With just 6 miles left and leaving at 6am, made it to the highway before 8am. Crumbs and I were walking together to the the highway and met another hiker from Switzerland who had already called a trail angel for a ride. We were lucky – with basically no waiting time, we got into Ashland!
I went to the motel where Cactass and Tinkle were sharing a room with three other hikers. My early arrival was a surprise and being reunited was really nice! But it also meant good bye again soon after! Cactass is attending some weddings in September and for that, she decided to skip forward a couple of days to Crater lake.
With Cactass gone, we spent the rest of town time shopping for food, eating and resting. I used the life long Darn Tough socks warranty the first time and exchanged a pair with holes with a new one in the Mountain Provisions shop in Ashland.
It was also time for my forth pair of shoes:
First was Salomon X Ultra Mid, 0-700 miles
Second Lowa Camino Leather for the Sierras, 700-1100 miles
Third Salomon X Ultra 1100-1700
Fourth Salomon X Ultra 1700-?
The smoke situation from the forest fires is quite bad, especially around Ashland.
You see many people with filter masks on their faces on the streets – we will check out a local hardware store before hitting the trail later.
Started walking 6.45am with just a couple of miles to a really important milestone – the California/Oregon border!
For 109 days and close to 1700 miles / 2735 km, I have been hiking from the Mexican border (Campo, CA) all the way through California. The PCT leads from Mexico to Canada through just three states – and California is by far the longest. Oregon and Washington are each roughly 500 miles to walk.
So arriving at the border this morning meant a lot for me. Completing the PCT is really possible and even the timing seems to turn out ok. I am expecting to reach Canada end of September now.
Soon after border, the next milestone waited for me – another 100 miles marker, the 1700 miles marker.
To make it to Ashland respectively highway 5 today would have meant 33 miles today. I was thinking about pushing on to Ashland today a lot. It would also mean a chance to catch up with Cactass and Tinkle – the two girls I had been hiking with from the beginning for a good three months.
There was one or the other climb during the day, but the afternoon was all downhill towards Ashland. Still my progress indicated that I would make it maybe around 8pm to the highway, not a good time for getting a hitch into town.
I decided to camp with a handful of other hikers about 6 miles from the highway. Planning an early start tomorrow, I should make it for breakfast into town.
Left 7am the campground. Just as I came into Seiad Valley via a long roadwalk, I am also leaving. After a couple of miles, the road changed to an unpaved forest road.
A buck approached and started following me for good 15 minutes – a new experience. In the last weeks, I had seen more and more deer and they became also less cautious. But actively approaching me so that I could have touched it – that was new.
An hour later, another noise in the bushes uphill, I expected yet another deer. But the noise sounded like a bigger animal. It seemed like I had startled a black bear. He ran away some meters, then stopped and stood on his back legs facing me curiously. But he was not as brave as the buck (and I am thankful for that) – he turned and disappeared in the bushes.
At about 11am the Jeep road that I had used met the PCT again at mile 1668. The roadwalk had been really fast and rather easy on the feet – nearly 15 PCT miles done at 11am! I deserved a break with poptart and coffee, nice.
Some hikers arrived soon after by pickup and quads. A girl offered trail magic from ther pickup. I enjoyed a popsicle and a soda before moving on.
Lunch at mile 1674 at 2.15pm. Still feeling good, the roadwalk was really easy on the feet. 20 miles by (late) lunch is nothing was I normally do.
Taking water again at Alex Hole Spring, mile 1681, at 6pm. I joined Crumbs for dinner there before walking some more miles to a tentsite.
Moved on for another 2 miles to a tentsite. Lots of hikers camping here, same girl from lunch time doing trail magic out of her pickup. Lucky us… trail magic traveling with us. Got a beer for dinner and a good night sleep. 🙂
Got up 5.30am, on trail after mini breakfast in tent at 6.15am.
Water stop at Paradise Lake. Heard first barking from wild dogs, followed by howling… Guess I heard the first time wolves!
Stop at 10am with 10 miles, a break for the feet with some stretching. A curious squirrel sits on a close tree and starts whistling… Also never heard a squirrel before.
