Our backpacks were packed and waiting by the door, stuffed full of hiker food and clean clothes and dirty gear. Storytime was in the shower and I was savoring the last few moments I had left, laying on a soft and comfy bed before check-out time at 11 a.m in our hotel in South Lake Tahoe. Storytime emerged from the bathroom, looking like there was something on his mind.
“What’s up?” I asked.
He looked me dead in the eye and he said, “I don’t want to deprive you of a thru-hike, because it’s an experience I’ve already had, and you haven’t. But if you wanted to get off trail and move to Portland today, I would do it.”
I started to laugh it off, but then I stopped. He was serious. We’ve been talking about moving to Portland after the trail, for months now. I’ve been joking about how we should just pull the trigger and do it now. All the time, we meet people from Portland and they rave about how great it is. Storytime has never been there, and I’ve only spent a grand total of three days there myself, but it seemed like the right place for us.
Problem is, if we hiked the rest of the Pacific Crest Trail and hit the border by late September, we wouldn’t have the funds left to start our lives together. Storytime would be heading back to New York and me, back to Boise–an inevitability neither of us wanted to face.
So we got some coffee and we talked about it. Then we got a pizza. By the time the check came, we were decided. We took an Uber to the rental car lot and rented a very expensive car from Enterprise and we popped our backpacks in the trunk and we turned the ignition and we started driving.
Our first stop: Boise. We drove through the Nevada desert, through the night and arrived at my mom’s house around 2 in the morning on Saturday, July 16. We spent a few days in Boise, collecting a few non-hiking clothes, scouring Craigslist for apartments in Portland and sleeping off three months of hiking.
On Wednesday, July 20, we loaded up my Subaru Outback with the bare essentials and made the leap to Portland, Oregon. That was almost two weeks ago, and it’s been a whirlwind since. We looked at several apartments all over the city and got caught in terrible traffic and signed a lease for the most perfect studio in Northwest Portland and made about a million trips to Target and Home Depot. I had a job interview with Sit Means Sit dog training and I have another one tomorrow. We painted the main room a pleasant light brown, we scored a free bed frame and mattress from Storytime’s friend, Adam. We made our first trip ever to IKEA and Storytime installed curtains on the windows and contact paper in the cabinets. We take Marcy for a walk around our new neighborhood every morning.
As we settle into our new lives here in Portland, I do not miss the Pacific Crest Trail. I didn’t know that July 13 would be my last day on trail–almost exactly three months from the day I began. I also didn’t know I would meet the love of my life. I didn’t know I would start a new life in Portland. When I took my first steps on the trail on April 12, I didn’t know what my journey would hold, but I wouldn’t change a single second of it.
Sometimes I ask Storytime if we failed, because we only walked 1,065.5 miles, rather than the full 2,660.
“No,” he always tells me, “because we didn’t quit on a bad day. We didn’t let the trail beat us. Besides, we’re going to finish it.”
A tremendous thank-you to all the people who helped make my journey on the Pacific Crest Trail possible. To my mom, of course, for her unwavering support. To my grandmother, for keeping Marcy and for making countless trips to REI and the post office so I could have everything I needed on the trail. To Idahoan Foods, for some 70 packets of instant mashed potatoes and a handsome sponsorship, too. To all the people who added songs to my Spotify playlist–you have no idea how much that helped push me through hard times on the trail. To my dad, to my best friend Tessa, to my colleagues at the Boise Weekly for letting me take the time off to walk the PCT, and for being so understanding when I called and told them of my new adventure in Portland.
And to everyone who has read and commented on my blog as this journey progressed. Those comments made my day, everyday.
Rest assured, this story will be resurrected when our PCT adventure continues. For now, we will shift, from Storytime and Dirty Paws, to Brian and Jessica.