Thursday, November 25, 2010

O Ashland, Where Art Thou?

August 8: I woke up, and was pleased to find that I was still in Oregon. It wasn't just a dream! I was really in Oregon! And I'd be meeting Amanda later that morning. Originally, the plan had been to meet her where the road comes out near Interstate 5--a straight shot into Ashland from there. With my shoe causing so much trouble, however, I told Amanda to go ahead and try to find me at an earlier road crossing if she got into the area early if for no other reason than to give me a different pair of shoes to hike the last several miles to the I-5 crossing.

I hadn't talked to Amanda since leaving Seiad Valley--my cell and e-mail hadn't worked at all in the better part of a week now. As I got closer to Ashland, though, I hoped for a signal. I hoped Amanda could find me at an earlier road crossing, perhaps by Mt. Ashland Campground, so I could switch out the shoes. They were killing me.

I did some more surgical enhancements on the left shoe. It seemed improbable that the shoe would last much longer with as much as I was cutting off, but it didn't matter anymore. It only had to last me until I saw Amanda or made it into Ashland. Worst case scenario, just 17 more miles....

The soda cache.
I came along a 'soda cache' near one dirt road, where I stopped for a half hour to read the register, drink a Pepsi (that was the only choice available), and rest my aching feet. Actually, my ankles were the part that hurt the most. The first couple of days, it was the bottom of my feet. The leaves I stuffed in the shoes seemed to largely fix that problem, but now my ankles--and especially the left ankle--felt like it was in a vice. Except for cutting the tops of the shoes shorter, I didn't have any other ideas about what to do about that.

The register was a little more interesting to read than most. The person who left it asked people to write a highlight of our hike, a lowlight, the most embarrassing moment, and what we expected to be doing a year from now. Most of the answers weren't particularly interesting, but they were still fun to read anyhow. I wrote that my highlight was being out of California, the lowlight of Canada still being so very far away, and then I was stumped with the most embarrassing moment. I tried to think of something that happened on the trail that was actually embarrassing, hmmm, how about buying $15 shoes at Payless and having them fall apart within 24 hours!

And for what I'd be doing in a year.... I'd learn how to fly a plane, then fly it over the PCT and laugh at all those fools thru-hiking the trail. MUHAHaHahaha!!!!!

The trail crossed a road--a paved road--about 10 miles in for the day, but Amanda was nowhere to be seen. Bummer. If she was going to meet me early, this would have been the best chance. I left a note for her on an information board to let her know I'd already passed through and to look for me at the I-5 crossing. I didn't want her waiting here after I had already passed through! And I continued my long limp along the trail....
A short time after that, I finally got a signal on my cell phone and gave Amanda a call. The news was bad.... the car experienced some mechanical problems during the drive down to Ashland and was currently being worked on, but it should be fixed soon (mostly fixed, at least), and she'd meet me at I-5.

I called her again when I could see Callahans Restaurant down below, alongside I-5. Most hikers take a shortcut down from the PCT to Callahans. I knew Amanda would be waiting for me, though, and didn't need the side trip. But seeing the restaurant meant I was less than a half mile away from the trailhead, just around the proverbial corner, and I called Amanda to let her know that I was ALMOST THERE!
A trail in the woods....

Might take me an hour as slow as I was limping at this point, but I was almost there! Amanda tried following the PCT south a short ways--part of her Hike-a-Thon efforts, but lost the trail where it crossed a short paved section of road. So I started describing where I was, the twists, the turns, the road crossings. "Yes! That's where I was when I lost the trail!"

"Well, that's where I am now! I'll try not to lose the trail!" =)

I was still talking to her on the cell when I turned the last corner and saw her by the car.

She brought out three pairs of shoes from home saying, "I'm not sure which one you wanted, so I brought them all." How sweet.... =)

But I didn't want any shoes at the moment. I wasn't hiking anymore today, so I pulled off my shoes and used the Waldies from my pack. My feet and ankles still hurt to walk around in even without the shoes on--the damage was done and they'd need time to heal. But never again would I put those horrible shoes on my feet again. I wanted to nail them to a tree as a warning to other misbehaving shoes, but I'd settle for throwing them in the trash never to be seen again.

It was still early in the afternoon and we called the Super 8 to find out if we could check in early and got a definite NO, so we drove into town looking for a place to eat rather than a place to lodge, settling on SeƱor Sams. And over Mexican food, we swapped war stories of the last four days--mine mostly consisting of the miserable shoes, and hers consisting of car problems.

We finally arrived at the Super 8, checked in, and went to our room to discover that it hadn't actually been cleaned yet. Don't they keep track of this stuff? We went back to the lobby of the hotel to wait while it was cleaned. My stench filling up the lobby, I was certain, would get us an expedited cleaning. =) About 20 minutes later we were told we could go back to the room, where I finally took a good, long shower and got online.
This bizarre, human-sized nest was alongside the trail.
Don't ask, because I don't know why....

For dinner, Amanda and I headed off to the Great American Pizza Company. We posted that we'd be there for dinner if any letterboxers wanted to join us or make fun of my beard. We hadn't gotten any response to the suggestion (no positive ones, at least!), but we went to the pizza joint anyhow because we did need dinner. Why not?

Nobody showed, though, and Amanda and I enjoyed our pizza alone. =)

Watching the news that night, I did learn more about wildfires in the area, burning through the Klamath National Forest. Which happened to be exactly what I had been walking through for nearly a week now. Seems strange that I can walk through a forest that's burning out of control and not even see any evidence of it except for smoky skies, but at least I had confirmation that there ARE fires in the area. None of them, fortunately, seemed to be affecting the PCT... for now....

This graffiti marked the junction for the
shortcut to Callahans. (I didn't follow it, though.)
Interstate 5 crosses over the trail on this bridge.
(The road I'm walking on is the trail.)


Steve, Christa, Emily, Meghan, Charles & Elizabeth said...

Why is there a human sized nest right there on the trail? ;-P

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I don't know how you did it....tough as nails perhaps?

Painful shoes would bring me to tears and a full on refusal to take one more step. I would have rather walked barefoot. I hope they didn't take too long to heal...

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers