Pacific Crest Trail Quest '08 - Page 21
I decided to do a 20 mile walk on a jeep trail to cut off a big loop on the PCT. The first mile
was paved, but from then on, it was a rocky winding one lane road. I walked for two hours
without seeing a car before a brand new Dodge Caliber pulled up next to me. I really
hadn't expected to see anything but a 4 wheel drive truck on this road, so the little Dodge
was a bit of a surprise.
It turned out to be two PCT hikers who had rented the car to go to a wedding. They were
skipping a few hundred miles of trail, but wanted to drive along as much of it as possible.
They offered me a ride to the next trailhead, and I gladly accepted. It was a great ride. The
rocky road followed a nice stream, and it was too rough to go much over 10 mph. I had
plenty of time to take in the scenery, and the scenery was great. We came upon two free
spirited girls as naked as the day they were born, splashing each other in the creek. I love
free spirited girls. I hope to see more soon.
At the trailhead, we met a guy loading up his horses after a trail ride. He told me the trail
was closed in 20 miles at the next road. I hadn't heard of any closures, so I hoped he was
wrong and started walking. 20 miles later, I reached the road and a big sign telling me
the PCT was closed. It was a one lane paved road that went east into the town of Etna,
and was closed going west because of the fire. The sign told me to go to Etna where I
could camp at the city park for free. Of course, there was no map, so I had no idea how far
it was to Etna. I figured I better start walking.
It was almost eight when I left the trail, and I didn't think I had any chance of getting a ride,
but 5 minutes into my walk, I met a couple in an old Ford Ranger who were heading up to
check out the fire with their overly friendly dog. They offered me a ride into Etna, and I
hopped in the back.
It was a long ride down 20 miles of steep winding road. The dog licked me the whole
way. At the park I thanked them for the ride and set up camp in a quiet corner. Lots of
friendly deer here.
I have to make it to Seiad Valley to pick up the trail again. The problem is, there's no good
way to get there from here. This is Sunday, and I have mail to pick up in Seiad Valley, so I
decided to stay in Etna for the day. There were only two things open today, the grocery
store and the brewery. The grocery store had ice cream and the brewery had beer, so I
made it through the day all right.
It's been hot all day, but I still got in a good nap. Tomorrow I hitch out.
I caught the bus this morning from Etna to the good sized town of Yreka. I had a great
chicken fried steak breakfast, then headed to the I-5 on-ramp to start my hitch. It's always
hard to get a ride out of a big town, and I waited nearly 2 hours before I was picked up by a
girl in a Subaru wagon. She was headed to Ashland, Oregon, which would be an easy
place to pick up the trail, but I wouldn't have been able to walk into Oregon. I had her drop
me at the highway 96 exit. From there, it's 45 miles to the trailhead at Sicad Valley.
The first car by stopped. It was driven by a firefighter on his way to fight the fire I had to
detour. He dropped me at the Sicad Valley post office where my package was waiting. I
then walked to the convenience store for the ever important pint of ice cream. It was too
hot to hike, so I just sat in the shade in front of the store.
I wasn't there long when two gold miners asked if I wanted a beer with them at the
campground next door. It sounded like a good idea, so off I went. They were nice guys,
but a little on the strange side. It seems the CIA has some great interest in their gold
mining activities and is watching their every move. About 25% of the cars that drove by
were not just motorists, but in fact CIA operatives. I was warned about the ever menacing
silent black helicopters that patrol this area, as well as the danger of mind control drugs in
the food I eat. It was time to go. There must be some really good pot growing in these
It was still too hot, humid and smoky to hike, so I set up camp at the first spring I came to.
Four hikers came along later, and it was obvious they wanted to camp at the spring, but
there was only one flat spot, and I was on it. Sometimes it pays to be lazy and go to bed
I don't know if it's the heat and smoke, or the mind control drugs in my peanut butter, but
I've felt lousy all day. To make matters worse, the trail climbed a steep 5,000 feet from last
night's camp. I slept in until 10:00, but still didn't feel any better, so I packed up and hit the
trail. It was hot, the smoke was awful, and white ash rained from the sky. I went slow and
took lots of breaks.
I only made it nine miles, but at least I got up the hill. No hikers passed me today, so I'm
pretty sure the trail is closed.
The wind has really picked up tonight and the smoke is awful. I can see fire burning on
the other side of the canyon, but the wind should blow it away from me. I'm really worried
about fire coming up the steep slope I'm camped on. I'm 5,000 feet above the valley floor,
and it's too smoky to see the bottom. I plan on getting up a lot tonight to check on the fire.
I do have cell reception here, so at least I can call 911 if things get dicey.