. It was pretty fun to slip on a size 8 pair of pants, have them be super-comfy and look totally cute. I know, I’m being such a girl. Weird. I also found a great REI-brand hiking skirt. My slips are working well, but I couldn’t pass on this – it’s pretty much perfect.

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REI loot!

I also ordered my fourth (and last) pair of shoes and insoles online. It’s crazy. It doesn’t feel that long ago when I was doing so many “firsts.” Arg… I can’t think about it too hard. The thought of this adventure winding down… it’s just too soon.

So… anyway, our zero day in Bend was great. We slept in before heading out for a giant omelettey breakfast.

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Coffee, scone, ginormous omelette with pulled pork in it, and gone...

After that was grocery resupply and REI. I drank a delicious Coke from Jimmy John’s in there somewhere. Yum!

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Just a yummy Coke.

While at REI, I picked up my new backpack from Granite Gear! I was so excited. I’m going to miss my old one, but I’m holding out on the hope that it will be recycled into something super-awesome. Maybe it’ll go to Everest or the North Pole or Patagonia or something. Hey ol’ pack, have fun out there! Thanks for being my home for so many miles! ♡

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With my favorite person on the world and a shiny new backpack!

Then I drank a coffee and ate a burrito from Del Taco. It was kinda’ gross but I ate it anyway.

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It even looks pretty grody.

We went back to the house to finish some hiker chores – wash rainpants, trade out packs, and pack food. Oh, and eat a snack.

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Nasty drink I drank so I can use the bottle for wine, and a coconutty chocolatey nutty yum bar.

In the middle of chores I had to jet out for dinner at McMenimans. We were hungry! We weren’t eating nearly enough on this day off… I enjoyed a salad, soup and some fah-reakin’ tater TOTS!

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TOTS!

We met back up with Condor at dinner, then back to the house for a beer and to visit with our awesome hosts. Thanks again for the awesome hospitality, Condor, Tidi and Wayne!

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Chocolatey coffee-ey stout brewski.

Tomorrow Aloha and I drop Tears off on the trail. He and I are going to spend another day together… we both need another date-day. I’m really excited for that. I’ll get back on trail Wednesday and hopefully catch Tears, otherwise we’ll meet at Timberline Lodge.


Tonight I love my old backpack and my new backpack. A little tearful… gah, why do I get so attached!?

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Gear repair. Fancy!

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Old and new.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 125 Special Edition: What I ate on the trail today

Day 125
Sat. 8/24/13

A big part of the day on trail is thinking about food, when to eat it, and then actually eating it. A blog follower gave Tears and I the idea to show everything we ate during one day. I thought it was brilliant (thanks, Bryan!), so below you will see photos and a description of everything I ate along the trail today.

6:30am. Breakfast at camp. Starbucks VIA coffee, maple & brown sugar oatmeal and trail-picked huckleberries. I called my breakfast “huckleberry upside-down un-crunch.”

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8:15am. 2nd breakfast – also a walking snack – meaning I ate it while hiking and successfully not falling on my face to do so. Nature Valley Maple Brown Sugar granola bar.

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8:30am. Trail magic from Goal Tech and David. Peanut butter-filled pretzel bites!

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8:45am. Wild huckleberries picked along the shore of Mirror Lake. NOM NOM.

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9:45am. Dried giant chunks of coconut that Goal Tech gave us. I’ve craved coconut on the trail a lot, but the only stuff I could find was the shredded variety, and it’s a pain in the buns to try to eat while hiking. I need to find more like this!

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10:15am. A legitimate, sit-my-butt-down-and-eat kinda’ break. Crystal Light energy drink mix, that giant tube of meat is a de-freakin’-lucious landjaeger meat stick (thanks, Pappy!), Starburst JBs (jelly beans), chocolate-covered espresso beans and a bite-size squished but yummy Nutroll.

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11:30am. Another walking snack. Cheese crackers.

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12:30pm. Some JBs and a few huckles to hold me over until lunch break.

