This afternoon was a hot, hot afternoon. I told a friend I’d been hiking with, I just need to hike mindlessly for a while. Even the effort of chatting while walking felt like too much, in that intense heat.
I hiked over arid, barren mountaintop slopes, patches of dry earth where plants were small or had died. Though stark, these summits offered open views of surrounding mountains, and held a kind of unique beauty.
Dry landscape here in the very northern part of California.
Dry stretch, but with sulfur buckwheat to brighten things up.
I could hear aircraft from time to time, likely heading to a nearby fire. From a ridge we crossed earlier, we had seen smoke billowing up from a mountain, aircraft flying into that smoke, and the release of water from above, a curtain that fell down into the smoke. It kind of made you proud to see, glad for the work they were doing, and earnestly hopeful that their efforts amid that mass of smoke would have some effect.
Fire seen from a distance.
Storm clouds built up in the afternoon, for the second day in a row.
After a few hours of hiking alone, I waited for my friend at a water source. Soon we celebrated, as it finally did start to rain. We laughed at how we were going to cross into Oregon in a few miles, and it felt fitting to do so in the rainy weather.
Unlike the day before, this rain was heavier and brought cooler weather with it. I’ve never been so happy to walk in wet weather before. We both hoped that the precipitation was helping those firefighters’ efforts, and that no lightning strikes would ignite new ones.
As I’ve said before, I never would have understood, before this, how a lightning strike on one tree could cause a fire, but these pines are so dry, they are match sticks sticking up, surrounded by flammable tinder on the forest floor. Not a good situation.
The damp forest smelled so fresh, and once again, the rain was beautiful, falling among the pines and valleys. Sometimes there is nothing like walking through a forest in the rain.
Another old friend caught up to me, closer to the border. He was so proud of his full set of rain gear, telling me how great the pants and jacket worked. We’d barely had opportunity to use our rain gear, up to that point.
We got to the border sign together, and my friend whooped and slapped me high five, with contagious excitement. He kept saying, “Wow!” and remarked on how he couldn’t believe it, we can say we’ve hiked all of California now, he hadn’t thought he would make it.
There were three of us there, and we all laughed over being drenched. I think we all also felt glad to be there together. Felt like more of a celebration.
Crossing into Oregon!
The rain ceased, but deep blue and grey storm clouds lingered. I wondered if it was going to rain again. We continued over scenic Oregon hills, and stopped for the evening at a pretty site, with a spring nearby, cow bells clanging in the valley below, and coyotes howling a time or two at dusk.
So thankful for a second day of rain, this time a lingering rain, and our crossing over together into the second state of our journey.
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I hiked the Appalachian Trail northbound in 2017. I ended that trip with a love for backpacking, and have only grown more fond of it since then.
I will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in April 2021. I will start in southern California and hike northward. Hoping to share some of that experience with you through this blog!