Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Women of the PCT Expediti8on - August 2016 - IN THE BOOKS!

Preface: What motivated me to want to do this? The movie 'Wild' and the book did! I'm an adventurer. I love the outdoors. And I love to challenge myself. By doing the small bite of the PCT I was able to do both. I thought to myself, ' This is something I could do.' So I posted my interest on facebook, gathered up two other gals to do it with me and we started planning. The gals and I started a year in advance with planning.

In conclusion, we planned it. And then we kicked ass doing it! Enjoy my blog....

August 12, 2016 - Friday
It was a somewhat early morning flight on Friday, August 12th from O'Hare airport to Medford, OR. Once I got through security I immediately located the nearest Starbucks and ordered me a 16 oz. caramel latte. Time was approaching for us to board the flight. Look at the line of people waiting to board. Serious people? What's the hurry for you to get on the plane? You're in group 4 boarding, the last boarding group. And you all have assigned seats! Sit down. Relax...

Mind blown....

United flight 5455 landed at Medford, OR shortly after 3pm. Right inside the baggage pick-up entrance I was united with my soul sisters for the next few days.....

Myself, Joanne in the middle, and Crista. United!

Once we had dinner at the local restaurant that had the BEST hand-squeezed cherry lemonade I had ever tasted, we prepared more meals before being briefed on how to use the 'piece' and the satellite communication.

The girls made Joanne a yummy oatmeal mix with coconut milk.
I prepared the 'poop' kits that consisted of a latex glove and a dry wet wipe
you moistened with a water bottle. FUN stuff! I used only 1 throughout the hike.

THIS guy right here, Jason, Crista's husband was such a great help to us ladies. He was very encouraging and very helpful. He was also our chauffeur. His goal was to drop us off at Timothy Lake and make it to P.F. Chang's before they closed. LOL! He made it to Chang's with 30 minutes to spare before closing. Ya Jason!!

A few of the meals we made: coffee, chili w/beans, oatmeal...

We stayed up until around one o'clock in the morning unpacking our packs and going through our items to see what we had duplicates of. I was able to knock off a few items because Joanne and Crista had the items already. It lessened the weight of my pack but not by much.


August 13, 2016 - Saturday
We hit the road at about 10 o'clock in the morning (I think) to be dropped off at the campsite at Timothy Lake, our starting point. That itself was a good 3-4 hour drive. We first stopped at Dutch Bros. coffee and then the golden arches for a breakfast sandwich. I really, really like Dutch Bros. coffee. And I cannot remember the last time I had a breakfast sandwich at McDonald's. Yum! We saw some popular peaks along the way; Mt. Hood, Three Sisters, and I think Mt. Jefferson. Before getting to Timothy Lake we stopped at Natural Bridge Falls on the Rogue River near Crater Lake. Such a beautiful, serene setting.

I could listen to this for a very long time. So peaceful!

After we visited the Natural Bridge Falls we headed to the beautiful Crater Lake. God's creations are so beautiful. Take a look at how beautiful Crater Lake is.

Crater Lake. Blue waters and blue skies. Yes. That's a fanny pack. Don't judge! :-D
We were done sight seeing after Crater Lake. Next stop, Timothy Lake, located about a half a mile from the PCT trail. Once we got dropped of by Crista's wonderful husband we started to settle down for the evening by pitching our tents, making some supper, watching the sun set over the lake, and starting a small fire to help us relax and prepare for what was ahead of us.

I had curry chicken and rice for dinner in my thermos. The thermos is Yeti like quality and is made right there in Oregon. I'm proud to support local. Thanks, Crista for the gift. We had plenty of pre-made bagged meals like what you see here. All you do is boil water and mix it with the food and let it set in the thermos. And you're ready to eat!

August 14, 2016 - Sunday
The two pictures below were taken right before we set off on our expedition. A wonderful man named Kyle offered to take our pictures. The group Kyle belonged to was so impressed with us they had us pose behind their kayaks and before we knew it three people from the group were taking pictures of us; one with their phone, one with a professional camera and the other with a tablet or something like that. We felt as if the paparazzi was following us or something. Kinda cool!

Here we are! Dig the shirts!

Kyle took a picture of our packs to show the bulkiness and weight of them. The total weight came to, HEAVY!

Once we were done having our pictures taken we were off on our hike. I remember the one lady saying, "Yup. The PCT trail is up ahead, not too far. You cross the bridge and take a left and you're on the trail." Not too long after getting on the trail, clumsy ass here (me) yells as I fall to the ground scraping up my leg. Fortunately, that was the only fall this chick took. We continued onto our first break at Small Crater Lake.