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1:20pm. Lunch break! I don’t often cook for lunch, but what I had packed for lunch I wanted for dinner instead. So lunch appetizer was a stick of string cheese, lunch-lunch was mashed taters with chicken gravy, chicken bullion, crushed red pepper and topped with goldfish crackers. Lunch dessert was french toast-flavored goldfish grahams and a few leftovers from Goal Tech’s trail magic – a slice of dried mango, pretzel bites and half of a Snickers bar (Tears and I shared it).

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Oh, and a cold coffee…

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4:10pm. Wow, I can’t believe I waited this long to eat again! Granola bar walking snack.

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5:30pm. Sit-down break. Smorgasbord.  Starbucks nasty very berry hibiscus refresher (too much flower taste), raspberry Emergen-c, mini Snickers, JBs, pretzel bites, french toast goldfish.

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7:15pm. A walking snack. Squished, delicious, bite-size Nutroll.

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8:00pm. Camp! Dinner! Refried beans on a tortilla with string cheese, Del Taco El Scorcho and Tapatio sauce (x2), finished off the french toast goldfish, and two Snickers minis. This is actually the first time having refried beans on the trail. I don’t know what the heck’s been wrong with me! Burritos were the best dinner EVER! Must. Get. More. *toot* 

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That’s all, folks!

Be sure you check out Tears’ blog, too. She did the same thing today, so you can see what we both ate!  It’s exciting stuff! Tears’ blog: irunhikecamp.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 126: Rain or shine?

Sun. 8/25/13
19.9 miles (Miles 1987.5 – 2007.4)
Small lake at mile 1987.5 – Santiam Pass

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We hit 2000 miles today! Whoa!

I woke up to the patter of rain on my tent fly. I’ve been pretty lucky with rain so far – I haven’t had to deal with it too much. I lay there and came up with a plan to get going as dry as possible, which I figured was good practice for Washington. I still have hopes that it will be dry and sunny the rest of the way, but I have to get myself mentally ready just in case. I have a hard time with the combination of wet and cold even two days in a row. Anyway, my plan went well. I made a cold breakfast in the comfort of my dry tent and warm sleeping bag, dressed, got as much stuffed into my pack as I could, got out and packed up the tent last. I draped the wet rainfly on the outside to keep it from soaking all of my gear and hiked.

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Shoes on... in tent... ready to go. Almost.

I startled two does and a tiny, spotted fawn, but I stopped still to watch them, so they only made a couple of bouncing lopes before going back to their woodsy grazing. Later we saw elk through the trees as they crashed away. That was a cool sighting!

Before I knew it I was out of the forest and entered more lava rock scrambling. I am entirely fascinated by this stuff – there were acres upon hilly acres of rough, pourous rock as far as the eye can see. I let my imagination go and envisioned that I was hiking on top of a giant field of dormant violence. What was underneath all this hardened rock? Do any animals live in this stuff? What hill blew up and created all of this? Hiking on this terrain is really quite difficult, but I enjoyed it – it reminded me a little bit of some light scrambling in the Sierras, and I love the rock-hopping.

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Crazy lava-rock trail

Back into the woods and an old burm area, a cloud came down and through the trees. I actually watched it until it got really close and finally stopped to put on my rain gear. This kept happening through the day. I probably changed five times. Finally about a mile and a half from the road where we were meeting Aloha, it started to sprinkle and I decided not to put on my full rain gear. In a half an hour I was totally drenched. The good news was that we were heading to town.

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Cloud rolling towards me.

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...and now in that cloud

Oh! We crossed paths with Bink (Scott Williamson) today on his hike south. He held the PCT speed record until less than a month ago. He’s back at it, and seeing him on the trail was really a highlight of my day! He’s a super-nice and totally humble guy – he’s out to hike mostly because it’s the best way to get away, but there’s still that record… and beating it would be a bonus… so even though he’s out to hike crazy-awesome-mileage days, he stopped and chatted with us for quite a while! Go, Bink, go!

