September 15, 2011 After a brief whirlwind trip back to Los Angeles for a few days, we are now back on the trail, the Oregon Trail! Like our ancestors before us (except for mine who stayed firmly put in New England, close to the boat), who bravely packed their possessions, acquired a covered wagon, and ventured across our majestic country stopping along the way to hunt buffalo, and caulk their wagon across many rivers in their path (never ford the river, it’s always too deep!) Yes, like our brave predecessors, we packed up our hard drives, computers, and plenty of extra underwear, rented an RV, stocked up at Wal-Mart, and made our way to the magical land of Oregon.
We spent our first night spent restlessly at a Motel 6, complete with not one, but two room services orders. Needless to say, our crew was anxious to get to the trail, meet up with John and Eric, and catch up on what we had missed in the past week. Turns out, due to forest fires, Sam had to take several detours from the PCT, which often meant he had to run along the road. Obviously, this had not been a scenic route and we were all looking forward to the portion that wraps around Crater Lake, which Sam would tackle the next day. Several beers later that night, we all admitted that we had missed each other dearly, and our film crew was happy to be back under the shade of the Itasca’s pullout awning.
Always prepared, they even sleep like this
Sam finally gets to enjoy a foot bath
The next day at Crater Lake, we drove ahead in our RV to scout out optimal shooting locations, marveling at the natural gem. Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the U.S., was once a volcano that imploded. The volcano, which collapsed in on itself, carved out this deep body of water, its expansiveness only exaggerated by 500 feet of cliffs surrounding it. The day we were there, the lake, a rich blue, was completely smooth, and perfectly mirrored white fluffy clouds overhead. After taking many pictures, that won’t do it justice, we found a spot along the trail that would yield the best results, and sat down to wait for the inevitable Sam.
For some reason, the next few hours of waiting have become the most surreal part of this adventure so far. It was the combination of sitting in folding chairs in an arid and dusty field, camera and walkie-talkie in each hand, the smoke of the Oregon wildfires billowing in the distance, and the presence of the prehistoric and unfathomable lake behind me, that induced deep reflection on the string of events that led me to this field, and my role as a cog working for Sam the steam engine.
Eric takes in the view
Sam arrived around 4 p.m., along with Chloe, joining him on this stretch, and we were able to capture shot after shot of him winding around the lake. Ben even managed to balance his camera on the window of our RV, as I drove slowly alongside Sam, trying to ignore the honks of angry tourist cars behind us. We filmed Sam and Chloe arriving at the end of the Crater Lake portion, and noted the drastic physical and mental haze that had settled around Sam. Earlier that day, we had woken up and walked onto the PCT trail to anticipate Sam’s arrival. Chloe, who had driven through the night and arrived a 4 that morning, ran ahead to meet him. After a few minutes of waiting, cameras poised, two beautiful blonds emerged from the trees, bouncing and happy. Sam looked straight at our camera and did a little heel click as he went by, as if he was Charlie who had just found the golden ticket.
Sam and Chloe arrive, with the wildfire in the distance
Yet now, Sam walked towards us, shoulders slumped and head down, barely able to carry a conversation, let alone his light daypack. Fatigue had crept in, and even penetrated Sam’s mental state. I think we all felt relieved to know that he was almost done for the day.
As always, hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, we said our goodbyes and drove to the next trailhead where we would hike in and meet Sam on Devil’s Peak, allowing ample time to wait, in case Sam hit the snooze button a few times. As we drove away, Shakira blasting and eager to enjoy our beer and stir fry, I looked back at the color of the red sky, a result of the wildfire that had now faded into a cloud on the horizon.
Until next time,
Cecily "Crazy Legs" Mauran