PCT 2019: Day 148, Seiad Creek Road to Seiad Valley

I'm a man of means, by no means

I woke up this morning to find the temperature was above freezing. It wasn't far from freezing, but today was the first in many days that I started without frosty weather.

DateWednesday, October 2, 2019
WeatherMostly clear to partly cloudy, with temperatures ranging from the mid 30s to near 60
Trail ConditionsSometimes rugged ascent to ridge, then smooth descent to a road
Today's Miles14.8
Trip Miles2183.5

As planned, I woke up a 4 a.m. Bluejay and I were getting an early start because we wanted to reach the diner in Seiad Valley before it closed at 2 p.m.

We left camp before dawn and needed to keep our headlamps on for the first 45 minutes of walking. The trail immediately began a steep climb as it went up a ridge formed by Cook and Green Butte.

At dawn, there was just enough light to see Mt. Shasta from the ridge. The mountain was slightly more than 60 miles away.

It is such a prominent mountain that it will be a regular sight for several more days.

I followed the trail around the contours of the ridge. Ahead stood Red Butte, with the morning sun's rays enhancing the red color of its weathered rocks.

The sky was mostly clear this morning, which was far different than the last two days. The only clouds I saw hung low to the bottoms of valleys.

Along the ridge, the trail stayed at an elevation of between 5,560 and 5,900 feet. There were patches of snow here but not enough to be bothersome.

By 9 a.m., I reached the junction of Boundary Trail, which extended into Red Buttes Wilderness. The PCT switched to the other side of the ridge here and then began a continuous descent.

From this spot, I could only see the tops of mountains. A small number of these extended above 6,000 feet. They were all surrounded by a low layer of clouds.

The clouds in the valleys evaporated within an hour, revealing a view of the Klamath River.

In the 9.3 miles from the trail junction to the bottom of the valley, the trail dropped nearly 4,800 feet.

I felt glad I was going down instead of up and felt grateful I was doing this in 60-degree weather. If I had been hiking this section in late August, which I would have been if I hadn't skipped from Ashland to Truckee, the temperature would have been in the 90s.

Although the descent was sometimes a little steep, the trail was smooth. This allowed me to speed up my pace. I knew diner food was waiting for me at the bottom, so I didn't waste time.

In the last two-tenths of a mile to the bottom, the trail made a few switchbacks. I was now close enough to hear, as well as see, the Klamath River.

This river is the second-largest in California. It starts in the high desert of Oregon and flows 257 miles to the Pacific Ocean. I was able to get a glimpse of Upper Klamath Lake, which is part of the river's headwaters, on Day 109.

I arrived at California Highway 96 at 1 p.m. This was the road heading into Seiad Valley, and the trail followed it the rest of the way to the diner.

The distance to the diner was less than a mile. I didn't slow down, but now I knew for sure I would get there before closing time.

The road walk passed Wildwood Tavern and Lodge, which appeared to be a pleasant place for thru-hikers to stay. There was an area set up for tents, and the owners provided showers and laundry facilities.

Unfortunately, this business was closed today, so Bluejay and I were unable to stay there.

By the time I arrived at the diner, Bluejay had already finished her meal. I ordered lunch, and we both ordered dinners to go.

The diner had a hiker promotion similar to the ice cream challenge on the Appalachian Trail. Here, if you can eat all of a stack of five one-pound pancakes, you get them free.

This gimmick seemed worse than the ice cream challenge, which I also didn't participate in.

After lunch, we walked next door to Mid-River RV Park. It took a little effort to find Bruce, the owner, but once we did he was very accommodating. The fee for tenting here was just $15, and that included the use of laundry and shower facilities, plus WiFi. The tenting area was shaded and grassy, and there was a small pavilion nearby.

Bluejay and I were the only thru-hikers here. This was not a fancy place, but we weren’t expecting it to be.

Nearly all of the trailers had houseplants and outdoor furnishings, so I figured the residents lived here year-round. Bluejay and I chatted with a couple of residents, and they seemed to like having thru-hikers stay here.

Instead of setting up our tents right away, we hung them to dry. They were still damp from condensation and snow. Then we walked to the general store, which was attached to the diner and post office.

The store didn't have a lot of food suitable for backpacking. The prices were higher than a big city grocery store, but that was expected. Nevertheless, I managed to find enough food to get me to our next resupply stop, which was only three days away.

When Bluejay and I returned to the campground, we finished our laundry and set up our tents. We then ate the dinners we brought from the diner. I enjoyed mine with a beer I bought at the store.

You may have heard of the expression "trailer trash." Similarly, a phrase often used to describe thru-hikers is "hiker trash." These words can be intended as derogatory, though often people will embrace them as words of endearment.

As I sat tonight in the trailer park, both terms may have applied to me. I'm okay with that. I had a shower today, my laundry was clean, I ate a couple of good meals, and I had free WiFi.

What more would I need?

Trailer for sale or rent
Rooms to let, 50 cents
No phone, no pool, no pets
I ain't got no cigarettes
Ah, but two hours of pushing broom
Buys a eight by 12 four-bit room
I'm a man of means, by no means
King of the road

From "King of the Road" by Roger Miller

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