PCT Photo Journal, Part 6: Beyond the Mystic Purple Mountain and into Oregon

This 218 mile section from Mount Shasta to Ashland, Oregon, feels like I’m walking through the depths of hell; between the scorching heat and drama with another hiker, I’m ready to get out of California and have a lengthy break in Ashland.

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Apparently there were railway tracks right next to the KOA, and the freight trains that used it only ran at night, all night long.  This woke me up throughout the night, keeping me from getting significant rest.  Safety First was already awake when I got up, with the contents of his pack spilled out over the picnic table.  I woke up feeling pretty cranky, and worried my irritation with Safety First would affect my patience with him.  He was already talking about just hailing a cab because he thought hitchhiking would be too difficult, but Bear Bait and I reassured him it would be fine and there would be safety in numbers.  On our way back towards the freeway, we stopped off quickly at a Rite Aid to buy some insoles for our shoes and make some new signs for hitchhiking.
We started our hitch at the spot that the officer had recommended, directly in front of an abandoned restaurant.  Some shady looking characters were coming and going as we stood there, and it was suddenly clear that this was a heroin den.  We were having a difficult time getting a ride, probably due to fact that our location turned out to be poor, there were three of us and for some reason, Safety First was waving his trekking poles in the air at passing motorists.  I’m not sure what this was supposed to accomplish, but I asked him to hold back with the threatening weapons while we tried to get a ride.  Some of the junkies were starting to scope our packs, so Bear Bait and Safety First watched our things as I attempted to seduce a ride with the help of my tiny shorts (don’t judge me).  Just as Safety First was starting to suggest that cab fare again, a pickup truck pulled over and a nice couple offered us a ride back to the trail.

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The day was already an inferno, and the trail began a hellish descent up a dusty trail into the Castle Crags Wilderness.  We passed the 1500 mile mark after just a mile in, and Bear Bait and I took off in the lead again, while Safety First continued to struggle with his aching feet and the weight of his pack.  We stopped at a creek for a quick break and a bite to eat, but decided against getting any water from it due to the (hilarious) warning sign nearby.
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The trail kept climbing, and I marched along in my own little world, trying not to focus on the pain in my feet and the extreme heat.  My peace was shattered when I rolled my ankle on a loose stone, and tumbled to the ground.  I had scraped my knee, and blood rolled down my grimy leg down to my sock.  Bear Bait came running to help me up, and I felt incredibly stupid.  I limped along, a bit shaken, until we found some shade in a gully to rest under.  I cleaned my wound and slapped a bandage over it, feeling a little better now.  The trail leveled out some when we  crossed Burst-arse Creek.  The name of the creek made us question whether or not it was safe to drink, but we ran into All The Way gathering water, so we decided to stay a bit, chat and top off our water supply.  I hadn’t seen him in some time (maybe since Kennedy Meadows), so I was happy to catch up with him.
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Photo: Burst Arse Creek
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Photo: The Castle Crags
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Photo: Views of Mount Shasta as we head north.
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All the way pushed on solo, and the three of us continued together.  The trail gained quite a bit of elevation, and the heat was really exhausting all of my energy.  Near the top of the climb, we ran into a rattlesnake stretched across the trail.  It gave us no warning, and was incredibly camouflaged against its surroundings.  It scared the living crap out of us at first, but then we were intrigued as we watched it slither along the side of the trail, over a log and out of sight.  It looked a bit like a Mojave Green rattlesnake, but I’m no herpetologist so I really can’t say for sure.  Safety First pressed on ahead, while Bear Bait and I waited behind to watch the snake a bit more and warn some other hikers of its presence.
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We hiked to the trail junction for North Fork Spring, where we were to meet back up with Safety First and get water to last us through the evening.  When we got there, there was no sign of him.  We called out and got no response, so we headed down the heavily overgrown path down to the spring.  He was there after all, and just couldn’t hear us over the flow of the water.  We filled up, but I was experiencing an issue with my Sawyer Squeeze.  The water that I was trying to push from the bottle through the filter was just flowing out the sides.  I took the filter apart and saw the problem:  the O-ring was eroded from use and crumbling into tiny pieces.
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We passed All The Way in his camp just as the sun was going down, and we settled into a campsite a bit further on at the top of a ridge.  There were fantastic views of Mount Shasta, as well as the Castle Crags.  We ate dinner together, and Bear Bait made us all a round of hot chocolate.  We watched some tiny lights in the distance, dancing their way up Shasta, and we joked about the Lemurians returning to the surface of the Mystic Purple mountain.
