Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ashland-Seiad Valley

Wed 7/19  Becky's friend wasn't able to go with us to Ashland.  Things happen and this is understandable.  So I am on a bus on headed to Seattle.  I change buses in Seattle, then on to Portland and finally Medford. In Medford,  I will catch the local bus to Ashland.

  • Just being with Becky and Abby was good, very good. In retrospect about my decision to come off trail because of stream crossings in the Sierras
    • From a "Be-Safe" perspective, the decision was good
    • From a "Meet-the-Obstacle/Challenges-Head-On," I had a text from a couple of hiker friends.  They made it through every stream and mountain pass challenge.  I could have had a V-8!  Instead, I was a wimp. 
    • From a complete a thru-hike perspective, coming off trail was a disaster. The last day I made forward progress was June 28.  I'm getting back on trail July 20.  Three weeks off trail!  You cannot make up twenty-one days.  This killed pretty much any chance of completing the entire PCT this year. 

Thur 7/20 Very little sleep last night. in Portland a woman in a wheelchair was added.  Some seats behind me were collapsed making room for her.  I shared a seat with a boy who had been displaced.  Cat napped at best.  Need sleep. 
  • Had a shuttle from Mountain Adventure, a mountain bike shop
  • Ate a late breakfast at Callahans with Double J and Beet Root from Australia.  
  • Started hiking at noon from PCT mile 1716 and camped 1701--at junction of 5 roads. 15 miles. 
  • Ran into a lot of NOBO hikers
    • Boxy and Dora
    • Commando and Shade
    • Hansel and Gretel (like the fairy tale) from Switzerland
    • Coco from Brazil

  • One hiker--Wait-Soon-Safe (probably not his exact trail name)--completed all of the Sierras.  In three days of hiking he is the only one I've met who did the Sierras. 
  • Other hikers I met: 
    • Marco Polo from El Salvador and Tink
    • McSkittles and Baywatch
    • Laura from Alaska--says she has high respect for snow snow and rivers at high flow
    • Roland from Germany--going SOBO.  Flipped to Cascade Locks and came through Oregon when it still had lots of snow, especially near Mt Hood
    • Double D
    • Cupid
    • Gourmet and Spatula

  • A lot of hikers quit the Sierras because they were not having fun
    • When the heatwave started, conditions went from okay to bad in a hurry. 
    • Snow on mountain passes--when snow is firm, hiking is relatively easy
      • when snow is like soup--very hard to hike
    • Stream crossings--with snow bridges--very early
      • at high flow with no snow bridge--can be hard or dangerous
  • Coming through two days earlier or later can mean drastically different conditions
  • Yes, the hiking, and the country I am hiking through can be special, but I'm having more more fun talking with the other hikers.  Can't stop to talk to everyone, though, because you still gotta hike and do the allotted miles. 
Fri 7/21  Started at PCT mile 1701.  Camped at Bear Dog spring at PCT mile 1673.1 for approximately twenty-seven miles. I kept walking after I hiked beyond the map in my shorts pocket.  When I stopped and grabbed the next map, I had to go another six miles to get to the next water.  My plan to hike twenty-three miles turned into twenty-seven miles because I did not stop to grab the next mile. 

Sat 7/22 Started from Bear Dog Spring (PCT 1673) and ended at CT 1653 at Seiad Valley.  At 10:00 am a NOBO hiker informed me that the cafe closed at 2:00 pm.  A burger and shake sounded good, to I hiked at a higher gear to push the pace.  This section of trail was a lot of downhill, but there was also some uphill sections with loose rock, shrubs grown over the trail.  Last couple of miles there was  lot of poison oak (Becky here--as I long as I don't have to wash his hiking clothes after he's been in the poison oak, it's all good).  Watching my pace and the miles to go, I could tell that it was going to be close--would I make it in time for a burger, or get there just after the cafe closed.  So, I bypassed the last two springs and really pushed myself.  The store and cafe are 0.8 mile up Hwy 96.  The temperature hit 100*.  It was 2:15 when I walked into the cafe. I must have looked pretty rough, because they said they would feed me--bacon cheeseburger, fries, and strawberry shake, and LOTS of ice water.  When I left, the boss said I looked better. 

