I HAVE A TRAIL NAME!!

DAY 42 & Day 43 & Zero day - Fish Lake to Grizzly Creek to Callahans Lodge to Ashland 

I have officially been given my trail name! It's only taken 800 miles, but I wasn't settling for being named after condiments, food or something in my pack. 

On the trail, you are given a trail name. A name that says something about you. It's a thru hiking tradition and something most people just pick up quite early on. 



North bounders are christened almost immediately on trail. There is roughly 50 people a day over a 2-3 month period who start northbound. The trail culture is full on. There's a lot of partying early throughout the desert and groups start to form easily. There's an abundance of individuals heading north, as it's the more popular route. Things slow down a little when they realise they have to get to Canada before it snows, so then the hiking begins. I could just see myself wanting solitude as a Nobo and needing a lot of space. 

Of course, I chose South bound. It's so obviously me!! I'm not one to hang in large groups of people and I often don't play by the rules. I like to be different. Sheep bother me - eternal followers. Walk your own path, I say! Don't do things just because other people do. There are no rules to life and never let anyone tell you different or try to alter that about you. Except for the cops. Police know stuff. Follow their rules. 



As a south bounder, there's very few of us. Not big groups of hikers and we all come and go between people. So being christened with a legitimate trail name is difficult. I could see how some people would become desperate and just accept any trail name, because it's hard to pick up something and have people really get to know you well enough to be named something decent.

My main aim on the "trail name" front was to walk away without a name like "corn chips" or "tortilla" and to have something with a bit more creativity.

When I met Mary Poppins and Tripsy, I knew that these two girls were decent humans to possibly trail name me. They both had great names to start with and I was glad I didn't have to refer to one of them as "almond butter" or something of the like.



I've actually gotten away without a trail name for other reasons too. Everytime I have introduced myself to people, they actually think Gretel is my trail name!! Haha I began to think about that and realised that, of course, Hansel and Gretel went to the woods. So I could understand how that's actually a really good trail name! Ha!

Side note: if one more person says "oh, so where's Hansel? *wink* *wink*" in a really seductive manner... UMMMMM seriously, Hansel was her Brother... enough said!

So, sitting down at Fish Lake, the girls were telling me how they were thinking of trail names for me and together they came up with...

AMERICAN IDOL

hahaha!! I loved it immediately and accepted it straight away! For obvious reasons, I'm sure you guys can work out, but just in case you can't; their christening reasons are that I am always singing along the trail and they believe if I was to go on American Idol, I could win. HA! 

So that is my official trail name. I'm thrilled it's not Vegemite.

Anyways, let's talk trail. Oregon has gotten hot and smoke is rolling in! There's incredibly long water carries and throats are starting to burn. I have to give a massive shout out to the incredible trail angels who have been leaving an insane amount of water during dead water stretches! This is pure life saving. 



Today's trail updated me on mileage - 1779 miles to Mexico. An exhaustion fell over me, but also a flood of sadness. Suddenly, I felt heavy to leave the trail in that many miles. I don't want to stop. I like it out here. I like my house. I like the woods. I like the freedom. I like the people. And most of all, I like the simplicity. The peace. The stillness. I don't want to get to Mexico now. Ha!!



For me, there's a sense of belonging here in the woods. There's balance. The world is like a scale and when I'm out here hiking and living amongst the wilderness, my scales are equal. There's a gentleness and a levelness. There's a balance of social and solitude. There's a balance of stillness and chaos. There's also a balance of selfishness and selflessness. Seriously, the woods have my name on them. Well, now my trail name!! 



After exiting one of the last stretches of green before camping at Grizzly Creek, suddenly Oregon turned smokey. The fires are rolling in. There's 958 of them burning across the state. Yeah. Go figure! This day was a planned 54.4 km day, with a severe amount of uphill. A constant climb all day! We started out around 6:30am and it was already difficult to breathe. The air was hot and the smoke was intense. It was going to be a rough day.



I hiked a lot of it with Tripsy actually, and that was a blessing. We were both struggling mentally. It was rough terrain elevation, it was hot and surprise, surprise, there was no water for AGES!!

We were both trying so hard to find the joy. And we did. I have to congratulate us on that. It was quite literally, a terrible hiking day, but we were so determined to enjoy it. Lots of conversation every now and then, laughter, and intense hiking was all we did for about 13 hours. Tripsy and I knew it was a hard day when Mary Poppins was struggling with the heat and lack of water. She's an absolute pocket rocket who is always in decent spirits, and even today was weighing her down. Poppins has already hiked the PCT nobo, last year, so she is a thru hiking champion. When Mary Poppins is down, the whole world is down, right?! Come on now. She's "practically perfect"!! Haha



The dryness of Oregon was excruciating through some sections. It reminded me of Australia and the many reasons why I don't advise anyone to hike in Australia! Haha maybe Tasmania winter, but no other time of the year!! 

The meadows were stunning and I so badly wanted to see the clarity of all the ranges in front of me. There was nothing helping this stretch. 



At roughly 5pm, the sun was a burning, scorching source of orange. It made for a beautiful picture, but did not quench my thirst! I was savouring my last 100mL of water for emergency. That's not a nice feeling. The more you know you can't have it, the more you want it. It's why I don't advise dieting. That, and the fact that it also has the word 'die' in it! Nothing is positive about that. 



This last section has been lovely hiking with the two girls. They are such incredible women and have given me so much to take with me on this next section. I am so thrilled to have had the chance to walk the trail with strong, independent, intelligent and funny women who are representing so much out here. I was very proud to be a part of a little trio of females who are conquering the PCT. So many people we passed commented on how wonderful to see 3 solo hiking females out on the PCT. Women really can do anything, if they set their minds to it. You want something? Go out and get it. Don't be a lazy female. And don't expect the non-lazy females to pave the way for you. Get moving. 



It's a shame Oregon has been obliterated with smoke and now another closure ahead. I have to hitch around from Ashland to Etna, in California. So, this is another state done!! California is the big one to go. Northern California, the high Sierras and then the desert. It's all still happening and I'm thrilled I'm still here.



I've had to wait another day in Ashland, as the new pack I had shipped in, is too big. I'm resupplying, shipping on some new boxes, re-routing some packages from the closures and resting. Hopefully, I can get a hitch in to Etna on Friday. 

In the meantime, I received a new tent!! YAMA mountain gear! The incredible Gen was so helpful dealing with my parents whilst I was on trail and shipped one of his Cuben fibre cirriform tents. I wandered around Ashland today, seeking grass to set up tent. I chose a park nearby, but I am sure I was featured on a few instastory's or snapchats today with people saying "WTF?! Random camper setting up tent outside my house?!" I was practising how the ultralight tent works and I'm super eager to get out on the trail with it. I was a little disappointed about my ultralight bag being too big, but my stress-ometre was immediately feeling as though it's not the end of the world. Keep hiking on until it gets sorted!



Oregon... you've been beautiful, picturesque and smokier than the Singin' in the Rain pas de deux sequence, when most occassions you couldn't actually see the stage edge. Another state down, and one to go. This one is the big one. 

So, peace out, Oregon! And to The Mamas & The Papas, I'm California Dreamin'!



- Gx

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