pct Update #7 - The last of California
Goodbye California, hello Oregon! California sure provided a lot of miles of blood, sweat, tears, and laughter, but we’re excited to be moving on to state number two out of three in this trek, for some well-deserved change of scenery.
Chapter 7.1 - The Bovine Bands
The cows have been out in force lately. Often you’ll hear them before you see them, as they wear bells around their neck that clank loudly as they clomp their way en masse through the forest. We’ve even had a couple nights of being lulled to sleep by the “calming” sounds of hooves rustling underbrush, clanking bells, and the occasional mooooooooo!
There’s a saying amongst long-distance hikers:
The trail provides.
— Hikers everywhere
The general spirit of it is that if you open yourself to the trail, and to adventure, the trail will provide what you need. And, while that’s certainly true in my experience, it’s also so much more than that. The trail provides new perspectives on life and humanity, it provides challenges to overcome, and it even provides surprises. There’s an element of unpredictability with life on the trail that I’ve never experienced with city life. Moo!
Chapter 7.2 - Oh Deer
Let me tell you a bit about deer. They are everywhere up here. We see several most days, and I’m sure there are more about that we don’t see. Stealthy buggers. Here’s a poem about my feelings for them.
Deer by day,
A pretty sight, I’ll say.
Deer by night,
Stow your belongings tight!
You read that right - deer will literally take your possessions while you sleep! They like the salt, and are not shy about grabbing a sweat-covered piece of gear or clothing to gnaw on and claim as their own. In fact, one hiker we met woke up one morning to find his pants soggy and halfway up a hill, and one of his two trekking poles completely missing. He never found the trekking pole again…
Chapter 7.3 - Towning Around in Etna, ca
We enjoyed a zero in Etna to recuperate. We enjoyed the usual small town burgers and beer, and even discovered a coffee shop with cold brew that rivaled our go-to cafe back in Brooklyn. The owner had quit his job as a natural gas engineer, or something, to open a coffee shop, and it turns out he has quite the knack for it! He also made what might be our favorite breakfast burritos so far on the trail. Yum.
Chapter 7.4 - The Joy of Siestas with Natalie Pendragon
“You can do anything you want to do. This is your world.”
— Bob Ross
We’ve gotten in the habit of setting up the tent every day for lunch and taking a midday siesta. It started as a tactic to avoid the swarms of mosquitos while we ate lunch, but we quickly grew accustomed to and enamored with the tradition of dozing off for a quick cat nap afterwards. It’s amazing how much better your feet and legs feel after a little post-lunch snooze!
Chapter 7.5 - Seiad Valley
Midway between Etna and Ashland, the trail goes right through Seiad Valley, which consists of a cafe, and a bar that offers hikers tenting, showers, and laundry. The cafe is notable for its pancake challenge (I kid you not, it is literally 5 pounds of pancakes!), and the bar is notable for not having a liquor license (I think they’re working on getting one though).
We arrived too late for breakfast (pancakes) at the cafe, so we had lunch instead. We sat at the counter, which was right next to the mixer. The mixer that made the milkshakes. The milkshakes that every time seemed to have a bit more than would fit in a cup. The bit more that would then get put in a second cup, and offered to us “because we looked like we’d enjoy it.” Yep, we chose good seats.
Afterwards, we headed to the bar, and paid a very reasonable price for the privilege of tenting in their yard, a shower, and breakfast the next morning. It was wonderfully refreshing to clean up with a shower, as usual. Afterwards, we went inside for some dinner and live music, finally coming back out to the yard at dusk, getting ready for bed and socializing a bit. We listened to one very badass hiker recounting her experience hiking through the Sierra Nevadas a few short weeks back. Listening to her telling of it, I thought to myself how glad I was that we chose to skip that section when we did. Some it sounded harrowing!
We woke up early the next day - the climb out of Seiad Valley was supposed to be one of the biggest climbs on the entire trail. We made coffee, and ate our big muffins the proprietor had kindly provided us with the night before, and mentally prepared ourselves for the climb ahead. While we did, an incredibly wiry, speed demon of a dog comes bolting onto the property, and zips between all the hikers, picking up muffin bits as they fell to the ground. I have a feeling it’s a well-practiced routine for that dog, tending to its flock of Muffalo every morning!
Chapter 7.6 - Hikin’ in the Dark
Leaving Seiad Valley, we planned on a bit over three days to get to Ashland. Unfortunately, due to a grocery shopping mistake we noticed on the trail that we hadn’t brought breakfast for a third day! We mulled it over, and decided to step up the pace and get to Ashland a day early. This resulted in some long days of hiking, which were extra exhausting, but also unique and beautiful in their own way.
One day we hiked until about 9:30pm, and the views while hiking as dusk, twilight, and eventual darkness set in, were gorgeous - both the sunset itself, off in the distance, but also the soft quality of the evening light as it diffused though the trees and brush while we hiked.
And now, we’re arrived in Ashland, Oregon, where we’ve learned there’s apparently a burgeoning theatre scene; perhaps we’ll catch a play in the next day or two of lazing, culinary delights, and general recuperation 🙂
Happy trails and until next time,