Day 117: Farewell, California!

August 9th
Today’s mileage: 23
Total mileage: 1721

Trail Angel and former thru-hiker Legend was up again at an early hour, making pancakes and coffee for hikers. I enjoyed a cup of coffee but skipped breakfast. I knew this section was notorious for heat and I really wanted to get today’s climb out of the way as fast as possible.

I knew we were incredibly lucky to have this cool morning fog enveloping the ridge.

Unfortunately, I had severe chafing again. I took time to step into the bushes and use water to clean salt/sweat off of skin, hoping it would help but I don’t think that it did.

I also did a very poor job managing my water throughout the day. I skipped one spring relatively early on, because I saw there was another one in 5 miles. But when I reached the next one, I was quite surprised to see that it was 3/4 of a mile off-trail (so 1.5 mile round trip). I decided I would push on another 5 to the next one, but that was kind of a mistake.

I saw hikers go by with extra liters of water and very nearly asked for some, but I didn’t as it just felt so wrong to when they hauled it there. In the end, I reached the water source, drank deeply, and ate a lunch of salami and string cheese in a tortilla shell. Several other hikers stopped, including The Captain, Shitlips, and my German friend Flower.

Flower and I hiked the next several hours together. This is one of the final views of California from the trail.

It was nice to have company to talk to. She appreciated speaking to someone in her native tongue (hah!). I was especially appreciative that she cut a piece of Glide off from her anti-chafe stick for me to use. It very likely helped, although the damage was kinda already done, so to speak.

The final mile of CA was a PIA. It just couldn’t lay down and die. It had to throw one final 1,000-ft climb at us. Grrrrrr.

The CA/OR border, looking south.

Not down to my fighting weight of the year before, but at least CA is finally done. Hard to believe just how much of the trail is in CA.

That evening, I caught up to Flower and we shared an area with several others, including Pounders. We enjoyed a celebratory Banquet.

We met an older hiker tonight, named Pounders, who had stomach surgery the year before and had since lost something like 150 pounds in weight. o.O He looked great. Unfortunately, he said it came with some drawbacks, such as giving up fatty foods, alcohol, carbonated beverages, coffee, and some other physiological problems. We wrestled with that terrible dilemma of whether or not we would give up bacon and beer.

Day 116: Ascent from Seiad Valley

August 8th
Today’s mileage: 15 (+4)
Total mileage: 1698

I started hiking again at the same gate where Clint & I had hitched into town last season. (Here is that blog entry if interested.) It was about a 4 mile road walk to reach the little town of Seiad Valley, which consisted of one single long building that housed a cafe, a minimart grocery and a post office. Adjacent was an RV park that hosted hikers. And that was essentially the entire town. They claim to be the 51st state, the State of Jefferson, and they have a simple logo splashed everywhere. There were a dozen hikers loitering in front of the store.

I ran into Afroman again, whom I met on trail during July 4th, and again after Truckee.

In the trading post, I found journal entries from my friends during last season. 🙂 Fun to see familiar names again.

Near the bottom, you can see my own entry from the year before.

From having read the blog entries of previous years, I knew that this ascent was one of the hottest and driest of the trail. Many hikers would stall until 6 PM and then begin to hike. It was around 10 AM at this point, and the temperatures were reasonable in the 80s, so I decided just to go for it. I carried 3L of water, a 32 oz Gatorade and a 24 oz beer. The climb was surprisingly easy. I think this ascent must simply be a different beast when the valley has stifling heat. I was surprised at how fast I gained in elevation, and that no one passed me. I thought surely all of the young and fit hikers loitering in front of the store would have been on my heels, but perhaps they needed some down time.

Some jackass left an empty fuel tank and a note asking for a southbound hiker to please return it to town.

24 oz of Coors Banquet. Not the wisest decision, but I felt the CA/OR border had to be properly celebrated.

The Half-mile app said there was a spring and a couple of tent spots ahead. I was a little apprehensive that I’d arrive and not find any space, but there was plenty. The spring was a hundred meters off trail, but it was cold and delicious.

The trail happens to intersect with a service road here, which is an alternate route that a lot of hikers take. (My understanding is that it offers some shade and has several waterfalls along the way.) Trail Angel Legend had been shuttling a lot of hikers up throughout the day in his pickup truck, and he arrived again at 9 PM with a half dozen hikers.

I enjoyed Mac and cheese for dinner, with new friends Boy Scout and Flowera girl from Templin, Germany.