Got on trail in Ashland
I flew into Medford, Oregon in early August. As my plane descended, there was so much smoke that it looked like half the state was on fire. I could see a snow capped peak peeping out above the blanket of smoke smothering the state. Not a promising start to this hike.
Nevertheless, I got a ride from a trail angel to Ashland and they dropped me off right at Callahan’s lodge. I had a delicious meal there, charged my devices, and made sure all my gear was in order. I chatted with some other hikers there about the fires, and the current trail closures. The famous Crater Lake trail had just been closed, and there was a fire raging in Jefferson park. There was a lot of discussion of potential reroutes, but we weren’t really close enough to the closures to make any definitive plan. Soon afterwards, I headed to the PCT. I crashed about 5 miles later. Jet lagged? Lack of trail legs? Oh well. I’m in no rush.
Camped around mile 1721
After my horrible packing job last time I returned to the trail, I made a list this time. I packed every item on the list. There was just one last thing that I needed to pick up en route – a lighter. And since I didn’t put it on the list, I obviously forgot to buy one. Oops! But I met a woman named Nonstop who was going stoveless, and had a lighter anyways. She gave it to me. It’s pink camouflage.
I siesta’d in a beautiful shady spot near a creek. Oregon seemed to be having a heat wave, and the midday was too hot for pleasant hiking so I took a long nap. I camped at the next water source with Nonstop and Rambo, who gave me some blister bandaids. I’ve hardly had any blisters on trail, so I was surprised to get significant blisters on both heels from my new shoes. Same shoes as before, same insoles. I don’t know what’s different, but my heels are not pleased with me.
Camped at mile 1727.6
I lollygagged in camp until 10:30 this morning, planning for fire reroutes/resupply, meditating, and drinking tea. This is the joy of hiking on my own. I can do short miles and take my time.
Oregon is flush with wildlife. Luckily the mosquitos haven’t been too bad yet (likely driven away by the smoke), but I did have a massive herd of dragonflies swarm out of the bushes when I passed by today. I’m rather fond of dragonflies, since they eat the things that like to bite me. Hey, buddies.
Camped around 1736
I’m slowly starting to feel my hiking legs coming back. I haven’t been doing a lot of miles, but they are starting to feel easier.
I stopped by the Hyatt Resort to get some food and charge my devices. I always pack too many meals and not enough snacks in my food bag. Note to self: more snacks.
My wonderful hiker box luck continues, and I found a brand new pair of Birkenstocks in the hiker box at Hyatt Resort. People poke fun at me for carrying Birks on trail, but they are damn good camp shoes. They don’t weigh that much more than Crocs (which plenty of hikers carry), and they weigh less than sandals I’ve seen other hikers carry. I even hike short stretches in them sometimes to give my feet a breather. Anyways, my old pair were very worn out and the heels were nearly flattened. And I found a new pair that fit me! The trail provides.
Camped around 1745
I spent hours midday hanging out at a campground on trail. I sat by a beautiful remote lake and made tea and lunch. I read, wrote in my journal, and watched chipmunks and squirrels in their mortal combat. Seriously, there seems to be a war going on here between the chipmunks and squirrels.
I love all the wildlife here. I see hummingbirds buzzing around, and there are so many deer. This morning, I came over a hill into a meadow and there were two deer meandering down the trail. No, there was a third. And there were four more just around the corner, including two fawns!
For the past 4 days, there has been a thunderstorm starting round 3:30-4:30 p.m. Every day it starts with rumbling thunder and flashes of lightning, then within the hour it starts to rain. Most days it is over quickly, and I am grateful for the rain. Given the fire situation, Oregon needs the rain. The smoke has lessened considerably since I landed in Medford. I can now actually see what’s in the distance around me. So far, I haven’t had more than an hour to two of rain, except when I’m sleeping.
Camped around 1757
Today I made it to Fish Lake Resort to resupply. Since Crater Lake was closed, I figured I would head in Klamath Falls for a zero, then hitch my way around the closure, avoiding Crater Lake entirely. A shame, but I’d already decided that I needed to come back to Oregon another time to see all these sections that it seemed I would have to miss. As a result, I would miss my package at Mazama Campground (adjacent to Crater Lake), so a few days before I had decided to try resupplying online through WalMart. I had seen previously that they offer free 2-day shipping for orders over $35. It seemed like an ideal way to resupply and I’d been meaning to try it for months.
Verdict: Do not resupply from Walmart online.
First of all, they shipped every single item individually so I had not one package at Fish Lake, but eight. Luckily, they were reasonable and relaxed their $5/package rule given the circumstances. Even luckier, I hung around to have lunch there and the last three of those packages arrived as I was eating. If I’d taken off right away, I would have missed them entirely. In fact, not all of the things I’d ordered even arrived! 4 business days after I’d made the order, and not all of it had come. So much for 2-day shipping.
After lunch, I hitched into Klamath Falls and I…
Stayed in Kalmath Falls for a Zero
Yep, that math is right. The longest day I’ve done so far is a 13-miler. And it’s been kind of excellent. I have time in the morning to hang out, have morning tea and relax. I tend to get to camp at a reasonable hour in the evening too. I haven’t had terrible blisters because I’ve been taking it easy, and I’ve been really enjoying myself.
On a final note, Klamath Falls is awesome. I had intended to hitch out after one night there, but as I wandered down Main Street, I was drawn in to businesses there. I ended up spending most of the afternoon in this adorable bohemian cafe that had a woman playing acoustic guitar and singing. She was playing all the classic folk I’d been raised on – Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell – and it was enchanting. Later that evening I headed back to the hotel is stayed in the night before, and en route I stopped at a wine shop that had free tasting, and got a cheap foot massage.
Verdict: A+ zero location. What a good day.