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Bink, a PCT celebrity.

Finally, in the pouring rain, along the busy road, Tears and I tossed our soggy gear into the pickle jar and jumped in behind them. We were shortly whisked away to Bend, Oregon. We were looking so forward to this visit! We planned a zero day and everything! Besides that, it had been six days without a shower. I could not wait for that – especially after being weighted down from rain.

We are staying with Condor and housemates Tidi and Wayne. Tidi and Wayne hiked the Appalachian Trail, and Condor hiked the PCT in 2011 – so we’re amongst a great, friendly group of people. Condor is also the creator/artist behind my favorite PCT video. It really inspired me and kept me motivated as I planned and obsessed all things PCT. Check it out! And a ginormous thank-you goes out to Tidi, Wayne and Condor for the amazing hospitality!

Pizza, doughnuts, beers, and meeting up with several other hikers at Crux Brewery was a great start to some time off. Tomorrow we have lots of hiker chores and hopefully some relaxin’ time, too.

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Pizza and beer!

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Doughnuts!


Tonight I love how it feels to shave my armpits after a week on the trail.

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Cairn city.

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Note on a water cache.

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How... little pine tree?

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Rain droplets

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2000 miles! Stupid rain pants... :O

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A giant table of hikers at Crux Brewery

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A beautiful sky from early this morning.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 125: The most incredible hiking day, in photos.

Sat. 8/24/13
27.0 miles (Miles 1960.5 – 1987.5)
Horse Creek Trail – Small lake at mile 1987.5

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Standing on top of Obsidian Falls, beaming with glows of sensory overload.

I don’t even know what to say about today… I’m kind of at a loss for words, but I will try. I guess I can start by saying that today was the best day on the PCT so far, as views, trails, skies and diversity goes. I really didn’t think anything could outdo Muir Pass in the high Sierras, but I think today did, by a sliver. I am admittedly a little surprised. I didn’t have any idea that one stretch in the middle of Oregon would beat out a day in the Sierras, but it happened!

I think what made it the most special was the diversity of everything I encountered. The terrain changed drastically throughout the day, the trails went from easy to hard and back again, up and down, and winding all over, the weather was hot and sunny, then partly cloudy, then sunny and cold, then the wind kicked up, the sky changed constantly all day long, we saw no PCT thru hikers, but many knowledgable and very friendly locals enjoying their backcountry home, there were mountains with snow on them, low clouds blanketing peaks, meadows, lush and green forests, blue layered mountains off in the distance, a few wildflowers, springs, streams, lakes, lava rock, every color imaginable, a beautiful sunset, and to top it all off, a short personal moment right at the end of the day that made me cry… of happiness… fulfillment… satisfaction. I felt like God handed me nearly everything I hoped to see on this whole trip – in one single day. I was overwhelmed, to put it lightly. I want to somehow just transport every morsel of what I took in today and put it here, in words, so I can come back and revisit it, remember it and feel it, as well as share it all with anyone reading – I sometimes feel like the more successful I am at sharing it all, the better it becomes.

So here’s my idea… I took the most photos in one day today than ever before on this hike – 180. And since I’m having a hard time really describing it all (I think that might just be that there was so much to see), maybe I just do it through some of those photos…

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The morning sun shining through a hemlock full of lichen.

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A cairn on top of Koosah Mountain.

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The first view of South Sister Mountain.

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The coolest toad ever! He was white and gray!

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Trail Party! Goal Tech (in the hat) came down the trail towards me and says, “Toots Magoots!” It turns out he’s following my blog, was out for a hike with David (with the bandana), and hoped to run in to me. It’s always so freakin’ cool to run into someone following me on here! He gave us some trail magic, too. A Snickers bar, some peanut butter pretzels, mango and dried coconut! Thank you!

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Mirror Lake. Appropriately named…

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…and the shore was lined with these! Yum!

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More incredible forest-walking.

