Saturday, July 30, 2016

Day 91 : Escaping The Heat

26 miles today
971 miles to go

Three thirty am. I am awakened by one of the trucks in the RV park staring up and driving away. For the next hour the pickup trucks of the RV campers startup and drive off. Headlights glare on my tent as it's right next to the road out of here. Doors bang, pickup gates slam shut. Off the fishermen go. It's noisy, hard to sleep through the racket. Still dark, too early to get up. The last one leaves, it's quiet, I drift off.

Seiad Valley is the home of the Infamous Pancake Challenge. I don't want to take the challenge, but eating pancakes? I want to do that, but I don't. I miss breakfast because the way out of here is a four thousand foot climb. It's a long climb and I don't want to wait for the cafe to open. It's cool right now. The sun hasn't come up yet. When it does it'll be instant hot. I have to get up to at least four thousand feet of I hope to be in cooler air. I must start now! Well after I finish my granola. 

I pack and walk quickly down the road. It's another half mile at least to the trailhead. Some thru-hikers left last night. Some are waiting for pancakes. I hurry down the highway. I turn up the trail and climb as fast as I can. I'm sweating, my shirt is soaked. Still no breeze. Up I climb, higher and higher. It's not cooler yet. Higher is my only hope. Climb, baby, climb! I keep up the pace, dodging left and right around the overhanging poison oak branches. Up, up, up. One switchback to the next. As I climb the valley becomes more and more visible. The views stretch across to the mountains on the other side. A helicopter flies from the valley up to the top of the ridge. There is some work being done. It's all very intriguing and would be fun to look at. I ignore it all, climb on. Higher and higher. The sun is up now, I am in it for a moment then I am back in the shade. It's hot in the sun. Don't stop! Up, it's cooler up above. Hours go by, still higher I climb. The ridge is in the sun. The trail drops into the shadowy side of the ridge. Up to a spring. I stop and get water. Ice cold water from a pipe sticking out of the side of the mountain. It takes five minutes to get a liter. I get two. I drink one now and put the other in my pack. Climb on! Four thousand feet, still hot, five thousand feet, still hot. Six thousand feet, the top of the ridge. A cool breeze hits me from the north, from Oregon. “I'm coming Oregon, I'm coming to hide in your dark shady forests from this blazing blistering sun.”

I am up on the ridge tops following the trail. The breeze is consistent. It's cooler, the immediate crisis is averted. On and on I hike. The ridges will lead me north. The trail is rocky and my feet hurt. My shoes are tired. They need replacing. I wonder about the trails in Oregon will they be rocky? I want them to be smooth and forest soft. The day drags on. I am tired. The day has been long, I've met other thru-hikers at the springs, the only source of water. They are few and far between. I am exhausted with the lack of sleep. The day is long the sun is setting. I'd like to go further. I can't I am too tired. I find a place to camp on a ridge. A cool breeze blows softly over the ridge from the north. I am alone, it's quiet. I'm hidden from the trail. This is my own private resort. I cook dinner and climb into my tent. I am asleep before the sun sets.

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