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Written Friday, 30 July 2021
This was, I believe, the longest stretch we have gone without taking time off, and I am bushed, even after 2 days to recover in Ashland OR (a very nice, small city in southern Oregon).
The big news, of course, is that Anchor and I finished the 1,693.7-mile stretch of the PCT in California (and have taken a 27-mile nibble out of the Oregon section) on Wednesday, 28 July, at about 0630. We celebrated with a shot or two of Kentucky's finest straight bourbon whiskey, Jim Beam (thanks, Jim).
So this is what the Trail has done. It has turned me into a morning drinker...
Anyway, the first stretch of Oregon turns out to be beautiful but also climby, fairly dry, and, ultimately, hot. So Oregon is already on probation!
The 217-mile section from Mount Shasta City to Ashland definitely was not as difficult, overall, as the previous 200-mile section. There has been a bit more shade and a bit more water, although, with the exception of one day, the brutal heat continues.
Luckily, the one cool, overcast day (that even included some nice morning rain) was the last full day in California, which included over 8,000 feet of climbing (yet another climb out of a gorge--in this case the Klamath River canyon near Seiad Valley) and about 5,000 feet of descent. It was wonderful to not have the sun beating down on us as Anchor and I made that long climb, and we made nearly 30 miles while barely breaking a sweat (literally).
Unfortunately, the hot weather was back the next day, and it's not immediately clear when we will get a break again.
Fires continue to be a concern. During most of the hiking days on this stretch, the valleys were filled with smoke, obscuring any real views we might have had. Smoke in the valley doesn't necessarily indicate a nearby fire, but it makes it harder to know if there is a nearby fire, where it is, and, most important, where we should go to maintain a safe distance. Some other hikers have also complained about eye and throat irritation, but luckily neither Anchor nor I have felt those effects.
By the way, I tried to get some good smoke pictures for you to give you a sense of what it's like out here, but my Pixel 5 is too good at processing the haze out of the pics. I just can't win!
On the upside, I met a hiker--Slice--whose footsteps I have been following for 5 years! Back in 2016, Slice thru hiked the Appalachian Trail, and he published an outstanding blog that was probably the single most important resource in planning my own 2017-2019 Appalachian Trail hike. Then, just a couple weeks before I started this year's hike, Slice announced that he and his fiancee, Mango, would be hiking the PCT, starting 10 days before me, and, again, I have been following his blog for key information on what to expect on upcoming sections (also his hilarious sense of humor).
I never expected to catch up with Slice and Mango, but they recently had to hop off the trail for a family event and, on the bus from Mount Shasta City back to the Trail, our paths finally crossed. Of course I went total fanboy and gushed all over Slice. I'm sure he and Mango were thinking, " Uh oh. Stalker alert!" But they were both very gracious, and we had an awesome conversation. Turns out Slice is every bit as nice and funny in person as he is in his blog. What a nice surprise!
That's Slice and me in the picture up above
Speaking of surprised, the 4 mountain ranges we hiked through on this section were all spectacular! Castle Crags, the Scott Mountains, the Marble Mountains, and the Trinity Alps are among the most imposing and beautiful mountains we have yet seen on Trail. Strangely, with the exception of the Trinity Alps, I haven't heard much about these ranges previously. They deserve more attention! Get out and see them, people!
Also, Mount Shasta continues to be a daily presence on our hike, over 2 weeks after we first spotted her. The is how big she is. She is to our backs now, but even as late as our last afternoon on the Trail, a backward glance revealed her majestic peaks rising above several ridges between her and our current position. Just amazing.
We have really enjoyed our 2 days of rest here in Ashland. Our last full day off was all the way back in Chester, 17 days ago (and almost 400 miles!), and I really needed the break. We got resupply taken care of for the next 12 days, accomplished some equipment fixed, watched a lot of Olympic coverage, and ate all the food. All. The. Food.
No apologies will be forthcoming.
Well, better get to bed. We have a ride lined up to get us back to the Trail in the morning. The upcoming segment may take us 12 days or more to complete so it will be a while before I update the blog, but I will give you an update as soon as I can.
Hit me up with questions or comments below.
In the meantime, I am safe, dry, and warm.
Miles Hiked This Entry: 217.4 Total PCT Miles: 1,718.7
Sea Otter Fact of the Post: Sea otters are the only sea animals capable of turning over and lifting bolders in the sea floor (in search of food, of course)