At Seiad Valley, Mile 1655.9
The plan today was to reach Seiad before the café closed at 2:00. Sometimes, it’s all about the food, and this was one of those days.
I got up before dawn, and before the rest of the hiker trash, and was out the door in record time. I stopped for a minute, before heading down the road, because I was well and truly leaving the trail, at least for this year. The tears flowed, the accomplishments overwhelmed me, and I said goodbye to my beloved trail. For now.
To my complete surprise, Steve messaged me on my inReach. Not that he doesn’t do that, because I hear from him every day or so, but the topic of this message blew me away. He’s driving to Yreka to pick me up! For those of you playing along at home, that’s at least 9 hours of driving! He decided to do this because the bus and train systems would have taken me up to 48 hours to get home. So he will be meeting me in Yreka on Tuesday afternoon, and we’ll head north on Wednesday morning!
I turned on my music, and went downhill, in a much better mood. The first part of today’s journey, maybe half, is a hard pan forest road. Eventually, it turns into a very rural paved road, and gradually gets more and more busy. I didn’t have a precise map, but I did have GPS, which gave me a rough idea of how long the road was. I also talked with other hikers, and that helped me figure things out.
At the top, I felt like a poser, taking the road, even though it absolutely made sense. But there were a couple of dozen hikers going uphill, so I didn’t feel so alone.
My feet were hurting more and more. I had tweaked my heel a few days prior, and it tended to swell (nights were especially bad), but I kept plugging along. Once I hit the paved road, I met several non-hikers along the way, and they cheered me on.
Shortly after noon, I reached Seiad Valley.
The “town”, if you will, is just a few buildings. I went to the main building, which houses the café, store, and post office, and I added my pack to the line outside. Then, it was time for that food!
Chocolate banana milkshake, a giant mushroom and Swiss burger, a huge soda, and I was in hog heaven. They even had a small charging station, and I added some juice to my battery.
The one thing I didn’t see was the Pancake Challenge. There was a debris field left over from a guy who had tried, unsuccessfully. His compatriots were making short work of the leftovers.
The Pancake Challenge is one of a handful of food challenges along the PCT. The rules are all the same: eat some ungodly amount of food in a set time, and your food is free. I’d rather just pay, but a lot of 20-something guys can’t resist the siren song.
In Seiad Valley, the challenge is to eat five pancakes in two hours. However, those aren’t just ordinary pancakes. They are bigger than dinner plates, and an inch thick. Total weight is five pounds. According to the café owner, of all the hundreds of hopefuls, only four have actually succeeded. Like I said, I’ll just pay.
When I finished my non-challenge-burger, I went next door (the other side of the building), and claimed my resupply. Obviously, I didn’t need it, so I just had it returned home. I bought my “I Walked to Seiad Valley on the PCT” shirt, and then headed next store to the Mid River RV park, to settle into my in-town routine.
First stop was the office. Bruce, the owner of the park, wasn’t back from his errands in Yreka, but I kicked back and caught up on Facebook and email until he returned.
Bruce is originally from Lynnwood, so it was old home week. He explained the rules. $15 got me a camping spot, a shower, soap, shampoo, the use of a towel, laundry detergent, and places to relax both inside and out. Because he had to water the grass during the day, we couldn’t set up our tents until after six. That was a little inconvenient, but it was a small price to pay.
I changed into my wash-in-the-shower clothes, threw everything else into the laundry, and spent a long time under the hot water. Then it was time to relax in the office/hiker lounge. It was smoky and hot outside, but the lounge area was dark and cool, with a couple of huge fans going.
The wifi password was “NOMONUMENT!” And Bruce was eager to explain why. The far northern reaches of California are the home to the proposed Siskiyou Crest National Monument. Locals fear that this “government intrusion” will damage or destroy their way of life. But apparently many in the far southern reaches of Oregon feel that the “government intrusion” will protect the wild places.
This ties in nicely with the State of Jefferson movement, which would mean secession from California. It’s about as libertarian as you can get, and Seiad Valley’s attitude towards life reflects this. I’m not a libertarian, for the most part, and so when Bruce (or anybody else) started telling us about all this, I just had to smile and nod. No need to stir the pot, in a little town that welcomes hikers.
When the laundry was done, I headed back to the store. Because the café was closed, I needed to grab some snacks for dinner. This involved an entire carton of milk, and some very low quality donuts. Such is life, but the milk was wonderful, and the company was great.
And speaking of company, who should show up but Simon and Petra, the couple from Switzerland! We hugged, and caught up on each others’ hikes. I had met them just south of Ashland, and again near the California border, but because they were hiking faster, I hadn’t seen them since. They took the trail downhill, which is why we met up again. They were off the trail as well, and, like me, were taking the bus into Yreka the next day.
Six o’clock came, and we all pitched our tents. I was pretty tired, so I climbed in bed around eight. Tomorrow I had an early morning bus, so after recording my journal, my last trail day drew to a close.