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)

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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)