Patches the Asthma Girl! (Asthma Ditty)

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I’m Patches the asthma girl!
I’m Patches the asthma girl!
(Puff! Puff!)
I’m hiking across the world.
With new lands to see
I’m happy as can be!
I’m Patches the asthma girl!
(Puff! Puff!)

I feel healthy
And I feel strong
‘Cause I’m hiking
The whole day long.

I used to struggle
And I used to wheeze
Now I just
Give the inhaler a squeeze
(Puff! Puff!)

There’s no mountain too high
And no trail that’s too long
When I have my inhaler along
(Puff! Puff!)

I’m Patches the asthma girl!
I’m Patches the asthma girl!
(Puff! Puff!)
I’m hiking across the world.
With new lands to see
I’m happy as can be!
I’m Patches the asthma girl!
(Puff! Puff!)

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Camping on broken glass (PCT Days 126-130)

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All week people had been telling me about how amazing Obsidian Falls was… “Absolutely gorgeous,” they’d say, “but you’re not allowed to camp there.” No problem, I’d thought… I understand the need to protect the unique and fragile areas of the wilderness, especially the ones that see heavy use, I don’t need to camp there.

Finally the day came and I was within 10 miles of the famed Obsidian Falls… It was really a shame that we weren’t allowed to camp there because it was the perfect distance… It was the place that I would naturally end up if I kept up my usual pace and hiked until I normally did… Looking at the map I realized that I was going to have to stop hiking early, or push myself to hike further than usual in order to avoid the banned zone… That was ok. I could do that, but it was a shame… It would be the perfect place for me to camp that night.

As I continued to hike northwards I encountered wave after wave after wave of southbound section hikers. “Where did you camp last night,” I innocently asked one of the groups of four… I was hoping to get intel on a pretty spot, since I figured they probably started at around the mileage where I’d finish that day.

“Obsidian Falls,” they cheerily explained, and went on to describe how amazing and breathtakingly beautiful their spot had been.

“Oh, I thought we weren’t allowed to camp there.”

“Well, you’re not allowed to camp there,” they said, seeming rather smug to me. “You have to have a permit to camp there.”

“Cool,” I responded, “I have a PCT permit, so I should be all set.” Maybe I could camp in the mythical place after all, and not have to worry about cutting my day short or pushing it too long.

“No, your PCT permit doesn’t count for that,” they patiently explained to me… They had the right permit, so they could camp there, but I had the wrong permit, so I wasn’t allowed. Not only that, it sounded like there was no way that I, as a long distance hiker, would have been able to get the right kind of permit.

A wave of betrayal and indignation washed over me… It felt so unfair, I’d hiked ~2000 miles to get here, and once again the PCT was telling me that I couldn’t stay at the pretty place, because it was reserved for other people.

Was I experiencing the fabled sense of entitlement that I’ve heard thru-hikers are rumored to be full of? Up until that moment I didn’t think I suffered from that dread disease… Maybe I was just grumpy, and if I sat down and ate a snack the world would suddenly feel fair again.

As soon as the other hikers went by I sat down and I ate my snack… Did it suddenly feel fair that they could camp at Obsidian Falls and I couldn’t? Nope, it didn’t… Did I feel like I should be allowed to camp there if they were letting people camp there? Yes, I did.

Over the past four months the trail had become my home, and it felt like someone had come in, slammed my bedroom door in my face, and told me that I had to sleep on the couch that night because they were going to sleep in my bed. I contemplated shouldering my way in, and crawling into my proverbial bed anyway… Knowing that it would make it too crowded, and that I’d be sharing my bed with a bunch of strangers… Knowing that it would be even less comfortable than the couch…I was grumpy and I wanted to make a point!!

As I thought about my analogy, I realized how incredibly juvenile that kind of behavior was… I didn’t need to sleep at the falls, I could still see them and enjoy them without camping there. I would just hike my hike, the way I usually did, and pretend that nobody had told me about Obsidian Falls and what an amazing place for camping it was.

