Made it to Oregon!
Pacific Crest Trail Quest '08 - Page 22
I didn't sleep much at all last night. I was camped near a little stream, and I kept waking
up thinking the sound of running water was a fire. On top of that, the smoke was so thick it
burned my lungs, and I woke up several times coughing. All in all, it was not one of my
more pleasant campsites.
I hit the trail as soon as it was light enough to see and watched the blood red sun rise
through the smoke. I was bound and determined to make it to the Oregon border. It was
only 30 miles, but I felt like I'd smoked a carton of cigarettes the night before. My eyes and
throat were burning. My head felt like it would surely explode at any moment, and I felt like
I hiked ten miles in the awful smoke on a trail that was so steep I had to stop and swear at
it every mile or so. Swearing didn't seem to help, but I figured it couldn't hurt.
By lunch, the smoke had lightened from a noxious fog to a very unpleasant haze. By 3:00,
the sky was the clearest I've seen in weeks. I still felt like I might drop dead at any
moment, and the trail was still a roller coaster ride up and down every mountain in
Northern California, but I could finally breath.
I reached the border at 7:00. It wasn't very fancy, just a wooden sign and a PCT register,
but I was in Oregon. 1700 miles of trail are behind me now, many of them on fire, and I'm
two thirds of the way to Canada.
I wanted to be really excited about Oregon, but I was so tired and sickly, I just took a few
pictures and staggered off to the nearest flat spot I could find to set up the tent. I plan on
sleeping in a little and giving this fresh air a chance to cure what ails me. Hopefully, that's
all it will take.
I slept in until 8:00 this morning and woke up feeling pretty good. I hiked out to what my
map showed as a paved road paralleling the PCT, hoping to hitch a ride into Ashland.
The road turned out to be a one lane jeep road, so I gave up on hitching and started
I only met one car, a Volvo wagon, on my 20 mile walk and it was headed the other way.
The people in it were really nice and gave me a candy bar and two apples. The apples
I made it into Ashland and wanted to stay in a hotel, but the prices I was quoted sounded
a month's rent than a one night stay. I ended up getting a bed at a hostel for $25. It's
noisy and hot. There are a bunch of backpacks on the other bunks, but no PCT hikers.
I'm sure they'll all come in noisy and drunk in the middle of the night. I miss my tent. On
the up side, I've had a good shower and washed my clothes. Tomorrow I'll buy some
groceries and head back in the woods where I belong.
I don't know what time the other hikers got in last night, but they weren't there yet when I
got up to pee at 1:00. Luckily, they were quiet and I slept through their arrival.
I set out this morning looking for breakfast, but everything was small portions for big
prices. I gave up and went to the grocery store. It turned out to be a health food store and
everything was low calorie and high priced, so I gave up and caught the bus to nearby
Meadford. Meadford had everything I needed, so I set out to hitch back to the trail.
I couldn't get a ride to save my life. I sat in the sun for three hours and nobody even
slowed down, so I switched strategies. I walked from Highway 140 to Highway 62. 140
would take me to where I came from, but 62 would get me to Crater Lake, 80 miles down
the trail. All the hikers I talked to in Ashland skipped about 400 miles more than me due
to the fires, so I felt fully justified in this hitch.
I had no problems hitching on 62 and was picked up in about 10 minutes. I got 3 rides of
about 10 miles apiece. The first two said something I hear a lot when I hitch. "I don't
normally pick up hitchhikers, but I felt like I should stop for you." The third was a school
teacher that always picks up hikers.
I think I'm still about 30 miles from Crater Lake, but that's okay. I walked about a mile into
the woods along a pretty stream and set up camp. Oregon is beautiful. There are trees
everywhere and the air is finally clear. My tent still smells like a forest fire, but hopefully it
will air out. I hear it even rains here.
I slept in this morning, then hiked to a café I'd seen on my way in last night. I spent most
of the rest of the day relaxing in the shade. I tried for a little bit to hitch to Crater Lake this
afternoon, but didn't have any luck, so I hiked down to the Rogue River where I found a
I saw a road sign that said Crater Lake is 23 miles away, so I'll probably just start walking
in the morning and see if someone picks me up.