Day 77: Suffer

Mile reached: 1655.9 (+30.4)

High: Reaching the Girder Creek Campground and taking multiple dips in the water to try and cool off.

Low: It was 112° out, and the trail was overgrown with poison oak. Oh, there was a road walk on a state highway with a 2′ shoulder.

Things the PCTA could do that would be more useful than building trail no one wants:

  • Maintain their trail by, oh I don’t know, removing thickets of poison oak.
  • Work with Caltrans to get a sign on CA-96 saying “hikers on shoulder”.
  • Build a footbridge over the Klamath River.
  • Light the donations on fire.

Again, I got up early in the morning, because I would reach town in the afternoon. Seiad Valley also happens to be located on the Klamath River, so it’s at a very low elevation, which means it would be hot. No reason to dally!

The morning was beautifully illuminated in the soft light of the morning sun. The high open ridges provided clear views into Oregon just barely to the north. The forest was also full of life with far more deer tracks on the trail than footprints. After a few miles I reached the end of the ridge and began the gradual descent down to the Klamath River.

It’s hard to not like the mornings.
A big lake and a popular campsite for thru-hikers
Marble mountains
The edge of the mountains before the Klamath

The first half of the descent was great. There were berries everywhere. It wasn’t particularly warm yet, and the canopy provided excellent shade. About halfway down I encountered some section hikers that were carrying trail magic! I scored a bag of cool ranch Doritos. However, almost immediately afterwards everything started to go downhill fast. The forest had been badly burned, so there was little shade from the sun. Compounding this, it started to get really hot, and there was a lot of poison oak on the trail. I suffered through it and finally made it to the road.

Wild strawberries! Tiny, yet delicious.
At least the vegetation is thimble berries and not poison oak
So long and so hot 🙁

At the road there was a bridge, and I stopped for a bit to eat lunch and soak. “Freebird”, an older Austrian, joined me, and we talked for a while. It turned out that he’d been having a rough time for the past week and had been thinking of getting off the trail. I insisted that he had to at least make it to Oregon, and he agreed.

From the campground it’s a brutal six mile road walk to Seiad Valley in the sun. Loaded up on water and soaking wet from a dip in the creek, I set off for the town. I felt a little like an astronaut, because I couldn’t stop until I made it. Of course, the town is just barely across the Klamath River, but there is a steep embankment and a potentially dangerous ford. So, the official PCT is routed on a state highway with little to no shoulder. It would be legitimately dangerous in the evening, because it crosses a narrow bridge. Anyway, I made it to town and was thrilled to hide in the shade of trees.

Very pro-Jefferson and very No Monument

There were a number of hikers collected in town. The trail out climbs up four thousand feet in the sun, so everyone was trapped until at least nightfall. A few of us including “Poseidon” drank beer and told stories outside the general store. “Freebird” also showed up, and we attempted to lift his spirits.

“Redbeard” suggested that we cook hamburgers for dinner, so I made that happen. I had briefly met a friendly resident at the RV park, who agreed to let us use his propane grill. The hamburger meat was so cheap it was completely falling apart and starting grease fires to the point that we had to cook it on a cookie sheet. However, they turned out fine, and “Redbeard” declared that I should be called “The Burger King”. It also seemed like “Freebird” was having a good time and feeling better about the trail.

Those of us spending the night set up on the lawn. Amazingly, there were no mosquitoes! I made the tragic mistake of cowboy camping, only to discover that the mosquitoes were also just hiding from the heat. By midnight there were swarms of them. It was horrendous.

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