PCT Magnetism

Day 76

Back when we decided to hike the OCT, Hobble-it purchased a backpacking skillet. Today Sky-Hi rose early to fry eggs that he’s been carrying. He added cheese and each of us contributed tortillas from our bags. The result was delicious breakfast quesadillas. Afterwards, we left our food truck picnic area and crossed the street to McDonald’s. I discovered that the fast food giant offered decent coffee. We passed an hour then caught the bus to Oceanside.

The day involved a short beach segment, a short trail segment, and a lot of road walking. We all got fed up with the road walking and cut the last 3.6 miles by catching a free shuttle from Sitka Sedge Natural Area to Webb Camp. The camp had lots of wild, not shy, beggar bunnies running around. They were adorable! Signs said not to feed them, yet I sure wished I had carrots. They hopped around our tents as we ate dinner.

Day 77

The five of us were woken by loud snoring in a neighboring campsite. We broke camp and wandered to Stimulus Coffee. While I stood in line, a kind lady named Mary asked if I was a PCT hiker. She bought me coffee and we chatted about trails. Afterwards, the tramily and I passed 2-3 hours in the cafe, waiting for the 10:40 am bus in order to skip seven miles of road walking. Ironically, we misinterpreted the stop location and missed the bus.

We rode 1.5 miles on the free shuttle. Out of public transit options, I resigned myself to circumnavigating Nestucca Bay on foot. With a wide shoulder and scenic views, it was one of the better road walks. I even heard an unidentified animal (an elk?) bellowing in the woods. Still, I missed the PCT and day-dreamed about returning. Then I was back on the beach, picking my way across the occasional rivulet of water and passing other beach goers.

At Neskowin Beach State Rec Site, I took a lunch break. Rainbow, a French thru hiker whom I met last night, joined me. She said that the upcoming trail section was closed due to a landslide. It was the final straw; too much road walking! I was ready to return to the PCT. When the others caught up, they agreed. We asked Rainbow if she wanted to join our retreat. She was tempted, but was also passing time waiting for a friend.

Within six hours of making the decision, we were back in Portland. It took a bus to Lincoln City, a bus to Salem, and an Amtrak bus to the city. Our friend Martina was home and said we could crash on her floor. We made our way there via city buses and gratefully fell asleep.

Day 78

The day was our journey north in reverse. Hobble-it fetched a rental car while Martina and I shared trail experiences. This time we got a Toyota RAV4 in dark blue. When Hobble-it got tired, I took over the driving. I much preferred the RAV4 to our last vehicle. It was fun to drive and the controls were intuitive. Admittedly, adaptive cruise control made more sense now that I was familiar with the concept and implementation.

In Medford, we resupplied at both Fred Meyer and Trader Joe’s. We also stopped by REI. My Therm-a-Rest Uberlite pad has been deflating overnight for a few weeks now. At first, it took one re inflation per night, but recently it took two. I was unable to find a hole and suspected valve leakage. Sadly I returned it and picked up a Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol closed cell foam pad. I am excited to try it, though I will miss the packed size of my Uberlite pad.

Back in Ashland, I drove us to the Commons hostel. We were split up again: the guys in one private room, Hobble-it and Sandbag in another, myself in the dorm. Though I got the last dorm spot, it was a sweet bottom bunk tucked into the corner. There were a lot more hikers this time, more people having made it up north. Sky-Hi made us egg and cheese sandwiches; I had mine on a delicious GF Everything bagel.

Day 79

The smell of brewing coffee woke me from a pleasant night’s sleep. I was excited to find Coffee Mate oat milk creamer singles. Yay for more plant-based products! I lazily sipped coffee and did phone stuff, then realized I needed to pack. We loaded up in the RAV4 and went to Ruby’s. I had an excellent veggie burrito in a GF brown rice tortilla. While the others mailed resupply boxes to a couple trailside stops, Hobble-it and I chatted in the car.

Sandbag and I returned the RAV4 to Medford. Thinking we’d missed our bus, we ran towards the nearest stop. The driver kindly halted, but was also in a hurry so she closed the doors as soon as we boarded. Only… my new foam pad was mounted to my pack’s back and the doors got stuck on it twice. It was hilarious. Then we had the bus to ourselves for the ride to and through Ashland. We got off near 66 and I-5. Another hiker returning to trail saw us trying to hitch and gave us a ride to Callahan’s Lodge.

At the lodge, I stopped to post a blog entry. The others were already on trail as we put the slower tramily members on the first hitching team (Sandbag & Pluto flipped a coin to see who would accompany me). In a short time, I was back in the woods. It felt so entirely right! The afternoon was full of lovely views, like Pilot Rock. Countless blooming thimbleberry bushes lined the path, while the terrain undulated in a gentle fashion. I found the others camped at a spring 12 miles along the trail.

Day 80

Once again it was a beautiful sunny day with blue skies. I walked through green forest, thinking many times how grateful I was to be back on trail. So far I see why hikers make big miles in Oregon, it is easy hiking. I listened to Florence + The Machine plus a podcast episode. At the Little Hyatt Reservoir outlet, we had a tramily lunch.

After lunch, I hiked and chatted with Hobble-it; we hadn’t done that in a while and it was nice. Then we had an extended snack break with Sandbag. Four miles later, we set up camp near a road leading to Klum Landing Campground. I wandered over to get water and charge my phone. In the bathroom, I washed my face, feet, and calves with soap and hot water. Some of the tramily used the free showers.

Day 81

It was a chilly morning and folks departed quickly. Soon it was just Sky-Hi and I in camp, chatting as we packed. He noticed a wall-less privy (a toilet seat mounted to a wooden box) nestled under a nearby tree. With his back turned, I gave it a try. Then we were off down the trail, my hands cold in the moist air.

The day warmed quickly. I did not see Pluto all day, but we soon caught up to Hobble-it and Sandbag. Sky-Hi and I stopped for water at a lovely piped spring. After 12 miles, the four of us stopped at Brown Mountain Shelter for lunch. I noticed that all the log book entries were from yesterday or today. Then I laughed, a note said the previous logbook could be found in the rat nest, which occupied a corner space.

Following lunch, the trail did a half circle around Brown Mountain. Periodic fields of volcanic rock interrupted the forest terrain; each with a defined path of red-brown stone. I heard helicopter noise in the distance and pondered aloud if it was a search pattern. Suddenly Sky-Hi and I each got a whiff of smoke. The helicopter approached and we saw a bucket dangling underneath. Apparently it was putting out a fire? We seemed in no danger and continued to hike.

I had a headache that was getting steadily worse and making me nauseous. With about five miles to camp, I took ibuprofen and rested. As I watched a quick Netflix show, Hobble-it caught up. She sat down and we ate a snack. Then we walked and chatted the rest of our miles. At the highway, she tried to hitch to Fish Lake Resort (the rest of our tramily was there). I didn’t need food so I camped 0.2 miles from the road, by a very full creek.

Hobble-it soon joined me and pitched her hammock next to my tent. We chatted through mesh as we ate inside our structures to avoid mosquitos. It was a 23 mile day.

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