California Section of the Pacific Crest Trail
I did it! I hiked from one end of California to the other! Before I left, that didn’t seem like such a big accomplishment. After all, it’s not doing the whole PCT, it’s not stepping from Mexico to Canada. But, now that I’ve done it, jeez, I know that it’s a HUGE accomplishment and something I’m very proud to have done. 1,700 miles, hundreds of ridges, valleys and streams, dozens of passes and milestones crossed, many cities and towns,… It’s been a long, challenging (hard!), and superb walk crossing my home state. Would I do it again? HECK YEAH! But not before I get to walk across some newer pastures.
I’m currently in Ashland, Oregon. My wonderful parents drove hours and hours to see me and support me up here. Today, I took my first zero since Tahoe City with them. It consisted entirely of resupplying for the rest of the trip. I’ll be mailing out seven packages from here for the rest of Oregon and Washington. Before I started, I was pretty enthusiastic about “buying as I went”. Now however, I appreciate the convenience of not having to play the stressful resupply game every few days. I’m looking forward to just opening boxes packed with good provisions and dumping it in my pack. No need to hitchhike 30 miles to buy food off dusty shelves at a tiny country store. I’m excited. Yesterday, I pulled in to town midday and sat in the laundromat. Washing a sleeping bag takes a long time, so I used it as a sort of “relaxation nero”. Ashland is a nice town. Expensive but not overly burdening when you have parents paying for everything I like the hippy/liberal atmosphere. I’ve been asked twice so far if I was attending a rainbow family gathering. I fit right in with my unkempt beard and hair. Lots of hikers in town too. Town’s big enough that we don’t dominate like we do over some of the smaller places we’ve recently been.
Did the closure area solo. No problems in my case. Saw no rangers and only one other thruhiker. Whatever major fires there were nearby didn’t show themselves. Only saw a couple of small, contained, spot fires and the smoke was a non-issue. I didn’t know that the section in to Seiad Valley ends with a road walk so I was a little surprised when I had to hike official PCT miles on such a long stretch of pavement. At least the crop of blackberries were good!
Pulled in to Seiad Valley alone. Ate a grilled cheese at the cafe, resupplied marginally, then chatted with the locals. I really should have pulled out and done the 4500 foot climb out of there as it wasn’t hot and it was only 2pm. Instead, I decided to end the day at the 18 miles I had already done and go watch TV at the trailer park. Cost was $7 which seemed reasonable for a day spent watching TV and a bathroom accessible dirt patch to sleep on. But when 16 other hikers showed up and we each ponied up $7, I got a little miffed at how much we were paying for the amenities received. I suggest that future hikers ask around town about places to stay. There seems to be plenty of land you can just crash on (maybe by the dredgings?) and lots of very friendly people who might let you tent on their land. Anyways, 16 people!! Holy cow that’s a lot of hikers together in one spot for so far up north. Everyone had taken the bus around the Marbles and it had bunched us up. I met a decent number of people that i’d never even met before. Strange how thruhiking works.
Left the park earlier than most and stayed in front of the pack all the way in to Ashland. Hiking alone again is nice although I do miss Pepi’s (and Pouch’s) company. Alone though I’ve been doing more miles, more easily and enjoyably and I’ve been noticing nature more. I had been feeling like I wasn’t connected at all with my surroundings. Always staring at the ground, pounding away the miles and at breaks chatting with friends. Alone I’ve been noticing the beauty of the area more closely, including having more wildlife and wildflower encounters. I guess nature is my companion. I’m not one of those hikers that gets bored or anxious often when alone. I didn’t even spend much of the past few days alone. I hiked near Leprechaun (a fun new guy I only recently met). It was nice to have someone else around to celebrate the California/Oregon border with. Just before the crossing I passed some off roaders with a cooler and I scored some ice cold celebration beers off them. Very nice!
Ok, not much else to report, probably because I’m very tired. I hear there are two more closures due to wildfires in Oregon alone. One is in Crater Lake and isn’t a concern (just the equestrian PCT) but the other is closing off pretty much an entire section from Mckenzie to Santiam Pass (I think). That’ll be a bummer if it’s closed when I get there. I’ll deal with it if I have to. Not sure that i’d be inclined to enter a closed area again though. It’s a stressful and truthfully stupid thing to do.
Aiming to be done with Oregon by the end of the month. I can’t quite get those words to register myself. If I do that, I’ll have a whole month to do Washington.
One step at a time.