The area leading up to Obsidian Falls was gorgeous in its own right, with alpine meadows full of lupine, and impressive views of both South and Middle Sister… As evening approached, I did what I always do, I looked for a spot to camp with a sunset view… About 2 miles before the Obsidian limited use area I found it, the place I wanted to camp…

There was a lava flow cliff off to the left of the trail, with a full sunset view to the west, and the sisters behind it… It was the perfect spot!

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I settled in, ate my dinner, laid out my sleeping bag on the smooth rock surface, and watched the sunset with a heart full of awe and joy. There was absolutely no doubt, I was exactly where I was supposed to be!

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I awoke to an amazing sunrise the next morning and smiled as I ate my breakfast of skittles and Cheetos from the warmth of my sleeping bag… What an amazing spot this was, and I still had Obsidian Falls to look forward to!

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P.S. The huge deposits of obsidian by Obsidian Falls were really cool, but my campsite was much more awesome than anything I saw there… Besides, who wants to camp on a pile of broken glass anyway? :)

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It’s the heart of the mountains (PCT Power Ballad)

Pop quiz: Do you know the name of the artist and song that inspired my newest PCT power ballad?

It’s the heart of the mountains
It’s the thrill of the hike
That just keeps me
Climbing up higher

So I hike through the daytime
And I hike through the night
Cause I hike, and I hike, and I hike
To the heart of the mountains!

Sometimes it’s rainy
And sometimes it’s bright
But the mountains they
Just keep on calling

Cause ’round every corner
There’s a brand new delight
So I hike, and I hike, and I hike
To the heart of the mountains

Though I’m always so hungry
And my shoes are too tight
But the trail it keeps
leading me higher

So I keep on climbing
As I take in the sights
As I hike, and I hike, and I hike
To the heart of the mountains

Sometimes my pack has
Impossible heft
And I just wish it
Was a bit lighter

But I hike mile after mile
‘Cause I’m living the life
So I smile, and I smile, and I smile
In the heart of the mountains

It’s the lure of the small town
It’s the thrill of the food
That just keeps making
This day grow longer
But I dream of the burgers
And I dream of the shakes
So I hike, and I hike, and I hike
To the next small town diner!

It’s the heart of the mountains
It’s the thrill of the hike
That just keeps me
Climbing up higher

So I hike through the daytime
And I hike through the night
Cause I hike, and I hike, and I hike
To the heart of the mountains!

Crater Lake Cool (PCT Days 120-125)

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Some days are just perfect, and when you get one of those days, you have to savor every minute of it.

I had been to Crater Lake once, years before, to go on a snowshoe backpacking trip… The snow was absolutely beautiful, but the blizzard that moved in (and stayed for the duration of the trip), meant that I never got a clear view of the legendary water of the lake, or of Wizard’s Island. I was determined that this time, not only was I going to see Wizard’s Island, I was going to climb to the top of it!

Unfortunately, it can be really hard to get tickets for the boat trips to Wizard’s Island… You either need to reserve tickets way in advance of your trip (they sell out fast), or you need to get one of the limited first-come-first-served day of tickets, which you actually have to get 24 hours in advance of your trip. That meant that I was going to have to get to the ticket reservation desk by 9:30 in the morning the day before my trip to Wizard’s Island, and then wait until the next day for my boat ride and hike… Even if it meant two or three days without any trail miles (zeroes), and having to hike an extra seven miles each way to get to Cleetwood Cove, it would be worth it! I was going to go to Wizard’s Island this time!

A week before I got to Crater Lake I met Lobo’s mom (the mom of a section hiker I’d met back in the high Sierra) on her first backpacking trip in decades! It was exciting to see how much her comfort zone in the woods was expanding. I spent the night on trail with her and her husband and talked about my plan’s for Crater Lake.

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“You should definitely do it,” Lobo’s mom told me. “Lots of the thru-hikers say that they’re going to at least go down to the water for a swim, but they never do!” She lamented. I certainly understood why that happens… A 7 mile road walk each way can be rather daunting, especially in a 28 mile waterless stretch. “It was so wonderful when we did it last year that we would go back, wouldn’t we hon?” Her husband nodded and said he would.

