Taking Time to Smell the Roses

May 14, 2018

The Pacific Crest Trail traverses some very harsh environments, from baking desert valleys to frozen alpine mountain tops. These austere conditions often force hikers to push their bodily limits. Though Jay and I have been very lucky with the weather, we, too, have felt the extremes of this environment. Regularly carrying several pounds of water, often hiking over 15 miles per day, enduring pitiless sun, getting buffeted with gale-force wind – it all adds up. We knew that we needed a break, a complete rest, not just one zero day doing chores.

Ten days ago, while talking with his parents on the phone, Jay learned that they were concerned over their cat-sitting arrangements for an upcoming trip. He volunteered us to watch over a very cute, strong-minded kitty cat.

May 14-18, 2018

So, from Inyokern, CA, we took a bus to Gardnerville, NV. This also allowed us to see the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada Mtns as we traveled up Hwy 395. Miles of snowy peaks accompanied our travel!

We picked up our car and spent the night with a friend in Gardnerville, had dinner with our son and his girlfriend in Reno the next day, then drove on to Eugene, where we settled in with Clementine, the aforementioned cat.

May 19-31, 2018

And so we have been enjoying civilization for the past two weeks. We’ve slept a lot. I caught up on this blog. We’ve taken short walks to Delta Ponds, on the Willamette River. Eugene is beautiful in the spring! The flowers flaunt their beauty for the world to see, while birds enjoy the water.

We’ve enjoyed cooking and eating the kind of food one can’t get on the trail or even in a restaurant!

Breakfast – hot tea, blueberries, salad, eggs over-easy, and paleo pancakes!

A typical dinner included baked fish with chard and lemon accompanied by a salad of mixed greens, cabbage, cauliflower, onion, red peppers, avocado, and goat cheese.

A friend of my mother-in-law invited me to swim each morning. We also spent one whole day visiting two old friends.

And we’ve worked at making friends with Clementine.

The first few days, she very obviously missed ‘her’ people. She would jump up beside me on the couch and ask to be petted. But when I obliged, she would only tolerate a few moments of stroking, then her tail would begin to twitch and she would jump down, sitting with her back to me, tail lashing furiously. I could imagine her thinking, ‘Can’t this human do anything? She doesn’t even know how to pet me correctly!’

One day while I was typing on the computer, Clementine seemed determined to snuggle, climbing all the way into my lap. I petted her, and the teeniest purr started deep within, only to be quelled instantly. Encouraged, I kept stroking. Clementine closed her eyes, still not completely relaxed, but heading that way. My eyes wandered to the computer, thoughts returning to my interrupted blog. One hand kept petting the cat while the other hand began surreptitiously typing. Clementine’s eyes flew open, legs coiling beneath her. With a bound she left my lap and stalked across the floor, tail quivering with indignation! I could imagine her thinking, ‘How dare she! The cheek of that woman, to think she could pet me and type at the same time! That’s it, I’m done with her!’

One thing Clementine did love from the beginning was to be outside with us. As I sat in the sun on the back deck, the cat would wind around my legs. I would reach down with her grooming comb, and Clementine held still while I pulled loose hair from her fur.

Clementine getting groomed while watching a bird.

After ten days of caregiving, Clementine was beginning to accept us. She put her paw on Jay’s chest when he sang to her, a sure sign of approval. And yesterday she let loose with a full, continuous purr while sitting on my lap – at least for a few moments!

What next?

We will return to the PCT in a couple of days. We’ve enjoyed our time off trail, and it has been lovely to know that the snow continues to melt in the high mountains!

When we started in March, we agreed that we would be hiking from March through October. We still hold to that goal. I’m looking forward to quiet nights and sun-kissed days.

Since we are already in Oregon, we have decided to return to the PCT at Willamette Pass, mile 1,908. We will hike north, to Canada. We think it will take us about two months. Then in August, we will find transportation from Canada back to Walker Pass, and start hiking north again, hoping to finish the high Sierras during August and then hike through the rest of California and Oregon in September and October. It will be very interesting to see whether we can finish the whole PCT in one go, hiking at our slow pace. We will strive to keep the idea of pilgrimage in our hike, seeking to learn from our journey, not just check off miles. I hope the readers of this blog will continue to enjoy reading of our trek, chopped up as it might be. I know I’m looking forward to seeing the trail again!

P.S. I will continue to take notes and try to post blogs regularly. There are fewer towns along the PCT in northern Oregon and Washington than there were in the first 650 miles, so there will probably be a lag of a week or ten days between each time I get a chance to post. I’ll keep writing as I hike!

21 thoughts on “Taking Time to Smell the Roses

  1. Thank you Sarah! Praying for you all!!! Sure enjoy these blogs wow!!! It is like taking the trip with you!!! :). Blessings and love!!!


  2. I exclaim to your parents and many others about your posts, Sarah! Your descriptions, your photos, and your appreciations of the amazing Trail Angels make for a remarkable pilgrimage. You’ve cleverly captured your sojourn with Clementine! Hope you can still check in with your parents during the “on trail” stretches up ahead. Take care…and blessings, Carol



    1. Thank you!
      I told my parents that we would be carrying an emergency beacon on this stretch of trail, so even if we don’t have phone coverage, we can still get help if an accident happens. “So now you don’t need to worry about us,” I reassured my parents. My mom just scoffed. 🙂


  3. Have throughly enjoyed your post . The pictures and your post are like poetry to us . Thank you Jay and Sarah looking forward to the rest of your journey .


  4. Sarah I love reading your blogs and seeing your pictures we love you and Jay and miss you. Reading your blog makes you seem not so far away. Love Rebeca


  5. Yes , you got all the interactions right and we were thrilled that you happened upon Daniel . You are just too kind !


  6. It was great to see you and Jay in Gardnerville on your way through. We went up to Ebbetts Pass on Memorial day and found it was still very snowy in places, but seemed to be clearing quickly. The road up to the trail had a bit of snow but we made it through easily in a 4wd. I think we can get right on the trail with our magic in a few weeks. Hikers won’t even have to make a detour. On our way out, we saw a couple of Forestry interns checking the trail conditions. God bless you and protect you!


  7. Your adventures sound amazing. I love all the plates of food! And so glad you take time to smell the roses too!


    1. I’m glad you enjoyed reading the blog!
      It always seems rude to me to walk by the glory of a flower in bloom without stopping at least once to smell it! 🙂
      And yes, food is a bit of a passion with Jay and me. 🙂


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