PCT Day 117: Callahan’s Lodge 

​August 5, 2017 

Mile 1701.37 – Callahan’s Lodge (1701.37-1715.17)

13.8 miles 

Woke up this morning with the excitement of knowing we’d be in town for lunch. We had a quick climb first thing in the morning, but then it was pretty much all downhill into town. The morning trail was pretty beautiful. There was this distinct line in the sky where the smoke from the fires had settled. We wound around a ridge as Oregon cows munched on the grass below. Then, we came around a corner and found trail magic!! There were a couple of lawn chairs set up in a shady spot with a cooler full of sodas. We got our morning sugar fix and then continued on. It was a Saturday and we were close to civilization, so the trail was busy with day hikers and trail runners. Hiking into town always seems to feel longer than it should, but at last we arrived at the side trail to Callahan’s Lodge. 

It’s amazing how hiker friendly the lodge is. It’s probably one of the most welcoming places we’ve been so far. We checked in and were given towels and robes to shower, so we immediately headed over to the little hiker bath house to clean ourselves up. It felt soooo good. We all hung around in our robes until the laundry we done, and then we headed out to the road to try to hitch into town. 

We got a ride pretty quickly, but ended up riding in the back of a pickup truck down I-5, which was kind of terrifying but also really fun. When we got to town, we immediately headed to Ruby’s to eat. I had a veggie “steak” sandwich, and it was amazing. We walked over to one of the local gear shops, and I got to exchange my Darn Tough socks for a brand new pair because mine had a hole in them. We resupplied at Safeway, and I decided to try some new things for my snacks and lunch (their bulk section was on point) just to change things up a bit. After we finished shopping, we started trying to hitch back to the lodge right outside the Safeway, and a girl offered to drive us as far as the interstate ramp, which we gladly accepted. We only had to stand at the ramp for a few minutes before a lady in a camper pulled over and said she would take us straight to Callahan’s, which was really nice. 

Another fake meat sandwich 

When we got back to the lodge, we sat around for a while using WiFi while waiting for our all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner. The spaghetti was sooo good, and the first plate was so big that I could only eat one (though I did help Gummies eat a bit of his second plate). There was a delicious salad and bread too, and a free beer. This place is paradise. After dinner, we headed to the back lawn to set up the tent and collapse into a food coma. Super excited for all-you-can-eat pancakes tomorrowwww. 

PCT Day 116: OREGON!!! 

​August 4, 2017 

Mile 1676.76 – Mile 1701.37

24.61 miles 

Still had trouble waking up this morning (I think I could have slept for 12 hours), but once I shook off the sleepiness, I did feel quite rested. We started hiking, the excitement of getting to Oregon pushing us on. The trail was quite pretty this morning, still pretty smoky but not quite as bad as the day before. The soundtrack of the morning was the jingling of cow bells. We heard them through the trees all through the morning, and every once in a while we would stumble upon a group of cows munching on the grass. It’s a pretty bizarre thing to come across out in the wilderness. The morning passed pretty quickly, and soon we were approaching the Oregon border. 

It was super exciting to come around the corner and see the sign and trail register at the border. At the same time, leaving California feels bittersweet. I’m so excited for a change of place and feeling like I’m making progress, but I feel like I’m leaving California with unfinished business. I missed the Sierras, which was arguably the part of California (and maybe even the whole trail) I was most excited for when I started this journey. While I know that at some point I’ll be back to finish it, leaving California without getting to see that section still hurts a bit. But anyway, I was still super happy to get to Oregon. 

We ate lunch just over the border, and then continued hiking into Oregon, and you know what? Southern Oregon looks an awful lot like Northern California. Shocking, I know. The day was actually not too hot, which was really nice. Most of the day was in the shade, and there was a nice breeze. We did get some unfortunate news in the afternoon. Apparently, there’s a fire near Crater Lake and the trail there just closed. We’re not sure if there’s an easy way around it, so we’ll have to figure out some logistics once we get to town. We’re all really bummed that we might not get to see the lake. We arrived at a gushing piped spring, and all stuck our heads underneath it and it felt soooo good. Later, we had a climb, and at the top I laid on a rock and ate a baggy of melted peanut butter m&m’s with a spoon. We continued on, the trail winding down around the side of the ridge. A cool breeze kicked up as evening came on. The views were beautiful. 