“You guys should totally come out to the Island with me! It would be lots of fun!” I exclaimed. Lobo’s dad smirked and said, “I figured you guys already had that in the works!”

If it hadn’t been in the works before, it definitely was now… Lobo’s mom decided that she was going to go stand in line and get tickets the day before I got to Crater Lake, and then she and her husband would come pick me up and be my adopted parents for a day trip to Wizard’s Island. I couldn’t believe that my dream of visiting Wizard’s Island was going to come true and that I was going to be sharing it with these amazing trail angels!

As Lobo’s parents drove me around Crater Lake to Cleetwood Cove a week later I couldn’t stop smiling. I couldn’t believe that it was actually happening, I was headed to Wizard’s Island! From the car I marveled at the blueness of the water and the reflections of the clouds on the lake, it was truly an amazing sight!

As we pulled into the parking lot Lobo’s mom explained that she had made chicken pesto sandwiches for everybody, and that her mom had baked a strawberry rhubarb pie just for me. A whole pie, just for me?! I love strawberry rhubarb pie! I impulsively decided that I was going to carry the entire pie up to the summit of Wizard’s Island and eat it there!

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The climb down to the boat dock was steep, but the views of the lake along the way were absolutely stunning! Before we knew it we were on the boat and cruising around the lake on our way to the island. It felt strange being a regular tourist for the day and not a thru-hiker… I was just there to do what everyone else was there to do… To explore Wizard’s Island!

Once we reached the shore of Wizard’s Island Lobo’s mom and I headed for the summit of the cinder cone, while Lobo’s dad headed to one of the secret coves to spend the afternoon fishing. It was eerily beautiful climbing up the cone with smoke wafting through the air. We were lucky that the smoke from the forest fires was thin, and didn’t obscure our view of the lake, but smelling fire while climbing in a volcano (even a dormant one) was a little disconcerting.

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After exploring the crater, I picked the perfect spot to sit down and eat my strawberry rhubarb pie. It was like opening a Christmas present as I peeled back the layers of tinfoil that it was wrapped in to display the pie in all of its glory. It even had a perfectly in tact lattice top. I pulled out a fork and dug in! Savoring every bite of the pie, just as I savored the view and the company. The pie was delicious :) After eating 3/4 of the pie I decided to take a pause in pie eating. I wanted to save some of it for after my swim!

We descended the cone, and I headed for my second destination of the day, the dock. I had heard of the legendary waters of Crater Lake, and now I’d seen them, but I was looking forward to the fully immersive experience… It was time for a swim!

“Watch out, the water is really cold,” warned one of my fellow tourists… How cold is cold? I was about to find out. I’d learned that the trick to dealing with cold water was not to think about it too much, and to submerge myself quickly… If I tried to ease my way in, it just wouldn’t work. The dock would be the perfect aid for me for for this venture though, I could just take a running leap off of the end of the dock and into the frigid blue water below…

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“Oh my gosh, what am I doing?!” I shouted as a ran down the dock and… Splash!!! Into the water. It was so cold it took my breath away for a moment, but I was used to swimming in cold water… I cut my teeth swimming at Sand Beach in Acadia, Maine when I was a kid (water temps may hit 50 degrees there, if you’re lucky), I could handle this water (somewhere between 50 and 60 degrees for the top 3 or 4 feet).

It was definitely refreshing! After swimming for a while I got out of the water, lounged in the sun, and finished off the rest of the strawberry rhubarb pie… What a perfect day!!

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Just before the boat arrived to finish our tour of the lake Lobo’s dad returned from his fishing trip… He’d managed to catch a 22 inch rainbow trout (no fishing license required at Crater Lake)! We were certainly all very happy as we headed back to the rim!

Our timing was also impeccable, we climbed back up to the rim and got to the car right before the skies opened up and the pending thunderstorms manifested with tons of rain. It’s always nice to be in an insulated metal box when the thunderstorms hit.