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Safety First took off first in the morning, wanting to get a head start since his pace was more leisurely than Bear Bait and I.  After I finished packing up, watched the beautiful sunrise over Shasta and waited for Bear Bait to finish breaking camp.  We caught up to Safety First at three miles in, at a junction for a water source.  We ditched our packs at the junction and trudged down to the water to fill up.  The spring was lovely, tucked away in the woods and surrounded by thousands of delightful cobra lilies, a species that is native to Northern California and somewhat rare.  After admiring the flora and fauna and collecting enough water, we headed back to the main trail and had a quick breakfast.
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The trail rambled over a level area for a while, and a breeze brought some relief from the heat.  It was a comfortable day for hiking, and I was enjoying myself and my new-found company.  We were following along a rim, and much to our dismay, circling around to the south again.  This was considerably frustrating; we were going the right way, but one has to question if the person who designed the trail was actually a sadist.
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We crossed a couple of dirt roads, one of which had the worst trail magic of all time: a half full, bloated-from-the-sun Costco size jug of salsa.  With it was a sign asking for someone to pack it out when it was finished.  This was likely to never happen, unless a hiker actually wanted to contract botulism.
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By late afternoon, we had put in a good amount of distance.  We stopped at Deadfall Lake to enjoy a lengthy break and cook an early dinner.  We pushed on into the evening, although we were all hurting and ready to stop for the day.  We passed by several more day hikers, a paved road with trailhead parking and then entered a forested meadow.  We found a very small campsite downstream along a flowing creek, where we had to squeeze our tents in, forming a triangle to make them fit properly.  Bear Bait made us all hot chocolate again, and as we sat talking about the day and the next, a handsome buck wandered into our camp and kept us company.
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Safety First took off ahead of us again in the morning, and we caught up to him again a few miles in.  The trail lead us in and out of pine forest throughout the day, following a smooth grade over rolling hills.  We stopped for lunch after ten miles in, near a spring where a doe was grazing with her fawn.  Snowflake caught up eventually, and another hiker joined us as well.  We sat for a while eating and relaxing, and watched as the weather took a dramatic turn.  The bright, sunny day was becoming dark with black and intimidating looking clouds.  We pushed on, out of the forest and onto switchbacks, winding its way down to a highway crossing.  A warm, humid wind-swept across the land and thunder boomed in the distance.
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At the first sight of the paved road, I caught a glance of some brightly colored containers in a parking area.  With the possibility of trail magic ahead, I picked up my pace and ran across the highway.  There were several coolers lined up, but they were all but empty.  Each was filled with acrid water, with empty soda cans and trash floating inside.  I opened the last cooler, and found a welcome surprise:  two full cans of lemonade and a liter of root beer.  They were no longer cold, but I didn’t mind.  I cracked open a can of lemonade, and Bear Bait grabbed the other one.  Safety First seemed upset that he was left with the root beer, and stormed off up the trail.  It began to hail, so Bear Bait and I sat beneath a tree to wait it out before continuing on.
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The trail climbed out of the parking area and back into pine forest, entering the Trinity Alps Wilderness.  Bear Bait took off ahead, and I held back when I suddenly began suffering from low blood sugar.  I propped myself up against a tree, and struggled to get my shaking hands into my food bag.  I quickly ate some chocolate, then devoured a granola bar and fruit leather.  After a few minutes, I pushed myself up the hill, although my legs felt wobbly and my gut was in turmoil.  I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it the two more miles until camp, but I found Bear Bait waiting for me at the top of the hill.  He walked with me the rest of the way, and we met up with Safety First again at camp.
The campsite was in a large grassy meadow, with a small creek running through the middle.  Bear Bait went straight to bed once he made camp, while Bear Bait and I had dinner and hot chocolate.  More hikers arrived later on, and filled up the area.  The weather turned again, and it started to rain heavily.  We retreated to our tents, and I dozed off to the percussion of rain on my tent.
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The morning was cool and bright, and the trail did some gentle climbing out of the forest and along a hillside.  Safety First had started ahead of Bear Bait and I again, and when we caught up to him after a couple of miles, we stopped for a quick snack overlooking some alpine lakes.  Safety First was noticeably irritable today, and while we were trying to keep things lighthearted, he said something really off-putting regarding women, and then took a very personal jab at me. (I won’t go into detail as to what he said exactly).  I was bothered by this, and honestly pretty offended, but I kept it to myself.  We all have our bad days, after all.  However, it got me thinking about how just because you’re sharing in an experience or have a common interest with someone (like hiking the PCT), it doesn’t mean you’re going to like the other people doing it with you.  I had invested a lot of time, money and emotion into my thru hike, so perhaps I was viewing the offensive behavior disproportionately.  Regardless, I needed some space, so I put some distance between us and hiked ahead.
