The Washington 500

I've waited for this moment for so long.  How crazy?

I've waited for this moment for so long.  How crazy?

Well folks, Oregon is now complete and I've set my sights on the great state of Washington.  It's an interesting feeling knowing that a mere 500 miles separates me from the Canadian border and the completion of a dream I've had for a number of years.  This trail may not have turned out to be exactly what I hoped for in terms of miles covered, but I honestly wouldn't change it for the world.  

Never have I looked at this bridge from this point of view.  Just beautiful.

Never have I looked at this bridge from this point of view.  Just beautiful.

I finally reached the Columbia River on the 6th of August.  It was strange to be hiking down the mountain into a place where I commute through nearly every day of my life.  The familiar sights and sounds were somehow different to me this time and my only reason for this oddity is that I was seeing if from a new perspective.  The Columbia never looked so good coming down that trail and will forever mean something different to me.  It is no longer just a river to cross on my way to and from work, but rather a significant marker on a journey that I'll forever remember.  

Fires on our way down to the Columbia.

Fires on our way down to the Columbia.

The hike from Sisters, Oregon to Cascade Locks began with a fire reroute.  In favor of making things less complicated, we ended up getting a ride around the Mount Jefferson area altogether and began our hike to the Columbia from Olallie Lake.  Seeing familiar places get closer and closer through the week was quite the experience and knowing that I was now just days from being home was motivation enough to keep racking up the miles each day.

Just a short distance down from Timberline Lodge.

Just a short distance down from Timberline Lodge.

Hiking down from Timberline Lodge was beautiful.  I'll admit I had a moment of gushing emotions after having taken a break to have a cup of coffee while watching the sun peek over Mount Hood one morning.  After my coffee break, I packed my things, turned on some music and soon found myself in one of the most beautiful forests I've ever been in.  All at once the significance of this adventure it hit me like a ton of bricks and all I could do was smile and laugh while I walked down the trail by myself.  Not having anyone to share the moment with, I grabbed my phone and recorded yet another video for Jessica to tell her how amazing I was feeling.   Before I knew it, my eyes were welling up and I began babbling to her about how freaking amazing this whole journey really was and how grateful I felt for her and the support she's given me throughout the summer.  

Morning coffee break.  Jealous?

Morning coffee break.  Jealous?

Tears of joy were literally steaming down my face in that moment.  I admit, it sounds silly, but that's what happens out here.  You get these rushes of emotions all at once and before you know it you're either laughing, angry, or tearing up with emotions.  Hiking for months on end is not just physical endurance, it's also emotional endurance.  It's freaking hard sometimes and apparently in that one moment after having coffee, all of those emotions hit me at once.  Straight up, it felt amazing.

Just go with it.  There are only so many poses you can do after 1500 miles.  This one was new.

Just go with it.  There are only so many poses you can do after 1500 miles.  This one was new.

I arrived in Cascade Locks as the sun was setting and walked out onto the Bridge of the Gods so I could officially wrap up Oregon.  It was surreal knowing I had finally made it home and was now just a month away from being home for good.  Only 500 miles to go and while that may sound like a lot (which it is), I know it will go by like a flash and I will soon find myself at home with my pack in the basement having no more miles to travel.

This guy has been riding his horse since the Southern Terminus.  Crazy, right?

This guy has been riding his horse since the Southern Terminus.  Crazy, right?

So that's weird, right?  The idea of this adventure coming to a close is something I'm not sure I'm ready for, but I know that by this time next month I'll likely be sitting on this couch trying to figure out what all of this means and attempting to describe what it's like to hike all summer long.  I'm looking forward to the challenge that awaits me in both the 500 miles and the change of seasons. Life is funny that way.  It changes whether we want it to or not and the most we can do is change with it.  So with that said, I say "bring it."  Let's do this damn thing!

Late night pizza delivered by a friend in the area.  

Late night pizza delivered by a friend in the area.  

One of the most beautiful states in America is before me and I can't wait to see it.  I have no idea what randomness exists between the Columbia River and Canada, but I know that I'm ready for it.  Be it steep climbs, rain, or the summer heat, I'm ready.  I'm ready for the next phase and I'm ready for the pain.

Hell yes. 

To Canada By Land,

Emory Ronald