PCT Day 119 – Thursday August 10
Grider Creek Mile 1642.9 to Seiad Valley Mile 1653.4
PCT Miles Hiked Today: 10.5
Total PCT Miles Hiked: 1266.6
Feet Ascended Today: 957
Feet Descended Today: 1905
Current Elevation: 1374
I woke up at 4:45 am this morning. It was one of the few times when I wasn’t tempted to back to sleep when I woke up. I was tired and sore and not able to get comfortable in my awkwardly slanting tent. And I really wanted to get to Seiad Valley early enough to get a ride to Ashland today. So I put on my headlamp and began packing up, trying not to wake any of the other hikers. One of the guys who cowboy camped on the bridge stirred a little when I walked by despite my attempts at stealthiness.
It was darker down in the forested valley next to the creek than I was used to, and I wore my headlamp for the first 30 minutes of my hike. I was still a bit sore from my long descent yesterday and I wasn’t going very fast, but it felt good be moving. I crossed several tributaries that fed into Grider Creek as I walked.
After 4 miles, the trail came to Grider Creek Campground. It’s an abandoned Forest Service Campground which is technically closed to camping, but I’m sure lots of hikers camp there anyway. It has a decent outhouse and picnic tables and nice flat spots for camping. I took a nice break there before facing the next section of trail – the infamous 6.5-mile road walk into Seiad Valley.
From Grider Creek Campground, the trail follows the campground driveway out to Grider Creek Road which eventually joins up with State Highway 96 and over the Klamath River Bridge. The purpose of the road walking is to find a feasible place to cross the Klamath River, but it’s still a long and unpleasant walk. Walking on pavement with a heavy pack is bad on knees and joints and I try to avoid it whenever possible. But it is the “official” PCT route so I lumped it and tried to stick to the shoulder (which usually didn’t exist) as much as possible.
I reached Seiad Valley around 10:30 am and made it just in time to order breakfast at the Seiad Valley Cafe. I had snacked on blackberries that I picked as I walked into town and was inspired to order their special – fresh blackberry pancakes with blackberry syrup. Yum yum! I sat at a table with Lovely Heart and Griz, as well as Atlas. Atlas decided to try the pancake challenge – this consisted of a plate of 5 1lb pancakes. That’s right, ladies in gentlemen, that’s 5 lbs of pancakes! If you eat them in 2 hours or less they are free. I left before Atlas finished eating but he hadn’t made a very big dent. Apparently only 4 people have ever beaten the pancake challenge.
After lunch I made a sign that read “Ashland” and stood on the side of the road with my thumb out. I knew it might be a tough hitch and wanted to give myself plenty of time to get a ride. It was HOT today. I’m not sure exactly how hot but it was definitely over 90 degrees. After about an hour of waiting another hiker, Shephard, who was also going to the Ashland area joined me and took over the sign holding duties. It took slightly over 2 hours but eventually a local took pity on us and offered to drive us at least as far as the Interstate. He wasn’t planning to go that way but felt sorry for us. And I suspect that he liked the company.
The three of us chatted as we travelled along and I learned that Shepherd is also from the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. That’s the second hiker in a week that I’ve met from my same neighborhood.
As we neared the highway, our driver decided that he might as well drive us all the way to Ashland as we were so close already. Wow! I wasn’t expecting that! What a nice surprise.
He dropped me off at Callahan’s near the PCT around 4:00 pm. I’ve been to Callahan’s before if you’ll recall from this blog post. It’s mountain lodge nestled in mountains directly off the Interstate. I hoped for a room but they did not have any vacancy. They have a special deal for PCT hikers, however, where they let us sleep on the lawn, shower, and do laundry for a fee. They even gave us towels and a robe to wear while we washed our clothes. Sounds good to me!
I set up my tent in the back yard and headed to the “Hikers Lounge” which was a glorified laundry room with a shower stall and a toilet attached to the mechanic’s garage. After I showered, I met another hiker named Kevin while I waited for my laundry to finish. He was hiking solo and had made it through the Sierras. While we chatted, a goat wandered over in our direction. I realized that Callahan’s had a goat pen with 3 pet goats and this one must have gotten loose. Or maybe they let her wander free on purpose, I don’t know.
I was feeling shaky and realized I hadn’t eaten lunch, so I got out a Clif Bar to snack on. Before I knew it, Heidi (the goat) had grabbed the Clif Bar practically out of my hand and tried eat it, wrapper and all. After a little game of tug-of-war I decided to just let her have it as the bar was totally covered in goat slobber. Then she stood on her hind legs with her hooves on my chest and gently head butted me, looking for more treats. I couldn’t help but laugh. She was pretty cute.
I treated myself to a steak the size of my head and a glass of wine for dinner at Callahan’s. A musician accompanied himself on guitar and serenaded the dining room. I felt downright civilized. While I was eating, rain started pouring outside so I sprinted over to my tent and put up my rainfly. I returned calmly to my meal, drenched, and resumed eating my steak. Nothing to see here, folks!