Piped spring – Interstate 5
59.4 miles. 1148ft up. 2271ft down.
Well, I slept badly. I struggled to keep myself uphill and could only lie on one side. My stomach was rumbling, protesting that I hadn’t fed it. I was thirsty and I needed a wee. And at around 4 am I woke up to the smell of smoke. Oh, and the guy who came into camp late was making weird noises in his sleep.
I got up at 6am and packed up. As I was putting on my crusty socks for the last time I noticed I had a blister on the top of my big toe from the pokey bit on my shoe. That’s going to hurt today. When I got out my tent I noticed that the guy had set up his camp right next to me, even though the area we were in was huge. He was cowboy camping so we had a little chat. His name was Fartbag.
I hiked out of camp and up a little hill. At the top I lost the trail. I wonder about a bit looking at my GPS through bleary eyes until Fartbag tells me the trail isn’t up there. Thanks!
I am finally on my way. Only 9 miles to go. The trail is smokey and my lungs don’t like it. They are already full with Oregon dust which is making me wheeze as I trudge uphill. The smoke doesn’t help. I struggle on the uphill bits and run the downhill bits.
I look up information on the fire. It’s only 4 miles from the trail. It’s grown from 5 to 8 thousand acres overnight. There are hikers in Seiad valley who aren’t being allowed to leave. Having had experience with fires last year there is no way I want to be caught up in that for the sake of 100 or so miles. If the wind picks up the fire will spread very quickly and hiking through smoke is horrible. Even this little bit is unpleasant. The trail isn’t officially closed yet but I think it soon will be. They are advising people to stay out of the area.
I see two people heading north. They explain to me that they had to take some time off in Shasta because of injury and they had planned to hike south from Ashland, which they did yesterday for about 8 miles and then realised there was a massive fire in the way so they turned around and came back and decided to hike north instead. They said the trail wasn’t hikeable.
I got onto the road, which is an official part of the pct route. I don’t like road walking much but it was nice not having to concentrate where you are putting your feet and just walk without looking. I was headed to Callahans where Jackie (from the Nearly Dead in Washington) was going to pick me up. Half way down the road a car pulls up in front of me and it’s Jackie! She looked amazing, her hair all done nice and she looked so clean!!
I apologised for my appearance and my smell but she bravely went in for a hug anyway. In the car she insisted I didn’t really smell – I was being very careful to not wave my arms about. She had some snacks in the car which I devoured. I had a speech ready to ask if they would consider giving me a ride to Etna to get around the fire but she had already thought about it. Amazing.
I made it through Oregon (well, Cascade Locks to Ashland, just 21 miles shy of the Oregon / California border) in 15 days and 3 hours. That’s 428 miles. An average of 28 miles a day. Every day. I have climbed the equivalent of Mount Everest up and down, twice (no, Oregon is not flat). I haven’t washed my clothes for 16 days and I haven’t showered for 11 days. I can say with some confidence that I have never felt this gross before. I doubted my ability every day, but I made it, and that feels good.
First stop on the way to her house was REI to get new socks. They didn’t have the Injinjis I wear so I got Darn Tough socks instead. A very popular sock on the trail due to their lifetime guarantee. If they get a hole they will replace them. Sounds good to me! I figure that my feet are pretty tough now so I’m unlikely to get blisters between my toes.
I briefly looked at new shoes. But there was no way I would be able to try any on with the state of me! Then we went shopping for resupply. We had food in the store and a dirty Mountain Dew. I was so happy to have so much choice after the last two week of scrabbling around in hiker boxes! I treated myself to a new toothbrush and bought enough supplies to package up a box for further up the trail.
Back a Jackie’s house (well, mansion really – the grounds are bigger than some parks at home) I met her husband, Nick, and the dog and the cat – yeay for animals – and it was time for a shower. And how good that shower was. Watching all the dirt wash away down the plug hole, but even better than the shower was brushing my hair. After about a month it felt so good. And wearing Jackie’s clean clothes, with no dust on them, and they smelt good. And cleaning my teeth in a sink. And flushing the toilet. You appreciate all the things you take for granted every day.
The afternoon was spent pottering about, cleaning my kit, emptying my bag, laundry, airing stuff out, drinking chocolate milk and eating cookies. Playing with the dog and the cat!
I had a delicious dinner of pulled chicken and ice cream for desert. A very good food day indeed.
We went for a walk around their grounds. I can’t even describe how amazing where Jackie and Nick live is. They have a huge pond. More like a lake. With a little row boat. They have basically an orchard and grow loads of veggies. Their house is beautiful. And their bedroom is probably the same size as my whole house, and that’s not an exaggeration.
I check the fire situation. It’s grown another 1500 acres.
Jackie and Nick are going to drive me down to Etna tomorrow where I will pick up the trail away from the fire. 3 more hikers in Ashland are doing the same thing – Stringbean, Spice Rack (my Instagram friend) and Crusher whom I have never met.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Donate here.