Day 102 – Back in the Saddle

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP MAKES. It’s pretty easy to get up when my alarm goes off, and I feel much better rested than I did yesterday. The sunrise, once I make it out of my tent, seems to be apologizing for yesterday, too. So that’s something.

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Fiiiiiiine. Apology accepted.

There are 7 miles of around-down-up-down-up before 17 miles of pure down – part of me is excited about that, and part of me is dreading how that’s going to make my body feel. Should make for a nice change from yesterday, at least, since it seems like the sidehilling switches sides from time to time.

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The trail is actually really nice today, once I start walking – taking a weed whacker to the sides of the trail through here probably wouldn’t hurt, but on the whole, it’s much better than yesterday.

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I’m making good time this morning, good enough to maybe even get 30 in. That’d be nice after the fail that was yesterday.

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Up one, up two – I’m a bit confused when I see a blur ahead of me OH GOD THAT IS A CLOUD OF GNATS. I open my mouth to yell; think close it just in time as they buzz around my ears, my nostrils. Aaaaaa. There’s another cloud before it’s over, and then I’m basically done with my ups and approaching Buckhorn Spring.

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A look behind.

There are a couple of hikers packing up to go, having slept here – the campsite near the spring has a veritable table and chairs, all made of stumps and perfect for eating breakfast. I say my hellos before heading down to the spring for water.

A couple of elk hunters are up here scouting for when the season begins in a few weeks, talk about the failure of the Forest Service to properly manage the lands around here – the controlled burns, they say, are stupid and useless. I don’t know anything about it, so I just listen and wonder.

They meander off as I go to treat my water and Pineapple and Butterscotch and Kombucha roll in; we all hang out for a bit, talk about the down that awaits us after just a little more up. Then there’s nothing more to do but submit ourselves to it.

So after a wee bit more up, it’s down we go. And more down. Aaaand down some more. I’m impressed with how quickly I get passed by the other three thrus, become jaded about my situation. Well. PODCAST TIME.

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The farther down I go, the hotter it gets – I dunk my shirt at the first crossing of Grider Creek, get myself some water. It’s bone dry not even a half-hour after.

I’m pushing miles, pushing hard – I’m taking short-short breaks every time I collect water to dunk my shirt, catch my breath. The down is definitely helping, but I still want to make Seiad Valley tonight. I think I can manage it. Maybe. Possibly.

Soon enough, the trail spits me out into a closed campground, and while the campground is closed because of a fire a couple of years ago, that just means the pit toilet smells nicer than it otherwise would, and I’ve been trying to brownblaze for this particular purpose. DID IT.

Then it’s out of the campground onto a dirt road:

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Then the dirt road turns into a paved road, where a nice lady stops to check on me. She offers me a ride, but I explain the whole “continuous footpath” thing, and she says I could probably ford the river since the town is right across it from where I stand. The road’s going to take me a mile out of my way and then a mile back. Still, this is the “trail”, and I intend to walk it. She wishes me luck, and I thank her and continue on.

Roadwalking is hard on my knees, my shins, my hips – I try to avoid the pavement, but the shoulder’s often a tangle of sloping brush.

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Turning from the paved road onto the highway is sketchy as hell, too; there’s no shoulder, and a couple of cars don’t even scoot over for me, despite the dearth of other cars on the road. I switch sides, facing oncoming traffic – there’s less shoulder, but a car can’t claim not to have seen me. At least I’d have my vengeance from the afterlife.

There’s a nice-looking bridge:

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And then finally, the road leads to a firehouse and a Forest Service building and an RV park and a store, and I’ve arrived in Seiad Valley.

I drop my pack and grab a root beer and a less-delicious-than-I’d-hoped twin pop from the store, and, as a bunch of people roll out, decide to stay – they’ll probably all head for the camp I was aiming for anyway, and I don’t have that many miles left in me.

I watch the Olympics and wait for the manager to get back, pay to stay and for a shower when he does. I shower with the heat lamp on, and vaguely think about the poison oak that everyone seems to be getting, even though I’m not sure I’m allergic1. Once out of the shower, I cannot resist the TV’s siren call, and end up chatting with Wide Load, a southbounder with lots and lots of questions about the rest of the trail. How lonely it must be as a SoBo!

I decide to cowboy camp out of sheer laziness rather than any commitment to cowboying. “Domesticated” kitties of all ages come to investigate our camping situation, and I watch them prowl around and try to convince them to come and cuddle to no avail. The mosquitoes come out and force me into my bag, and the passing cars force my Buff over my eyes and my earplugs into my ears until I sleep.

Date: August 13 • Start: 1623.0 • End: 1653.4 • Day: 30.4
Notable Accomplishments: Crushed a 30 • Survived a massive downhill • Bonus shower!


[1] I’m not allergic to poison ivy, but someone once told me it’s not necessarily a spectrum coverage.

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