Finally, we heard the sound of a small creek through the trees that meant we were approaching camp. We’re camped with Non Stop for the second night in a row. Tomorrow we have a half day to hike into Ashland. We’re planning to stay at Callahan’s Lodge, where they have this amazing hiker special where you get camping, laundry, a shower, dinner, breakfast, and a beer. I’m sooo excited. 

PCT Day 115: Where There’s Smoke 

​August 3, 2017 

Mile 1658.03 – Mile 1676.76

18.73 miles 

Today kind of sucked. I’m just going to come right out and say it. Of course, there were good moments scattered throughout, but the general theme of the day was suckage. Around 5am, our campsite was suddenly filled with the sound of alarms going off every few minutes, as people repeatedly hit their snooze buttons, accompanied by the noise of much tossing and turning and the occasional groan. Eventually we did manage to get up and all four of us hiked out together, walking in a train at first and then spreading out to all walk at our own respective paces. The air was already warm and thick with the smell of smoke, and we had a climb to finish. 

This part of the climb immediately seemed much harder than what we had done last night. It was steep, and I struggled to fill my lungs with the hazy air. After only a little over a mile, we all congregated again at a water source, which was a piped spring that was trickling so slowly that it took several minutes to fill a single water bottle. It took so long that we all ended up sitting there for quite a while, joking and throwing rocks at a burnt out old snag. Good moment. 

The climb continued, but soon became much less steep and started levelling out. The views of the hills wreathed in smoke were quite eerie. Eventually, we climbed high enough that we were above the bulk of the smoke cloud. The trail wound gently up and down, and then we descended down to a spring where we had lunch with Non Stop. After lunch, another climb awaited us, and by this time the day had become unbearably hot. Luckily, large portions of the climb were shaded, but we were still occasionally forced out on to the bare rock to walk trudge under the beating sun. The climb didn’t actually seem too horrible to me, and when I got to the top I was feeling good, I was feeling good, until suddenly I wasn’t. I was exhausted. The lack of sleep and the heat had finally caught up to me, and I was freaking exhausted. 

Non Stop taking a dirt nap 

The camp was had originally planned to stop at tonight was still over 9 miles away, and I slowly began to realize that there was no way. There was no way I could walk another 9 miles. Dejected, I dragged my feet to the next water source and threw myself down in the shade, where I maybe fell asleep but maybe just miserably lay there with my eyes closed while some unknown amount of time slipped by. I’m really not sure.

 Eventually, we made a new plan, to stop at a campsite 3 miles away instead of 9. I knew this was a good idea, but it still upset me. I think I sometimes hold myself to too high a standard, and if I make a plan for something I want to accomplish, and think I should be able to accomplish, and the realize I can’t accomplish that thing, I get really hard on myself. I know this is something about myself that I want to work on, and I guess this is the trail’s way of helping me do that. I am realizing by now how the trail works its magic. I let it break me down a bit, and it will eventually put the pieces back together, but in a slightly different configuration than they were in before. This shit is hard. Before I started I thought I knew what to expect and thought I was prepared to handle it, but it’s really impossible to understand until you’re in the thick of it, until it’s all happening to you. 

We arrived at camp while it was still light out, made and ate dinner while it was still light out, and are now in the tent and it is STILL light out. It’s quite wonderful, and I’m very excited to get a full night’s sleep tonight. Tomorrow will also be pretty exciting, because we are finally going to hike out of California and enter Oregon! And then the next day is town day. So here’s hoping things (and my outlook on said things) are a little brighter over the next few days. The trail may seem to be doing a little more breaking down than building up lately, but I’m convinced that if I keep pushing through the hard stuff, there’s plenty more amazing things to come. 

PCT Day 114: Seiad Valley Heat Advisory 

​August 2, 2017 

Mile 1639.16 – Mile 1658.03

18.93 miles 

The 5am alarm goes off, and I struggle to shake off the brain fog caused by only sleeping for 6 hours after hiking over 26 miles. Eventually, thoughts of lemonade and ice cream convinced me to start getting ready and face the day. We spent the first half of the day winding through the forest, crossing Grider Creek several times on wooden and metal bridges. Eventually we arrived at Grider Creek Campground and began the 6.5 mile road walk into Seiad Valley. 

