Relaxing in the Middle of an Oregon Forest
During August 2008, Ken, Wesley and myself all hiked the Pacific Coast Trail through the state of Organ, from one end to the other, over 400 miles. We started near the California border where Ken and I left off in 2007, and finished on the Bridge of the Gods, which crosses the Columbia River into Washington.
We expected this trip to be relatively easy, as the Organ trail is flatter than the other states. Organ is known as an "outdoor", eco-friendly state, so the trail was supposed to be much better kept than previous sections. Also, we were hiking later in the summer, so that conditions such as snow and mosquitoes should be greatly reduced. And, we expected pleasant weather.
For the first few days, it did seem like our expectations where to be met. The trail was very easy: smooth, wide, with gentle ups and downs. The weather was nice. Then the things started to get harder for the rest of the trip. First, the weather got very hot (100 degrees). Mosquitoes came out in droves. Then, almost overnight the weather got cold, and rainy, Few mosquitoes during the second half of the trip, but boy, the weather was some of the nastiest that I have hiked in for an extended period. We even spent one entire day in our tent, waiting out a storm.
Also, Oregon has many fewer views than California. So much forest. Forest is beautiful, but limits views of our progress. Sadly, too, is that much of Oregon's forests have burnt down. We walked though at least 50 miles of burnt forest. And many of the views we did get were of large, burned out sections of forest. We even had to camp in places where fire had wrecked the area.
In the year of 2008, Oregon had a huge amount of snow. And snow late in the season. Much of it was still melting as we passed through. Melting snow produces mud and lots of mosquitoes. Since it was so late, crews didn't get in to clear the trails before we hiked. Lots of debris on the trails. Signs were old and almost unreadable. Also the fires had wrecked many of the signs... Basically the trail needs work; as it is now, it doesn't represent Oregon's outdoor mindset.
So, from the above description, you might think that we didn't enjoy our trip. Not true! It was great fun overcoming all these difficulties. Also, even though so much of Oregon is forest, we did hike though magnificently beautiful areas... Crater Lake, the Three Sisters mountains, Mount Jefferson Park, and the Mount Hood all come easily to mind.
For this trip, we experimented with a new way to keep journals. I bought a new phone with internet, GPS, and a camera built in. Ken and I wrote software so that I could take a picture, write a journal entry, and upload it directly to this web site. Google Earth can then be used to view the journal entries on a map. In many places on the trial I did not have phone coverage, so the journal entry and the picture were stored on the phone, and uploaded in a batch when I found coverage again. So the journal was not a "real-time" journal, but it was more up-to-date than any journal we did in the past. We call it an "Auto-Journal" and can still be assessed here.
Ken kept his more traditional journal on www.trailjournals.com. His journal contains pictures from his camera, which was a much better camera than the one in my phone. Also he took lots more pictures than I did. However, many of Ken's pictures can be viewed via the links at the top of this page.