Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Pacific Crest Trail, Castella to Ashland: Walking to Oregon

The snowfield stretched far above and below the trail. How was there even a snowfield here in July? I began to kick steps, following someone's ancient, melted tracks. Too late, I realized that only a thin skiff of snow lay over thick ice. As I was thinking this, my foot slipped and I slid at a high rate of speed toward some waiting rocks.

This was not a good thing.

Cautiously I assessed the damage. Nothing was broken. It was time to hike on, though this close call made me think about how quickly things can turn around. Just read this story, at a place I have been many times.

I had been lucky. With only a few lacerations, I skipped across the Etna Bar road and back on trail.

The Marble Mountains were a place to savor, even though my highly anticipated afternoon swimming at "Paradise Lake" turned into a quick retreat from a scummy cow pond. Who names these places?

This is what the trail looks like for long sections. See how there's nowhere to camp for miles?

This is "Man Eaten" Lake. It's well below the PCT and so I didn't go there. Plus, the name!

I took a side trail to this lake. 

More contouring through some pretty country.

Then it was time to descend through the poison oak gauntlet and do the roadwalk to Seaid Valley. At 92 degrees, it wasn't pleasant. A guy in a pickup offered me a ride, but the road is part of the trail and I wasn't about to skip. Later I found out that most "thru" hikers accept rides here, despite their elitist attitude toward day and section hikers (not everyone, but many have this view).

The tiny town of Seiad Valley baked in the heat. What would it be like to live here? I'd be lying in the Klamath River all day, I thought. A small group of us pitched tents at the RV park for the night, positioning ourselves for the scenic yet steep climb from 1,000 feet back to 7,000. 

Blurry, but I was captivated by these enterprising girls and their lemonade stand (yes, I bought some)

Shortcut and Half Fast looking at maps.
By the last night on the trail, I was feeling the effort of hiking 200 miles. Several people have asked me why I hiked so many miles in such a short time. Partly I wanted to see what I could do. You are also dictated in this terrain by campsite availability and water. Sometimes you have to walk far to get to either one. But nearly a week after finishing, my feet still ached. It took me four days to want to hike again.

I think that's an old lookout tower on Devils Peak?

Lily Pad Lake on the climb out of Seaid Valley

I've now completed 1330 miles of the PCT. On the last day, heading down to Interstate 5, a milkshake, and a bed, I contemplated breaking up with the PCT. Maybe I'd done enough? But only a few hours later I knew we weren't quite finished. I might not travel the entire distance, but there's still a few miles left to go.
Oregon!

Hiking into Oregon was strangely very cool!



11 comments:

  1. These scenes are so pretty, especially when clicked on to enlarge. Great accomplishment! Thanks for taking us along with such good trail descriptions. Glad only lacerations and bruises, and that the rocks were there for a stopping.

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    1. A section hiker also fell, he told me, but fell into the trees. Wish I had instead of rocks!

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    2. Could be...depending on the trees. Just glad it wasn't worse and that something, even rocks, were there, instead of a cliff.

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  2. A couple of my friends ran the SOB 50 Mile race (goes from Mt. Ashland and over the border) yesterday and posed with the sign in your last photo. It's cool to see my real and online-blog worlds collide. :)

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    1. Oh gosh, glad I missed the stampede. I thought you were running it also? Nice place for a run.

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  3. Correction: It's Sawyers Bar Road vs Etna Road.

    Congrats on surviving that scary snow slide (been there done that) and for completing more miles on the PCT. I've heard it said some of the miles are "in between miles" getting you back to the good stuff. This definitely applies to a few places in this section.

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    1. Eh..Etna Bar, Sawyers Bar. Hopefully people aren't reading this for tips and maps. How to do dumb things, maybe.

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  4. Wow - I've slid on icy patches while skiing and have had a few scary slides, so I know what that's like. Glad you came through okay. Beautiful scenery - makes me want to do some backpacking of my own and explore the PCT!

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    1. This was a first although I have slid on talus. Much easier to recover.

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  5. If my calculations are correct, you are halfway on the PCT. It is all downhill from here.
    Glad your 'incident' wasn't too traumatic and I have loved your pics.

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    1. Yep! Exactly halfway in terms of miles, except I haven't done a continous line. I've skipped around.

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