Friday, July 29, 2016

Day 90 : Melting In Seiad Valley

32 miles today
997 miles to go

The day dawns without a breeze, or maybe a slight one from the east. A warm one. I am hiking down from the Marble Mountain. Down, down, down. Down to fifteen hundred feet of elevation. Down from five thousand feet. Down to where it's hot. I know it's hot there because it's hot here. It'll be even hotter there. 

I cross the ridges from where I camped to where the PCT begins its descent. Walking the ridge gives me great views in every direction. The mountains on the horizon are blue in the smoky haze. Nothing I see is extraordinary. Just mountain after mountain. The ridge ends at Buckhorn Spring, I filter and drink a liter of water. It's been educational for me. There are many springs near the top of ridges. These springs are the source of most of the water I drink I the PCT. I had assumed that there would be a lot more creeks and streams, I was wrong. It's kind of obvious now but there just aren't that many creeks and streams on the ‘crest’ of a hill or mountain. Anyway, I drink my fill, then start down the hill. The trail goes on and on, lower and lower. I travel from the cool breezy alpine ecosystem down through the fir forest. Down through the pines. Steep mountainsides with burned trees. Down into the canyon. No breeze reaches here. It's still and stifling. The sun blazes down like the lightbulb in an easy bake oven. It's so hot my shirt is soaked with sweat. It doesn't cool me down because there isn't a hint of a breeze. I follow the trail along the side of Grider Creek. Steep sides, lots of poison oak. I dodge under and around the branches. The trail crosses the creek. The bridge burned so it's a ford. I get my feet wet figuring they'll dry soon. I drink water a liter at a time. Hot and tired, exhausted, this is hard hiking. My feet are sore. They don't want to walk anymore. It gets hotter if that is even possible. A breeze, a puff, anything, would make it cooler, but no, there is nothing. I reach the Grider Creek campground late in the day. From here the PCT is the road. A six and a half mile road walk to Seiad Valley.

I hike from the Grider Creek campground down the road toward highway ninety six. I can do road walks. No rocks or roots to worry about. I walk as fast as I can. It's hot. The road stays in the shade for a bit, then it blasts into to sun. Yikes! It's hot! I keep moving. I'm out of snacks. The gravel road continues on and on. Then it changes to a paved road. A small paved country road. Still the PCT, only paved and wider. It's following the contours of the river. Grider Creek poured into the river some time back, now I'm following it. A big river, no easy way across. I follow the road up and around, finally reach highway ninety six. There's a big sign pointing left Pacific Crest Trailhead. I guess I'll go left. 

I cross a bridge that looks the same as a bridge I used to have for my train set when I was a kid only bigger. Lots of metal spans above holding the bridge from falling into the Klamath River. The highway goes up and over a rise and there's the town of Seiad Valley. Baking in the hot summer sun. Giant sprinkler in the field going k-think, k-think, k-think as it slowly rotates it's giant stream around the field. I so want to go stand under that stream. The highway is hot, baking the bottom of my feet. I walk directly into the face of the setting sun. Still blazing as hot as it was at noon. The smoky, hazy air is still and languid. I am so tired and hot. I have kept my pace on this road walk for over two hours. Crunch, crunch, crunch, goes the sound of my feet in the gravel in the side of the road. I slowly pass the green sign that says Seiad Valley announcing the population and altitude. I pay no attention to the size or elevation. I am focused on the store. A white building on the left past the trees. Cars stop in front, people walk in, walk out. I bet it's cooler in there. I walk past the trees. Mid River RV Park, there’s Thru-hikers hiding from the sun under those trees. Lots of them, thirty or so. I lean my pack against the wall and enter the store. Slightly cooler, like swamp cooler cooler. And humid too. I walk back to the freezer. I want to climb inside. Instead I grab a pint of ice cream. I get a bottle of Gatorade from the cooler. After paying for them I leave the store and go under the trees. Thru-hikers can camp here for a few bucks. Includes a shower and laundry. It's so hot. The sun is setting behind the mountains and there is not a stitch of a breeze. I am tempted to stand by the road in hopes that a passing car will blow by, but there aren't many cars. I sit still under the trees and eat my ice cream and drink my Gatorade. Tents go up, including mine. Instant tent city, more like a tent town. Small alley ways between the tents to navigate. I cook dinner. I cook! I cook while I cook. The heat from the stove causes me to break out anew with sweat. The heat doesn't leave, it lingers. There's no breeze to blow it away. I am so hot! I am soaked with sweat. I pick up my dinner and walk around trying to generate a breeze while I walk. I am getting hot just walking. I walk over to the PCT hiker room. There's a tv playing a DVD. I think it's Caddyshack. The hiker room has no one else in it. There is a fan. A box fan on the floor facing the door. Maybe to blow the hot air out? Doesn't matter all the air is hot. I turn it towards the futon sofa. I sit in its path. Moving air! Hallelujah! It feels so good with my sweat soaked clothes immediately doing their evaporative cooling thing. I sit and eat, watching part of the movie. Bill Murray is so young. I finish my dinner and consider a shower. The camp host is going to provide towels but he's currently out of them and washing more. I decide to use my pack towel. There's no line because there's no towels. I find some shampoo in the hiker box and head to the shower. 

The shower is in the restroom. It has seen its share of use. One of the handles is broken. If you hold it just right you can get the hot water to come out. I adjust it for cool water. I climb in to the cool flow, like soft rain. So pleasant. So refreshing. I shampoo myself until I'm white with foam. I rinse it off in the cool stream. I no longer feel sticky and sweaty. My feet look sort of clean. I turn off the water. It's hot again. I semi-dry myself letting the hot air do the rest. I climb back into my filthy clothes except I forego the socks and gaiters and have unzipped the legs from my pants to make them shorts. I rinse the legs to remove the dirt. It's slightly cooler outside than in the restroom. I'm not sure it cooled any, I think the rest room got warmer with me showering in it.

I return to my tent and climb inside. No breeze, so hot. Don't move, don't sweat. I lay on the bare tent floor with my small piece of zrest pad under my back. I have my pack towel over my eyes and forehead. It feels cool against my eyes. I have my feet propped up by my stuffed sleeping bag. It's too hot to even think about pulling it out. Don't move, it'll cool down. It's dark, it's still hot. It'll cool down at some point, till then don't move. I flip the pack towel over its cooler on the top. I drift off to sleep. 

I wake at one thirty in the morning. I get up and go to the restroom. It's a little cooler now. I blow up my mattress and unstuff my sleeping bag. I lay on my mattress with my bag laying on me. I sleep.

1 comment:

  1. Scott,

    A friend of mine in town(Cascade Locks) who works at the pub, sent me this website where I found your blog-very cool stuff you are doing and writing about of late. I live above the PCT in a cabin and have taken in hikers over the years. This year I am working on a pilot podcast that invites hikers like yourself to tell their story. Let me know if you would like to provide some input regarding said podcast. Also, you can camp at our cabin if you feel so inclined,

    Look forward to meeting you,


    Send me a message