A bit after three am I was awoken by a dog barking again, this time from some distance. I don’t hope it was the same dog and hiker as a couple of days ago, because then the hiker is rather inconsiderate of the other hikers if he night hikes and has his dogs barking at every tent they pass. The first time it was kind of my own fault for camping close to the trail and a trail register, but this time I was approximately two hundred feet from the trail (that is, the dirt road of the fire detour). Anyways, I decided to get hiking shortly after that as I really wanted to get past the fire detour and to Ashland.
The road walk was kind of boring, but not that difficult. I had the maps from the PCTA and by comparing them with Google Maps offline maps I had the equivalent of GPS navigation, so I wasn’t afraid of getting lost. Further, previous hikers had been marking the intersections with stick arrows, though they hadn’t thought of the impact of car traffic on the dirt roads, so some had already been obscured in that way.
A couple of hours into the hiking, there was a paper sheet posted on a pole at an intersection stating that the suggested detour involved a “wicked bushwhacking”. Bushwhacking is when you make your way through an overgrown trail or where there simply is no trail. Well that explained why the involved paths weren’t on Google Maps. The author of the note suggested to instead take an alternative route that joined the trail two miles later. I did just that, and before I knew of it I was back on the trail. It felt nice to be past the detour and the fire.
During the day the smoke level and smell fluctuated as before but. At times you could see trees etc three hundred feet or so away being slightly grayed out and sometimes it was hard to make out the outline of the mountains in the distant or see the blue sky. Other times it was nearly absent. There weren’t any nice views along the detour nor the trail itself, but it wouldn’t have mattered much as they would have been grayed out anyways.
Every time I have passed a hundred mile point, I’ve taken a photo of it. Well, the 1700 one was in the fire closure, so I decided to make my own about halfway on the detour and just disassemble it again afterwards. Problem solved.
On the trail I met a group of three day hikers, one being an elderly woman with a walker. That wasn’t quite expected and it must have taken a lot of effort for her even though they were probably just doing a very short stretch.
At the end of the hike I got to an older highway next to an interstate. There weren’t much traffic on the former so I road walked to the ramp of the latter and got picked up by the second car on the latter by of all people a former PCT through hiker! He was called Milestone and had hiked the trail in 2014. He had gotten to love Ashland so much while passing it on the trail that he had decided to settle down there and had found a job there as a bartender, he said. The was a night person so it fit him well. He was actually going sailing today, but had missed a turn and now had to go the thirteen or so miles back to Ashland to my luck and his inconvenience. He said that he was glad that he had through hiked the PCT, but would never do it again as it was too stressful and you couldn’t do it on your own pace. He said that Ashland for a short period had had the worst air quality in the world and bad visibility due to the fire. He seemed slightly disorganized and had a somewhat messy car, but seemed like a cool guy, who knew how to enjoy his life and would be someone who could start a conversation with anyone. I think those negative and positive aspects often go together. He dropped me off near my hotel and I thanked him for the ride. I had a second (or third) lunch at a nearby café, that he had recommended. It was nice but not spectacular. I then started on the town chores and the day had soon passed.
This days miles: 1710-1719 (plus miles on detour)