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Day 112-115: Life in Southern Oregon

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In this post, we describe Day 115 of our Pacific Crest Trail thru hike in detail. We hope our description gives you a glimpse into our everyday lives as we walk through the forests of southern Oregon. But first, here is a brief summary of days 112-114:

Day 112: Near McDonald Peak (Mile 1715)-Ashland (Mile 1727); 12 miles

After 6 hours of walking, we hit a highway where a friendly stranger named Debbie took us to Ashland. So helpful!

Day 113: Zero in Ashland

We spent the day doing chores in Ashland, an awesome town full of happy, friendly people. We even found time to savor the buffet at the local Indian place, where we drank the mango lassis we’d craved for months.

Day 114: Ashland (Mile 1727)-Near Green Springs Mountain (Mile 1745.5); 18.5 miles

We got a ride back to the trail, and walked north through dry forest.

Day 115: Near Green Springs Mountain (Mile 1745.5)-Near Brown Cabin (Mile 1771); 25.5 miles

6:00 The alarm quacked and we stirred. Still groggy, we got up and packed our backpacks.

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6:45 As we walked in the cool morning air, we ate our breakfast of two granola bars. Even though we weren’t in the desert anymore, we still preferred an early start because August can be steamy anywhere.

7:00 Rounding a bend, we emerged from the forest and saw sinuous smoky clouds on the hillside opposite us. It was beautiful but also a little disturbing to see so much smoke in the air.

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8:00 We stopped at a spring, where we had planned to fill up. All we found were a few muddy spots.

8:05 We hiked on, knowing there were more water sources in a few miles. As we walked, we snacked on trail bars. For the rest of the day we tended to eat something about once an hour.

8:40 The Little Hyatt Reservoir spillway was flowing strong. The water wasn’t ideal, but we filled up anyway because we weren’t sure if the other water sources on the map might be dry. Here we also ran into thru hikers Cheetah and Nico, and chatted briefly.

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8:50 As we continued hiking, the smoke grew thicker. We had cell reception and checked the fire report. No fires were listed nearby. Regardless, the sky was white with smoke, and the smell was strong.

9:25 At a road crossing which led to Hyatt Lake Campground, we met Bucket. He had talked to a ranger who confirmed that the fire was south of us, in Applegate, and shouldn’t impact us.

9:50 A deer bolted as soon as it noticed us coming down the trail. Often, as we walk, chipmunks scurry away and birds in the underbrush fly up into tree branches. The insects seem not to mind our presence, though, and go about their day without paying us much mind.

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10:15 We saw Hyatt Reservoir below us as we walked through an old logged section with lots of stumps.

10:40 The trees grew bigger, and North Star couldn’t resist hugging a huge Douglas fir.

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10:50 We took our first rest break of the day. Though brief, it was refreshing. After a few minutes, we continued walking.

12:35 We found a good shade tree and stopped for lunch, our main meal of the day. Today we enjoyed pesto pasta with freeze dried peas and lots of Parmesan cheese.

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1:45 After eating our fill, we packed up and hiked onward.

2:00 Low on water, we reached Grizzly Creek, which was flowing well. However, the creek was marked as “polluted” on our map, so we opted not to fill up.

2:20 We saw a doe and her fawn dash into the woods.

3:45 Walking slightly off trail and through a gate, we were relieved to find Big Spring flowing. Thirsty, we made an electrolyte drink and snacked. Our friends Little Bear and Super Girl showed up, and we chatted with them.

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4:15 Well hydrated, we continued on the trail. The sky was turning bluer as the morning’s smoke dissipated.

5:15 The forest became dense and green, more like the Oregon forest we expected to see.

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7:30 We stopped at Brown’s cabin, a few hundred feet off the trail, to get water at a pump. There we chatted with various weekend, section, and thru hikers. We’d run into an unusually large number of hikers throughout the day and were surprised to see so many more at the cabin. Nearby, a sign indicated the distance to both ends of the PCT. The numbers looked good!

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7:50 Back on trail, we walked in the last of the day’s light and started searching for a campsite.

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8:05 We found a flat spot, ate dinner, set up the tent, and brushed our teeth. During dinner, a deer drew close, then bounded off when it caught our eyes.

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9:00 In the tent, we wrote notes about our experiences of the day, and consulted maps for tomorrow.

9:30 Time to sleep!

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16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great Post – loving your photos, especially the last one and of course the tree hugging one:)

    August 15, 2012
  2. Patti Jay #

    Your blog is wonderful! I think my husband “Young Geezer” finally met you after I told him how you were “icing” your shin splints. Did you know PCT is closed at about mile 1853 to Windigo Pass because of fires? Just heard that this morning. Be careful. Young Geezer took off from Crater Lake early this AM.