Battle scar. OUCH!

We met an interesting hiker along the way. She was a retired lady named P.K. who was hiking with her dog. We saw a lot of dogs with hikers throughout our expedition. It was nice to see this. P.K. had a special type of dog traveling with her. Her dog was her diabetic alert dog. So when P.K. was getting low on sugar intake her dog would bark at her, indicating that it was time to take a break and eat something. P.K. travels throughout the summers usually. So she is taking her time doing the PCT. When you're retired, what have you got to lose? What's the hurry, right?

Meet the lovely P.K. and her diabetic alert dog Ripley. She's enjoying her retirement doing something that she loves to do. What a life!!

We finally made it to Small Crater Lake after about 10-11 miles. There, we met many who were interested in the logo on our shirts and wondered if we were doing the PCT with these huge bulky packs on our backs. We explained our story and the reason for doing the PCT. Many were impressed. Two girls were mostly impressed so much by our story, they told us we were an 'inspiration' for them to want to try and hike the PCT. Both girls were intrigued and wished us luck.

The two girls said we inspired them to try the PCT. I hope they get to one day. I will email them this picture and the link to this blog so they can read about our expedtion. Good luck ladies!

While I was off throwing trash away Crista had met another gentleman who was interested in what we were doing and why we were doing it. I guess it was the matching bright neon green shirts that caught people's attentions or it could've been the huge packs on our backs. Crista shared our story to Jose. He seemed really excited and thought he might want to try the PCT someday too, just like Brighid and Zoey. We also met brother and sister, Zoey and Chris. We spoke to them briefly about our endeavor. 

We wanted to get a picture of everyone we met on the trails who seemed interested in what we were doing. This is Jose and Crista.

We hiked onto our final resting spot for the evening. We did not, as many other hikers, want to be hiking at night. And besides we were BEAT! We finally made it to a camp site. The cool thing about the PCT trails is that you can pretty much camp wherever there is open space! So we found a spot and set up our tents for the evening. Hell! I don't even know if we ate supper that night or not. 

We were so beat! We met a hiker named Half Fast (half not slow, half not fast, Half Fast :-) He was settled in right at the entrance of the site. The girls talked to him a little as they were heading down to the small creek to get fresh water. He was impressed by what we were doing and about the fact we were Marine moms. He had asked if we would sign his flag he traveled with. 

Us and Half Fast.

Here is my exhausted self signing Half Fast's flag. It was worn and tattered but to him, it had so much meaning. We were proud to sign his flag.

I enlarged this picture specifically so you can see our autographs on Half Fast's flag.

The girls stayed up a bit longer than I. I pretty much relaxed in my tent shortly after I had set it up. Man was I beat! After a while I could hear a guy talking to our neighbors who happened to be the brother and sister, Chris and Zoey who we briefly met at Small Crater Lake. Joanne, Crista, the siblings and One Foot started talking about all kinds of stuff. I can remember One Foot talking about the delightful buffet breakfast Timberline Lodge had every morning. I remember him talking about how good their homemade sausage patties were and that there were make-shift showers we could use. Timberline Ridge was our next stop...

The gang! Joanne, me, Zoey, Crista, Chris, and One Foot.

Here we are the next morning feeling refreshed and feeling good to start our hike.

We had satellite communication with us. It was great to have. And we definitely needed it and used it quite a bit! Monday morning we received a text from Jason that Joanne's sister was in ICU due to a medical set back. It was a very sad moment. I stood in silence as the two girls consoled each other. Keep in mind Joanne and Crista are best friends. Once the two were able to get themselves together we trekked onto our next resting stop, Frog Lake.

August 15, 2016 - Monday
We ended up at Frog Lake which was about 5 or 6 miles from our camping spot the night before. Again, we were beat. We found the nearest shaded spot and took off our packs and collapsed. It was good to take off our boots, have a snack and redo our feet with moleskin. I ended up with a few blisters but nothing real bad. That surprised me! Once we got to Frog Lake we had decided to get a taxi to take us to Timberline Lodge. 

We were already behind and this would catch us up to where we needed to be hiking wise. Also, it was a very emotional day for Joanne and it was very hard for her to concentrate on hiking the speed and the distance we needed to, knowing her sister was in the hospital. So we contacted whomever we could to see about getting us a taxi. Charlotte, Crista's step mother-in-law came to the rescue and researched a taxi service for us. Giddy Up taxi was at Frog Lake within 40 minutes. We were on our way to Timberline Lodge. Thank you so much, Charlotte!! 