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A meadow with a closer view of South Sister.

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Even the crickets can’t help but to love it up out here! Haha!

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Another fantastic view, complete with my favorite shades af greens against a killer blue sky.

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Wine and Cheese. I loved these guys. Wine says to us, “You’ve got one booger of a climb coming up…” He was right, too!

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Meadow, hemlocks, blue sky, puffy clouds… the stuff dreams are made of.

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There was obsidian all over for a few miles, glistening in the sunshine, smooth like glass.

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Beautiful Obsidian Falls!

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A scramble up the steep hill gave me a closer look, and a few drops of refreshing water on my face.

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Flowers by the creek that flows over Obsidian Falls. The water here tasted incredible! Spring-fed from the Sisters, perhaps?

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More shiny obsidian.

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Lava. Just the very beginning of one of the best parts of today. I pictured a flat field of lava rock for some reason… instead, it was rivlets, canyons and mountains of it!

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Lava rocky trails. Extremely challenging for the feet, but so incredibly awesome I didn’t even care.

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Lava mountains we were about to climb. This would be that “booger of a climb” Wine was talking about.

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Kind of a cheesy thought, but it felt neat to feel rock that was once molten-hot magma from waaay down below the earth’s surface. Powerful…

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Basically a ridge of lava rock. Great views from up here, too!

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Then the sky got crazy-gorgeous, too.

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So many awesome dimensions of color, light, terrain and sky.

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The afternoon light hit, and everything green lit up vibrantly against the blue sky.

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South Mattheiu Lake with late sun-glow dancing on the surface. It was windy and quite cold here!

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As the sun set amongst a variety of differently-shaped and colored clouds, I fell into my short moment of spiritual bliss. This is one of the places Muir Pass wins – I was in that fluid, spiritual state for at least an hour there, but if I’d have had more time…

And with that, as I lie here in my tent reflecting on an amazing day, I sign off with a whisper… “Thank you, God.”


Tonight I love… today. All of it.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 124: Lakes, lakes… and lakes

Fri. 8/23/13
28.1 miles (Miles 1932.4 – 1960.5)
Forest Rd. 5897 – Horse Creek Trail

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One of the many gorgeous lakes from today.

If I could give future PCT hikers only one piece of advice, it would be to always look for something beautiful. Most days you don’t have to try at all – you don’t even have to think about it. Thankfully today was one of those days for me. There are days, however, that feel dreary – maybe it’s because of the weather, or you feel like everything is looking the same, or your feet hurt, or maybe you’re just tired. But in any struggle, if you look for something beautiful, you’ll find it. It can be a tiny flower, a rainbow, a glistening stream, a mushroom, a cloud, or even a short conversation with another person… whatever is beautiful to you. The point is that it will lift you up, and you’ll find yourself looking for more.

I remember when I hiked through my first burn areas. I remember feeling really sad – all that forest – gone. Charred black streaks scarred the landscape and it felt so empty and barren. Then I started to look around more. The flowers that thrive in a post-burn environment are colorful and spatter the ground in all directions, the trees are barkless, white, and glow against the blue sky, and sometimes being able to see through the open trees grants a view of a snow-spotted mountain you wouldn’t otherwise see.

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After burn beauty

I thought about all this during the first few hours of hiking because the early morning brought me right into an old burn. I almost couldn’t believe how pretty it was. There were purple and white flowers everywhere, huckleberries to pick, dew-covered leaves reflecting fresh sunlight, and the trees stood tall and skinny high into the sky, framing a fading near-full moon. I almost fell over a few times just looking around.

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Purple flowers

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Dewy, fuzzy leaves

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More flowers.

After the burn area, we stepped into forests of pine, firs and awesomely gnarly hemlocks. I finally got a photo of the old man’s beard that I was pretty satisfied with. It’s really tough stuff to photograph with a phone camera!

