Oregon A

Oct. 9, Sun.–FINISH THE PCT!!! Oregon A

Sun. Oct. 9    FINISHED THE PCT!!!

Shortly after I turned off my headlamp last night and snuggled deep into the sleeping bag for our last night on the trail, it began to blow a LOT of wind, and then it began to RAIN.  We figured “This must be it–the big storm has arrived.”  But we were warm and comfortable under our tarp in the hemlock grove, while the rain came down for several hours.   The only problem we had was that Bill and I were both so excited about finishing tomorrow, plus listening to the wind and rain, that neither of us slept much!  I didn’t have to pester Bill to get him to wake up this morning!  He was eager to go, the rain had stopped, and there were some signs of clearing in the sky.  The temperature was a cold 34 degrees.

Down the PCT we went, feet flying.  Only 8 more miles, only 8 more miles!  We stopped for a snack in the PCT picnic area at Mt. Ashland Inn.  A couple of Snickers, some nuts and some water, then off we went again.  The clouds were slowly roling back, but the trouble was, we were walking OUT from under the “clear” sky and INTO the cloud.  All the plants along the trail were soaking wet from the rain, and pretty soon, we were too.  Brrrr!  But before going into the cloud, we got some great valley views with pretty fall foliage.

Then surprise and joy!  We met another PCT thruhiker–a SOBO!  He had just retired in July, and headed straight for Manning Park with a goal of hiking as far south as he could along the PCT before winter closed in.  His name was “Bob With One B”.  The storm that caught us near Etna caught him at Crater Lake, but while we spent 3 days in the warmth and comfort of Alderbrook, he spent 3 days in his bivy sack in the snow!  Man, he was tough and determined!  And the only reason he wan’t a lot farther along the trail was because up in Washington State, he was bitten on the leg by a brown recluse spider and ended up having a hunk cut out of his leg to “fix’ it.  He showed us the long scar running down his calf.  Double yikes!  We wished each other all the best, and happy hiking.  What a special meeting to have on our very last day–and it meant a lot to Bob With One B, too, since he’d not seen any other hikers for a long time.

Bill and I went squishing along in our VERY wet shoes, enjoying the beautiful fall foliage along the trail.  Finally we could SEE Interstate 5 and Callahan’s Lodge/restaurant through the trees down below; a few more minutes, and at long last, we were at the END of our PCT odyssey!  Thanks be to God, and I mean that with all my heart!  We prayed and told Him how grateful we were for all His love, care, protection, and for His amazing creation we’ve been able to enjoy uninterrupted for 5 months! I have to admit to getting all choked up, just in awe and joy for being able to do what we have done.  Two thousand six hundred fifty miles!  Thankyou, Lord! 

Then we took of our packs and tidied up both ourselves AND the packs before beginning the roadwalk back down to Callahan’s.  When we got there, a kind lady happily took a picture of us out in front, and the Callahan’s wonderful staff gave us a warm welcome, a great breakfast, and our free beers!  Then the lodge receptionist arranged for us to have a ride down to Ashland with a couple who were just checking out. Wow!   We asked them to just drop us off by a bus stop; from there we figured we could ride the bus in to Medford, rent a car, and head home.

But we waited and waited by the bus stop–and no bus.  Finally we realized, “Oh, it’s SUNDAY–maybe the bus is not running??”  We asked a SOU student who was passing by, and sure enough, there were no busses today.  Hmmmm.  Now we needed to find a place to stay in Ashland.  The hostel turned out to be “No Vacancy” and another hiker favorite, the historic Columbia Hotel, was a bit pricey.  But a visit to the Chamber of Commerce turned up a motel down by SOU that was very reasonable.  It was on the other end of town, but what’s that to a couple of people who just finished doing 2,650 miles?  Along the way, we stopped at an Internet cafe and got something to eat, while Bill booked a rental car to take us home tomorrow.  Unfortunately, he was muddled on what day it was, and put down the wrong date–October 11 instead of October 10. 