As the rain poured down and lightening ricocheted all around us, I decided that I didn’t want to pitch my tent and sleep outside that night. Luckily some section hikers that I’d met the day before had offered to let me join them in their room at the lodge at Crater Lake that night… I didn’t want to impose on them if the weather was good, but with the news of dozens of new lightening strike fires in and around Crater Lake I was extremely grateful to run into the section hikers in the lobby of the lodge and to take them up on their offer. The kindness of all of these complete strangers was overwhelming!

Since they wouldn’t let me help pay for the room, I decided to splurge and join them for a fancy dinner in the main dining room of the lodge. Per usual, I ordered desert first, a wild berry creme brûlée. Mmmm… I love creme brûlée. I then followed it up with a dinner of fresh oregon lamb chops. The food was absolutely amazing! I had a full belly, a warm, safe place to stay for the night, and the sun was finally setting on my perfect day when the server delivered the check and said, “you guys are missing out on a phenomenal double rainbow!”

What?! We were watching the cloudy sunset to the west and were completely missing out on the phenomenal rainbows to the east. I dashed outside into the rain for one of the most phenomenal views I’ve ever seen. The low angle light from the sunset had given the crater lake landscape a golden glow, turning it into an unearthly place, and creating some of the most brilliant rainbows I’ve seen.

I could have stood in the rain soaking it all in for hours… Crater Lake to my left, lightening storms to my right, and the most amazing rainbows I’d ever seen dead ahead. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day!

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P.S. Thank you to all of the people that helped make my day at Crater Lake so amazing!!

Thru-Hiking Across America (PCT Ditty)

Pop Quiz: Does anybody know the name and artist of the original song that inspired me to write this ditty?

Thru-hiking across America
Only going northward
Where is Canada?

We come to hike.
Where’s the view?
Where’s the view?
Where’s the view?
We come to hike.
Where’s the view?
Where’s the view? Now!

Thru-hiking along the PCT
Hiking through the wilderness
We don’t need TV!

There are rattlers in the Mojave,
Mojave, Mojave.
There are rattlers in the Mojave,
Hurry up, don’t die!

Thru-hiking across America
Only going northward
Where is Canada?

There’s snow dude,
but not as we know it,
not as we know it,
not as we know it.
There’s snow dude,
But not as we know it.
Hurry up, glissade!

Thru-hiking along the PCT
Hiking through the wilderness
We don’t need TV!

There are fires in Oregon,
Oregon, Oregon
There are fires in Oregon
Hotshots hurry up!

Thru-hiking across America
Only going northward
Where is Canada?

We come to hike.
Where’s the view?
Where’s the view?
Where’s the view?
We come to hike.
Where’s the view?
Where’s the view? We’re thru!

Hail No! (PCT Days 115-119)

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“Shelter, find shelter!” the panic prone portion of my brain screamed at me. I was up on an exposed ridge and a massive thunderstorm was coming! Thunder rumbled in the distance as I put on my rain gear and checked my maps. Could I get down off of the ridge before the thunderstorms got here?The short answer was no. F***!

In any other weather I’d love to be on this gorgeous ridge in the wide open meadows dotted with conifers, enjoying the views of Mt. Shasta off in the distance, but it definitely wasn’t where I wanted to be during a thunderstorm!

As the rain started to pick up I saw a flash of lightening dart from the clouds behind me down into the hills. “One one thousand, two one thousand, three one…” Crash! Boom!

The storm was way too close for comfort already! I broke into a jog… I didn’t think I could get entirely off of the ridge before the storm got here, but maybe I could get to Grouse Gap Shelter? It was less than a mile away…

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Suddenly it started hailing, “Hail no!” Hail meant that the thunderstorm was no longer behind me, I was right in the middle of it! I wasn’t going to make it to Grouse Gap Shelter. I needed to find someplace to wait out the storm right now! I stopped and peered through the rain and hail, the trees ahead of me were all loners… No more than one or two isolated trees in the open field. I didn’t want to be there… I didn’t want to be the tallest thing around, and I didn’t want to be huddling at the base of the tallest thing around…

There was a road above me, but it was at least as open and exposed as the trail. I looked behind me, about 100 yards back was a stand of 10-15 trees… Not ideal, but probably my best bet.