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We climbed for a while up into the mountains and along an open ridge, and Bear Bait wanted to wait at the top for Safety First to catch up.  I was hesitant about this, but didn’t want to start any drama.  Once he caught up, I took off again.  I began a long descent, winding my way through old growth pine forest, startling a herd of deer as I flew along.  I was surprised to find that Bear Bait had been keeping pace the entire time, and he seemed concerned at my trying to keep some distance.  I assured him everything was alright, and I asked him if he wanted to take a break to wait for Safety First again.  He said he didn’t, and we kept going.
The trail left the forest, and crossed a wildflower filled meadow where we stopped briefly for some water at creek.  We climbed again to a parking area for a trailhead, passing several day hikers and stopping to talk to a couple of them.  In the parking area, there was no trail magic, much to our disappointment.  We sat in the shade at the trailhead and Safety First made his way up, and we all had lunch together.  From here, the day went to shit for me.  As we were resting, Safety First made a rude comment about my appearance, and what he said was intended to hurt me.  He succeeded in doing so, and I felt crushed afterward.  I was noticeably upset, but he offered no apology and walked on, bearing an odd smirk.
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Bear Bait took off without me, pacing close behind Safety First.  With the two of them ahead of me, I held back and created some distance.  My mind was filled with emotions, and I eventually stopped under a tree to think things through.  I began to cry, sad at the thought that I was going to have to let my friendship with Bear Bait go.  I assumed he had hiked ahead to catch up to Safety First, and that he valued his friendship with him over me.  Maybe I was overreacting?  I don’t know, but I was in emotional turmoil and ready to go forth solo from then on.
I was surprised to see Bear Bait about a mile ahead, waiting for me in the shade.  He apologized and said he wanted to be my friend, and his efforts meant a lot to me. We continued walking on together.  We both caught up to Safety First and passed him, and I had nothing to say to him anymore.
We entered a large burn area, stretching from the valley below, across the trail and up the mountainside.  We had one last climb before reaching camp, and it was colossal.  We crossed a small stream, and then began our ascent up the exposed trail.  It was narrow, rocky and steep, and incredibly difficult.  Bear Bait and I powered up the mountainside, not stopping until we reached the end.  At the top we entered the Russian Wilderness, and nearly collapsed in camp from exhaustion.
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When Bear Bait and I set off together in the morning, Safety First had already broken camp and gone.  As usual, we passed him after a few miles.  The trail continued through the burn area some more, before climbing along a steep slope.  We stopped to have a quick snack and collect some water, and then pushed on towards Etna Summit.  We were headed into the town of Etna today, and I had planned on getting a motel room.  I had a resupply box waiting for me in town, as well as a brand new pair of shoes.
We reached the highway by late morning, and the hitching conditions were grim.  Another hiker had been trying to thumb it for a while before Bear Bait and I arrived, but wasn’t having much luck.  The road was too remote, and wasn’t well-traveled enough.  More hikers piled onto the side of the road as time passed, including Safety First, and it was clear that this was going to take a long time.
Finally, a pickup truck pulled up and had room for three.  Bear Bait, Safety First and I threw our packs in the back and piled into the cab.  The trip into town was only ten miles, but it was slow going on a narrow, winding mountain road.  We were dropped off in the center of town at the grocery store, where I bought some beer and snacks for the night.  I headed over to the motel, and the guys followed me, wanting to split the cost of the room.  I agreed, although I wasn’t too keen on spending any more time with First.  I was willing to give him a second chance, however.
Once in the room, Bear Bait went about having the first shower so he could have his hair trimmed by the Australian housekeeper.  She had offered to give him a haircut and had made him a cup of fresh coffee because she clearly fancied him, which I took the opportunity to tease him about at any given chance.  
I was at my wits’ end with Safety First by the end of the evening, when he decided to utilize every outlet for the vast collection of electronics he had apparently been packing the entire time.  There was nowhere left for myself or Bear Bait to charge our phones; I felt pure rage creeping from my head throughout my entire body.  I still managed to keep my cool and not scream, and I asked him (in between my gritting teeth) to kindly free up an outlet, because somewhat shockingly, other people had things to charge as well.   I needed to shake First.  There was no other way.