  • From Ashland to Seiad Valley: 63 miles in 50 hours.  Not half bad for an old duffer.  But I am pretty beat up.  
  • Left knee swollen and stiff.  After sitting awhile, my body was stiff and sore. 
  • Lots of hikers in the shade, waiting for evening to take off again.  I was not much company, I was a hurting unit.  
  • Checked in at the RV park and had a shower. 
  • My resupply boxes made it to Riverside, California, but not to the store at Seiad Valley.  So tomorrow will be a zero day.  A year ago, waiting for a resupply box happened frequently to a hiker named Salty.  Looks like I pulled a Salty.  Doing the math, I either take a zero here or I would have had to zero in Dunsmuir

Sun 7/23 Other hikers left the RV park early. 
  • Supposed to be 110* today and 100* tomorrow. 
  • I ate breakfast with Roland from Germany.  He has a violin strapped to his pack. 
  • Left knee is better, but my left ankle is sore.  Go figure. 
  • Resupply box will not come in until tomorrow around noon or 12:30.  Bummer
  • I'll be doing a six mile road walk in the heat and in the sun.  The six mile road walk is to cross the bridge across the Klamath River.  Strategy: Camel-up before leaving.  Once I hit trail there will be more shade and more water.  I'll need to check maps and water report to see how much water to carry. 
  • My pack will be a heavy beast as I'll leave with seven days of food. 
  • Section of trail from Ashland to Seiad Valley was dusty, dirty

  • Yesterday my feet and lower legs were filthy
  • I just spent a long time rinsing  and re-rinsing  my two pairs of socks I wore from Ashland.  Before doing laundry, I will rinse the socks again
  • I am convinced I have rinsed out ore dirt than the amount of fabric in the socks.  And the rinse water is still brown. 
  • Just talked with Brent who is going NOBO.  He did all the Sierras: June 1-24
    • Lots of snow.  The section before Sonora Pass, all of the streams had high flow.  He said that's where he went swimming across. I'm impressed.  Brent said he misses the challenge of the Sierras.  Northern California has not been inspiring to Brent, but he says he has not suffered from the "blues" either. 
  • Seiad Valley is small (approximate population of 100).  It has a store, cafe, and post office, but that's about it.  Elevation about 1500 feet--comparable to Ephrata.
  • Young Swedish man--Strider--hiked all but 50 miles of the Sierras as the same time as Brent.  They even hiked with the same people at times.  Strider road walked to maintain continuous steps.  He said it was the worst two days of his life. 
  • At Strider's suggestion, we grilled burgers here at the RV park.

Mon 7/24
  • My resupply box should be here by 12:30.  It is supposed to be 100* today.  My hike south starts with a six mile road walk in the sun.  Not sure if I'll head out right away or wait till evening. I want to get back on the trail but dread a hot road walk.  And my pack will be heavy as I'll be carrying seven days of food.  Plan is to skip Etna and go on to Dunsmuir.  Maybe not the smartest decision, given the temperature.  It looked pretty doable in Ephrata. 
  • I will check at post office and see if a package from Seiad Valley will be in Etna by Thursday.  If so, I may send four days of food to Etna and leave Seiad Vally with only three days of food.  That would lighten my pack by 8 lbs, which would be nice, considering it is supposed to be 105* here today and I have a heck of a climb ahead, after the six mile road walk. Lighter pack and an extra town, or a heavier pack and Etna is skipped--that's the decision I need to make when the post office opens at noon. 
  • Section hiker named Ethan is trying the "Pancake Challenge"

  • Female hiker named Dig had a deer being a nuisance at camp a couple of nights ago.  She had hung her food and had a tin cup with a couple of rocks in the cups to let her know when an animal was after her food.  Dig heard the tin cup rattle and got up.  Her headlamp shone on the deer.  Now she's angry with the deer and grabbed a rock.  As she said, "I was dialed in on the deer" and nailed it in the side with the rock.  Deer sprinted away.  In her demonstration it was obvious that she played softball.  Her trail name should be changed to "Cannon" because she has a cannon of an arm. 


  1. A few thoughts:

    1. After spending the night in Seiad Valley last year, I thought that town in particular was a place to avoid camping in. I liked the people and restaurant, but it was probably my hottest night on trail and noisy. I got very little sleep and left as soon as I could.

    2. Socks are impossible to clean. Even if you spend 5 minutes per sock for pre-rinsing them before putting them in the washer, the water will still come out brown.

    3. The breakfast at the restaurant is very good and they serve thru hiker portions. The pancake challenge is 5 lb of pancakes. I think I could have eaten 5 lb of something else, but pancakes. I don't like them anywhere near enough for that.

    4. I spent a lot of time with my feet and lower legs black from a mixture of sweat and dirt. It's no wonder that socks are impossible to clean.

  2. Keep going Kevin, praying for you, and am very busy with coaching, field ready and the World Series. I feel like I am on the trail myself--long days, little sleep, but a nice bed at night!!

  3. Kevin you are amazing. You have already accomplished more than 99.9 % of what people dream of. I pray for you on each segment of your journey. I can tell that there have been setbacks, but you bounce back each time. Your whole family has helped you on this quest, along with friends and your church. May God bless you and your family!