It doesn’t matter that I’m sitting under a shady tree, it’s still blazing hot and I’m sweating by just moving the pen across the page. Seiad Valley is in far northern California, just a stone’s throw from Oregon, but at 1,300 feet of elevation, the summer sun and humidity are punishing. On the plus side, this is blackberry season and today I’ve nearly made myself sick eating them, not to mention getting tons of scratches and scrapes from braving the blackberry vines.
I arrived here this morning with Team Sherpa (Optimist and Stopwatch) and NoCar, who have been my constant traveling companions since Dunsmuir. I’m amongst some pretty hardcore folks. Optimist and Stopwatch have yet to take a day off and just finished a 285-mile haul from Old Station. NoCar, as his name implies, has not set foot in a car for the whole trip; quite a feat considering many of the resupply points are four miles or more off the trail. Together, we’ve been making 30-mile days for the past three days. Hiking 30 miles for me involves getting up around 5:30 and being out on the trail until about 7:30 depending how long I hang around at lunch and breaks. Elevation is a consideration too, but not as much as it used to be. Having an iPod along now has been a huge help as not all of the miles are scenic. It sounds a little counter-nature to have an iPod along, but a thru-hike is more than just a pleasant stroll in the woods. It’s really part stroll and part endurance challenge. Recently it’s felt more like an endurance challenge, but we’re maybe going to pare down our miles some over the next few days to get a bit of rest.
We’re all very excited to get to Oregon, which is supposed to be a fairly flat state, but buggy. My new stove (the Bushbuddy) is working great and I just picked up my shelter today at the post office. Hopefully this one will repel water (and hail) a little better.
Binge eating has been the theme for today, for in addition to the blackberries we’ve all pigged out at the cafe here. NoCar was, by far, the star of the show. He put down an omelette, hash browns, a side of bacon, three slices of french toast, and three hefty milkshakes. The man can eat. Right now he’s laying on his Therm-a-Rest on the shady side of the parking lot. I don’t think he feels very well. We’re all making it out tonight, doing the 4,400 foot climb out of the valley in the cool of the evening.