I slept terribly this night as I was thinking about fires, bears, and how much I had to do the next day and the day after that. I heard some noises on the campground. In the morning I saw a large rabbit, which might have been the source of those sounds.
I got going a bit before six am and like the last couple of days I was greeted by great views in the morning hours. First the trail ascended somewhat steeply before starting the long descent into Seiad Valley. There was reported poison oak all the way down, but I didn’t see any in the first stretch so that person might have been confusing strawberry or blackberry plants with said poison oak. Many of the blackberry plants actually had ripe berries which I ate quite a few of. To use a word somewhat inappropriate for both my age and gender, they were rather yummy.
Five miles or so into the descent the poison oak did finally appear and there were many and big plants. Further, he abundantly present harmless other green plants made them much harder to spot. I was wearing my tights as last time so it was a bit safer, but extraordinarily hot! Even with my tights on I wanted to avoid the plants to not get the oil on me or my trekking poles so I could secondarily transfer it to my skin.
Somewhat after noon I had gotten off the mountain, and from there the trail took a six mile road walk into Seiad Valley, which is by far the longest road walk we’ve seen. Hikers normally don’t like those as they are less comfortable to walk on, but I liked it as that meant no more poison oak problems. It was warm down there, though, even in shorts.
I eventually got to Seiad Valley. I am pretty sure the Gates of Hell are to be found in the vicinity of this town or if not then the tectonic plates covering Hell must at least be somewhat thinner here. Let me explain what I mean by that. It was a minuscule village with the central part of the town being a general store and post office in the same building and an RV park next to it where I would be staying. But the village also stretched along the roads with non-contiguous parcels. Here, many of the houses were somewhat dilapidated and with unkept gardens often littered with old cars and other semi-thrash. There was also part of the town with equally dilapidated and /or abandoned mobile homes. Many of the homes had large signs simply stating “NO MONUMENT” and thus apparently opposing the expansion of the “Cascade–Siskiyou National Monument”, which is a large natural area. The vile poison oak plants were all but ubiquitous including in the gardens. It was dry, hot, and somewhat smoky. Despite its size, the town had its own fire department and large billboards posted about fires and fire risks. Large fire personnel an operational vehicles were loudly rolling through the main street, with three cars going down the dead-ended street that I had come from while hiking into town. I thought that I might have hiked in front of a forest fire but I later learned that firemen were preemptively deployed in case a potential thunderstorm would start new fires. So much effort was being put into suppressing all the baneful nature surrounding the village that might never have meant to be. Despite all of this menace, the people I met seemed relaxed, welcoming, and friendly as if it was just any other small town. One additional peculiarity, though, was many signs proclaiming the region to be part of The State of Jefferson, a proposed state separating a part of northern California and southern Oregon to form a new mostly republican state. One house even had a life-sized plywood figure of a border patrol officer.
The deli in the general store was closed so I had two microwave burritos followed by about a quarter of a gallon of ice cream. Predictably, that made me extraordinarily tired, but I had to hurry up to by my resupply before the store closed. I did that half sleepwalking, but after an energy drink things cleared up a bit. I showered, did laundry to wash out poison oak oils, rubbed down my trekking poles, changed the tips, which had been broken for a while using a new pair, which I had had sent to the store. They had broken long ago, so I was worried that the new ones wouldn’t fit as the bare metal had been rubbing against the trail for a couple of hundred miles, but they did.
Fish and Sonic came to The RV park some hours later. There was a fire detour a day’s walk from here, so some people were skipping ahead, but we weren’t.
Tomorrow is a long climb so I’ll have to get up early to beat the heat. That will be tough and I will be sleep deprived. I am, however slightly proud of myself for getting all the practicalities done. I am starting to really long for a zero day to get on top of things again.
This days miles: 1629-1656