Back in the middle of June, I left California on a bus to Reno to catch a flight to Seattle. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to hike south through Washington and Oregon to get back to California or if I would even make it back. After 45 days and almost 1,000 miles, I crossed the border from Oregon into California.
Oregon provided relatively easy trail with nice gradual climbs and a lack of blowdowns or overgrown unmaintained trail. The trail seemed to change almost immediately after leaving Ashland, Oregon. The easy gradual trail became much more vertical. Just when I thought I reached the top, the trail arrived to a new ridge to climb. A burn zone stretching almost 100 miles made for downed trees and clouds of ash with every step. A 30-mile day in Northern California was quite different from a 30-mile day in Oregon.
On day three out of Ashland, the trail descended about 5,500 feet into the small town of Seiad Valley, California (or the state of Jefferson as some locals might suggest). A road walk provided a pretty gradual descent and a break from the burn zone. Seiad Valley was a unique place. It consisted of a single street with a general store, a post office, a cafe, an RV Park, and a giant sign saying “Welcome to the Great State of Jefferson”. I had a delicious meal at the cafe of eggs, sausage, hash browns, and huckleberry French toast. Because the valley was so low in elevation, the temperature had reached almost 100 degrees. It was hot but it was time to continue hiking.
The trail followed a road through Seiad Valley across the Klamath River and then wrapped around several more miles to a campground at the end of a dirt road. Along the road, my hiking bud Big Papa and I came across a sign saying “trail magic” pointing up a driveway. Given the hot temperatures and the lack of motivation to hike, we ventured up the driveway. We came across a house with a mini fridge on the deck full of cold drinks. There was wifi and several other hikers hanging out. After a little while, the owner of the house, Brian, returned home and welcomed us to his pleasant oasis out of the summer heat. He let us hang out in the AC for several hours. It was a nice midday break, but we knew we had to continue on at some point. We decided to night hike and as we left Brian’s place he had just begun cooking up dinner for the hikers hanging out. Brian had got the property in February and was already generous enough to let hikers hang out all day. The endless amount of amazing people surrounding the trail has continued to surprise me every day.
The weather had finally cooled off and the climb out of Seiad Valley would hopefully be much more enjoyable. Just like the descent into the valley, the climb out would be big. It totaled around twenty miles and 7,000 feet up. I hadn’t night hiked since I was last in California. It was always fun to switch up the hiking and night hiking provided a much different experience. I also hadn’t seen any rattlesnakes since I was last in California, but I saw two on this night hike as well as four scorpions. Big Papa and I hiked twelve of the twenty miles and set up camp around midnight. We would finish the climb the next morning.
The following day was one of the toughest on the whole trail. In 27 miles the trail gained almost 8,000 feet. Parts of the day reminded me of the views in Washington and it was certainly not a boring day (just exhausting). Big Papa and I set up camp at a lake where two other hikers were also set up. They were having a campfire and it was fun to sit and talk (and have roasted marshmallows) after a tiring day.
The fifth day was town day, which is always my favorite day. We had 14 miles to do and it went by fairly quickly. We got a ride into town with the first car that came by. Although the days were challenging, the first stretch of Northern California was already completed.
In my last post, there were less than 1,000 miles to go. Now there are around 840 miles to go after just a few days. As time goes by on the trail, I look at the views and the trees. I take in all of my feelings and look behind me every now and then to see how far I have come. It’s pretty crazy to think I’m back where it all began. April BAG was different than August BAG. I have seen so much growth in myself mentally and physically. I have seen what I am capable of and have even proven to be stronger than I think sometimes. This adventure is quickly coming to an end, but there’s still lots of time to grow and make memories to last a lifetime.