Day 112-115: Life in Southern Oregon
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
7:50 Back on trail, we walked in the last of the day’s light and started searching for a campsite.
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.
9:00 In the tent, we wrote notes about our experiences of the day, and consulted maps for tomorrow.
9:30 Time to sleep!