PCT Day 72 – Saturday June 24
Kangaroo Spring Mile 1663.5 to Seiad Valley 1653.4
PCT Miles Hiked Today: 10.1
Total PCT Miles Hiked: 808.5
Feet Ascended Today: 477
Feet Descended Today: 4821
Current Elevation: 1653
We were eager to get into town this morning and packed up quickly. It was only a 10-mile hike and we wanted to reach the post office before it closed at 1:30 pm so we hustled. Also we were motivated to arrive at the Seiad Valley Cafe before it closed at 2:00 pm. Town food!
We crossed a few more small snow patches and then the rest of the hike descended to Seiad Valley. As we got closer to the valley floor, more trees lined the pathway which provided pleasant shade for the walk downhill. The Klamath River beckoned from down below.
Once at the bottom of the hill, the path joined a road and we walked along the pavement into town. It was hot – the forecast was for 106 degrees – and the walk wasn’t very pleasant. But town food is a powerful motivator!
Seiad Valley, population 350, is a tiny town with a cafe, post office, a convenience store and an RV Campground. That’s about it. But for a dirty, hungry hiker, that’s all the amenities that one really needs.
After eating lunch at the cafe and taking care of our chores at the post office, the six of us all sat around the picnic tables outside the store to discuss our plans for hiking the next section. We weren’t sure if we wanted to keep hiking south to Etna, as some northbound hikers who had just hiked that section cautioned that Mt Etna still had a lot of snow. If we kept hiking south, it sounded like we would have to deal with significantly more snow than we had in the Ashland segment. While one or two members of our group were open to hiking into Etna, the majority did not want to contend with that much snow right now. So we decided to skip the next 150 miles down to Castella and hike southbound from there, as we heard that the snow in that area was mostly melted.
The next order of business was to resupply our food bags and to figure out how to get to Castella. The local bus to Yreka only ran a couple of days a week. We asked around the convenience store but didn’t get any suggestions. As we sorted through our food bags, a couple of locals came up to chat with us. One gentleman suggested that we come to the Wildwood for dinner tonight. The Wildwood used to be a restaurant and the current owners open it up occasionally to hold community dinners on a donation basis. We happened to be in town on the date of a community dinner. We weren’t sure if we’d make it or not, as we had no idea if we’d still be in town or not.
Once we had finished resupplying, we stood on the side of the road and stuck out our thumbs. We waited and waited with no luck. After a while, we realized that it was dinner time and decided to head to Wildwood for some home-cooked food. We didn’t know how we would get to Castella and we didn’t know where we would be staying tonight, but we decided to go for it. Hanging out with some locals sounded like fun. So we headed up the road to Wildwood.
I was dirty and sweaty and felt self conscious as I entered Wildwood. Families sat around dinner tables eating plates of organic home-cooked food. However, the locals were happy to see us and greeted us warmly. Soon I was sitting down to one of the yummiest (and healthiest) meals I’ve had on trail so far. After dinner, they had live music and dancing. I danced with a little girl who liked my Unicorn hat.
On the veranda, I met the gentleman who had invited us to dinner at the convenience store. His name was Ed, and we struck up a conversation. Ed has hosted hikers in his home before in previous years, and soon he invited us to stay at his home. And, he also offered to drive us all the way to Castella tomorrow. I couldn’t believe it! I felt so blessed and humbled by his act of generosity.
Before we left Wildwood, Ed introduced me to Bill Roberts. Bill looks like a genuine cowboy and it turns out he is one. He works with the California Conservation Core and leads groups into the Marble Mountains on his mules to care maintain the trails. He had just done some work to maintain a section of trail that I had hiked out today! He is also a poet and wrote a book of poetry called Mountains, Meadows and Mules. I ordered his book and sent it to my dad for his birthday (happy early birthday Dad!).
Ed drove us to his house where we spent a lovely evening. His dog, Fred Henry, was excited to have visitors to play with and we threw his ball for hours. He has the coolest outdoor shower I’ve ever seen. I took a warm shower under the stars, feeling the magic of the evening.