A New State of Mind

Well I survived northern california, and luckily got through before all the fire closures. We experienced a few days of heavy smoke, but overall I really lucked out. Many hikers are having to play logistical chess or skip large sections. But that is not to say Northern California was easy.

What I had not heard before, is that California tries to kick your butt out the door. From the heat wave during the hat rim area, the steep climbs through the marble mountains, the constant humidity and poison oak into siead valley (a Guthooks comment called it Jumaniji’s taint), to the final slog out of the valley. It left us tired and ready for a zero in Ashland (which I highly recommend!)

Oh and did I mention nor cal had just as many rattlesnakes as the desert? The heat wave did not seem to affect them and they were just as startling as in the desert.

This stretch has been tough, but also really rewarding. I met up with an old friend and a new group that has me laughing every single day. We hit the halfway point and I learned I could sustain 25-27 miles a day (even while sick). We crossed to a new state and had some blessedly flat hiking with slightly cooler temps. A wonderful friend met me to hike for a week and was able to maintain 15-22 miles a day (even without the 1700 mile warm up I had).

As I work my way up Oregon, I am seeing my first sobo thru hikers and its fun to exchange trail advice. The smoke is currently pretty bad at times and there are several new concerning fires. Oregon already has the largest closure, so we are hoping that nothing else changes. All we can do is keep hiking. I have found the answer to most questions out here is to “just keep hiking.”

I have settled on the mantra of “25 a day keeps October away” as we march through to try for a September finish. We will just have to hope the beauty of the cascades does not distract too much. Though I hope to have some time to appreciate it, as I strongly suspect it will be my favorite section of trail. In fairness I already feel the north cascades are some of the best views around, and now I get to walk them start to finish.

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