Starting the day with a 6.5 mile road and highway walk isn’t the most enjoyable way but know what helps? Blackberries!! They are perfect right now but it makes walking for more than 10 minutes nearly impossible as the next bush beckons you in.
Saeid Valley is a pretty big deal as it’s the last “town” (pop. 350) before Oregon. The three of us rolled into town around 930am, got ourselves second breakfasts and milkshakes, and did a small resupply. I was actually a bit bummed at my resupply as, for the last week or so, I’d been dreaming about packing out a beer in order to celebrate completing California. But the canned beer selection sucked so I accepted my first beer would be a few days after, at Callahan’s Lodge near Ashland.
Oh, California: you really make us hikers dislike you by the end. With your heat, climbs, and excessive length, it’s no wonder we become desperate to get to Oregon. You do yourself no favours with the huge climb out of Saied Valley, about 15 miles and over 6,000 feet (remember the descent I had to do?!). We heard from southbounders and locals that there was a road walk that would cut 1,000 feet of climb, about 3 miles of length, and be near a river (with a couple of swimming holes). Haha! Screw you, California! And so, at the hottest part of the day, 1245pm, we began our second road walk of the day. After walking 5-6 miles, a truck came by with hiker Icebath in the front. She scored a ride from local, Barry, and leaned out to see if we want a lift as well. Heck, yes!
Now, I know some of you may consider the road walk skipping, let alone the ride, but I like to think of it as outsmarting California :). We found ourselves 16 miles from the Oregon border that night and it was fun spending my last night in California with friends, Firefox and Patches, and new friend, Icebath (for all my Rossland friends, she’s from Chewelah and has spent lots of time at Red!! First time I didn’t have to explain where I was from in terms of Vancouver!).
I made it to Oregon on August 10th at 3:45pm. I can’t believe how emotional I felt getting there. I’m sure it was in large part exacerbated by my pure exhaustion. I’m so tired, everything is sore and achy: eyes, muscles, joints, chaffing on my skin. I’m still waking up at night with hunger pains but at least I’m prepared with a bar or a few scoops of nut butter. I’m growing concerned with my weight and very emaciated look which I know is a factor in my energy levels but…not really sure what to do! Anyway, it was a weird sort of day, hiking into Oregon. I thought I’d be up early and jumping to get hiking but I laid in my tent until 630, simply thinking and reflecting on how far I’d come. It seems surreal to know I was nearly finished California and I just feel so proud of myself. This has been hard – way more difficult than I could have ever imagined. I don’t really remember much of the walking…I was just absorbed in my own thoughts. I ended up getting to the border by myself, which I’m not sure if I was happy about that or not. I enjoyed having the moment to myself but missed not sharing it with anyone…nor having a beer to celebrate! I waited for awhile for Firefox or Patches but neither showed up and I was beginning to get – listen to this! – CHILLY! How crazy is it that I was sweating madly in the heat only to reach the border and a cool breeze?! Sweeeeeet! I hiked a total of 23 miles, camping on a little ridge overlooking a nice valley, watched a great sunset, and enjoyed a hot cup of tea. Welcome to Oregon!
The miles are really adding up as Canada continues to get closer. I had made the decision to push to get into Callahan’s Lodge as early as possible and take a full and proper zero day. I really need the rest. My last zero was back in Quincy, 3 weeks and 500 miles ago when I was recouping from illness. No wonder I’ve felt tired and weary. Oregon was very welcoming for my first day of hiking in the state: lovely, cool temperature, well graded and maintained trail…and trail magic! It was simply 2 coolers filled with pop but it really did work magic on my mindset. I admit: quitting has been high on my thoughts lately. But the thought of someone I don’t know believing I (and all of us) could make it this far is truly touching. I enjoyed a cola and made the 21 miles to Callahan’s by 430, finishing the day with all-you-can-eat spaghetti and a couple of Ashland Ambers (mmmm…Oregon beer!). Tonight, I sleep in a proper bed in the lodge, courtesy of my Mom!