Many of the thru hikers on the PCT pick up their pace in the mild terrain of Oregon. In fact, some of the most ambitious hikers attempt to hike all 455 miles of the Oregon section in two weeks which is unofficially called the Oregon Challenge. I’ve heard several different variations of the challenge, but all of the variations entail hiking through Oregon at a fast clip. I didn’t even consider taking on the Oregon Challenge, however, I did set the goal to average 30 miles a day through Oregon. I hiked off and on with a group of hikers who aimed to hike similar miles.
Once I hit Northern Oregon I began to hit the wall. Averaging 30 miles a day just wasn’t sustainable for me, not to mention most 30 mile days became suffer-fests in the afternoons. At the end of Oregon and the beginning of Washington the group of hikers I interacted with on a day basis had similar feelings about starting to slow the pace and enjoy Washington. My fellow thru hiker, Rocksteady, did the math and realized we could arrive in Canada on September first if we averaged 26 miles a day and took a rest day in each of the four resupply points. Rocksteady coined the term “magically mellow marathon” as the motto for our Washington game plan.
I have to admit the daily marathon wasn’t as mellow as I had hoped. The terrain in the Northern Cascades becomes quite rugged and the elevation gain and loss increases to the point where the "marathon" seemed more challenging than a 30 mile day in Oregon. In addition to the difficult terrain, my body did not recover from the stress induced in Oregon, so I remained in an energy deficient state for most of Washington.
I’ve officially been off the trail for a full week now and I’m guessing I’ve walked less than five miles for the entire week. Rest seems luxurious. Already I’m itching to start hiking and running, but my hip still remains sore. When I finished the trail I was ready to be done with hiking. I had no idea that I’d be ready to get back in the saddle after such a short break.