We went out to dinner that night at the local greasy spoon, where I ate a huge basket of fish and chips and washed it down with a giant beer.  When we were back at the room, Safety First sat inside on his roll away bed and phoned his family back at home, while Bear Bait and I sat outside the room in some lawn chairs, continuing to drink beer and eat junk food.  He mentioned how maddening things were with Snowflake, and we both agreed that it was time to part ways with him.
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God I’m bored with California.
It’s too hot, and I’ve been walking through pine forest for too long.  The scenery has been the same since Mount Lassen, and the water situation is worse than what I experienced in the Southern California desert.   Only 119 miles to go until I reach Oregon.  I can’t wait.
I wake up to Safety First shuffling around the room, putting his pack together, talking under his breath and just generally being irritating.  It’s early, before 7 am.  Bear Bait asks him if he’s heading out, and he’s on his way to get breakfast at a diner and wants us to join him.  We politely decline.  After he leaves, I get up and start getting my things in order, and then Bear Bait and I head to the post office to get our boxes.
After grabbing a few items at the store and picking up our boxes, we head back to the room.  We’re hung over from our beer drinking session the night before, and moving slow.  It’s already a hot day, and I have no desire to do any hiking whatsoever.  First sends me a text, saying he’s finished with breakfast and ready to start hitching with us.  I don’t respond, and get on with going through my box.  I’m happy about my resupply box, sent from another friend back at home, and my new Merrell trail running shoes from REI.  The two of us start to hitch late in the morning, and a woman in a pickup truck eventually gives us a lift.
Back at Etna Summit, we trudge up the trail, sign the register and push on into the Marble Mountain Wilderness and past the 1600 mile mark.  It’s a struggle trying to make mileage, with the heat and our hangovers complicating things.  I’m ravenous with hunger, and extremely dehydrated.  We pass a forest service crew out digging ditches for a prescribed burn, and then stop for a quick break at a spring for some water and a snack.  During this time, Safety First comes up the trail and catches us by surprise.  We thought that we had lost him for good, and I’m momentarily disappointed.  We take off ahead, though, easily putting some distance between us.
The trail rambles through forest, in the shade and is by all means an easy walk.  We are suffering too much from our previously made poor choices, and decide to call it a day early in the evening.  After walking only 14 miles, Bear Bait and I make camp on the beach beside a small lake.  We take it easy the rest of the day, trying to re-hydrate ourselves, cooking up some dinner and admiring a buck that was hanging around our camp.  Late in the day, First passed by and kept going up the trail, not noticing us crouched along the lake shore in camp.
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We didn’t get much of an early start the next morning, breaking camp and having breakfast casually.  There was a nice breeze today, and although the trail was exposed across rocky terrain, it was a nice day for walking.  We pass by white mountain, an impressive smooth marble peak, and traverse across a ridge.  We stop for a moment to let our tents dry out in the sun and to eat some food.  Midday we arrive at the Marble Valley Cabin and stop to fill up on some water at the nearby creek.  We push on for five more miles, finally stopping for a late lunch/early dinner at Paradise Lake, where Bear Bait spots some familiar faces.
I meet Bear Bait’s hiking partners that he had been with since SoCal, Shake n’ Bake from Ottawa and Fun Size from Alaska.   Shake n’ Bake and Fun Size pushed on without us after a lengthy break, and we remained to filter some water from the lake and eat some lunch.  We promised to catch up to them, but with my current struggles with the heat, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to.
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By late afternoon, the cool breeze that had been keeping us feeling good had waned, and the sun was beating down on us again.  I was struggling to keep up with Bear Bait, who was walking at least 50 feet in front of me.  The sunlight was fading after only doing eight miles from our lunch spot.  We decided to make camp soon, even if it meant only doing a 20 mile day.  Upon rounding a bend in the trail, some other hikers ahead of us cautioned us to a bear near the trail.  Sure enough, a small black bear was gorging itself on manzanita berries just off the trail.  It wasn’t close enough to pose any threat, and it seemed pretty content with feeding itself.  (This was the first bear I had seen on my thru hike!)
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We reached Buckhorn Spring just as the sun was going down, and we were fortunate to find a couple of free campsites just above the trail.  After collecting some water, we made camp.  I ate a meager dinner of bread, dried fruit and chocolate to tide me over, not feeling too motivated to cook.  That evening, the zipper on the door to my tent broke off completely.  I used some safety pins to hold it together, but it was of little use:  I woke in the night to a moth crawling across my face.