We kept walking all the way down to SOU, found the motel, did laundry (this time, the dryer did NOT melt our clothes!) and got nice and clean and rested a bit before going to a Mexican restaurant down the street that had advertised a Sunday night “Two-fer” dinner special.  Tonight we’re so glad to be clean and rested, but when I found out Bill had gotten the date wrong for the rental car, we were a bit worried about it.  Oh well, the worst that could happen is we end up waiting a day in Medford.  “Let’s just go there anyway tomorrow and see what we could work out” was our plan.

Oct. 8, Sat.–??? miles–Oregon Section A

Sat. Oct. 8     Miles today: ?? (no maps available)    Finish No. CA section R and begin Oregon Section A

It was cold (30 degrees) but clear and beautiful this morning.  We were determined to do as many miles as we could! Down below us, everything was foggy–Mt. Shasta, of course, rode serenely above it all.  We particularly enjoyed watching the sunrise as we hiked along, since it’s so dark and dim still when we first start out.  It’s so late in the year now that we don’t get many hours of daylight for hiking! 

It wasn’t long before we reached a trailhead which had been turned into a large hunter camp.  Two big black Lab dogs came barking out to meet us, but they weren’t really serious.  We waved our sticks at them and said, “Hi, puppies!” and they left us alone.  Eventually we reached Donohue Meadows–very lovely!  Actually, this entire part of the PCT was like walking through a sort of forest park with meadows and springs and big trees, and of course, cows.  Most of those ran for it as soon as they saw us, but unfortunately, they’ve tramped up most of the springs–Bill did find one nice one to fill his water bottle.  I still had plenty left from what the hunters gave us.

Then around 10 am, there it was–a “Welcome to Oregon” sign!  Hurray!  We were excited, to put it mildly!  I signed the trail register, and besides notebooks, thee were other “interesting artifacts”–an empty flask of whiskey and another (also empty) of rum.  I guess we were expected to drink a toast to our arrival in Oregon??  We settled for eating a Snickers!  The view at the border was very pretty, and the sign said it was 28 miles to Interstate 5. “Let’s see how big a dent we can put in that!” we said to each other.  Bill was having one of his “good” days, feeling much better, and able to hike right along instead of slowly plodding, even on uphills.  I had to really work to keep up with him!  Double hooray!

Of course the PCT just HAD to go up some more, but it gave us nice views down into valleys below.  We met another hiker coming southbound, carrying a sort of long duffle bag.  Was he a hunter, carrying his gun in a bag instead of over his shoulder?  We asked him, and he said with a quiet smile, “Well, actually I’m out hunting BRYOPHITES.”  That’s when I noticed his cap–it said, “Southern Oregon University Botany Department.”  It turned out he was a professor, and was planning to bring a class out here for a field trip in a few days. The professor said he always goes out ahead of time to find everything so he can take the kids right to it.  “And it makes me look like I’m really smart!” he said with a grin.

Some more hiking finally took us to our first crossing of Hwy. 20, where the PCT then goes on a huge “wander” around a mountain.  The views to the north were stunning, and we did a lot of walking through bear grass, where the flowers were dry, but wow–they were almost as tall as I am!  After crossing Hwy. 20 again, we started getting views to the south, including Mt. Shasta, and also a distinctive rock formation we passed on our PCT trek out of Ashland in June.  “Lookee that!  We can SEE the end of our trip!” cheered Bill.

By 4 pm, we could see Interstate 5, too, and felt like we were really getting close to “closing the circle” of our PCT thruhike!  A sign we came to just before suppertime said that it was 11 miles to I-5, so that meant we’d covered 17 miles since 10:00 this morning.  Not bad!  So we gobbled up our very last trail supper (bagels & jerky & dried fruit), then attacked the trail as fast as we could.  Despite some tough going–lots of overgrowth and mudholes–we managed to get about 3 more miles done in less than an hour.  And it turned out we’d both been praying as we walked, asking the Lord for a really nice campsite for our last night on the PCT, and there it was, just after sundown–level, soft, in a grove of hemlocks.  It was clouding up and a cold wind was blowing, so we rigged the tarp and quickly got ready for bed before it was too dark to see. 

We soon discovered that AGAIN we were right near a dirt road–more hunter trucks went by, but we weren’t worried.  Ashland, here we come!  And thankyou, Lord, for helping us get here!  We are MEGA-grateful.