Aside from the Oregon border (woot!!!) Section R has been a bit underwhelming. Sure, there have been some pretty flowers and decent ridge walks, but where previous sections boasted Trinity Alps and Marble Mountains, here the maps note far less alluring landmarks like “junction of five unpaved roads.” But roads do multiply the possibility of magic. Today we find a cooler of sodas at the top of the last hill before town. I drink a breakfast Shasta Twist in honor of our ongoing dance with its namesake volcano.
The magic sodas come with lawn chairs and phone service too, so I call Stephen who is still asleep in Portland, report that we are about eleven miles from town and insist that he, Onyx and the gluten free banana bread get moving. I spend the next few miles wrapping my head around the time-scale-speed of travel, how a car will travel across the entire state in the time it takes me to walk eleven miles. But what do you see when you move so fast? Do you notice the flowers? Do you make new friends? Can the memories you make compare at all to the intricacies of topography imprinted on the very soles of my feet?
The last few miles to town take their usual eternity times two. Mostly the trail crosses private property just above the local road, heading in the direction of traffic noise from the interstate, and even at one point through a construction site. For our amusement, there are lots of brand new hikers today, starting section hikes of Oregon. They look overburdened and exhausted, even on this gentle downhill. Cardinal and I each repeatedly pass a group of tough-looking bros taking breaks beside the trail, we giggle about this as we walk together later, us small girls all alone, gliding down the trail without strain or struggle.
Until we try to follow the shortcut to Callahans, a hiker friendly lodge-hotel just off the I5. First we miss the giant wood sign (to our credit, it is very high up in a tree because it keeps getting stolen). Then I manage to miss the giant stick arrow. But with phones and maps and some luck we take a rough trail, and emerge at a derelict rail yard as described in our trail notes. All good, except Cardinal gets an untimely nosebleed. She urges me on, but I refuse. “There are lots of places I would leave you all alone, but bleeding on the wrong side of the tracks is not one of them,” I explain. Even still, we beat Stephen to Callahans.
Speed of course, has arrived, eaten lunch and sorted out the possibility of a shared room (instead of camping on the back lawn). Then the banana bread and Onyx arrive, oh, and Stephen too. We devour the baked goods in record time, drink our free beers (did I mention that Callahans is super hiker friendly?), and cram six humans and one dog into the Prius for a trip to the gear store and Ashland Food Coop. Much kale and coconut bliss is consumed, except by Speed who, always a bit unsatisfied by our ‘hippie food,’ settles for a carnitas burrito. Clean and fed, we retreat to our comfy rooms, Stephen, Onyx and I in one, and my current trail family in another.
July 5, 2016
Miles: 15 + 1 Callahans