Part One: Portland to Manzanillo
A storm had blown in from the Pacific and settled on western Oregon. On the slopes of Mt. Hood, fog shrouded the forest and rain pattered our jackets. I climbed the pavement slowly, watching as my fiancée, Kelly, steadily pulled away and then stopped to wait for me. Even with 150 pounds spread between four waterproof panniers and a bulging trailer, I couldn’t keep pace with her. I was in the lowest gear of my handcycle, barely going 4 mph while cranking, and still I had to stop and rest every two-tenths of a mile. Two days in, and Kelly and I were already exhausted.
Too little sleep and too much stress as we’d prepared for departure had left my body feeling like a hollow shell, and Kelly was fighting to keep her eyes open as she waited for my sluggish approach. As I crept up towards her, the driving rain and unending slope pestered me, as did my questions. Are you sure you want to do this? Do you have any idea what you’ve gotten yourselves into?
Truth be told, I didn’t really know exactly what we’d gotten ourselves into. I couldn’t have. That’s one of the problems with doing something that hasn’t been tried before. Do all the research you want, you’re never going to know the grimy details until you go out and do it. But even with water dripping fr