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Giant hemlock draped in old man's beard lichen

Next we entered the Three Sisters Wilderness. We’ve been getting glimpses of the snowy peaks of the Sisters way off in the distance for a few days now, so we were pretty excited to get a much closer view late this afternoon. We had to peek through the trees, but I think we’ll get some clearer views tomorrow. What was really great about this wilderness area was all the lakes! Especially coming out of such a dry section of trail this past week. There were ponds spotted with lily pads, low and film-covered pools, shallow and muddy, and big lakes painted in teal and blue, reflecting the forest on the opposite shore in perfect detail, just upside down. It seemed like we had a new lake around every turn.

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So many fantastic lakes and ponds!

The other great thing about today was all the huckleberries. It was hard to make good progress in some spots, the way those plump, purple berries hung along the side of the trail, begging to be picked and eaten. Tears and I joked that we needed “huckle-blinders” to get down the trail. Maybe we’ll invent those when we’re done hiking. Huckle-blinders with dwarfle-blinder attachments. Yeah, we come up with some weird stuff sometimes, but it’s fun.

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It's pretty faint, but I was proud of my first huckleberry tongue!


Tonight I love doughnuts. I wish I could eat a doughnut right now.

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Super-awesome lichen... bright yellow and shaped like little horns

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Someone's probably missing these.

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There's always time for goofing off.

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Hello from the weird tree hole!

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 123: My portal to home

Thurs. 8/22/13
23.9 miles (Miles 1908.5 – 1932.4)
Hidden Lake – Forest Rd. 5897

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Gently swaying treetops.

I lied on my back and shut my eyes today. As soon as my eyelids closed I felt really happy… well, kind of like just a comfortable happy. I love every moment on this trail, but I still miss home sometimes. As I lied there I realized the sound of the breeze  brushing the treetops was the same as home. I think the breeze traveled at the same varying speeds creating the same frequency or something. With my eyes closed, I could’ve been laying in my parent’s backyard in the grass, eyes shut, listening to the breeze in the treetops… I discovered a short portal to home! What’s so great about this discovery, is once I’m home I can use this portal to bring me right back here, too. Now I never really have to leave this journey behind. In a way, it never has to end. I’m sure there are more portals like this one, too, and you can bet I’ll be looking for them from now on.

It rained last night for a little bit, but by the time we got up everything was dry. Now that’s my kind of rain! It sprinkled on and off throughout the day, and we even heard some incredibly deep, crackling thunder roll across the sky above us. I wasn’t afraid this time – I was in a safe place, low in the forest, surrounded by towering trees.

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Towering, lichen-covered trees

We hardly saw anyone on the trail today. During the first half of the day we saw one hiker going south, two mountain bikers, and two awesome riders on horseback. Later we ran into three older gentlemen going south, and once to the forest road… Aloha! A short while later Cuddles came out. He shot off down the trail for another eight miles to complete his goal of a FIFTY-mile day! How awesome! Then Black Hat came out and hung out for a bit, and eventually decided to ride with Aloha into Bend.

When we met Aloha at the road, he had a treat for us like he always does:

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VooDoo Doughnuts from Portland! I ate three! I’ve been so hungry lately that they went down really easy. Especially that maple-bacon doughnut! Holy yummers! He also brought us some goodies for resupply, and we took over the dirt road and got packed up for another three-day stretch. A new round of rain, dark and ominous clouds and rolling thunder came through, so we sat in the car for a while and visited until we finally had to get back on trail. Not even a half mile in we found camp on top of a little hill.


Tonight (and always), I love my mom and dad. I was happy to hear their travels home went well, and I’m so thankful they were able to come out to see me… hiking a section out here with them meant more than I can explain, and I think they know exactly how that feels and what I mean by that. It was pretty special. Thank you, mom and dad… I love you.

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Lower Rosary Lake being all reflective and pretty

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All those low, green shrubs lining the trail are dwarf huckleberries, er, dwarfles. It's hard to get miles in sometimes!

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Some of the most simplest things are so beautiful.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)