As the morning wore on and we continued to descend in elevation, the temperature steadily rose higher and higher. Our progress was slowed significantly by the fact that we kept stopping every few minutes to pick and eat handfuls of wild blackberries. Time seemed to drag and slow as our weary feet pounded the pavement. At last, we saw the light at the end of the tunnel: the Seiad Valley Cafe and store!! We had lunch in the cafe immediately upon our arrival, and they were able to make me a “chicken bacon” avocado melt with meat substitutes. I also finally got the lemonade I’ve been craving for the past couple of days.

After we had eaten, we made our way over to a nearby patch of shade where some other hikers were hanging out. The locals had told us there was a forecasted high of 117 degrees today, and that it was being advised for people to stay indoors, so we had no intentions of moving any time soon (especially considering there’s a 5000 foot climb right out of town). We sat in the shade for the next 5 or 6 hours with Rocket Man, Scrappy, Non Stop, and Sinatra/Calzone. It feels like we’re finally getting into another bubble of hikers that we see frequently, which is really nice because the trail hasn’t really felt that way since we left the desert. It was a really fun afternoon of just sitting around, talking, laughing, playing cards, and trying not to sweat to death in the heat. We would periodically pop into the store to buy a cold drink or some snacks.

Fake meats sandwich 

Eventually, the sun started to set and the temperature finally dropped to a level where you felt like you could maybe move around a bit without instantly dying of heat exhaustion. We packed up our stuff and got ready to start hiking. There was a short road walk out of town, and then the climb began. It really wasn’t that horrible (much less steep than some of the other climbs of the past few days), although you totally would have died if you tried to do it during the heat of the day. The light slowly faded, the air hazy and smelling of smoke from nearby wildfires. We got to camp and started setting up, joined after not too long by Non Stop and Sinatra. It’s now almost midnight somehow (real midnight, not hiker midnight), so I really, really need to get some sleep. We’ll probably be getting up early tomorrow so we can finish the climb before the sun really gets going. Only 31 miles left of California!! 

PCT Day 113: Hello, August 

​August 1, 2017 

Mile 1612.6 – Mile 1639.16

26.56 miles 

Woke up this morning and of course, started the day off with a really steep climb. The climbs these last few days have been really, really hard. It’s like the trail designers got to this point and said “Fuck it, we’re going straight up this shit”. They’ve just been long and steep and deadly. We finally got to the top of the first climb, and wound down to a creek where we stopped for lunch, and then immediately started climbing again. It was just a crazy, exhausting day. It’s been insanely hot recently, and rumour has it that it’s going to be 110 degrees in Seiad Valley tomorrow (which, of course, is where we’re going to be tomorrow). We had to cross a few small snow patches today, and on the very last one of the day, I slipped and fell and slid for a few feet, scraping and bruising my left butt cheek.

 Just as we got to the top of the final climb, and we were entering the forest, I heard something crashing through the woods to my right, and turned and saw a small, black bear running through the greenery. It ran across the trail in front of me and continued down the slope. After our two bear sightings on this trail, any worries I had about bears have pretty much completely dissipated. Any time anyone sees one, they’re pretty much always fleeing in terror from the weird naked bipedal creature coming down the trail. 

We stopped at a spring for a while, stopped for dinner before camp, and before long it was starting to get dark. The crimson light of sunset shone through the burnt shells of trees, and soon it was pitch black. Traipsing through the Northern California woods in the middle of the night was kind of surreal, our lamps casting odd shadows as we moved our heads. A fat toad hopped out of the trail ahead of me to escape the light. We reached a creek and hopped across the rocks in the dark, my right foot slipping and plunging into the icy cold water. Soon, we found our campsite and pitched our tent. We’re camped with Rocket Man and Scrappy, although they were both fast asleep by the time we arrived. I washed the dirt from my legs and the salt from my face in the rushing water of the creek by the light of my headlamp, before crawling into my sleeping bag, utterly exhausted. 

PCT Day 112: Marble Mountain Mania 

​July 31, 2017 

Etna – Mile 1612.6 (1597.25-1612.6)

15.35 miles 

Enjoyed sleeping in at the city park this morning before heading over to the local coffee shop for breakfast sandwiches, caffeinated beverages, and a couple card games while waiting for the post office to open. Once it was open, we headed over and picked up our new credit cards (Yay money! Boo credit card fraud!) and then walked out to the edge of town to try and hitch a ride back to the trail. It seemed like it might be a difficult hitch, but we actually didn’t have to wait too long before a pick up truck (with two adorable doggos inside) pulled over to pick us up. They knew exactly where the trail was, which is always nice, and we were able to start hiking by 11.

