PCT 2019: Day 151, Shelly Meadows to Etna

Missed it by that much

Although I thought rain or snow was heading my way last night, none appeared. The temperature also wasn't cold enough for snow, though it came close.

Still, it was cold enough for condensation to form inside my tent. This usually happens when the air outside is much colder than the air inside.

I should have kept a door of my tent open to let air circulate. But as I said, I thought it was going to rain or snow overnight.

DateFriday, October 4, 2019
WeatherPartly cloudy with temperatures from near freezing to low 60s
Trail ConditionsModerate ups and downs, but some rugged and rocky sections
Today's Miles10.7
Trip Miles2239.7

Bluejay and I camped last night under trees on the edge of the open area called Shelly Meadows. We were the only hikers there.

I quickly noted the meadow was a cattle grazing area, so I took extra care in where I stepped and how I filtered water.

Some maps showed a cabin was located near here. I could see why this would have been an ideal place for one, but I never saw it.

The trail took only moderate elevation changes today. The ups were almost equal to the downs, with no steep sections.

Bluejay and I had less than 11 miles to walk today. It's always good to have extra time in a trail town, but there were a couple of reasons why we most wanted that today.

For one, we had not yet made arrangements for a place to stay in Etna. There were several options, including a motel, a couple of hostels, and possibly a trail angel's home. The town also permitted hikers to camp in a park. We decided to wait until we arrived in town to make a decision.

The other reason we wanted extra time was the distance from the trail to town. Etna was more than 20 miles away. The trail crossed the road into town at a remote location. We expected we would have a long wait before getting a ride.

After a layer of low clouds lifted, the sky remained mostly cloudy and hazy.

Still, when I found an open area looking north, I could see mountain peaks near where I started hiking five days ago. Though not clearly visible, Mt. Ashland stood on the farthest ridge I could see, about 46 miles away. In trail miles, it was more than 100 miles away.

For part of the way, the trail passed through a burnt section. The forest was burnt in the 2017 Salmon August Fire. The fire began with a lightning strike on June 25, and it continued to burn and spread for more than three months.

According to the fire report, crews used the PCT as a containment line by setting backburn fires along the trail.

Where the trail was on a slope with a northern exposure, patches of snow sometimes appeared. There wasn't much snow, however, and almost none of it covered the footpath.

Within a couple of miles from the road where we planned to hitchhike, I met two northbound section hikers. They told me they had given Bluejay the name of a trail angel in Etna.

When I arrived at the road, Bluejay laughed. I had just missed a chance for a ride.

She told me a car had stopped two minutes earlier, but she turned down the offer because I wasn't there yet.

There was no cell service at the road crossing, so we couldn't call the trail angel or anyone else for a ride. Fortunately, though, a pickup truck pulled up just two minutes later, and the driver offered us a ride.

On our drive into Etna, we decided to check out a hostel called Hikers Hut. The driver agreed to drop us off there.

The hostel was a small building next to Alderbrook Manor Bed and Breakfast and was operated by the same owners.

Except for a man who was using this as a base for short day hikes, Bluejay and I were the only hikers staying in Hikers Hut. It had only four bunks, plus a couple more pull-out beds. It also had a sitting area, a bathroom, and a small kitchen.

After getting cleaned up and starting our laundry, we walked to Paystreak Brewing for lunch. The owner of Hikers Hut had suggested it, but we found it to be a disappointment. The staff was unfriendly and barely attentive, and none of their own beers were on tap.

Bluejay and I then walked back to Hikers Hut to borrow bicycles and rode them to a grocery store.

When we returned from our resupply trip, I checked the weather forecast for the next week. It showed the gradual warming trend of the last few days would continue.

Leaving Ashland in a snowstorm had me wondering if I would be able to finish. The forecast now made me more optimistic, even if it was only for the next seven days.

Today was the second anniversary of the day I climbed to the summit of Mt. Katahdin. Thinking about that day made me smile, and not just because of the good times I had.

When I finished the Appalachian Trail, I was convinced I would never attempt another long-distance hike again. Now I was three weeks away from finishing my second thru-hike.

Maxwell Smart (Don Adams): "You cannot be too careful with your gun."

(Smart tucks his gun inside his belt. It fires.)

The Chief (Dana Elcar): "Are you all right?"

Maxwell Smart: "Missed it by that much."

Scene from the film "The Nude Bomb (The Return of Maxwell Smart)" (1980)


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