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Day 108-111: California Complete, Oregon Awaits

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Day 108: Above Summit Lake (Mile 1624.5)-Grider Creek (Mile 1650); 25.5 miles

The Marble Mountain Wilderness featured hillsides of wildflower-filled meadows topped by peaks of jagged rock.

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We certainly didn’t object to a morning jaunt through that! Neither did the local cows, which at one point blocked the trail. We clacked our trekking poles together and hollered at the cows. They reluctantly lumbered off the trail and up the hill, cowbells clanking madly.

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Later, we descended into a lush valley. The forest grew dense, and the air was hot and humid.

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The trees and valley walls blocked much of the sun’s light, so we stopped walking a bit earlier than usual. The ground cover was so dense that it was difficult to find a place to pitch our tent. We finally succeeded, though the spot was as tight as could be.

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Day 109: Grider Creek (Mile 1650)-Above Klamath River (Mile 1666.5); 16.5 miles, plus resupply in Seiad Valley

We squeezed out of our tiny campsite and continued our walk in the dense forest by Grider Creek. Many small streams fed into the creek, some cascading over rocks on their way.

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Water lingered everywhere, even in the air and sky, and a few drops of rain fell. We emerged from the forest onto a dirt road, which we followed for several miles.

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The dirt road led us to a paved road next to the Klamath River. The sun emerged, and it was blazing. We then turned onto a very narrow two lane highway, with a tiny shoulder. When a car passed, we had to step off into the brush to avoid it. A mile later, we were happy to be done with that nerve-wracking section of the Pacific Crest Trail. We had arrived in Seiad Valley, home of the infamous pancake challenge.

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We elected to skip the challenge, which entails eating five one-pound pancakes in two hours. Several of our fellow thru hikers made attempts, and all of them failed after eating only one or two of the massive flapjacks.

We picked up packages at the RV park, which included our rain jackets. We had barely seen rain, and hadn’t needed them in California, but knew they could be necessary in Oregon and Washington.

Food and jackets well packed, we began the climb out of town. We were quickly drenched in sweat. As we climbed higher, we saw ominous clouds moving across the valley, and rain began to fall. At first the rain was refreshing, and due to the heat, we decided not to don our newly-received rain jackets. We assumed we were in for a quick summer afternoon storm. However, as we continued to climb, the shower became a downpour. Thunder rippled across the sky, and lightning lit up the land.

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The rain continued unabated, and we couldn’t climb much higher, because we would enter exposed terrain where lightning would pose a risk. We walked until we found a flat spot, somewhat sheltered by trees. Pitching the tent in record time, we managed to keep it dry inside.

Warm and dry in the tent, we laughed at our decision to forego our rain jackets, just hours after we’d received them, in the midst of the first big rainstorm we’d encountered on the trail. The heat must have made us crazy!

Day 110: Above Klamath River (Mile 1666.5)-Near Condrey Mountain (Mile 1688.5); 22 miles

Some of our clothes were still wet when we woke, but we didn’t mind much. We were excited by our bird’s eye view of clouds blanketing the valley below.

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As we finished the climb out of Seiad Valley, the bright morning sun quickly dried out our clothes and the land. In the distance, two smoke plumes rose out of the mountains. Lightning from the storm that drenched us had probably ignited trees, and the fire had spread overnight. Also of note, we spied a few brittle, bumpy eggshells along the trail, which we think are snake eggs.

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At sunset we found a beautiful campsite with flowers and a rosy view.

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We realized as we headed to bed that this was our first day on the PCT that we hadn’t seen a single other person. We had not even encountered a day hiker or someone at a road crossing. We enjoyed the quiet and quickly dozed off.

Day 111: Near Condrey Mountain (Mile 1688.5)-Near McDonald Peak (Mile 1715); 26.5 miles

After a cool night, we were treated to another stunning morning vista of fog in the valleys.

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About ten miles into the day, we crossed a very exciting boundary — the California and Oregon state line. We were especially excited by this transition between states. To have walked the length of California felt like a real, solid accomplishment, easier to grasp than the 1700 miles we had hiked. And after living in California for over five years, walking its length was the perfect way to say goodbye.

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In the trail register, we read of other thru hikers’ elation at crossing into Oregon. We also noticed mentions of trail magic, so we decided to venture on rather than stopping for lunch at the border. Two minutes minutes down the trail, we encountered the wonderful Oregon welcoming party of Balls, Sunshine, and Butterfly. They even had party hats, balloons, and noise makers to welcome us to Oregon!

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The Oregon trail treated us well the rest of the day, even providing us with a campsite where we could see two totally different sunsets at once! This was a fitting way to visually celebrate our complete walk of California.

