Our journey began Sept. 4, four women on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Three of us are over 60, and one, my daughter, is 36. Only two of us were somewhat experience backpackers. We started at the California/Oregon border after training for about eight months, but nothing could prepare us for this journey.
On our first day, we covered 10.5 miles. The trails were rough and rocky in some places as we climbed up, up and up. As we walked, enjoying the sights and beauty of our Southern Oregon, the flora and fauna were amazing. We stopped and smelled the flowers, resting and making sure we changed our sweaty socks. We ended up at Siskiyou Gap.
We gave ourselves trail names. Oldest to youngest, we were Mema, 68, Ma, 65, Patty Cake, 63 and the one who kept us going, my daughter, Skid, 36, who was like a scout.
The first night was very cold. We ate in our tents, but we stayed warm. Thank goodness for REI provisions — sleeping bags, mats, stoves and warm socks. The only equipment problems came from a backpack I borrowed, which started to come apart halfway through the first day, and which did not fit correctly. Always get fitted for a backpack! I was in pain the first three days.
The next morning was beautiful. We woke up as the sun came over the mountain. Yes, another mountain to climb. The beauty of the country around us lessened the shoulders hurting.
We walked about seven miles that second day without seeing another forest creature. When we got to the top, we discovered that trail angels left two chairs and a cooler of sodas.
We met a man who runs ultramarathons, including a long-distance race on the PCT, and we enjoyed his stories. As we were off to our next destination, the gentleman, whose name was Peter Fish, told us to stay at Grouse Gap, where we found a shelter, fire pit and an outhouse. How lucky could we get! We thought we were in the Hilton.
We set up camp, started a fire, drank wine and had cheese and crackers. Then we had dinner and were off to bed. During the night, some campers came in late, and things got a little noisy, but it turned out to be kids who did not know we were there. After they settled down, some cows came through, "mooooo!" Not a lot of sleep that night.
Early the next morning, we had coffee and were off again. We were looking forward to Callahan's and seeing our husbands. We had dinner, took showers and stayed on a beautiful lawn.
After a good night's sleep, we had breakfast in the dining room, and I got a new backpack. My husband had been in contact with my daughter, and she told him what to get. From Callahan's, we were off to Pilot Rock, which when we started was a speck in the distance.
The husbands accompanied us to the trailhead and said goodbye for three more days. It was amazing to us how far we had traveled. My daughter went ahead of us and found a great campsite on the edge of a mountain, with Pilot Rock to the right of us and Mount Shasta straight ahead.
The hike to Highway 66 was something I will never forget. When we began, we planned to hike to Crater Lake, but we decided to stop after six days on the PCT.
We began having never backpacked the trail and left feeling like experienced packers. Also, one of our ladies, Patty Taylor, is in remission from cancer. She is a warrior.
I will always remember that hike on the PCT with women who are amazing. Thank you Connie Lufkin for asking me to do this journey with you, and my daughter, Michelle Kelly, from Iowa who came to do it with me.
— Mary Jo Bohnenkamp lives in Medford.