PCT Section 18 – Seiad Valley to Ashland. Goodbye California, Hello Oregon.

Coming out of Seiad Valley Jen’s foot started to hurt as she had cut herself in the night a few nights ago and now the wound had gotten infected. We had planned to do the 6000 foot climb in two halves but only made in about 2 miles before we had to call it a night. The smoke was very strong as we were now at the lowest point we have been for a long time. This also meant the temperature was very hot which made getting to sleep hard.

The next morning we woke up early and were able to make it up the hill by lunch time. The smoke actually kept temperatures down which made the hill, coined Cardiac Hill, manageable. By lunch we had caught up with the rest of the group again but the climb for the day ended up being over 7500 feet of elevation gain over a 26 miles day. It was on this day that we also hit an amazing milestone of only having triple digits between us and Canada.

The next day we were buzzing with excitement as it would be the day we would cross into Oregon. Ten miles in and we crossed the state line. It feels so surreal that we spent over 3 months hiking the longest state in the United States and that we now have triple digits ahead of us to Canada.

We were so happy to celebrate this moment with so many of those who we started the trail with and we had a drink to celebrate this achievement. It’s crazy how far we’ve come.

We then had a nice 10 mile day to get us into Ashland. On this section we started to get trail magic again which gives fellow hikers the biggest smiles. The new state of Oregon made us feel great and hitting Ashland we were ready to recharge for the next 900 miles.

Getting to Oregon made us pause to reflect on the main things we’ve learnt so far in this trip. Here are some cheesy lessons we learnt or were reinforced whilst on trail:

1. Assume positive intent. 90% of the people we have met out here have been lovely, 5% have blown us away with their kindness by letting hikers sleep on the floor of their restaurant or by cooking lunches at trail heads, and of course there are always a few people who can turn things a little sour. Whether that be as simple as being very laddish or being rude to the point that trail angels will no longer host hikers, the PCT class of 2018 definitely has a few people who can spoil a good thing. That said, if you assume everyone is going to be in the last group you’ll affect your own headspace and probably won’t get the most out of people.

2. How to appreciate water. Since being on this trip the majority of our time planning is around water. Whether that be how much water to carry to drink, river crossings or snow passes where these are best done early morning or afternoon. When we first started the trip we carried way too much water slowing us down and putting undue pressure on our joints. River crossings were also new for us and we had to learn as we went through the Sierras. It’s amazing how much time we spend thinking about something that at home is just the turn of a tap away.

3. Don’t judge a book by its cover. We’ve had the best hitches and conversations with those we’ve least expected it from. A good example of this was we got a lift in Idyllwild from a very beat up van. Jenny looked at me to say “should we get in” beforehand but this guy was awesome and so nice driving out of his way to make sure we didn’t have to walk further than we needed to. The trail brings people together who otherwise wouldn’t have much to do with each other and that is one of the best bits about it.

4. It’s not life in the fast lane – look after yourself. When we arrived at Scout and Frodo’s at the start of the hike we met a fellow British hiker who seemed to know what he was doing, having walked the Appalachian Trail last year. 50 miles in we caught back up to him and he raised his eyebrows when we told him we were averaging about 16 miles a day. He said, “This is the easiest part of the trail so if you are not pushing 20-25 here you won’t make it to Canada”. This hiker ended up getting a stress fracture due to pushing himself too hard in the first 100 miles and had to leave the trail.

5. It is so important to enjoy the little things. There is so much going on in nature that it’s important sometimes to stop and take in the scenery we are walking through. Whether that be something small like a lizard doing push ups on a rock or the vast beautiful scenery, this is what you’ll remember, rather than focusing on hitting big mileage.

6. Having little makes you appreciate a lot more. Everything we own we carry on our backs. Therefore we only have the most essential things. It’s at that point you appreciate what you have a lot more, but it also makes you realise that we have a ton of superfluous stuff in our everyday lives. That said, we appreciate simple things like having water you don’t have to filter and a bed a lot more when we get them.

7. How to hang a bear line, dig a cathole and glissade. These are such primal Bear Grylls skills but we now feel much more equipped for the apocalypse. It’s been fun learning things you’d never need to know in our simple lives back home.

8. Everyone has a different story to write. Not everyone has the same reason to be here so there is no point competing. This is definitely true when looking at people’s hiking styles and speeds. We enjoy the towns as much as the hiking, as they are so different from what we have back home. Others hate towns and see them as a way to get food and head back to the trail. There is a commonly use phrase out here: hike your own hike

9. Importance of morale/it’s mostly a mental game. These past few weeks we’ve had lower morale because of the fires. It makes the walking much harder. The same can be said if Jen and I are in a mood. Staying positive makes the walking much easier, especially if you’re chatting to those around you as the time just flies past. We’re lucky to have found such a fun and diverse trail family.

10. We can walk 1700 miles! Your body can do more than you think even if it takes a beating getting there. It’s been a great challenge getting this far but it feels so rewarding to know our bodies are capable of achieving so much.

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5 thoughts on “PCT Section 18 – Seiad Valley to Ashland. Goodbye California, Hello Oregon.

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  1. Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! You two are … amazing!! Fantastic to think you only have a few hundred miles to go. Hope the toe is OK now Jenny and I hope you’re well away from any smoky areas now. Love all your reflections on the walk, you’ve certainly made the most of it and keeping as positive as you can is always good. Looking forward to the next chapter. xxx

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  2. I love the reflections in this post – walking is making you wise! Such happy faces as you crossed into Oregon, but sad you are missing out on some of the amazing scenery because of the fires still. Good luck with the next stage of the journey – I can’t wait to see you both again later this year to give you big hugs xx

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  3. A truly reflective blog. Some of us started our journey when times were different and life much simpler. You’ve hit the nail on the head in identifying what is really important. Something we should remind ourselves of from time to time.

    Now into Oregon and with a northerly wind hopefully all the smoke is behind you. Another drink but crossing the state line does warrant a celebration. “Recharge for the next 900 miles” you make it sound so easy. I’m short of a superlative to adequately describe your achievements so far. I’ll have to come up with one soon I’ve only 900 miles thinking time left. For now, awesome!

    Jenny I hope the infection has gone and the wound healing.

    Your blogs are highlight of my week.

    Xx

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  4. Especially loved the photo of you both, big smiles pointing to the sign post oregon/California, no sign of sore toe and sore feet. Yes you should be so pleased with yourselves, fewer than 900 miles to go!!!! Easy to write, but your determination and will power will get you there with such positive outlooks. Keep singing my lovelies. Looking forward to our next update. Lots of love Xx
    Ps a friend emailed early this morning she had read this latest blog and it brought tears to her eyes. Keep sending x

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  5. Another wonderful blog, reflecting on what’s important in life.
    Even better, if everything you own is being carried on your backs, I’m guessing that the beautiful little guitar in the loft must be mine and the bottle from the Malt Whisky Society must be Loreen’s. I can see her running upstairs for it now.
    Cheers!

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