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36 Comments Post a comment
  1. Denise #

    Welcome to Oregon! I’ve been eagerly following your journey and so happy to see that you’ve crossed into My state! It’s a beautiful challenging place and I hope you enjoy it. And wow, what an accomplishment to have transversed the length of California. Way to go!

    Through-hiking the PCT has long been on my bucket list, but as I grow older and more out of shape, the reality of this for me is fading. I’ve been SO pleased to follow you along and live vicariously a little piece of my own dream.

    August 10, 2012
    • Thank you, Denise! Glad you’re enjoying the stories and photos. We love Oregon so far and are happy to be here. And if you get the urge, it’s never too late to hike the PCT yourself, whether all at once, or in sections. Cheers!

      August 12, 2012
  2. Happy Trails and be safe

    August 10, 2012
  3. Anne #

    Hello Anna and Chris, congratulations for having walked through the length of California. I am following your blog, which is the only way for me to really grasp the time needed for a PCT hike-through. Next year I will think of the PCT as many small segments, taking one after the other like small steps. What is your ‘strategy’ not to be overwhelmed by the distance left to hike to Canada? How do you cope with it?

    August 10, 2012
    • Hi Anne, That’s a good question and many hikers struggle mentally with the enormity of the distance. Personally, I tend to think in daily pieces because those are the map sections I’ve been able to study more closely. I rarely even think about the total distance. Big mile markers are fun to celebrate though! It’s amazing how each day’s efforts add up.

      August 12, 2012
  4. Margaret #

    Congratulations on reaching Oregon!

    Please explain: 2 different sunsets? Are the mountains pointed west or something?

    You hiked 26 miles one day — is that the record? What a feat!!

    August 10, 2012
    • Thanks! It feels great. It really was one sunset, but it was completely different when we looked in different parts of the sky. Our longest mileage day is a little longer than 26, but not too much. 26 is a lot for one day!

      August 13, 2012
  5. Jane Alexander #

    How exciting to have reached this milestone!

    Question: when you get new things (like the jackets) do you send back clothing that you may no longer need?

    August 10, 2012
    • Thanks Jane! We do indeed send back things we no longer need, or sometimes we put them in our bounce box, which we mail ahead to ourselves. In this case, we received more serious rain jackets, so we put our thin, lightweight nylon jackets in the bounce box.

      August 13, 2012
  6. Ian Wolcott #

    You don’t know me but I’ve been following your blog since the southern California desert and just wanted to say thank you. I was re-reading bits of Walden the other day and thought you two:

    “The very simplicity and nakedness of man’s life in the primitive ages imply this advantage at least, that they left him still but a sojourner in nature. When he was refreshed with food and sleep, he contemplated his journey again. He dwelt, as it were, in a tent in this world, and was either threading the valleys, or crossing the plains, or climbing the mountain tops. But lo! men have become the tools of their tools. The man who independently plucked the fruits when he was hungry is become a farmer; and he who stood under a tree for shelter, a housekeeper. We now no longer camp as for a night, but have settled down on earth and forgotten heaven.”

    As a kid growing up not far from Yosemite I always wanted to hike the John Muir Trail or, better yet, the whole PCT. I never did (at least not yet), but I am doing it now vicariously through yourselves. Thanks for reminding me what it is to camp for the night and be a sojourner in nature. Godspeed!

    August 10, 2012
    • Wonderful, thanks Ian! So glad you like following our adventure. We love it when others get as excited as we are about the natural world. That quote is really good. I especially like the “tools of their tools” part. Hope you continue to enjoy!

      August 13, 2012
  7. Barb #

    I love your stories about trail magic.Do tell us as much as you can about it when you encounter it. When we were with Shutterbug’s parents earlier in the week we talked about you a lot, and guessed when you would arrive in Oregon. It’s great that you are now there.

    August 10, 2012
    • Sometimes we try to guess when the next trail magic will be, and sometimes we are right, but it can surprise us too. It’s great fun either way!

      We are happy to be here in Oregon. So far, it’s a lot drier than we expected, but it’s supposed to get wet as we go farther north.

      August 13, 2012
  8. Elif #

    xoxoxo and yay oregon!

    August 10, 2012
  9. Jan #

    What a great picture of the two of you at the California/Oregon border! Such happy faces. And I love the cows. (Though they do look a little out of place in the woods.)

    How on earth did you pitch your tent in that tiny spot??

    The cascading water is so beautiful. And what a welcome to Oregon! Another wonderful post. Thanks again for telling the story so beautifully in words and pictures.

