SloBoing to California
Day 56: Tentsite at mile 927 to Ashland
I got up just before six and started hiking down the hill. I saw Sniff a little bit ahead of me. I had breakfast by the Pilot Rock and saw some big birds flying around it.
As I approached Ashland the view was smoky. There is a wildfire close to the town so the whole town was smoky and living up to its name. I didn’t have to wait long to hitchike, a car stopped by the Callahan’s Lodge before I even put my thumb up and a talkative ski lover gave me a hitch. I had a breakfast and a milkshake at Rudy’s and headed to the hostel where the three Slime-Moulds were already. I had my own room since there were no other guests in the female dorm.
We drank some beers, I did the usual laundry and shower and limped in my sandals the 2 miles to downtown to buy new shoes. Hoka Speedgoats are my next trial after Altras that gave me shin problems and Topos that broke down on day four and gave me awful blisters.
I had a fishdinner with some beer and then did a resupply in the amazing Wholefoods that had stuff like dried fruit. I was a bit drunk in the store and was singing along Whitney Houston they played in the store and bought a lot of weird stuff like dried Jackfruit.
Day 57: Zero day in Ashland
I woke up from itching at night and saw a bite mark on my leg. Probably bed bugs. I was itching so bad that I finally had to change bed. In the morning I had to do the laundry again and I put my sleeping bag in the dryer hoping to kill the eventual bugs in it.
Sidequest and Safety Inspector came to the hostel. I had never met them but they had hiked both with the Dolphines and the Slime-Moulds. We went to have an Indian buffet and I was going to hit the trail so I took with me all my stuff in my backpack.
We went to look for some gear in a used gear store and Sniff and Sidequest found some psychedelic shorts there. Then I sent some clothes to the Sierras in a post office. A lot of people were coming to talk to us and ask questions about the PCT.
Skratch and Calculator had arrived to the town and Calculator had a birthday so I bought her a minibottle of Finlandia vodka. We went to drink beer and got drunk. The rest of the crew came also in. We ate in total 3 liters of ice cream and it became clear I wouldn’t hike out that day. I had to book the same hostel again, although not the same room. I had a hole in my foot from the bad shoes so it was good to let it rest more.
So much rest the feet didn’t get since there was a band playing in the city and we went to listen to it and danced like crazy. Fish bought a bottle of rhum and we drank the whole bottle behind a police station on a parking lot. We were moshing our hairs when the band played some heavy rock.
I had no idea how I got to the hostel but all my stuff was on the floor in the morning when I woke up and I was sleeping under the sheet with a weird loanershirt on me.
Day 57: 14 miles. Ashland to tentsite at mile 949
I woke up to an awful hangover. I could not get up early as planned but was sleeping until eight. I had a coffee and a shower but had to go back to bed since drinking anything made me puke. Sniff and Hoot had already left but Fish was also getting up late. When he said he was leaving too I jumped up and told him I’m joining. We were both in an awful hangover and laughing about nothing. We went to Rudy’s for a breakfast but I could only enjoy a half smoothie. Apparently Sniff had returned to the hostel for another zero, The Dolphines were also zeroing or neroing.
We hitchiked from the main road and a trail angel stopped to give us a ride. She lived in Southern California and gave us her number for when we would get there so we could go and drink 35 cent margaritas. She seemed to like alcohol too much too, as well as the whole of her family.
We told the angel to stop at a wrong place and had to walk an extra mile. The hike was mostly uphill and I was sweatting out the alcohol. What a place to have a hangover! Fish was also out of juice and dragging himself exceptionally slowly.
I had my lunch by an old lodge where there was a picnic table, a faucet and some chicken running in a cage. The trail was easy despite the elevation gain and the new shoes felt good.
There was some trail magic in the form of sodas at the highest point where I also had my dinner. Fish came there after me and decided to camp there. Even I decided to camp early just a couple of miles from there, already at seven to do a long day the day after.
Day 58: 28.5 miles. Tentsite at mile 949 to tentsite at mile 977
I woke up at five and heard an awful noice by some elk in the forest behind. I started hiking when the stars were still visible and had breakfast when the sun was going up. The views were epic. There was a lot of smoke going up to 7000 feet but the air got better coming down.
I was determined to do my first marathon day. I was pushing myself although there was almost 5000 feet of climbing up and the same amount coming down.
I crossed the border to California exactly at noon. It was nothing spectacular but I was happy to be done with Oregon. There is still 1700 miles to go in this state, though.
I met Fish that had still hangover and a NoBo flip flopper Ninja by a cool old cottage where we had lunch at the terrace.
The water was scarce again and difficult to pick so there was no chance to wash oneself or ones feet. They are constantly so dirty it takes 20 minutes every evening to try to clean them. There is also dirt that gets into your socks and it is very annoying. Gaiters would be really necessary here.
The landscape was beautiful despite people saying Northern California is boring. I was listening to music and was avoiding taking breaks.
I got to a tentsite that was 25.5 miles from the startpoint at 7 p.m. as I wanted to do the whole 26 miles. So I continued to the mile 28.5 after eating a quick dinner. Somehow my feet started hurting at that point and the rest of the trail went up. The tentsite was small and slopy but after 14 hours of hiking I couldn’t care less. It was the longest day of all times I’ve ever hiked.
Day 59: 20 miles. Tentsite at mile 977 to Seiad Valley camping
I got up a bit later than the previous nights, 6 a.m. I was dreaming of an alternative society of people living in woods who never had met normal people.
