PCT Day 116: To Bend

August 12, 2022

Big Lake Youth Camp to Bend via Santiam Pass at mile 2000.9

~0.9 non-PCT miles

~3.7 PCT miles

I did not love getting up to pee twice last night, mostly because the moon was so bright that anyone even mildly awake would see me and I therefore had to trundle back down the trail through cold, wet brambles. But I did this to myself. I had three cups of tea. Alas. This is how I knew that when I woke up in the morning, everything would be soaked. My quilt, my tent, my food bag—everything is a soggy mess by the time 6:00 rolls around. But it doesn’t matter. Today is a town day, baby!

Instead of going back to the PCT down the 0.8-mile side trail we came down, we follow the blue blaze out of camp and back towards the Santiam Wagon Road. It’s not very purist of us, but at this point with all the closures, we aren’t really fussed about it as long as we maintain a continuous footpath.

At the road, we see a couple of hikers sitting in chairs next to an RV. “You want some pancakes?” they call. It turns out that the guy who owns the RV (whose name I think is Mike?) is cooking pancakes for hikers! They’re special pancakes because they’re made with beer instead of water, which makes them extra fluffy. They are warm and delicious on this surprisingly cold morning. We gobble them up, chat with the trail angel for a bit, then head on our merry way.

It’s flat, beautiful, smooth hiking all the way to Highway 20 at Santiam Pass. It’s chilly today, pleasantly so, and we all stay together talking about our plans for Bend. We also pass the 2,000 mile mark, which we *technically* haven’t actually hiked, but it’s a huge milestone that feels too exciting not to acknowledge.

At the road, we hitch for a few minutes before a super chill guy in a very nice new truck pulls over and says he’s going to Bend. (I’m about 90% sure his name was Clifton, but I could be wrong. Clearly I was not on my name game today.) We’ve heard that this is a tough hitch and thought it might take us the better part of the day to get to town, so this is a very welcome surprise.

In town, we first go to Shari’s for a massive breakfast followed by pie. I’ve been especially hungry recently and this is such a restorative first meal in town. We resupply at the WinCo after that, which is an absolutely magical experience because of their bulk food section. It is a wonderland. I’m lost among the chocolate covered things and bulk lollipops. Jumbo comes up to me, saying, “Okay, Passport. I know you like little things. Have you seen this?” And he holds up the most adorably tiny bottle of Tabasco I have ever laid eyes on. I lose my mind, predictably.

I somehow manage to tear myself away and complete my shopping. Then we get a Lyft with an extremely energetic driver to our hotel, but it’s too early to check in. Luckily, the woman running the front desk is very nice, and she lets us store our packs and food there.

We walk to the REI in search of new water filters because ours are all totally shot, but they’re out, so we end up at Mountain Supply, an amazingly well stocked and very friendly local gear store. After that we navigate to Crux, our first of what I’m sure will be many brewery visits in Bend. It’s tasty. The two IPAs send me into the stratosphere, of course. Oregon beer is the best, and I’m excited to experience it here.

We manage to walk back to the hotel, then to the Safeway in search of hair dye. Ever since Jumbo dyed his hair blond in Big Bear, we’ve been bantering about me dyeing my hair purple because I did so on the AT and found it to be really fun. When I get there, though, I see a steely blue color that intrigues me and I go for it.

Back at the hotel, I try to call my mom while Jumbo and Tribute go to Arby’s, which I’ve been weirdly obsessed with recently. I don’t get through to my mom, though, so I work on my blog until they come back. By that time, I’m not super hungry so I just nibble on it and save the rest for later, but the beef and cheddar tastes as good as I’ve been imagining.

Then it’s hair dye time! Jumbo gets to repay the favor from when I toned his hair in Tehachapi. He’s nervous at first, not really knowing what he’s doing, but by the end he’s confidently squirting big blorps of dye all over. I’m not really sure how it’s going to turn out. It looks a little light. But it’s fun.

Ah, town days. These silly, carefree days of trail life. We’re savoring them now. It feels sweet and necessary to be here.

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