    August 10, 2012
    • Thanks Mom! The cows are kind of strange to see in a wilderness area, and they cause damage to the trail and hurt water quality. We think they may have been grandfathered in to many of these areas. The alpine meadows are beautiful though, like Switzerland.

      Fitting the tent into such a small area requires practice and ingenuity, and fortunately we have some of each. We slept pretty well there!

      It’s great to be in Oregon, and we can’t wait to walk around Crater Lake soon!

      August 13, 2012
  10. Mary S #

    I just started reading your blog and now need to go back to the beginning…. what a courageous adventure!!!!
    Oh- I’m one of the Hafeli cousins, in case you weren’t sure who I was.

    August 11, 2012
  11. Charles #

    Congratulations on making it to Oregon! Quite the welcome committee to meet you two as well.

    Love the vista of fog in the valleys in the morning pic as well.

    August 11, 2012
    • Thank you Charles! It was a really fun way to enter Oregon.

      So often, storms make for some of the best visual treats. I’m alway excited about them, even if I get a bit wet. In this case, moisture from the storm accumulated in the valley, causing the clouds we saw.

      August 13, 2012
  12. Welcome to Oregon! I’m in Ashland if you need a ride or a hand. Been ferrying “Wiseman” around this morning…let me know. “Pinball” – class of 2010 – 530-392-0096

    August 11, 2012
    • Thanks Pinball, that’s so kind of you! We are past Ashland now, but we found it to be super friendly and fun. Everyone was really helpful, and you are a great example of that too. Cheers!

      August 13, 2012
  13. These continue to be so wonderful! Thanks so much for the great photos and descriptions.
    Chris, The Math Forum just had a 20th anniversary birthday party. I think you were in our very first photo, see http://mathforum.org/blogs/happy-birthday-math-forum/.
    Happy Oregon!

    August 12, 2012
    • Thank you Gene, so glad you are enjoying it! We are almost at Crater Lake now.

      That photo is great. There I am with my Bela Fleck shirt. I love how Annie swapped her motorcycle for a bike in the new version. So glad the Forum is still going strong!

      August 13, 2012
  14. Dazzle #

    I was happy to see that two of the nicest people on the trail are still standing. This winter i look forward to reading about your experiences and viewing your photos. But for now, i remain a few days behind you, and wish i could catch up before the monument. Stay healthy.

    Still ‘dazzled’ everyday by the PCT.
    -Dazzle

    August 12, 2012
    • Hi Dazzle! It’s great to hear from you, and congrats on making it through California! We really enjoyed hiking with you, and would very much enjoy that again if it comes about.

      Wonderful that you are still dazzled, and may you remain so. We are too.

      August 13, 2012
  15. The Beeman #

    It was great meeting both of you on the trail on my section hike this summer. Great photos! I look forward to following you vicariously on the rest of your journey. Bee Well and Bee Happy!

    August 12, 2012
    • Great meeting you, Beeman! That was a really informative chat, and we love your positive attitude. Hope your bee venture continues to thrive! I’ll let you know when the book is done.

      August 13, 2012
  16. Andy Mrozek #

    Hi Guys,

    Just found your blog the other day and all I can say is HOW COOL IS THIS. I have read a few books on hikers on various thru-hikes and this by far is the the coolest , upbeat one I have ran into. Still got alot of catching up to do but will read it all for sure. Man I wish I could have found it when you were going through Yosemite / Tahoe area I would have tried to been a trail angel and bring you something yummy. Those folks are very cool and love reading about your posts on them , especially the Pie and root beer one. Keep up the great work , your doing IT.

    Cheers , a new fan

    August 12, 2012
    • Thank you Andy, that’s a great compliment, we really appreciate it. More trail, and I’m sure trail magic, to come!

      August 13, 2012
      • Andy Mrozek #

        Here is a great Trail read if you guys are into Kindle , I just got done reading this about a PCT semi Thru-Hiker , it is very entertaining to a backpacker who knows what she is talking about. You guys if haven’t read it may find it an enjoyable read on your Cell phone. It is named
        “Wild – From lost to found on the PCT” by Cheryl Strayed

        August 13, 2012
        • Thanks Andy, yes, a photo of Shutterbug’s appeared along with the Wall Street Journal review of Wild, but neither of us has read the book yet. We are curious about it, and we might read it after the hike.

          August 15, 2012
  17. aernis #

    Hi dear Anna and your Chris,
    This is your old SAY soccer coach and co-frisbee player! I’ve been following your blog the whole time (thanks to your dad) but just remembered my wordpress password today. Needless to say, beautiful pictures and thanks for the detailed storytelling. I think of you often and am so proud!
    lots of love and a hug,
    sarah aerni

    August 15, 2012

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