Once we got to Timberline Lodge, Crista remembered she had left her trekking poles at Frog Lake and we asked our taxi driver if he could go back and get them. He agreed to do so. Thank goodness they were still there. He was so wonderful to do that for us. Thank you, Mr. Taxi driver! Crista and I visited one of the gift shops hoping to find a lighter to light our stove. They were all sold out. When we were at higher elevations it was very hard to get a flame to fire up our stoves. We camped right outside of Mt. Hood. Mt. Hood pretty much was our back yard. I went and had a Moscow mule at one of the bars in the Lodge. When I came back to the campsite the sun was setting in over Mt. Hood.

The angels were painting the sky as the sun went down over Mt. Hood.

Our campsite right outside Mt. Hood at Timberline Lodge.
Look at sweet Joanne relaxing from such an emotional day.
My tent is the one-man Alps tent.

This is the rocky path that led us up to our campsite from Timberline Lodge.
Uphill kicked our asses each time we had to do it!

This is Timberline Lodge. The Lodge we were to have breakfast at Tuesday morning. The exterior of the Lodge was shot in the movie The Shining. The small inset picture is the Lodge as it was shot in the movie. The ax Jack Nicholson used in the movie is actually in the Lodge. I swear I saw it but thought nothing of it because I'm not a movie buff. But I saw it over the Internet and bigger than day, it says 'Here's Johnny' on the ax handle.

We settled in for the night and we ended up seeing Half Fast again approaching us at our campsite. He settled in at the same camp area we were. So we were able to use his lighter to light our stove. He saved the night! We also ran into the couple who were hiking with their chihuahua. We had seen them at the camp ground where we settled in right after Small Crater Lake, where we met One Foot. I woke up Tuesday morning at 5:30 am to catch the sunrise over Mt. Hood. Simply beautiful. Also, it was funny because two sets of hikers threw their sleeping bags on the ground sometime during the night and ended up sleeping right there. I knew I heard extra snoring! :-D

August 16, 2016 - Tuesday
I got up fairly early, like 5:30am-ish to catch the sunrise over Mt. Hood. I did it! I got a good picture of it. I took a few shots and a panoramic of it. Once I started heading back one of the guys who threw their sleeping bag on the ground the night before asked if I got some good shots and I sat and showed him the shots.

This is the best shot of the sunrise over the trees by Timberline Lodge.
The building and surrounding is so dark but you can start to see the sun
peeking its eyes. So beautiful!

We loaded up our camp sites and headed to the lodge to enjoy the lovely hot breakfast buffet One Foot told us about Monday evening. I really wish I had the energy to eat so much more but I didn't want to get sick along the trails. That would not have been comfortable! But I did get to enjoy some of the goodness the buffet offered.

The hot breakfast buffet was wonderful! 

They had a great assortment of continental type breakfast items and plenty of fresh fruit.

I fixed myself a small glass of mixed berry smoothie at the end.

Here the ladies are about to GRUB! That's Half Fast in the
background to Joanne's left. I offered him to eat with us.
No one should ever eat alone if they don't have to. :-) But his
hiking friend showed up and he opted to sit with him.
So I was happy to see that.

Check out the food on my plate. I wasn't playing around! LOL!
I never do when it comes to food! And their coffee was delicious!

Joanne ordered a 'half' order of the bacon platter. YUM! Of course we did not
get to eat it all because we had so much more we were eating. We ended up
sharing it with Half Fast and his friends. Good stuff though. The sauce was a
honey and orange dipping sauce.

It was time to start our 3rd day of hiking. And boy was this the most challenging day of our journey! We had no idea what lied ahead of us! We started out stoked just like any other day. We ran into these two young girls asking if we were on the Paradise Park trail. I'm not sure what we told the girls. We did end up running into them throughout the hike. Regardless, we asked them to take a few pics. of us before heading out. And I took a few pics. of the girls with the beautiful Mt. Hood in the background.

Here we are with the ski lifts in the back.
I think that may be Mt. Jefferson you see here.

We looked happy, refreshed, ready to rock the day. But uh.....NO! We were in for one hell of a challenge! As we continued on we finally found our first location to pick up a permit to 'thru hike' on the PCT. 

Joanne and Crista fill out their permits. We each had to have one.

And here is mine completely filled out.

We continued and I was able to take a few cool pics. of the scenery. God's creations are so beautiful!

Joanne leads the way.

Perty aint it! 