    August 15, 2012
    • Yes, we did meet him, and we really enjoyed it! He mentioned you are following the blog. We do know about the fire and will take a detour. Now there are two more fires farther along the PCT after that one. Thanks for thinking of us!

      August 16, 2012
  3. Margaret #

    Hi, You 2 –

    As a mid-westerner, I hadn’t known that Oregon was having dryness/fire issues. Welcome to the rest of the country!! (Although our part of Wisconsin now is a lot greener!)

    I loved that wide lens of the mountains, even if smoke was on the horizon. You continue to be my heroes, putting your bodies to the great goal of oneness with the wilderness. And your reply about one map grid at at time sure had Buddhist overtones….!

    Hope the fires stay out of your way.

    August 15, 2012
    • It’s surprisingly dry, and there are multiple fires now in Oregon. But don’t worry, we are keeping up to date with them, and we will be taking detours as appropriate.

      There are some aspects of this hike that resemble walking meditation, and I like that parallel. It’s fun to think about.

      August 16, 2012
  4. Jan #

    It’s nice to read about one day, and all you encountered. Why is there a shortage of water this year in Oregeon, do you know? Less snowfall last winter? Less rainfall spring and summer?

    Most of all I want to know where Cheep Cheep got that wonderful hat!

    I was out gardening today, and after I came in I felt something crawling up my back. And next thing I knew, a wonderful grasshopper jumped off me down onto the floor. I was amazed. In all my years of gardening that never happened before. Our garden is full of butterflies and bees, now that we are growing Russian Sage and our hydrangea bush is producing massive white flowers. And apparently the garden is full of grasshoppers too. :-)

    We see you have arrived at Crater Lake. It brings back great memories for us. Hike on! That sign post is giving you great feedback, for sure. So many miles traveled…

    August 15, 2012
    • We aren’t sure if it is dryer than normal here, but it sure looks dry to us! We are keeping up to date with the latest fire news, and taking detours as appropriate.

      Cheep cheep’s hat is actually Shutterbug’s glove. It’s just the right size!

      So great to hear about your garden. It sounds like it’s really thriving! That’s a great example of how you can have a wonderful outdoors experience anytime, without traveling far at all. It’s all about getting out there and being open to what’s around you. Which you definitely are!

      Crater Lake was awesome! I can see why you have fond memories of it. It was even better that we got to walk around the rim for a few miles, to see different perspectives on the lake and Wizard Island.

      August 16, 2012
  5. When do you plan on being near Mt Bachelor/Sisters area near Cresent? Would love to bring you goodies :)

    August 15, 2012
    • Not too long now! You can search for “Itinerary” to see when we plan to be at Sisters (we’ll actually be at Big Lake Youth Camp). You can see where we are now by clicking the Tracking link at the top of every page. Thank you so much for offering, treats are always fun!

      August 16, 2012
  6. Denise #

    Glad you missed that fire and you’re making such amazing progress! I’m sure you know this already: Oregon has a major fire season each summer and it’s just kicking up into high fire danger time of year. Very dry forests in August & Sept. statewide. We’re forecasted for thunderstorms with lightning over Saturday night, and 95-100 degree weather, at least in the northern half of the state, so I hope you miss those down south and keep yourselves posted on conditions. Be careful out there & enjoy!

    August 16, 2012
    • Thanks Denise! Yes, we are keeping constantly up to date about the fires near the PCT, and we will take detours as appropriate. We hadn’t realized before the hike that Oregon was so fire-prone, but we are well aware of it now. Fires or no, Oregon is a lovely place to walk in the forest!

      August 16, 2012
  7. Barb #

    Happy Birthday, North Star! Hiking in Oregon must be a wonderful way to spend a birthday. You will remember this one always. We send our love to you both.

    August 16, 2012
    • Thank you Barb! A wilderness birthday really is unique and wonderful. We couldn’t carry a cake out here, but even being here is a celebration for me. Our love to you and Bernie as well!

      August 16, 2012
  8. It was great to meet both of you when we drove back to the Etna Summit trailhead, and returned to the trail on Aug 3. I have completed my section hike from Echo Lake to Ashland, and am now back home in Santa Barbara readjusting to the faster pace of life. Reading your blog gives me the opportunity to vicariously travel with you as you continue your journey to Canada. Bee Well and Bee Happy!

    August 17, 2012

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