“Woah!” Lightening arced halfway across the sky in front of me, finding the ground (or a tree) over by Grouse Gap… The clap/crash of thunder echoed around me as I bolted south, back up the trail, and into the relative safety of the small stand of trees.

Though the trees did nothing to protect me from the torrential downpour and the hail, at least they meant that I was no longer the tallest thing around… I was in the middle of the stand of trees, not near the top of the slope, not near the edge of the trees… I wanted to maximize the chances that lightening wouldn’t hit me directly!

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I was cold and tired, and didn’t want to stand as I waited out the storm, so I looked around my clump of trees and at the sopping wet ground littered with hail that surrounded me. Normally (puddle or no), I’d just plunk down on the ground, but in a lightening storm? No… I wanted some protection from ground currents in case lightening struck nearby, so I had to find a different solution… Eventually I decided to sit on a boulder. It was also wet, so it was far from being perfectly electrically isolated, but it was much better than sitting in a puddle. I sat on my rock, if there were any ground currents they’d go from my butt to my feet, and bypass my heart… I’m not sure how pleasant it would be if lightening struck nearby, but I’d probably survive it. In the meantime I was still getting wetter than I wanted.

In a stroke of brilliance I decided to create a makeshift shelter by pulling the top of my pack cover up over my head and propping it out with my trekking poles… Finally I had shelter from the rain and the hail.

As the lightening continued to strike all around me I was glad that my boulder was sort of like a chair… I knew from my hike of the AT that trees usually fall relatively slowly, so if lightening did strike one of the trees in my clump, I’d be able to jump up and get out of the way before it fell on me.

With my makeshift shelter in place, I was able to pull my cell phone out without it getting completely soaked. My parents were supposed to meet me that evening at the intersection of the trail and the next paved road… I wanted to let them know I was going to be later than I thought because I had to wait out the storm, and I also wanted to make sure that my mom wasn’t going to try to hike out and meet me. I didn’t want her out in this weather!!! Unfortunately I didn’t have cell service… I hoped that my parents could see the storm from wherever they were and that mom and dad would stay safely inside their car (those metal boxes come in handy every now and then).

After what felt like an eternity the storm finally let up, the hail passed, and even though I continued to hear thunder rumbling in the distance, I no longer saw any flashes of lightning… I slowly got up and peered out from my clump of trees… The sky was still dark, and it looked like more thunderstorms were coming, but the current storm had wound down to a drizzle…

I was afraid to leave my clump of trees and head back into the open meadows of the ridge, but I definitely didn’t want to be up here when the next round of thunderstorms rolled in, so I took a deep breath and headed out.

I was excited as the trail wound around the corner and headed down into the woods (I was no longer on the exposed ridge) until I started to smell smoke… From the next clearing I looked down into the valley and saw a plume of smoke rising up… It suddenly occurred to me that each and every one of the lightening strikes that I saw from the ridge had probably struck a tree… And it was fire season here in Southern Oregon… Oh sh**!

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During the thunderstorm I had wished that the trail had been going down into the cover of the trees… Now, with the threat of fire, I longed for the open, exposed meadows. I know that hotshot had said that uphill was bad in fires, but I wanted to be able to see where the fires were, and how fast they were moving!!

Being in the woods, knowing that there was a fire, smelling the smoke, and not being sure where the fire was… Scary as f***ing heck!

As I continued to descend the smell of smoke grew stronger and stronger… The trail was bringing me towards the fire and not away from it! (Insert more expletives of choice here). As I got to the intersection for grouse gap shelter the source of the plume of smoke became clear… A tree about 100 yards below the shelter had been hit by the lightening strike I saw earlier. I stopped there… This was a decision point…

Should I go down and investigate the fire? Should I call it in? Was anybody else there? I decided that my safety needed to come first, I wasn’t going to intentionally move closer to the fire! I took a screenshot of my GPS coordinates and decided to call my parents first, to let them know that I was ok (in case they could see the fire) and to let them know I was going to be even later than I thought because now I needed to call in a fire.