During our hike poor Joanne got stung or bitten by something on her leg. She said it felt like her leg was on fire! We carried on to our stopping point. There, Joanne was able to look to see what had gotten her. We were able to relax, take off our boots and replenish our water supplies. It was a hot day again so it felt good to chill out and be around such a big body of water. Others thought the same because at last 10 other people were there.

Joanne cools the burning sensation she had been feeling since being
bit or stung by something on the hike.

Crista's gettin fresh water to filter so we can refill our camelpaks.

I loved watching and hearing the water flow.

It always felt good to take off our hiking boots and put our flip-flops/sandals on.

Here is our filter system after fetching some water from the river.

There were a handful of people here at the river relaxing
and replenishing their water supplies just like us. This is brother
and sister Chris and Zoey I talked about earlier in the blog. They had
their Pop with them for a short hike. He headed back as the two moved on.

Chris and Zoe made it over the man-made bridge of a plank of wood and twigs
to the other side. This picture shows just the beginning of the dangerous trail we had to trek.

After we had relaxed, snacked, and replenished our water supplies we were about to head into what was the most scariest and dangerous trail since we started out on Sunday. It was a very high cliff with a very narrow trail, about a foot and a half wide. Look to your left you see nothing but huge rocks. Look to your right, the same. I prayed outloud to God to help myself and the girls get through this without hurting ourselves. I think one small slip and it would've been tragic. It was very risky but we did it! It was really a challenge with the heavy packs on our backs.

We had to do some leaping and bounding over small bodies of water.
Crista completed it like a champ!

This must've been before hitting the trail again because I guarantee you
we were not smiley face when we got done for the evening!

The rocky trail we were about to head onto.

This is it! You can see the trail winding up and up and UP!
Joanne led the way. As you can see there was nothing but
huge rocks to soften our fall if it should happen! The trail
was only a foot to a foot and a half wide.

You can see how narrow the trail was. This was the biggest
risk we had to take while on the trial. Very scary!
That's Joanne way up there.

We had hiked for a long time that night. And that is when we decided to call it quits due to time of possibly missing our flights because we were so far behind to getting to our destination and we wanted to be in civilaization in case any other emergencises arose from what had previously happened on Monday. So I contacted my lovely friend Kat via satellite communicaion to see if she could pick us up at the Ramona Falls parking lot the next day in the evening. All the while we were being attacked by biting black flies as we stopped for a break to contact Kat. YUCK!

My feet were starting to kill me! I remember we had to stop for a good 20-25 minutes so I could take of my boots and wiggle my feet. That put us behind a little to get to a camp site by dark. I suggested putting up our tents right where we sat. Not a good idea! First there wasn't enough room for both tents, second, it was by the edge of a cliff!! What was I thinking? I wasn't. I was just about done with it all. My feet were hurting THAT bad. I don't have hiking feet!

We finally got to the camp site right at dark. By the time I got there I had spaghetti noodle legs. Why? Because we hiked nearly 3 or 4 miles all DOWNHILL with 40-45lb. packs on our backs. My knees were defnately feeling it by the time I got to the campsite which was also downhill. It took everything I had for me to make it to the campsite. I couldn't even stand up straight the last mile and a half. My knees were killing me THAT bad! Joanne could feel her heartbeat in her feet. Her feet were killing her as well. Crista felt the same. We had to turn on our lantern to pitch our tents. After that it was shut eye time. 

I was just going to throw out my sleeping bag and sleep in it. Good thing I didn't do that! Our site was by a river which threw off a mist and it was chilling down for the night anyway. It was about 8:30ish when we got to the site. I would've froze my ass off if I had just slept in my sleeping bag!

We got up the next morning feeling so much better and completely refreshed! I cleaned myself up real good that morning using our soap Joanne bought us and warm river water. We all had our breakfasts and gathered up our gear and started the last day of our expedition.

August 17, 2016 - Wednesday
After a good nght's sleep and lots of rest we were ready to kick into high gear on our last day. Our destination was Ramona Falls. We had heard back from Kat a few times letting us know she will pick us up. We were happy to hear this! We snapped a morning selfie of us before heading on.

I wore the most comfortable clothes I could possibly wear!
Yoga pants and a Marine MOM shirt along with a
beanie on my head. It was quite brisk when we woke up!

Crista's ready to roll!

Morning selfie! I did pretty damn good taking selfies with
my digital camera. Joanne started calling them the 'Sammy Selfies.' :-)

Once we got onto the trail we saw we had to cross Sandy River over a janky man-made bridge made up of tree branches. Kinda scary but we did it! If we would've fallen in we would've been ok. We would've just had wet socks and most likely wet packs. They were heavy enought without them being wet!

