Home on Whidbey is a family blog revolving around Fran, Ed, Brad, Yessi, plus puppy Benton, and our family, travels, friends, neighbors and community. Thanks for reading.


The Sisters

Freestyle is due to arrive in Sisters, OR any minute.  I'm watching my e-mail for his first back-to-civilization communication.   Along the way, Freestyle, Bloodbank and Bodybag get to Three Sisters they're going to look into some freestyling on these beautiful Three Sisters Mountains

The PCT in Oregon has some highlights like Crater Lake and the Three Sisters, but generally it is noted for being less grand and easier to hike than the California and Washington sections.  It's not Freestyle's favorite because much of it is forest walking and he so prefers the high, above the tree line, hikes that present more challenging trails along with more spectacular geography and views.   However, because the Oregon PCT is less challenging it also is hiked quite quickly, relatively speaking. 

Three Sisters
North Sister - Faith; Middle Sister - Hope; South Sister - Charity


Freestyle Freestyling at Crater Lake

Freestyle, August 22, 2012

Freestyle in Ashland, OR

Freestyle (aka Brad) hiked into Ashland, OR on August 16.    On their push to get to Ashland he, with his other thru-hiker friends, hiked from 6 am to 11 pm with only about 2.5 hrs. of break.  They ticked off 43 miles with 3000 ft plus, vertical gain.  Record to date -- drum roll!  In Ashland there was a package to pick up (a replacement solar panel for charging his phone), and a need to resupply.  His next stop is Crater Lake.

Photo by Sean Bagslaw

Row River Biking

Cottage Grove was our next destination and the Row River Bike Trail.  We rode with Benton in his puppy-coach, a coach he's not too happy about, but tolerated.  A good ride, but not fabulous, probably because we were starting to smell home.  

We arrived in Eugene the following morning with every intention of staying there another day and night and riding their bike trail before heading home.  But, by that time, we'd totally turned into homing pigeons and Whidbey island was the only thing we could think about.  After strolling the beautiful green streets of Eugene and  enjoying coffee it was over.  Back to the car and onto I-5 headed home.  We made it in a straight shot -- home again.  Beautiful garden!  Beautiful home!  Beautiful island!  

One last PCT hit!

Leaving Crater Lake we knew we'd be leaving the Pacific Crest Trail road crossings for the last time on this trip.  I needed to stop and mark the spot!  Brad would once again be totally on his own and we would miss our shared experience of his hike and his thru-hiking buddies and our angel experiences.  It was goodbye, sadly.

Strange tree growth

Forest leaving Crater Lake

Beautiful old historic building

Goodbye PCT

PCT Trailhead 

We hike a short section of the PCT to say goodbye

Crater Lake

Crater Lake is a "bucket list" must, but I can't tell you how many times I've driven by it in all the years I have travelled between Washington and California -- snowed out, too busy, took the ocean route, and so on and on.  Finally, I've been to Crater Lake and it does not disappoint.  Regretfully, we didn't do much exploring because it is not dog friendly.  No dogs on the trails and it was too hot to leave him in the car.  Camp has rules against unattended dogs in camp.  There you have it.  We drove around the lake as the sun was setting and again in the morning.  We stopped and explored what we could at lots and lots of the viewpoints, but we'll need to return to hike.

Fran & Benton enjoying our morning at a  Crater Lake camp

Ed, Benton, Fran 

Rule breaking to let Benton play in a patch of snow.
 Fortunately we didn't get busted.

Harsh conditions create beauty

Tenth Stop - Old Station

Old Station, CA was our next resupply destination and it too is simply a bump in the road, although it had three small grocery stores, so we needed to reach Brad and coordinate with him as to which store we'd left his box.  Fortunately, both his phone, and our phone, had reception so we were able to let him know.  Old Station is only slightly larger than Belden* with 51 residents.  But, it was also more welcoming.

Ed and I were headed north for Crater Lake and then some bike riding in the Eugene area so we just kept going.  We'd made our last angel stash at Belden.  We were not in homing pigeon mode yet, but  home was in our sights.  We were also feeling sad to be leaving Brad and the PCT behind.  

Grocery Store where we left Brad's resupply box

* Belden 22 residents

Ninth Stop - Belden

Although we were not going to see Brad again on this trip, we did have another couple of resupply drops to make.  This stop was at Belden,   CA which is not much more than a bump in the road with a small grocery store, inn, bar, campground and laundry facilities.  We left Brad's box at the grocery store, thankfully, because we didn't get a strong feeling of PCT support here.  Many places along the trail have "Welcome PCT Hikers", signs marking the trail, and a general "hangout" quality that says "glad to see you".  Not here.  The trail passes directly through the resort and there were no clues that the trail existed.  In fact, we needed to ask directions twice because all we got the first time when we asked where the trail was, was some arm swinging and "over there".  But it wasn't and we needed to search it out.  The only signs posted were "pick up your cigarette butts" and "pick up your bottle caps".  