Walked into a group of 4 deer – one of them was small with cute spots on its fur. Finally saw a baby deer! A day of animal encounters it seems…
Lunch 1.15pm at mile 1641 at Grider creek – only 12 miles more for the afternoon.
The last miles into Seiad Valley turned into a long roadwalk. But here were were so many bushes with blackberries and some variant of raspberries…
Seiad Valley is a very small community. But the general store was open until 8pm, so I had no trouble getting resupply for the remaining 2-3 days to Ashland. The Seiad Cafe next to it had already closed in the afternoon, so I ate for dinner what I had bought in the shop. I pitched my tent in the RV park on the other side of the store. Shower, bucket laundry, charging phone and powerbank… falling asleep around 9pm.
Ride to the trail head at 8.30am leaving at the Etna motel. We stopped at the gas station – I can get a real coffee! 😁
On trail 9.15h. It’s gonna be a long day with short breaks if I want to do more than 25. But I kind of have to. Want to make it to Seiad Valley tomorrow – because for the climb out of that valley, I need to be fresh so it has to be in the morning for me.
Soon after the trail head, I passed the 1600 miles marker. The morning is much cooler than the last days. But the smoke is back. Visibility is little – can’t even see the next hill.
First stop after about 11 miles at 12.45pm at Shelley Lake outlet, mile 1608. The visibility gets better.
I realize I lost the bite valve of my platypus drinking bladder. I ran back worried half a mile, but no luck. Going back to my pack, I found it under it. 😂 It’s the small things that make you happy… Efficient and quick 1 hour lunch break, I even manage to get a quick nap.
I kept pushing to the next water. While the trail is relatively even, I miss taking more breaks – my normal routine is start around 6.30am, break around 10am after 10 miles, lunch break at 1pm after 15-17 miles and another break at 5pm before finding a tentsite around 7pm. In these breaks I take off my shoes and stretch and massage my feet.
Camped around 7.30pm at a tentsite at mile 1623. My feet hurt. It’s not the distance – just 26 miles today – it’s taking too little breaks.
Seiad Valley is in 30.4 miles from here. I want to get there tomorrow, so I will need an early start. The general store there seems to close at 8pm. Since I need an early start also the day after tomorrow, I need to get to the store in time to resupply to make my plan work…
The last night had been comfortably cool again for sleeping. Had trouble to get up at 5.15am when my alarm went off. Stayed in the tent another 15min. But the thought of getting into town (equals food, shower, laundry) after just 13 miles motivated me enough to be on trail by 6am. Breakfast only on the go today.
After some uphill, the trail led rather even through the Russian Wilderness with its rocks and burnt trees – a nice change of the view I had the last days.
I was coming to the road leading to Etna around 11.45am. With three other hikers waiting there already for a hitch, I expected a longer waiting time. But lucky us – an SUV coming up from Etna turned around and a nice lady from the Etna motel took all of us into town.
After breakfast, I did grocery shopping in the Dollar General and pitched my tent in the city park. They offer showers and restrooms for hikers. A good place to finish my town day – doing nothing.
Started 6am after a very quick breakfast. Hiked for the first few hours with Crumbs, we had a nice chat.
10 miles by 10am. Smoke seemed a bit better – only in the valleys, it stayed rather visible.
Lunch 1pm 1571, 17 miles done. Not bad at all. Feels like I might be able to do around 30 miles again today.
Gusty, Stuckfoot and I aimed for a last water at mile 1582, that would make it a 29 miles day. The spring was a bit off trail and pretty slow. I waited a while for my turn, Gusty and Stuckfoot caught up on me. They decided to have dinner at the spring and continue afterwards. Crumbs was already ahead.
Pretty tired around 7pm, I left the spring trying to find the next tentsite. There were 4-5 hikers ahead and the terrain was steep, so I was a bit worried about find a spot to pitch my tent soon. There was nothing on the ridge – I had to walk close to a mile to finally find a single spot.
Pitching my tent at 7.45pm.
30 miles. Today was a better day than yesterday. Looking forward to hit Etna tomorrow.