Eighteen hours after getting home, I threw my pack in the van with all the camping gear, and Steve, Patrick, and I headed for Madras, OR. It was amusing to be heading back to Oregon so soon, but we were well east of Mt. Jefferson, well northeast of Ashland, and far from where I was the day before.
The eclipse was incredible, and totality was unbelievable. If I couldn’t be on the trail, I’m mighty glad I could see totality, especially with my family. It was a gift.
I learned a few days later that the trail I would have been hiking out of Ashland, California Section R, was partially closed due to wildfire. Given my hiking speed, I could say with 100% certainty that I would have been in the closure zone. When an area is closed, firefighters sweep the trail, looking for hikers and hustling them to safety. Fast. I’m grateful I didn’t get caught up in that. And the air quality in Section R has continued to range in the moderate to unhealthy range, especially for people with asthma.
So it became pretty clear that getting off of the trail was even more important than I had anticipated. I’m grateful for that.
By the numbers: Section D, from Willamette Pass to Highway 138 (northern border of Crater Lake National Park), is 60 miles. I took the Oregon Skyline Trail alternate, which cuts ten miles, so I did 50 miles there. I flipped past Section C, and hiked Section B, from Fish Lake to Callahan’s, 54 miles. That puts me at 104 miles for the summer.
In some ways, I’m disappointed, because I wanted to hike straight through to Seiad Valley. Let’s face it, I wanted to get my Oregon tat, to match Washington. It’s my little bit of vanity.
But really, given where my health has been, 104 miles is a mighty fine number. And I’m learning to keep that in perspective.
I don’t know what next summer will bring. But I do know that I’m in good health. And I completed two sections, when the odds were against me even taking a day hike. I am profoundly grateful.