Before we left Belden we did a short hike on the trail to leave an angel drop of cold drinks.  I'm sure it was loved because it was hot, hot, hot in Belden.   Before we got back in the car Benton and I went down to the river to cool off where we had a slightly frightening encounter with a rattlesnake.  Growing up in California my eye was trained to watch for snakes.   If I'd see a snake I'd get out of the way quickly, and then try to identify what kind of snake it was.  My training served me well because we just happened on the snake, with Benton in the lead, and my first response was to back up.  Good thing too as it was quite a large rattlesnake, with Benton's nose headed right at its head.  Our good luck is it was not coiled and in retreat mode. 

Belden Resort 

Angel stash

Ed and Benton at angel stash

On our way to Belden we saw two thru-hikers walking along the road.  When we stopped we were delighted to see Itchy and Scratchy again.  They were on their way to an angel stop near Belden.  We hauled out the ice chest and gave them drinks and fruit and had a nice visit before moving on to Belden to make Brad's resupply drop.

Itchy, Scratchy, Fran


Eighth Stop -- Sierra City

Sierra City is a darling little town in Northern California.  We were spending our last couple of days with Brad before returning home.  Our camp was Wild Plum Camp Ground a national park camp, our favorites.  National camps are typically small with few improvements and more remote and wild. 

Once again the WiFi access was critical to winding up Heart on the Trail work.  It seems like we've spent days and days on this project, and we have, but the days have been short with interruptions galore.  Plus WiFi has been sporadic and slow so work progressed, often, at a snail's pace.  Other activities were thrown in too, like downloading photos, catching up on correspondence, e-mail, and so forth, all needing to be finished up before we loaded Brad's computer into the car and drove away.

And, drive away we did.  Brad was still on the Red Moose patio when we drove out of town.  The Red Moose owners had just returned from a huge shopping trip so  Brad couldn't stand the thought of not having one more dinner of real, home cooked food before he hit the trail.

Sierra City

Red Moose PCT Angel Stop 
Buck Horn Restaurant with good food and generous WiFi

PCT Thru-Hikers are almost half-way at the Red Moose in Sierra City, CA

Creek running by our camp at the Wild Plum Camp Ground in Sierra City

Beautiful Sierra City ountry side

Thru-hikers on the deck at the Red Moose

Red Moose Angels extraordinaire

Buck Horn Restaurant Patio

Seventh Stop -- Donner Pass

Our next rendezvous with Freestyle and Benton is Donner Pass.  We stayed at Donner Memorial State Park located close to Truckee the night before meeting Brad and then again the night of his arrival.  The park is nice but huge.  Way too many giant RV's and loud generators so represented for us the "other" kind of camping.  Ed and I camp somewhere between the camping Brad is doing on the PCT and the large RV owners.  We have a tiny tent camper, spending all of our time outside, except for sleeping or inclement weather.

We arrive at Donner Pass early so we can be angels on the trail before Freestyle and Benton arrive.  In order to meet on the east side of Highway 5, we thought we needed to park on the west side and hike under the freeway.  It turned out there was a trail from the east I-5 rest stop to the PCT.  The sign had been removed so we found the rest stop from the west side trail.  Beautiful trail though, so no regrets.

This was our first angel stop where no PCT thru-hikers came through.  We had many day hikers and even some horseback riders -- all enjoyed our cold drinks -- but no thru-hikers.  We sat and read for two or three hours waiting.  Finally, Brad got through on the cell and requested we meet him at Sugar Bowl instead as Benton was very tired and limping.  We dug a small hole in the forest duff, filled it with ice, and left cold drinks for the hikers passing by.

Off to Sugar Bowl, the ski area of my high school ski days.  Memory lane!  All of this part of California is so close to my home town of Auburn, and where I spent so much time as a student in high school and college.  I had decided I would call no friends or family, and enjoy California as a tourist, but it seemed strange.  

Lovely stream on the west side of Highway 5 at Donner Pass

Fran at the culvert going under I-5

PCT under I-5 at Donner Pass

PCT and location of our angel drop

Beautiful Donner Pass

Here's the crew at Sugar Bowl bookended between Freestyle & Ed
Benton is already in the back of the Element sleeping

Tahoe City

We were snagged in Tahoe City, referred to as the heart and soul of Lake Tahoe. And, indeed, it was the heart and soul of our lives for a few days.  The town has beautifully celebrated their waterfront with great landscaping and native plant restoration.  It also has outstanding bike paths, nice restaurants, excellent coffee shops and they topped it off with an excellent and lively concert in the park.  Dead Winter Carpenters played the Sunday night we were there -- great!    In addition to all of this, the State Campground, right in town, right on the bike path, and right on the lake's edge, is small, well outfitted, comfortable, private and was a great home-away-from home for three nights.  We ate and biked and walked and did more Heart on the Trail setup computing.  We now move on to Donner Pass.