Two summers ago I met my parents and sister in Oregon as they were hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail. I was only able to spend a week with them because I wasn’t 25 yet and the rental car fee was already astronomical. (Over $600 for one week.) We met at Crater Lake which is absolutely beautiful…but can get old when your father wants to stop at every single viewpoint, especially when those viewpoints are not even a minute drive away from each other.
We did a short hike that day just my boyfriend, sister, and mom while my dad drove around Crater Lake to pick us up from where we were hiking. My mom’s Alzheimer’s was already setting in so even though she was much more capable of hiking then, short hikes were best. After that it became my sister’s turn to have a break and hang out with Kevin and I while my parents hiked together.
We had an excellent day in Bend, Oregon. We visited a local coffee shop where they made very fancy latte art, went to an ice cream/chocolate mini-factory where we got a tour and lots of samples, and visited Deschutes Brewery where we got a free beer tasting and bought some to take with us. We found a cool vintage record store an excellent cafe that was lined with books so while you sat and ate/drank you could just pluck a book off the shelf and read it. I love Oregon! However, when we were in town my sister and I did not realize there was a two hour parking limit. When we got back to our cars I was so sad to see that I had a ticket on my rental car and she did not. The reason? Her plates still said New York while my RENTAL car had Oregon plates! What are the chances!?
After our day in Bend we were supposed to hike in to camp out with my parents. We (not so smartly) packed the chocolates we had purchased along with some pop tarts and potato chips. Our parents were carrying the camp stove and the other food for dinner so we didn’t think about bringing anything else with us. I was wearing new hiking boots that I (not so smartly) had never worn and therefore weren’t broken in. My sister and I are veteran hikers and campers, so we KNOW what we’re supposed to do, but that day, we just didn’t do it…
We hiked into our meet point and found our parents weren’t there yet. We waited awhile and then thought perhaps they hiked ahead to the camping area because it was raining and getting dark soon, they probably wanted to set up camp earlier. My sister decided to hike backwards a mile while Kevin and I hiked forwards a mile just to cover more range. At this point my feet were starting to throb, and every footstep was a chore. My sister caught back up with us and said she left a trail, but we should hike ahead to the campsite because it was now dark and we needed our flashlights to see. We assumed our parents were either there waiting or had camped somewhere else.
We found the area that was definitely for camping, but no parents. We set up our tent anyway and looked through our packs realizing our meager contents is what we had for dinner. Pop tarts, potato chips, and chocolates… We ate about half, leaving some because that would be all we had for breakfast the next day as well. When “dinner” was finished we knew we had to look for a tree to tie our food up so that bears and other animals wouldn’t come steal our food or bother our tent. There weren’t too many high branches, so we lamely hung it up as high as we could and cursed ourselves for bringing chocolate onto the trail.
Even though it was summer it still got down to between 30-40 degrees at night. I didn’t have a sleeping bag, and all I had was a fleece jacket, and fleece blanket/bag. The original trip was visiting Kevin in Las Vegas so I didn’t remember to pack my camping gear. I shivered the whole night, barely sleeping between my pain-pulsing feet and my frozen body. At first light I decided I would get up since I couldn’t sleep anyway. I poked my head out of the tent and gasped.
“Oh. My. God. Guys! Wake up! A BEAR GOT OUR FOOD!”
I looked out at the tree in front of me, the bark torn to shreds, the inner wood splintering out. Suddenly, my sister started laughing from behind me.
“Serena… we hung our food in THAT tree.” And she pointed to our food bag still hanging to a tree just a few feet from where I was looking.
From then on whenever something happened or went wrong my sister and Kevin always teased me and said, “It must have been the Oregon Bear!”
Photos from the campsite area.
There is a lot more to this adventure, but I think I will stop here so it doesn’t get too long. Perhaps if people are interested I will finish the story later. (Do we ever find our parents???) (What happened to my feet??) (How did I damage my rental car??) (I’m sure the suspense is killing you!)
Keep reading: Oregon: Part two!