We got into Ashland yesterday. We resupplied, did laundry, ate great food, showered, and got to stay in a cute little hostel in downtown.
To get into town, we had to hitch on Interstate 5. I thought it would be an impossible hitch, but people are cool, and we got a ride.
Since we did all the resupply work yesterday, today we just get to chill. And we are taking a day off to celebrate being in a new state.
So far, this is what it’s looked like:
Later today we’re hoping to catch Incredibles 2 while it’s still in theater. And we also hope to hit up an Indian Buffet that’s only $12, later tonight. Good stuff!
One last night in California. One last cat-hole. One last sunrise.
Today, at long last, we crossed into Oregon!
Today is the last day I will walk within your borders. You were my first love, the one who taught me all I have to know about hiking.
I was so naive and ignorant, but you, with patience and love, shared your wisdom. Sometimes with a firm rod and hard hand.
In your desert I learned of the value of water. I saw arid sunrises and came to appreciate any patch of shade I could find. I learned the value of siestas.
In your Sierra mountains I learned to appreciate dry feet and came to hate the snow. But you were the one who taught me to cross those raging streams. You were the one who showed me the magic and the beauty of snow capped mountains. And it was walking in your mountains that I learned how important it is to summit in the early morning when that very same snow is frozen.
And in your northern branches, I learned to be strong. I learned to climb miles and miles of uphill without stopping. I learned to endure long days and hard miles. And I was rewarded with the beauty found on Northern Californian ridges.
For almost 1700 miles, I have wandered through your lands, and now it has come time to leave. I will look back with fondness, but I won’t forget the pain. For it was the hardest days that forged me into something, someone, even stronger.
I must move on now. I must close this door and open another.
I now look to Oregon.
Did you know that there is a 51st State in America? I certainly didn’t. We’ve been walking through Jefferson County, a very small town kinda place, that apparently wants to become the 51st State of America. It’s the kind of place where you might find signs saying, “This property is protected by the second amendment.” You’ll more than likely see some very old men with long white beards in pickup trucks. And you’ll definitely see a lot of American flags and pass houses with slightly aggressive dogs.
If you’ve never been to small town America, you may have trouble imagining this, but trust me, it exists.
We passed through a hiker friendly town such as this today, called Seiad Valley. They have a small general store, a cafe with a five pound PCT pancake eating challenge (I didn’t try!), and a post office.
No matter how small a town may be, it is always refreshing to get a cold drink and something to eat. These parts of America always make me laugh.
As we get further and further into Northern California, we have been walking more and more so through burned areas. Last year was a big fire year, and now we get to see the effect of it.
It still smells smoky in some places. Trees are fallen here and there, and the ones that still stand are charred.
But in death, there is life. Sometimes the forests need to burn so that in their ashes, new growth may form.
And look, there is still life. Beautiful creatures such as these still roam free in the desolated areas.
We must have faith that new trees will grow, that new beauty will rise. Sometimes the old must burn so that a better future can come.
I think of these things as we walk today, because as I reflect on the past few months, I can see how I’ve been burned and how I’ve grown.
When you first envision hiking the great Pacific Crest Trail, you may have visions of walking on beautiful mountainsides through wildflowers and by crystal waterfalls. You walk until you are content, and you stop where you please. You probably imagine having a campfire every night, with s’mores and hotdogs. You can just see yourself stopping to swim in mountain streams or blue lakes. It sounds so idyllic, so romantic.
The reality is a little different. You do walk on beautiful ridges. You see some incredible sights. You drink from cool streams. But most of the time, you are just walking, and looking mostly at the ground so you don’t trip and fall. And it’s not always beautiful. Sometimes you walk through burned areas, where the sun is especially hot, and there’s not a lot to look at. Sometimes you have to bushwhack through overgrown trail. Sometimes it just all looks the same. And most of the time, you don’t have time for swimming and campfires, and you most likely won’t have s’mores or hotdogs.
But today, it was so nice! We hiked all day and ended by a beautiful lake. And we actually had a campfire! There was a stone slab we could lean our backs against and look up at the beautiful sky while experiencing the warmth of the fire. We had fun telling stories and sharing our precious few snacks. I even washed my feet and legs in the lake, fish jumping only a few meters away.
Moments like these are so refreshing and revitalizing. Maybe it’s because they don’t happen all the time. It really gives you the energy and spirits to go on.
I hope you too are doing what it takes to feel revitalized in your everyday life 🙂
You know what sucks? Sometimes you have to pay for things you didn’t want in the first place. We got 7 miles behind yesterday because I was sick, not because we were lazy or because there was some cool thing we wanted to do or see, and. Now we have to pay for that. Today we had to hike 35 miles, which is never fun.
Thankfully I am feeling much better today! Praise God!
And here is a photo of a ton of butterflies chilling on a piece of some animal’s poop. Is that beautiful, or is that gross? I don’t really know.