In the morning, I topped off my water from the spring and we headed out, crushing the first five miles in no time.  The trail descended, winding through lush forest abundant with Oregon Grape, vine maple and Myrtle trees.
We forded Grider Creek, where there was a skeleton of a bridge scattered in the water downstream.  The trail continued to lose elevation, dipping into Seiad Valley and crossing the creek again via a steel foot bridge.  There was a large car park and campground here, with pit toilets and picnic tables.  We made use of the facilities, having our lunch in the shade at a table like civilized people do.  I had a soak in the creek below the bridge after lunch, rinsing out my clothing and scrubbing my feet and legs.  We had a lengthy break, enjoying our down time since we had made fairly good time getting here.  Up next was a dreaded 6.4 mile road walk into town, so we wanted to be well rested when we set out again.
We started the road walk midday, following a dusty unpaved road alongside the creek.  It was insanely hot and miserable, and my feet were in agony.  After a couple of miles, the road became paved, and my feet couldn’t take any more abuse.  I took my shoes off and continued on in my sandals, regretting my decision in choosing the Merrell shoes.  They had no support in the soles, and it felt as though I was walking with only a thin sheet of paper between my feet and the ground. 
We reached the junction for the Highway, and walked along the narrow shoulder towards town.  The noise and exhaust from the fast-moving traffic was stifling, with drivers honking as they flew past us.  We crossed the inviting Klamath River over the highway bridge, then entered the incredibly tiny town of Seiad Valley.  The town consisted of one building, which housed a general store, the post office and a cafe.  There was also an RV park that offered a hiker discount, but it looked pretty shabby all around.  I bought a few things from the store, including a couple of beers and an ice cream bar, and picked up a resupply box.  I was a little turned off by the State of Jefferson propaganda that was plastered all over the store, but they had decent hiker friendly supplies and the cashier was nice enough.
I sat at a picnic table in a shades area outside with all the other dirty hikers loitering around, drinking my beer and listening to a local giving a provocative lecture to the crowd on why the State of Jefferson is better than California and Oregon.  Safety First also made an appearance, wearing squeaky clean shoes and freshly laundered clothes.  He was staying at the RV park, which pretty much cemented our decision to stay somewhere along the trail instead of in town.  Bear Bait disappeared back in the store, and reemerged with two more tall cans of cheap beer and a special present for me- a sticker of the State of Jefferson seal.  Gee, thanks buddy.  We met up again with Fun Size and Shake n’ Bake, and had a good laugh over the current surroundings.
Once the day had cooled off, we set out again, with our sights set on a campsite just 2.5 miles up the trail.  We followed the highway out of town, where the trail began again in a small gravel parking area.  It climbed significantly, not an easy task for me to accomplish with a couple of beers in me.  We found the campsite empty, just off a pin turn in the trail and surrounded by loads of poison oak.  We carefully made camp, and watched as a full moon rose through the trees.  The night was bright and cool, and we stayed up for a bit enjoying our tall cans of cheap lager and trying desperately to avoid the poison oak when we went off to have a pee.
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When I woke up in the morning, I found a couple of other hikers cowboy camping right next to my tent.  I stepped over them on my way out, and Bear Bait caught up to me at Fern Spring just ahead.  Fun Size and Shake n’ Bake were long gone by now.  The climb ahead was absolute hell: gaining nearly 3000 feet over four miles on a steep grade until the junction for Lookout Spring, where we stopped for water.  I collapsed on the trail  once we got to the spring, completely breathless and tired.    The pipe in the spring was painfully slow, only trickling out a liter of water over a ten minute period.  Safety First caught up to us, and we directed him down to the spring, then made a hasty exit up and over the ridgeline.

We passed a dirt road at Cook and Green Pass, then began another daunting climb on exposed switchbacks into the mountains.  The heat was fierce, and really doing a number on me.  I felt ill, to the point of fainting and needed to stop.  It was really wearing on my mental strength, and I couldn’t help but think about leaving the trail for good.  My feet were actually burning with pain, and I had to stop for a short siesta beneath some shade for a bit.
The trail entered the forest, filled with endless pine trees and boring terrain.  We were practically sleep walking along when we were startled back into reality by a rattlesnake in the trail.  We levitated to the side, and it slithered off in the opposite direction to the base of a tree, where it coiled up.  We quickly left.
We took a break in a large campsite, where I found a cowbell and some other strange relics, and ate an early dinner.  We pushed on a bit more, but after a mile we decided to settle into a campsite in a large forested saddle.  We set up our tents, had the usual cup of hot chocolate and then went to bed as more hikers arrived and made camp.

