Monday, August 22nd 2016
Miles: 1727.6 – 1754.8
Remote Spring 1727.6 – 1754.8
Well last night was interesting. In fact it was probably a horror scenario for most people. At some point I felt like I wasn’t alone in my cowboy camp. I’m not referring to the 10 or so other camps in my vicinity, but something of the multi-legged variety. When I was disturbed by a feeling of something in my hair I turned on my headlamp around 1AM to witness an entire army of long legged spiders marching from one side of my camp to the other, in the direction of the spring. I don’t like spiders, as a kid I was terrified of them, but the PCT seems to have broken me, and I stared at them for some time, and couldn’t help but smile. My existence on this earth was meaningless to them. Because they wanted to go somewhere and were not going to let an obstruction like me prevent them from doing so. At this point of the night there really wasn’t very much I could do without disturbing a lot of people, so I decided to prop up my groundsheet slightly with a hiking pole, hoping this would divert them. And hey, it actually did, as they wandered like lemmings around the foot of my groundsheet. Of course knowing that there’s an army of spiders scoping out your camp isn’t exactly a recipe for a successful sleep and despite my success at diverting them, I slept horribly, constantly wondering if that twitch was a spider, and what might be hiding in my sleeping bag.
Waking up with a sore head, I at least was greeted with a really great water source, an enormous horse trough that was absolutely gushing with water. I filled up before breakfast, and realized that a hiker from way back in Idlewild was camped beside me, so we talked for a while and caught up. I enjoyed my new mug immensely, the morning coffee of Starbucks Via I found in a hiker box in Ashland tasting a little sweater out of a proper mug with a handle. I packed up and hit the trail by 7AM.
The morning shift today would involve a long water carry, given a number of exposed hills that were bone dry, constituted most of this mornings miles, and one of the en-route water sources was reported as a dirty muddy seep that wasn’t worth the trouble. The big haul wasn’t so much of a problem however and despite being loaded with 4 days of food for Crater Lake (my next stop), I enjoyed the views back to pilot rock and Mt.Ashland immensely. The terrain was gentle and the cool morning was a pleasant departure from the hot evenings hike last night.
After 2hrs I came to a road crossing, which was listed on my trail notes as allowing access to a breakfast spot, the Green Springs Inn, 2 miles down the road. I thought for a while about this devilish and cheeky idea, could I permit myself one last breakfast in civilization before hitting the deep woods of Oregon? I decided that I would try to hitch with the first car that came, and if it was meant to be, they’d pick me up! About 2mins later, and not even believing my good luck, I was hopping into a black Volkswagen Jetta being driven by a guy from down the road. When he heard I was Irish, he said “oh you guys are cool, want a hit?” Before producing a bong he had been hiding between his legs! “Umm I’m ok”, I replied, this is Oregon after all, but a little early in the day for that kind of thing. He dropped me at the breakfast spot a few minutes later, and even offered to drop me back “I’ll keep an eye out for you when I’m passing in an hour!”. Happy for the ride, I settled in for my “perfect crime” breakfast of a breakfast burrito, potatoes and melon! I thought it a little rude not to sample their pie, so I permitted myself some Marionberry pie a-la-mode for the anti-oxidant qualities.
After eating, one of the crew at the restaurant dropped me back up to the trail, so I was done and dusted in barely 2hrs and back hiking. This couldn’t have worked out better! Of course now I had no idea if my trail family were ahead or behind me, so I hit the trail with a bounce (thanks to the coffee and eggs) and hoped I could find them before the day was out. The heat was back, but the views from the ridgetop hike, back to Ashland were beautiful, and I even saw an eagle soaring over one of the bluffs. The trail passed a number of meadows and once again, there was signs of recent blowdowns (trees) as well as some other creatures taking their tool on the trees.
It was a long day of hiking, and I didnt see many people throughout. There was quite a few road crossing however, as well as break-off for Hyatt Lake, a popular weekend spot for the locals. Having used all of my credits with my morning escape, I avoided the temptation to drop in to one of the resorts on the side trails. By the evening time, I was surprised that I had not seen any of my usual hiker-buddies, but thats the luck of the game. I didnt stop for lunch, and figured they must be behind me if I had not seem them by now, given their usual daily routine. I stopped for a break by a nice wooden bridge near a dam, only to be followed by some curious deer, closely followed themselves by one of the South Korean hikers Ive been seeing since day 1, but who seems to have no english, we politely wave and he carried on up the next hill.
That hill, its worth mentioning, ended up lasting for some hours, and it was quite late when I finally found Mash at a spring close to the trail. He was livid after finding a hiker washing their feet in the only pool you could gather water from. Sharing some of the incredulity, I gathered water and filtered it. Mash had decided to stay at the spring, but I wanted to hit the top of this ridge before calling it a night, so we bid farewell and I hit the trail for the final haul. The amount of blow-downs was enormous in this area, and as I followed the thickly covered brush surrounding the trail, I wondered at what point they may start to slow me down.
Cresting the mountain, I still had not made contact with FlyBy or Breakaway, whom Mash believed were ahead of me. I eventually found a spot to camp in a dark sheltered spot under high trees and decided I would not find them tonight. It was late, and well after dark. As I settled into camp, my South Korean friend once again passed by, lit by a headlamp, a weary traveler in the night, with no idea where he’ll stay. I know how that feels.