PCT: Etna to Ashland

This last section may be my favorite so far. The towns in Northern California and Southern Oregon have been so friendly, the trees have gotten only bigger, and we continue to make deer friends.  We’ve also hiked more consistently with a familiar bubble and our bodies seem to finally be accepting the increasing mileage. We passed 1000 miles hiked total so far and crossed a state border!

Day 85: Etna to Campsite, 10.91 miles

The bakery in Etna makes insanely good stuff and I hiked out the second half of my breakfast frittata sandwich. A+ mid-hike snack.

We had a long, exposed climb thanks to the burn area. You really don’t understand how much a little shade does for you until it’s completely gone.

With the late start back to trail, we managed almost 11 miles mostly up and camped next to a pretty little meadow.  Deer kept us company all night.


Day 86: Campsite to Paradise Lake, 19.49 miles

We began the day with a nice long climb. My blood sugar had unusually stayed high during the night and would not come down in the morning. As a result, I didn’t dare eat my breakfast or usual instant coffee and struggled up the climb with zero fuel. Eventually I changed my pump a half day early, suspecting that it was leaking, and that finally did the trick.

We got water at a little lake that had special residents…

…red belly salamanders!

Lots and lots of climbing at least usually means bigger and better views.

We were hiking through the Marble Mountains area and aside from seeing a lot of weekend backpackers, we came across this weird chasms in the white rock.

We eventually made it to Paynes Lake to camp for the night and realized that we had passed 1000 total miles since the start of our hike. Craziness!

Day 87: Paradise Lake to Brian’s House, 20+ miles

We heard deer stomping around all night and some people saw a bear in the morning. Never alone!

This area has many springs that just bubble up from the ground. They’re always the coldest, yummiest water.  And yes, there is such thing as good versus bad water.

A fire in southern Oregon has continued to blow smoke towards us.  Luckily, it doesn’t seem to be affecting us too much.

We have climbed over/under/around so many blowdowns at this point. They range from small trunks to ginormous grandpa trees.  It’s becoming a full body workout with the full pack!

After seeing this deer, I saw the dad and little spotted baby too.

We rolled into the campground before the road walk into Saied pretty shattered from the long descent.  Just before we set up our tents, a vehicle rolled in and trail angel Brian jumped out with his dog Nova.  He offered us ice cold sodas and beers, and then offered to take some of us back to his house!  We jumped in and spent the night at his awesome cabin next to the Klamath river. He was so generous and the most amazing welcome into Saied.

Day 88: Brian’s house to Wildwood RV Park, 2+ miles

After a lazy morning at Brian’s, we packed up and made our way down the road into town. Today would be a nearo since a very long climb was awaiting us and the temperatures were way too high to start it any time other than dawn or dusk.  Because we needed to wait for the post office to open at noon, the climb wouldn’t happen until the next morning.

These trees were in Etna and Saied.  They look like green beans and I’ve never seen anything like it before.

Saied is solidly State of Jefferson territory and they sure remind you of it often!

After sorting out resupply box and bouncing a box of new shoes home, and after gorging at the general store, we made our way down the road to Wildwood RV Park.

Lehel and Cherry who run the RV park are literal angels.  They go out of their way to help hikers and for a small donation, hikers get to eat at the potluck that the residents throw nightly.  It was quite the spread and all of the hikers that night felt very welcome.

We camped next to the creek that runs through the park and spent the afternoon sitting in the cold water with other hikers. It was a lovely time and break off of our feet.

Day 89: Wildwood RV Park to Campsite, 20.56 miles

We had heard that Saied Creek Road was a better option for the brutal climb than starting back on trail. This intel was correct! Whereas the trail in those miles was overgrown and extremely steep, the road was nicely graded for the 2000+ ft climb, was lined with berries, featured a waterfall near the top, and was largely shaded.

Partway up the climb, we met a guy who was living in the woods around there. He was quite the character and drew a map in the dirt for us of his favorite features where the road meets the PCT at the top.

After breaking for lunch at the junction with the PCT, we got to climb some more! This time it was exposed and hot so we tried to get the 1200+ ft climb done as fast as possible.

This is what your legs and feet look like after climbing almost 6k ft through burn areas.

We had dinner looking at the sun set behind a ridge of trees and collapsed in our tents.


Day 90: Campsite to Campsite, 23+ miles

We woke up knowing this was going to be our longest mileage day yet.  There was also plenty of climbing to be done.

We stumbled across this beautiful meadow with the happiest cows. Shortly after, we found Donomore cabin and had lunch with a view.

Less than a mile after lunch we passed the state border! It’s so surreal to cross into the next state.

We hadn’t been in Oregon more than a mile before stumbling across some awesome trail magic. Some local ladies gave us ice cold iced tea, cherries, and chips.

The day finished with the most enchanted forests, huge trees, alien plants, and rolling mountains of endless trees. I love Oregon! Also, I felt pretty good at the end of the day even after a lot of climbing and over 23 miles. Maybe my body is getting used to this whole hike all day every day thing.

Day 91: Campsite to Ashland, 15+ miles

We woke up early because it was down day! We decided to take a zero in Ashland and there was just 15ish miles standing in the way.

After a hefty climb first thing in the morning, we came across a cooler of Shasta sodas with a view of Shasta in the distance!

We made good time and soon hit the highway.  When we were almost at Callahan’s Lodge, where we had resupply boxes to pick up, a car pulled up and asked if we needed a ride. It was a trail angel named Dick who waited for us at the lodge, gave us a ride into Ashland to our hostel, and even gave us the insider tour. He also used to be the mayor of Sonoma!

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 2

  • Forest M Porter : Jul 31st

    This message is for the hiker, Kristina Larson. Reading your posts here today, and was very much enjoying them. I came across the part of the trail angel in ashland that helped you, I thought how nice of him, and you said he was the mayor of sonoma so I did a quick Google search. Be very careful who you are hanging around out there, as he is a convicted child predator and the judge in his case had some choice words about his character. Have a great day.

    • Kristina Larson : Aug 7th

      Could you send a link? I can’t find anything related to that.


What Do You Think?