It was really hard to leave Ashland after 2 full (lovely, wonderful, insanely relaxing) zeroes. I think I got through a full season of The Office.
I was nervous that the trail would hurt more than usual because I had relaxed so hard, but it actually wasn't a bad day. I walked by a cooler full of soda that a trail angel had left behind, which always lifts the spirits.
Still exposed, but not quite as hot anymore
Oh, also, the mosquitoes just disappeared. And water just started appearing everywhere. Seriously, I have no idea what it was about Ashland, but it was like as soon as we left, the generally more annoying parts of Oregon went away. I hoped that was a good sign about upcoming Northern California, because we were almost there!
That night, I ended up at a massive campsite, where there were at least 10 other tents around, likely mostly NOBOs. I looked around for a spot in the dark, and asked a woman if she would mind if I set up next to her. As soon as I asked, I heard someone call out to me. It was Blue again! It started getting funny how often we ended up at the same campsites without planning to.
Getting closer to Mount Shasta, slowly but surely
That night, we chatted about the Sierra, which we were both really looking forward to, from all that we had heard about it. We talked about how tough it likely would be to get up in the morning, because we could see just how much our motivation would go down whenever the mornings were brisk.
The next morning, I walked past Yahtzee's tent at the same huge campsite, and realized she must have reached camp after I'd fallen asleep. I wanted to say hello, but didn't want to wake her.
One of the most common water purification devices on the trail is the Sawyer Squeeze
. It has a detachable o-ring washer that seals your bottle on the Squeeze, sort of like how a hose head would seal onto a hose (in fact, the washers are the same as common garden hose washers). Without that piece, the Squeeze, which uses pressure to push water through it, becomes useless, because as you squeeze it, water breaks the seal and just spills out of the bottle everywhere.
Well, I lost that piece somehow. I knew I should have glued it in or something, but hindsight is 20/20. I was pissed. From then on, my plan was to try to drink as much water as I could whenever I found another person at a water source, and just hope I wouldn't get giardia whenever there wasn't anyone around, until I could finally get another water filter.
Hanging out at the trail register at the Oregon/California border
But some great news: we had made it to California! We were 2 states down, with only one to go (okay, to be fair, that last state is 60% of the trail). Blue was there when I got there; he was waiting for me so that we could take photos of each other with the sign and register. We saw several NOBOs cross the Oregon/California border, which was a really exciting moment for them.
Just one (really giant) state left
That night, Blue and I camped at a very small campsite that was probably well-sized for one large tent, but we managed to strategically squeeze both of our tents on it. It was nice to feel part of a trail family again. I really missed that social camp time.
Tents all cozied up
The next day was a looooooong
descent into Seiad Valley. It was an easy hike, but I could tell I needed new insoles because my feet were beginning to kill me. Seiad Valley doesn't have much, but they did have a cafe and a small general store. I hadn't sent myself a resupply package, so I knew I needed to get into town before the store closed. I also hoped I could get to the cafe before it closed at 2:00 PM for lunch.
I got to Seiad Valley right at 1:45 PM. It was 106°F when I reached the bottom. The day was tough because as I descended the 4000 feet into the valley, the temperature was just getting hotter (yay lower elevations) and the entire day was totally exposed. I was ready to sit down in some air conditioning for a few hours afterward.
Finally got to Seiad Valley after roasting all morning
I dropped my bag off outside and entered the cafe, hoping they hadn't closed early. I ran into Blue there, who was a complete doll and had ordered me a vegan burger with fries to go because he wasn't sure I would make it in time. Seriously, the man is a doll. (It was a really great vegan burger, too.)
Because it was literally frying us outside as we walked on the asphalt, we decided to head over to the bar, which wasn't closing anytime soon, and sit there until it cooled down. Sometime mid-afternoon, the bar air conditioning broke down. Still, the shade was better than being outside in that blazing hot sun!