“Hi mom and dad, I’m ok, but I need…” The line was bad and it started breaking up… “What?” I kept hearing them say “what?” on the other end… “I’m ok.” “I’m ok…” The line went dead… So much for warning my parents and calling 911 to report the fire… My cell phone coverage wasn’t good enough.

I had the GPS coordinates of the fire, and a landmark, the grouse gap shelter… Now I just needed to get to safety and find cell phone service so that I could call the fire in… I was at the intersection of the trail and a dirt road… Should I take the dirt road, which headed back up to the top of the ridge, or should I take the trail to the paved road a few miles down the hill where my parents were expecting to meet up with me?

I ended up deciding to take the trail… If there were more fires I could always bushwhack either uphill or downhill to one of the dirt roads, but the trail was guaranteed to lead me to my parents and the safety of a car… I took a deep breath and plunged back into the woods…

The wafts of smoke in the woods were absolutely terrifying… I kept remembering lines from “young men and fire,” which I’d listened to on long car rides when I was a kid:

“I kept thinking the ridge-if I can make it. On the ridge I’ll be safe” – Rumsey (Young Men and Fire)

As I remembered the story from my childhood everybody died (not actually true, 2 people survived)… Until this moment, forest fires had mostly been a theoretical thing… Now it was suddenly the nightmare from my childhood… I was running through the woods trying to make it to the proverbial ridge (my parents car) before the fire got me…

I was going to be ok. I’d seen the fire, it was small, and it was moving slowly. This wasn’t the fire from the book… This wasn’t the fire from my childhood nightmare… I was going to be ok…

As I hiked (maybe I jogged a bit) through the smoky woods… I was a little kid again… I just wanted my mommy and daddy to make everything ok… And they would… They were here… Just three miles away… Just two miles away… Just one mile away… Just half a mile away…

When I got to the paved road my parents were there. They couldn’t see the fire from where they were. They were just excited to see me… As I approached mom she gave me a hug and said, “are you ok?”

When you’re not really ok that question coupled with a hug is the hardest thing in the world… I burst into uncontrollable sobs as my parents hugged me… It was ok, I was going to be ok. It was only when I got to the car and my parents hugged me that I realized I hadn’t actually been sure that I would be ok, but now I knew… I was finally safe… The fire wasn’t going to get me.

“I need to report the fire,” I explained to them… We needed to get cell service and report the fire… I also wanted to head back to the gap in case there were thru-hikers right behind me that needed help…

As we drove up the hill my parents and I saw the plume of smoke rising up from below Grouse Gap Shelter… I needed to see it, I needed for them to see it… It wasn’t just my childhood nightmare that had panicked me… It was real…

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We called 911 to report it, and I decided that I wasn’t going to hike the next day, “hail no!” I didn’t have to hike in another thunderstorm… I needed a day off! After dragging my poor parents to the ER for 4 1/2 hours the previous day to deal with my nose (verdict==antibiotics and a slightly deviated septum), and then dragging them to a forest fire complete with a phone call to 911, I wanted a nice, pleasant day with them… A day without drama… A day of relaxing… A day of winery tours in Southern Oregon… That was what we needed… A day of *real* vacation!

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Pancake Challenge (PCT Days 111-113)

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I was pretty sure that the PCT only went through three states: California, Oregon, and Washington. How was it then, that I found myself standing in front of the post office for a different state? And a state that I’d never even heard of before? I must have hit my head harder than I thought when I took that nose dive!

Though I’d never heard of the state of Jefferson (the 51st state) before, I liked their motto which was something like, “politicians: one term in office and one term in prison.” It was hot out, I was hungry, and in addition to having a post office, the state of Jefferson also had at least one cafe, the Seiad Valley Cafe.

It was gloriously air-conditioned inside, so I sat down and made myself comfortable. Before the menus even hit the table I ordered a root beer float. I’d been dreaming of ice cream for days! As I browsed the menu, I sipped on the root beer float that had magically appeared in front of me… Hmmm… What did I want to eat?