I started hiking at the same time with a hiker who had camped next to me. He was doing a yo-yo, he had already done the PCT NoBo and was going back SoBo. This was his third time doing the PCT. He was averaging 45 miles at the moment in order to catch his girlfriend. He said thru-hiking has ruined his capability of normal life and that all he owns is his hiking gear. I was hiking the first miles fast going after him. He was jumping over blowdowns and scratchy bushes with a routine. He was also smoking marihuana and said that at this point he couldn’t hike without.
I had a long breakfast and had internet. It was going to be very hot on Tuesday.
This day got also very hot, 35 degrees Celsius. I had no shade in at least 15 miles and there was a lot of climbing. I was also descending over 7000 feet although it somehow constantly felt the trail was going up. All the water sources were off trail and drizzling annoyingly slowly. There was also some bushwacking on the other side of the highest point. I was boiling in the heat and decided I should not hike during the day the day after.
I came down the annoyingly long downhill and finally to the tiny village of Seiad Valley. It is in the conservative Jefferson state that would like to become independent from California. I managed to do some resupply in the grocery store and bought a cold rootbeer – heavenly! It was superhot until 8 p.m.
I went to the camping at the RV park and got a shower and laundry that was very much needed after all sweatting and the super dirty trail. They had some loaner clothes to have for washing. No other hikers stayed at the camping that night. Some deer walked in the middle of the camping.
Day 60: 10.5 miles. Seiad Valley to Grider Greek
I got up a bit later since I really wanted to have town breakfast at the Seiad cafe. It was supposed to open at 7 but the owner drove in a bit after so it is not about minutes in this place. The place was really cool oldfashioned restaurant and I got a vegetarian omelette with hashbrown and three cups of coffee. I drank even my first -float. I was chatting with a couple of local men in the diner and about the hike as usual.
There was a 6 miles roadwalk out of the town and it was going to be 110 degrees (42 C). The climb out of Seiad Valley is not less than 7000 feet so I knew I couldn’t do it in this temperature. Unfortuntely I was also too comfortable to nighthike so I went and took a megasiesta at the campingground just 6 miles from the town. It got really hot by 11 and I was trying to nap on the table but had to set up my tent as the gnats were bothering me. I slept an hour or two and woke up when sweat was dripping of me. I bathed in the creek three times and listened to an audiobook.
I met a 66 year old cyclist and had a long chat with him about how physical suffering makes you feel better. A deer came very close to my table and was hanging around for a long time.
I was going to start hiking at 6 again but I met a SoBo I hadn’t met before and after talking and taking a bath with him I also decided to leave when he was leaving half past 5. He showed me how poison oak looks like since the path out was supposed to have many of them. Then he disappeared from sight as he was so fast.
I walked only four more miles to a small tentplace next to a creek in order to start hiking early when it is not that hot and then have another siesta again during the afternoon.
Day 61: 20 miles. Grider Greek to tentsite at mile 1028
I was supposed to start mega early but for some reason my watch didn’t alarm once again and I woke up to a light rain just before 6 a.m. That meant I’d have to walk in 95 degrees without a proper siesta.
I started the crazy over 6000 feet climb and at first it was fine but once it started getting warmer the climbing got really exhausting. There were some burned forests and blowdowns that were really annoying. I was drinking extremely lot of water again and was dead by the time I found a shady spot for lunch. Soon enough the sun was getting to my shade and I had to move.
I was finally finishing the book by Delia Owens that tells about a woman who lives in isolation in a swamp landscape in Northern Carolina. How fitting when I was hiking alone. I started feeling really challenged by the solitude.
In total I met six or seven NoBos that day thar were finishing their flip flop after Washington.
There were a lot of annoying gnats that got worse by the evening and I had to keep on swinging my trekking pole in front of my face. It was too hot to wear the black mosquito net. Also I couldn’t move my left big toe and was afraid it had a stressfracture.
Finally I had a dinner with a nice view and felt better after. From there I walked only 1,2 miles to a beautiful campsite next to Black Marble Mountain. Although I only hiked 20 miles it felt like a really challenging day.
Day 62: 26 miles. Tentsite at mile 1028 to Etna
I managed to get up at 04.45 and started hiking a bit after 5. The stars were bright and I was listening to a podcast on the phones speaker to inform all the bears I was there. I saw footsteps of a big and a small bear, and a mama bear with a cub is the last thing you want to surprise. I had breakfast watching the sun go up and walked on. My left toe was not working so I had to avoid stepping on it. Also the bone on my right ankle started hurting so on that foot I had to only step on the toes. What an interesting walking style for a marathon hike.
It was a lot of climbing again, nearly 5000 up and more than 5000 feet down. There were some cool mountains and a couple of small lakes but then it was really exposed for the half of the days hike and it got really warm. The forests had all burned so it was quite depressing. It felt like I arrived to the same switchback 10 times. I ran completely out of snacks, I had only had nuts left for the day.
I had no time to do any breaks for the last hours to get to the road before it gets dark. It was a 10 mile little trafficked road to Etna. I got there at 7 p.m. and was already planning to camp near the road when the first car coming gave me a ride. A couple living in the town drove me to the local brewery. There was a 2 dollar pint Thursday with free samples and I also had a great taco meal.
I walked to the city park that accomodates hikers for just five dollars. I met only one homeless guy who was friendly and said the PCT hikers are great for the town. I pitched my tent in the park and washed my dirty feet in the toilet sink as I had no coins for the shower.
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