Crista snapped this shot of myself and Joanne crossing Sandy River
for the first time that day. Yes. I said the FIRST time that day...

It wasn't that bad. It was a challenge though as you can see. Once we had crossed the river we carried on through winding trails of sand, rocks, and dirt. We took a break on the way to Ramona Falls. There, we were able to get final confirmation that Kat would be at the Ramona Falls parking lot around 7:30. That was incentive for us to hussle our asses to the parking lot. But that was still 2 1/2 miles from Ramona Falls.

Resting time. Although we were just about there to the parking lot
we still had to stop and take a breather. Joanne took this pic. Good one!

Here is the SECOND time we had to cross Sandy River.
This crossing was a little bit more challenging than the last crossing.
Again, it wasn't deep but it would not have been pleasant to fall into!
This was our second most risky endeavor.

We finally made it to Ramona Falls. There, we had lunch (snacks), chilled out, met more wonderful hikers and enjoyed the falls. We met a little lhasa apsos at the falls just walking around being as friendly as can be. His owner had a backpack on his back and told us it was for his dog for when he got tired from walking. So damn adorable and dedicated!

Ramona Falls. So, so pretty!

We asked a kind young lady to take our pictures. She took
quite a few and this one stood out the best. Thanks, kind lady!

Joanne insisted on a Ramona Falls 'Sammy Selfie.' :-)

All Good Things Must Come to an End...

Wednesday was our last day of our expedition. We were a little sad we chose to cut it short but more releived that we would be with civilization when we really needed to be. We made it to the parking lot of Ramona Falls. It got chilly as we waited for Kat to pick us up. We were communicating with Kat and she expessed she had run into some issues with here engine soon light. I asked Crista to tell her to check the gas cap. And that was it! She fixed it so it was on right and she was on her way. Then Kat had a hard time finding Zigzag road. She finally found it and before we knew it our hero rolled up to us. 

It got cool out as we were waiting for Kat in the parking lot.
And the sun was hitting me in my face. So this is how I took care of said situation.

We stopped at the nearest McDonalds to enjoy 'non-camp' food. Boy did that double cheeseburger meal taste amazing! We all go our meals and chowed down as Kat drove. But she also enjoyed her fish fillet sandwich and fries along the way. We finally made it home shortly after 8:30ish or so. We all took our turns in the shower, washed our clothes, chit-chatted for a while and then crashed for the night! It was our way of saying, 'Good night PCT. Glad you got to see us!' <3

My look of relief when we made it to Kat's.

August 20, 2016 - Saturday
I hung out with Kat from Thursday to Saturday. We had a great time spending time together, catching up. We went swimming, ate sushi, enjoyed cocktails at the house, laughed and laughed like we always do when we're together. Saturday afternoon we visited Pittock Mansion in Portland before meeting everyone at Ringside Steak House. Pittock Mansion was so fun and such a great place to tour. The house's history was neat to read about. We met at Ringside Steak House at 5:00. I enjoyed crab cakes and a very delicious roasted corn salad along with a great glass of wine. Kat enjoyed the ribeye meal. 

Pittock Mansion located in Portland, OR.

It was great to have everyone together for one last bruha. Jason was even there! We did a toast to completing our expedition the best we could. Although we did not complete it as we had planned we feel we kicked ass during the short time we were on the hike. It definately was an adventure that I am so glad I did with the two wonderful women I did it with. So courageous, brave, and adventerous we were. Thanks for helping create such wonderful memories ladies.....

Our wonderful Jason joined us for our victory dinner.

We did it ladies! We DID IT!!

Kat and I shared a lemony tart dessert. YUM-O!

Victory Toast! Cling!

We Are 'The Women of the PCT Expedition - August 2016!!'

Sammy Oesterreich
Crista Robinson Yilek
Joanne Hook


  1. Thank you Sammy for sharing the adventure. I could picture it perfectly, well written. I am proud of you, Crista and Joanne.
    God Bless you ladies.
    Much love, Charlotte

    1. It is my pleasure Charlotte. Thank you so much for your help and for cheering us on! :-)

  2. GREAT recap of your adventures! You are all awesome!


    1. Thank you so much! It was a heck of an adventure. Glad you like it!

  3. So cool Sammy!!! Thanks for sharing this adventure with all of us.
    Memories you will treasure forever. Maybe I will do this some day!! I'm only 100 pounds, so definitely will not be able to carry a 45 pound pack, but would love the adventure.