August 3, 2018: The Border

At Donomore Cabin, Mile 1690.9

I got up at 5:00, but with our conversation I ended hitting the trail around 7:30. It was still fairly cool, though, and that was good news, as I had a bit of a climb.

The topography for the day got the harder stuff out of the way first. I started at 6000 ft, eventually climbed to 7100, and then functionally coasted downhill to the border. That’s the best way to do it. A couple of years ago, when I reached the Northern Terminus, I had another four mile climb and a four mile downhill before reaching Manning Park. No offense, Canada, but this part of the trail got it right.

This morning brought more smoke. I knew I’d climb out of it sometime during the day, but in the meantime, cough, cough, and more cough. I’m pounding a couple of different inhalers during the day, which helps temper things, but I’d still rather be in top form.

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I had a sobering moment a couple of miles up the trail, at Siskiyou Gap. There was a collection of fire fighting equipment at the clearing, which is on FR 20. There were hoses going uphill on the trail, as well. I also saw several trucks heading downhill. I said a silent prayer of gratitude, before heading on.

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Just ahead, I had a view in all directions. I could see back towards Ashland, and once again, it was a sobering moment.

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As I reached the ridge, I had clear skies for the first time all day. Again, I paused, this time to enjoy clean air.

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The day wore on, and I started running low on water. I wound along ridges and through bowls, stopping at a small spring to get a liter. It was nice and cold, and I got to chat with a couple of NOBOs.

Finally, I hit my midday goal: Sheep Camp Spring. This is a piped spring, which basically means somebody put a small PVC pipe into the outlet. This makes it much easier to gather water; you can put your bottle right up to the flow, rather than scooping from puddles. The water was pouring out, and is the best water source I’ve seen all summer.

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I filled up, rinsed my hands and face, and had a quick bite. My goal was 4.5 miles ahead, and I didn’t want to waste any time. It was also 700 feet down, and made things a lot faster.

My excitement grew. One of the fun things about this leg was meeting NOBOs. I got to be the first to congratulate them on finishing California. Without exception, I was met by enormous grins, a few fist bumps, and cheers for me for almost finishing Oregon.

Suddenly, I heard a ruckus ahead of me. This could only mean one thing: the border was right around the corner. And there it was. I DID IT!!

I said hi to the four guys who were celebrating, introduced myself, and told them in a couple of words what this meant to me. Fist bumps and introductions all around. I shed a tear, and touched the sign.

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There were a couple of welcome signs, with mileage. They had seen better days, and the mileage was off, but they were still worthy of pictures.

It became clear a few minutes later that not only were the guys celebrating, they were celebrating with their pipes. They kept at it, until it was getting a bit raucous. I really wanted my moment, so I just sat down and waited, and waited. Finally I started dropping hints, and once it got obvious, they moved on. And then I signed the register.

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A Canadian guy, Cashew, showed up a couple of minutes later. He signed the register and had his moment with the sign, and then took a couple of pictures of me.

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I had my moment, then shouldered my pack, and headed into California.

Now that I was on the other side, I cheered on the NOBOs, with “You’re practically there!” and “Way to go!” And it was my turn to receive congratulations.

Less than a mile downhill was the Donomore Cabin, also known as the Offenbacher Cabin. It was built in 1935, as a shelter for ranchers who were running their cattle in the summer.

Until very recently, it was in shambles, but descendants of the Offenbacher family have taken it upon themselves to restore it. There are camp chairs, a lounge chair, a table and a register. And just a few weeks before I arrived, they installed a sheltered porch. It was here that I enjoyed my dinner.

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Because the cabin had mice, and because I liked sleeping in my tent more than sleeping on a strange floor, I pitched my tent nearby. Tomorrow would be a short day, because of water sources, so I turned off my alarm, climbed under my quilt and recorded my journal.

I am beyond grateful.

 

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