Around 9am I finally manage to say my reluctant goodbyes to Stephen and Onyx. I set out alone, walking the old highway snug against the busy I5, with lots of time to think about why I am doing this. My pack is loaded again with food, fuel and water. It’s the most I have carried this trip, and with weather headed my way, taking the car ride to Portland seems a lot more appealing than walking there.
Once off the highway, the trail loops south yet again, to reveal what I hope are parting shots of Shasta. Then mild ups and downs along hills that do no give up many grand vistas. Late in the afternoon, forest gives way to grassy hillsides and a view of….Ashland. So basically I spent the whole day walking an almost circle to get almost North of where I began.
But there are small pleasures. Hills covered in tiny, ripe wild strawberries no bigger than your pinky nail but each packing more flavor than an entire basket of the grocery store variety. There are more flowers too, including a mountain lily that towers above my head, at least seven feet tall.
But mostly the trail feels like filler today, a path between better sights. At least it is cushy and well maintained and the trail crew has been through recently. So far no sign of the hundreds of downed trees reported to be obscuring the PCT in southern Oregon.
I end up with an hour of daylight to spare at the Hyatt Lake campground where comforting signs direct PCT hikers to a dedicated campsite. I make some new friends and collect my hot shower (two showers today!!!) as reward for all the miles with a late start.
July 7, 2016