The Long Haul

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Well I made it. The silly folks at the border let me back into the US for another bout of long distance hiking, others would say masochism.

After a bus trip to Melbourne and four flights I finally landed in Portland, Oregon, just across the river from Washington State. My bargain price premium economy flight was worth it for the extra leg room and entertainment on the long haul but it came at another expense – it was almost a 30 hour trip with long hours between planes. Melbourne to Auckland, Auckland to LA, LA to San Fran and onto Portland.

I was able to grab small snippets of sleep on the way through but not enough. Exhausted and craving bed, autopilot kicked in and it was just a matter of ticking off the priorities – get to my hotel, shower and rest. On ya Uber – always reliable even at 1am in the morning. It was straight to sleep for a good kip.

Jet lag is never fun and I had a leisurely 10:30am start the following day but missed breakfast at the hotel. I’m staying at a Super8 chain motel near the airport. It should be named Supercheap as it’s a dive of a place. Who am I to argue. It was cheap and it’s right on a bus route straight into town. You get what you pay for and I’m basically just sleeping here, while out and about for the next few days.

First thing first today was a US SIM card. I feel naked without cell service these days. My phone does so much for me. Navigation around cities and on the trail, weather, photos, this blog etc…

AT&T came through with the goods and I was back in business. Now to REI to grab some fuel and a couple of freeze dried meals.

Getting around in Portland is cheap and easy to do. Portland city is a big place for this country town boy and I must say it’s a bit of shit hole. Maybe I’d appreciate it more with a car and being able to go out and see all the sites.

Homelessness is out of control here. Any flat piece of land with some cover from trees or bridges has a shanty town of torn tents and tarps. Right on the side of the highways, under most overpasses or public parks are the same. In town just about every door way reeks of urine and is graced with the odd human turd. Yuk!

And I think Portland is the place where tolerance came to die. Just a last week there were violent protests in the city between far left and far right groups. Tensions are still high and the atmosphere palpable. I will be glad to get back onto the trail tomorrow.

I managed to touch base with Nancy to confirm a ride out the trail head. I met Nancy early on during my PCT hike last year and we kept randomly bumping into each other along the way, although I think the last time we crossed paths was in Mammoth Lake after the Sierras. Anyway, we’ve kept in touch since and knowing she lived not too far from Portland I hit her up for a ride to the trail. She was more than happy to assist. Looks like lunch and beers are on me to return the favour. I’m looking forward to catching up with her for sure and relive stories from last season.

Now to buy food for the first leg of this trip. Last year this first section took me 2.5 days but given that I’m starting fresh and will probably have a half day tomorrow I’ve packed four. Shopping bought back many memories wandering the aisles looking for food stuffs I’d swore off since finishing hiking last year, like sachet tuna, pop tarts and jerky.

I have exploded the contents of my pack in my hotel room and getting ready to go. Let the hiking begin.

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