Pancakes… I definitely wanted pancakes. The only pancakes I saw on the menu were the pancakes for the pancake challenge (I’ll admit I wasn’t reading the menu all that carefully). The challenge was to eat five challenge-sized pancakes in under two hours… If you completed the challenge then you’d get your pancakes free of charge. Five pancakes in two hours… I felt hungry enough to do that… I wasn’t sure what challenge-size pancakes were, but I figured there was only one way to find out…

When the waitress came back I ordered the pancake challenge. “Are you sure?” she asked, “they’re really big.” I was sure… I was hungry, I wanted pancakes, and I wanted to see what the challenge was all about.

As she placed the order people around the cafe began to murmur… Someone had ordered the pancake challenge! I was sitting in the back room with Whitewater (he got bit by a rattler on the day I took my nosedive) and GearSlut. We were tucked in the corner, so none of the customers in the main room could see who had placed the order.

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GearSlut, overwhelmed with curiosity about my challenge-sized pancakes, got up to take some pictures of the pancakes on the griddle. One of the guys at the counter said to him, “You’re an awfully small guy, do you really think you can eat that many pancakes?” He responded with a smile, “they’re not for me, they’re for her,” and pointed towards me. It was a great redirect :) If they were dubious about his ability to eat those pancakes, they were definitely dubious about mine!

Eventually my curiosity got the best of me and I had to get up to take a look at these legendary pancakes as they were being cooked. They were definitely big! Not only were they at least a foot in diameter, they were also really thick, probably half an inch of bubbly white pancake between the golden edges. They were so big they needed a special spatula to flip them (it looked more like a shovel than a spatula to me!).

I watched as the first couple of pancakes were finished and she poured the next couple out onto the griddle… They looked good, and the longer I waited for them the hungrier I got!

Eventually all five challenge-sized pancakes were delivered to me on a silver platter. I could barely pick the platter up it weighed so much!!! This was definitely the largest stack of pancakes I had ever seen, never mind consumed. “Clock starts now,” said the waitress as she brought over a bowl of butter and two containers of Aunt Jemimah’s maple syrup. I lathered butter onto the top pancake and prepared to dig in.

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For some reason a fork didn’t seem up to the task to me, so I lifted the platter to my mouth and took a few bites before deciding that the platter was way too heavy to hold up while I was eating… I was going to have to employ a different strategy…

I picked up one of the pancakes with both hands and took a bite out of it. Not bad… little dry though, so I lathered on some more butter… Just right!

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In order to come even close to winning the challenge, I was going to have to eat each pancake in 30 minutes or less. I finished the first pancake in just under 30 minutes, I was still on target time wise!

However, just two bites into the second pancake I was starting to slow down. Though it might be hard to believe, I was starting to get full! I was also starting to get tired of pancakes…

With plenty of free wifi, I got distracted from my pancakes and started checking Facebook instead of eating… Every now and then I’d remember that the pancakes were there and nibble at them… I ate another couple of bites with marionberry jam, which made those bites more palatable, but it still wasn’t enough to encourage me to eat more than a couple of bites…

An hour into the challenge I was still working on that second pancake. I stared at the pile… Even with another whole hour there was no way that I would make it through all five pancakes… In a couple of hours my parents would be meeting up with me… I wanted to be able to hug them without worrying about covering them with partially digested pancake…

With that thought I decided that I was going to stop eating pancake before I got too uncomfortable… I continued nibbling at the second pancake for the rest of that hour, as I chatted with some local gold miners. The youngest of the group had ordered the challenge the previous week and had managed to eat one and a half pancakes before the time was up, so I set a new goal, I wasn’t going to try to eat all five pancakes anymore, I was just going to try to eat a little bit more than he had.

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When my two hours were up I’d managed to eat two or three bites more than one and a half pancakes… Just a smidge more than the youngest gold miner :) After the challenge was over I chatted with the waitress and the cook for a while… It turns out that only two people in the last five years had successfully completed the challenge.

Even though I hadn’t eaten all five pancakes I had a lot of fun trying… It reminded me that happiness often comes from just getting out there and trying things… That you don’t always have to win to have a good time (especially since in this case I’m pretty sure winning would have made me sick!).

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