If at first you don't succeed...

Well, I will be honest.  There are not a lot of things in life that I set out to do that I don't actually succeed at. It's not to say that I don't make a lot of mistakes along the way, or that I get everything right on the first try. But usually I am able to get back up and try again until I succeed.  But this time was different. My goal was to complete the entire Oregon Timber Trail, all 669 miles, 69k of elevation gain, in 20 days. So, myself and 4 others began our Journey on July 13th. The first few days were difficult, very difficult..some of the most challenging times I have ever experienced in my life both mentally and physically.  That damned Fremont tier is epic and beautiful and just rugged.

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But I pushed on with my crew and by day five and six, I was feeling better. My legs came around. I was climbing better, handling my bike better, but damn it was still so difficult. The trail, overall, is just relentless. But I had made up my mind after much back and forth, to keep going, determined that I would continue on to the next tier and the next until I ended up in Hood River.  

Day eight rolls around. We had come up out of Crescent Lake on the some of the most amazingly beautiful single track. We descended down through Alpine lakes (and many mosquitoes). At some point on the trail, I had to put a foot down on a steep incline and lost my balance and slow-motion topped to my right side, stupidly putting my hand down to catch myself and wrecked my wrist. It's not too horrible (at least with all the adrenaline at that point) so I keep trucking. Much later on the trail, my very tired body (and mind) was maneuvering around large roots, tight switchbacks and tromping through the marshy puddles of the Upper Middle Fork Willamette portion of the trail. While approaching a root drop, I put my foot down last minute and absentmindedly hit my front break, sending me catapulting over my handle bars, rolling onto my opposite hand and shoulder than I had wrecked earlier in the day. Again, seemingly not so bad, adrenaline kicked in, I hopped up, brushed myself off (cussed a little of course) and hurried on my way, trying to get to our camping site as soon as possible because we were all getting tired.

That evening while eating my tasty freeze-dried beef stroganoff for dinner, I began to feel the toll that the trail had taken on me that day. I ached from top to bottom, my wrists were throbbing, my shoulder had limited mobility and my back (which I have issues with because of a previous injury) was tingling and zinging when I bent over. This is when reality sets in. The reality that I no longer had the choice to continue based on whether my mental fortitude allowed me to do so.  I no longer could make the decision because my body was deciding for me. And this made me sad. And frustrated. And angry. And disappointed. I felt pressure. From myself because I knew I probably would not reach my goal and also from thinking that others were going to be disappointed with me if I didn't continue.  So I slept on it.

The next morning I woke up and new I would need to take the road back into town because my body was in no shape to ride the trail.  I could not put full weight on my wrists and my back was in bad shape.  So, I did just that. It wasn't easy to see my mates off at the trail and head on into Oakridge via pavement solo. It wasn't easy to digest my thoughts and the reality that I more than likely would not be able to continue on my journey and complete my goal.  And of course, that made me want it more than ever.  But, I officially decided that night that I would not be continuing on.  

And I feel like now that I am back in Portland, I know I made the right decision for my body but I'm still sad and I my initial reaction is to hide and feel ashamed that I didn't complete my goal. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that maybe I could change my goal - or look at the experience in a different way. My goal could simply be to experience something new and push myself more than I have ever before. And that goal...that goal I completed. Even in just the 9 days that I was out there on the trail, I learned a lot about myself, a lot about my adventure pals, a lot about Oregon, this beautiful place that I call home.  And that, all of that is worth every bit as much as completing the entire thing. So, I suppose the outcome of all this is that some times it is okay to fail, and with that "failure" comes success of something else, or success of that thing in the future.  (You can watch my trail farewell video below). 

Happy Adventuring!

PS - I will give more updates and specifics about the trail and the adventure later!

Karey Miles