Date: August 17, 2017
Miles: 33.2 miles (53.4km), from mile 1,668.2 to mile 1,701.4.
Health: Feeling tired from the lack of sleep.
I wake up late to the sound of everyone leaving one by one. For the past couple of nights, I’ve slept way too little and that’s starting to take a toll on me. My mood and energy are low and getting up in the morning is really hard.
I force myself out of my sleeping bag and shelter and slowly start packing all my gear. By the time I’m done everyone else is long gone.
The air is clear and except for some ash on the ground, there are no signs of the fire and smoke from last night. I get on the trail and slowly start heading the same way others did.
The trail climbs right back up and at the top of the ridge, on a small spring, I meet two hikers I haven’t seen before. We chat for a while and they tell me how they slept on the ridge and saw the fire down in the valley not far from where we slept. Thankfully it seems the firefighters have managed to get the fire under control as there’s no sight of it.
I leave the guys at the spring and get back to hiking. I’m not feeling the trail at all today and getting into the flow seems impossible. I feel like I’m not moving anywhere. Luckily, unless something unexpected happens, I’m walking into Oregon later today and I’ll finally be done with California.
Little way up I notice a hiker with colorful shorts climbing on the opposite side and it looks like it could be Sam. I use the telephoto lens on my camera and try to capture a photo of the hiker. As I zoom in I notice it’s not him.
At the top of the climb the view opens up and the entire scenery is covered in smoke. There’s a thick layer of smoke hovering over the mountaintops as far as the eye can see.
I feel so sluggish that I have to take a break on the next water source. The actual water source is down a steep climb and I leave my backpack at the top as I don’t want to carry it both ways. It takes me about ten minutes to climb down and back up.
After getting some water I cold soak some noodles and eat some candy, hoping the sugar would cheer me up. First, a southbound hiker joins me and goes down to get some water, and a little later a northbound hiker joins us. We chat for a while about the trail and hear stories about Oregon and Washington. We are about to hit the Oregon border later today and the SoBo just arrived to California so there’s a mutual feeling of something new happening.
We share whatever small tips we can about heading south but I’m a little weary about sharing any knowledge as there’s a saying on the trail that you should never trust any trail information SoBo’s share. I figure SoBo’s have the same saying about us northbounders so I try not to be “the guy who gave us the wrong info”.
Leaving the two I start walking again with new vigor from all the sugar and noodles. The trail starts heading down and soon the scenery changes. It’s getting greener and grassier and I walk past many cows. I must be getting closer to Oregon.
I do a quick stop at the Donomore Cabin and sign the trail register there. Sunshine and Iced Tea have been here a few hours earlier.
I pass a couple more southbounders. It seems we’re in the middle of a small SoBo bubble. This year was a bad year for going southbound due to the snow and how late the passes opened up in Washington. Still, it’s good to see some have made it. They have to boogie now to make it south of Kearsarge Pass before the autumn storms arrive.
Looking at Guthooks I notice I just finished my last climb in California and I’m 1 mile (1.6km) from the California–Oregon border. I make the last few zig-zags and see a tree with a small sign I’ve been waiting to see for the past 109 days. I’ve reached the Oregon border!
I celebrate for a while but it feels kind of empty to be here alone. I take some selfies with the little adapter I’ve carried all the way here but can’t get the camera to focus properly. I sign the trail register with a small comment and notice Iced Tea and Sam (Nobody) were here just a short time ago.
I make a short video for Anthony and Annie, the trail angels from Tahoe. They told me how they do this ritual of hopping right before crossing a border and I do the same, hopping from California to Oregon.
Just as I’m about to leave I hear a noise from behind and see a hiker called Sunkist approach. As it sucked to celebrate alone I stay and congratulate her for reaching the border. I take a photo of her with the sign and ask her to take one of me as well. We talk for a while and then I leave her with the border.
Now in Oregon, the trail looks pretty much the same. It seems nothing has changed except there’s maybe a little bit more green everywhere. And maybe the hills are a little bit less pointy.
I still feel super slow but the beautiful evening light and gorgeous scenery put me in a better mood. Being in a new state feels great too. I pass one more SoBo and then see no-one. The sky is beautiful with pink and blue hues and the air is nice and cool – perfect hiking weather.
Trying to cover as many miles as I can I keep walking long into the night. Hiking along a mountainside I can see city lights far in the distance and down below. Feels strange being alone here in the dark, walking on this dusty trail while all these people are at home, probably watching Netflix with their loved ones, eating good food and going to sleep in their comfortable beds.
I pass the 1700 mile (2 736km) marker at one point but it doesn’t feel like much as I have not walked all the way here due to all the skipped miles.
It’s almost 11 pm when I reach a small camp spot next to a water source but it’s occupied. Luckily the comments on Guthooks mention that there’s an old forest road little up from the spot and after some climbing I find it. I locate a small flat spot on the part of the road that’s not yet overgrown and quickly set up my shelter. Just as I’m getting into my sleeping bag I hear voices and see two headlamps climbing up and starting to set up their shelters down the road.
Tomorrow is town day as we get to Ashland. We’ve made plans to meet there with Sam. Hopefully, the Aussies and Roadrunner will be there too.