PCT 2019: Day 112, Tentsite at Mile 1730.1 to Ashland

There's a big, a big hard sun

The temperature was expected to be hotter today than yesterday, but I don't think I imagined just how warm it would get.

Today's high in the mountains soared to the low 90s, while in Ashland and Medford, it was near 100. What's worse, this was the start of a weather pattern that was forecast to bring scorching temperatures for several days.

Clearly, Bluejay, Sunkist, and I were picking a good time to leave Oregon and head for higher elevations in California.

DateTuesday, August 27, 2019
WeatherClear sky and hot, with a high temperature in the low 90s; even warmer in the city
Trail Conditions Sometimes rocky, with a very steep descent and a couple of road walks at the end
Today's Miles12.4
Trip Miles1666.3

Last night was the warmest night I have felt on the trail so far, and that includes the 53 nights I spent in the desert. Thankfully, it wasn't too warm to sleep.

Just as I had done yesterday, I left camp today at 6:30 a.m. and hiked for 90 minutes before stopping to eat breakfast.

The trail went over Little Pilot Peak, and on the other side I got today's first view of Mt. Shasta. The mountain in California was now 48 miles away.

The sky was too hazy to see many other mountains. Mt. Ashland was one that could be seen, but it was much closer, just 11 miles away.

Closer still was Pilot Rock. This mountain was the remnant of a volcanic plug. The rock around the plug was eroded by glaciers, leaving a pillar outcropping.

Shiprock in New Mexico and Devils Tower in Wyoming are larger, more famous examples of this type of mountain.

Native people living in the area called Pilot Rock Tan-ts’at-seniptha, which is translated as "Stone Standing Up." It gained the name Pilot Rock when migrating settlers looked for the mountain as a navigation aid while following the Applegate Trail in the 1850s.

The sunshine felt especially warm when the trail crossed open, grassy sections, which occurred more and more frequently. I began to take short breaks when I could find shade.

The 4.5 miles of trail descending to a road called Old Highway 99 were especially tiresome because of the heat.

While on this descent I received a text message from Dave. He told me he was leaving Green Mountain Inn just then, so we shouldn't plan on him going with us to Ashland.

Reaching Old Highway 99, the trail turned to follow the road for seven-tenths of a mile. I didn't walk far on the road, though, before a trail angel pulled up in his car. He was dropping off a couple of hikers and offered me a ride.

I declined because I was guessing this would be my only time to hike the next 1.7 miles and I didn’t want to skip them. I didn’t think we’d double back this far up the road when we returned after hiking the Sierra.

From that point, the trail followed the highway under Interstate 5, then veered away and continued a mile more. After that, a side trail led to Callahan's Mountain Lodge.

When we return to Callahan's after we finish the Sierra, I presumed, we will take that side trail back to the PCT.

One thing I didn't count on, however, was difficulty finding the side trail to Callahan's. I thought I was in the right spot for it, but I didn't see proof.

That is, I didn't see proof until I turned around to look behind me. About 20 feet up the trunk of a tree I saw a small, wooden sign pointing to the side trail.

The sign must have been mounted high up the tree so it would be visible in winter when snowfall is high. That height wasn't helpful to hikers now because it was mounted out of a normal line of sight. It was also angled so only northbound hikers could see it.

The poorly-maintained side trail descended steeply for a half mile. This trail reconnected with Old Highway 99, which I followed as it went under Interstate 5 a second time.

Finally, after a brutally hot walk, I arrived at Callahan's Lodge at 12:45 p.m. Sunkist, Bluejay, Bam Bam, Pebbles, EdBeard, and GinGin were all there, relaxing in air-conditioned comfort.

Sunkist, Bluejay, and I were planning to get an Uber to take us to pick up the rental car we would drive to California. They had already eaten but didn't mind waiting while I enjoyed the all-you-can-eat spaghetti lunch in Callahan's restaurant.

Before we left, I picked up a small package Kim had sent me, which contained a replacement pair of sunglasses. The ones I had been wearing had developed a flaw that allowed the dark coating to delaminate. Kim was able to get a new pair for me under warranty and mail it to Callahan's.

The Hertz car rental office was located at Rogue Regency Hotel in Medford. After we were dropped off there by our Uber driver, we learned our car wasn't ready. With nothing else to do, we had a drink in the hotel's bar while we waited.

The REI store was located nearby. I bought there stove fuel and a new pair of shoes. The shoes I purchased during my zero day in Portland were still in good condition, with only some wear on the tread. I had only hiked 430 miles in them.

I decided to replace them with the same model, however, because I knew the next good opportunity to replace them wouldn't happen until we finished the Sierra, after 450 more miles of walking.

On the drive back to Ashland, a driver ran a red light and nearly t-boned our car in an intersection. Bluejay, Sunkist, and I all breathed a sigh of relief when the car came to a screeching stop.

The rest of the afternoon was crammed with the usual town chores. We first went to the post office, where Sunkist and Bluejay picked up boxes they had shipped to themselves. We then went to our room at the Timbers Motel, which we were pleased to find because it had three beds. My bed was in a nook that was separated from the other two for the women.

After taking showers and doing laundry, we drove to a trail angel's house where GinGin and EdBeard were staying. This turned out to be the home of the trail angel who had offered to drive me to Callahans.

We all went to dinner at Standing Stone Brewing Company, where we met Pebbles and Bam Bam. We also unexpectedly ran into a couple more hikers, including Sailor. The last time we had seen him was when we ate breakfast together at Timberline Lodge.

We'll stay in Ashland tomorrow to give us a chance to complete some final preparations for our hike in the Sierra. Sadly, the day will also be when we say goodbye to Dave.

There's a big
A big hard sun
Beaten on the big people
In the big hard world

From “Hard Sun” by Indio (Gordon Peterson)


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.