Of course, the trail started out right away with a climb, but it actually wasn’t too horrible. We soon entered the Marble Mountain Wilderness, and it was absolutely beautiful, but very hot. We stopped in the shade for lunch, and immediately afterwards I started feeling like death. I was dizzy, nauseous, and just felt exhausted. It was probably due to the heat, or lack of water, or the fact that my body is likely severely deficient in some key nutrients (or all three). When we got to the next water source, I chugged a bunch of cold water and sat in the shade for a while and started feeling much better. 

The sun eventually started getting lower and the heat backed down, and the scenery just kept getting more and more beautiful. At the end of the day, we were climbing up a rocky ridge lined with wildflowers as a bunch of small waterfalls tumbled down the rocks beside us. It was beautiful. We reached our campsite just as the sun was going down, and we had an amazing view of the Marble Mountains from the site. We ate dinner on a rocky ledge as it got dark and then climbed into bed, ready for a good night’s rest. 

PCT Day 111: Melting in Etna, California 

​July 30, 2017 

Payne’s Lake – Etna (1591.47-1597.25)

5.78 miles 

Woke up this morning excited for a short hike into town. Unfortunately, the day immediately started off with another steep, partially exposed climb. Luckily, it was still relatively early in the morning so it wasn’t too hot yet. The 5 miles into Etna were incredibly beautiful. There were lakes and mountains and even a patch of snow we had to walk over. I really enjoyed it, especially once we reached the top of the climb and got to start going downhill. 

Payne’s Lake 

When we reached the road into Etna, we found the parking lot totally filled with day hikers. Unfortunately, they were all just setting out on their hike and so couldn’t give us a ride into town. There was one other hiker waiting to get a ride, Fat & Sassy, and he told us he had been waiting there for half an hour and hadn’t seen any cars on the road yet. Uh oh. We sat there for maybe about 20 minutes, eating the meagre snacks we had left and drinking water given to us by a kind day hiker. Then, we heard a vehicle coming up the road, and all jumped up with our thumbs out. It was a large pickup truck, and pulled over to pick us up!! The first car that had driven by all morning! Two other hikers showed up right as we were getting in (good timing on their part), and we were all able to fit in quite comfortably. 

Didn’t take any photos in town, so enjoy these images of this morning’s trail 

Once we made it down the incredibly windy road into Etna, our first stop was Dotty’s, the local burger and shake place. I had a delicious veggie burger and strawberry shake, and it was soooo good. After we had sufficiently stuffed our faces, it was time for town chores. We walked down the street to the laundromat, and realized the day had gotten quite hot. It felt like we were walking through a literal oven. We threw all our clothes in the laundry (which once again involved stripping down in the middle of the laundromat… Why don’t they ever have bathrooms?). We walked over to Dollar General to do some resupply, and noticed a local business had one of those signs that tells you the current temperature. We walked past it several times and the temperature just kept climbing. 92…95…97…101… Yeah, it was hot. Once our laundry was done, we headed over to the city park, where the town lets hikers camp. They even have WiFi. We laid around for a while, trying not to melt, before heading over to the grocery store to finish our resupply and get some tokens for the shower. They give you ten minutes to shower at the park, which is unnecessarily long, but felt soooo good.

 Once we were clean, we headed over to Bob’s Ranch House for dinner, leaving our stuff in the “camping area” that was marked on the park map. As it turns out, the camping area was also apparently the sprinkler area, and shortly after we returned from dinner, we realized that all of our stuff had been completely soaked. Great. All of my clothes were wet, our paper grocery bag had completely disintegrated, spilling groceries all over the ground, and my shoes were drenched. Luckily, the tent and our sleeping bags were dry. We spent the evening hanging out at the picnic tables with a bunch of other hikers (Monarch, Hitch, Spider Mama, Tetris, Fat & Sassy, and Non Stop). There were so many hikers, it felt like we were back in the desert, and it was amazing. It always feels so nice to meet and spend time with other hikers now. When it started getting dark, we all pitched our tents in the soft park grass, and climbed into bed, excited to sleep in the next morning.