Touching the sky

Camas hiker explores Pacific Crest Trail

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Jake Rose conquers Mather Pass, elevation 12,100 feet. "I had to dig in with my ice ax each time, and basically climbed straight up," he said. "I was sweating hard, but at the top I felt very rewarded."

To follow Jake’s travels, click here.

Bruised, sun burnt and blistered, Jake Rose has never seen so much beauty.

Since May 18, the 21-year-old hiking enthusiast from Camas has walked from the Mexico border, through California and into Oregon on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.

“The miles don’t get easier. It gets a little bit harder each time,” Rose said during a phone interview Wednesday. “Although it’s tougher than I thought it would be, it’s definitely one of the best summers I’ve ever had. You meet a lot of great people, and make hiking partners and friends for life. I love to explore, and I get to see new scenery all the time. It’s definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

His feet are sore and his bones are aching, but Rose has rediscovered the bounce in his step. After treading more than 1,700 miles in 78 days, he crossed the Oregon border Wednesday at around 8 a.m. He continued on to Ashland where he reunited with his mother Barb. The two plan to hike and camp together through southern Oregon, while she trains for a triathlon.

“I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be in a new state,” Rose said. “California is a really long state. Now that I’m in Oregon, I feel so much closer to home. It’s a big mental step for me.”

To follow Jake's travels, click here.

He is happy to be far and away from the deserts in California, where temperatures reached 100 degrees. His favorite part of the trip so far was hiking through the Sierra Nevada, and climbing Mount Whitney.

“It was an 11-day stretch of going up and down. You didn’t see any crossroads for about 200 miles,” Rose said. “I’d get above the tree line and see nothing but dense forest. It was beautiful.”

Rose has been averaging up to 35 miles per day. He said the flatter terrain and the cooler temperatures along the Cascade Mountains should help him make up for lost time. He hopes to cross the Columbia River on the Bridge of the Gods in about two weeks.

“It’s going to be pretty cool to say I walked all the way home from Mexico,” he said.

Rose’s ultimate goal was to reach Canada before his senior year of college starts at Montana State University, on Aug. 30. Now that the hourglass is emptying fast, the civil engineering major is not sure whether he will stop when he gets to Washington or keep going.

“I go back and forth about that in my mind. There are certain parts of the day when I feel good and want to go for it, and then there are other parts when I’m just dragging,” Rose said. “I’m not ready to make that decision yet. I just want to take it one day at a time, and enjoy the time I have left out here. When it comes time to make that decision, I’ll make it.”

The destination for Rose should be secondary to the journey. He has blossomed through several trials and tribulations along the way, and has a better appreciation for life and the way he wants to live it.

“You see so much trail magic, people who go out of their way to give you a ride into town, make sure you have shelter and plenty of water, or cook you a burger,” Rose said. “You have a lot of time to think, and you’re away from all the stress. You don’t have to worry about time or appointments. You just hike as long as you want.

“It’s definitely changed my perspective on things,” he added. “I realize I don’t want to work somewhere 50 hours a week with no vacation.”

Although he spent a lot of weekends and summers backpacking around parts of Washington, Oregon and Montana, Rose has never taken on anything of this magnitude.

“I knew about the [Pacific Crest Trail]. Around February, somebody gave me the idea of trying to walk it this summer,” he said. “Ever since that, it’s all I could think about.”

From February to May, Rose got his hands on as many Pacific Crest Trail journals he could find. Once the seed had been planted in his brain, there was no going back.

“I’m just glad I had the determination and resolve to do this. It’s not a normal thing that people do. Only about 300 people try to hike it each year,” Rose said. “It’s definitely made me more mentally tough. I feel like I can do anything after doing something like this.”

Rose was born to be a trail blazer. The bruises, sun burns and blisters come with the territory.

“I highly recommend people try doing something like this,” he said. “It’s the adventure of a lifetime.”