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Several deer were a nuisance in camp all night, waking me up as they paced just outside my tent.  Bear Bait woke up to the handles of his trekking poles chewed to bits from the late night culprits.  I got up early and raced up the trail ahead of everyone to use the toilet, and by the time I was finished, Bear Bait had caught up.  The trail strolled through the forest for quite some time, leaving little to be inspired by. (Not that I hate forest, it just gets pretty boring when its miles of the same scenery.  This also explains my lack of pictures in this section of the PCT.)
The trail descended over the course of several miles, passing a hillbilly looking camp with a shanty structure and a bunch of junk surrounding it.  For miles, we were miffed by the sound of a bell ringing steadily as went along.  Between the weird shanty camp and the tinkling bell that seemed to follow us, I felt on edge, with thoughts of Deliverance and wild mountain men running through my head.  This was stupid, of course, but a banjo could easily be replaced by a cowbell.  Right?
Near the end of the descent, we stopped at a small flowing spring to fill up on water and have some lunch.  The area was plagued with wasps, who helped themselves to tiny bites of my beef jerky as I ate.  After lunch, I walked below the spring to rinse out my socks and a lone cow emerged from the trees, thus solving the mysterious bell sounds.  It made its way over to the stream of water a few feet from where I was and had a drink, completely unmoved by my existence.
The trail came out of the woods, and crossed a meadow to a creek crossing with a bridge.  The day was incredibly hot once out of the trees, and we stopped to soak our feet in the creek.  We passed a backcountry ranch, with a herd of cows grazing in the meadow below the trail.  A mile on, we came upon pure joy:
The Oregon border!
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Nothing could make me happier, knowing that I was entering a new state and had put 1689 miles behind me.  I had walked the entire length of California, through scorching desert, over snowy mountain passes and the boring North.  I’m fucking awesome!
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My happiness faded as we began to gain elevation.  Although it was moderate, I wasn’t up for any more hiking.  I was hot and caked in dirt, and so damn tired.  We still had a few miles to go until camp, but I was moving slow now.  I soaked my bandana in a small creek, and drenched my hair to try and cool myself down.  The trail left the woods once it crested the hill, and became exposed and hot again, then descended down to our camp for the night at Sheep Spring.
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I attempted to have a wash under the piped spring at camp that evening, but was thwarted when a jeep came barreling up the road near camp.  I quickly threw all my clothes on, then headed to my tent to cook dinner.  Bear Bait entertained the jeep crew with conversation for a bit, but I was too exhausted to be social and went to bed.
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We pack up and leave early in the morning, with our sights set on Callahan Lodge just 22 miles ahead.  My feet feel wrecked, but with the prospect of beer and fresh food ahead, I have an extra pep in my step.  I take the lead for a change, and leave Bear Bait choking on my dust.
We cross over several dirt roads, going up and down and following the trail through rolling hills.  There are many tourists and day hikers out today, and they smell strongly of perfumed soaps and lotions.  From the bottom of a hill, I can see the trail making its way up to a parking area at a road junction.  I race ahead, with a gut feeling that there is something good waiting for us at the trailhead.  I find that I’m dead on; there’s two lawn chairs sitting beneath some shade and two coolers filled to the brim with soda.  I plop into a chair and crack open a drink, and wait for my friend.  He walks up beaming, and we sit and flip through the trail register.  We see that our friends have already been here, and we hope to catch up to them at Callahan’s.                             We arrived at Callahan’s Lodge in the evening, just as the sunlight was fading.  The state of the lodge stunned us.  It was on the luxurious side, and looked expensive.  It was shocking that they were friendly to grubby hikers like us, but they assured us at the front desk that we welcome to camp on the lawn and hang out at the bar or in the dining area.  The two of us were a sight for sore eyes: dirt stained clothing and packs, filthy faces, legs and fingernails (we lovingly refer to them as our “hiker French tips”), sunburned faces, matted hair and reeking to high heaven.  To say that we left an impression on the regular guests would be an understatement; they were aghast at the sight of us and mouths dropped when we entered the lobby.  We were thoroughly entertained by the scandal that we had created.  We spend the evening in the bar, drinking beer alongside other hikers and having a wild time.
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In the morning, we hitched to Ashland and got rooms at the Rodeway Inn, where we met up with our friends again.  After getting all of our resupply in order, we hit the pool for a bit and then went to a brewery for lots of beer and grub.
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Photo: Bear Bait borrows a shopping cart for his resupply.
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