We left etna around 11 - getting a hitch to the trail took a while. The day was hot and we did about 21 miles. I had various strange pains and was listening to lots of Ted Radio Hour in the afternoon to pass the time. The views as we cruised along a ridge were pretty amazing, and the sunset that night made everything look like a painting. The next day was a long 30 mile day that put us right at a road. Again I had various hip, foot and knee pain through out the day. I hate to sound like I'm bitching but I've found my thoughts center around pain, food or mindlessly jamming to tunes.
The next morning we were at it early. 30 miles and the last ten miles or so we're all downhill. The day went by pretty quickly, with the sun shining and some clouds rolling in through the afternoon. Random, but, when I was in etna I was able to see in a mirror for the first time in a while and was horrified at the sight of my back. Chafe is a real problem. My tailbone had been rubbed raw and that was just the start. I modified my pack a bit and I won't go into the details but ass chafe, as well as all sorts of other places had started around mile 26 of 30. Chapstick is the immediate cure, and I know it's gross - but I'm just being honest here. I basically ran the last few miles of the day, trying to get as much of a breeze as I could. The lower we got, the more stagnant the air felt and poison oak was everywhere. We ended the day with a bunch of other hikers at a large camp sight near a river. We crashed almost immediately and didn't get out of bed the next morning until around 7 (yay sleeping in!). The 6 miles into seiad valley were a road walk. This mostly means boring, hot and sometimes scary. We walked slow and picked a ton of blackberries on the way into town and plopped down at the bar of a diner upon arrival. We feasted, and Whitney surprised me with the magnitude of food he could consume. At a nearby table, a hiker named Snacks was attempting the café's pancake challenge, in which one person has to eat five, one pound pancakes within two hours. If you finish it's free. Snacks got through two and some change before admitting defeat. Still kind of impressive, but mostly gross - pancakes are one of my least favorite breakfast foods.
Seiad Valley is a strange little place. Mostly, this is because it's not even a town. There's the restaurant, a small store, and post office that are all one building. Next is an RV park where the guy who owned it wouldn't let you on his property unless you paid a day use fee. The rest of the road was houses spaced very far apart with lots of farms. The only other thing in town was a national parks sign so we all hung out in the shade of a tree near the sign. It was hot all day and we all made various trips to the store for cold snacks and drinks. People came and went all day, and went it finally stared to cool down in the evening - around 6ish we packed up and we're back on trail at 7. We rolled out of town in a group of 5, but quickly all spread out. It was a 5000 or so foot climb that we did most of into the night.
The next morning we were back in the usually swing, the only difference was that it was border day. 30 miles to Oregon. We cruised and the day went by fast, despite any pain, I was going to make it to the border. The last hour or so was beautiful, almost as if California was apologizing for all of the lows it had caused me in the past few months. The border is a dead tree with a mossy sign that reads "OREGON/ CALIFORNIA" slightly crooked to the right, and a trail log. I signed in, took some selfies chatted with another guy who I haven't seen since mile 250 roughly, then Oregon. Within a mile was a group of hikers and a trail angel, gathered around a fire. He was out of most food, but offered us cold drinks and watermelon. We set up camp and caught up with everyone around the fire for a while. We were the 41st and 42nd thru hikers of the day - so much for solitude. The next morning I woke up early, dreading the day. It was dark, and kind of cold out. I slowly got up, packed up, ate a pop tart and Whitney and I were some of the first ones out of camp. More hiking, more podcasts, more ups and more downs. We hit some coolers mid day, and had lunch in lawn chairs... Sitting in chairs feels like a huge luxury. Next stop was Coppertone, he was about 6 miles up trail. After ice cream, it was only another 4 miles to I-5. We got a hitch pretty quickly and are currently in Ashland.
Oregon feels like a dream. The magic and love from people around the trail has been unreal. The physical pain of hiking is strange. My body is strong, yet I feel like I'm 100 years old. My joints ache and when I lay on my side at night I wake up in pain and have to rotate or lay on my back/ stomach. Also, most of my little toes ( basically 8 out of 10) are tingly. They're not numb, just feels like some nerve damage or something. Not sure. I only notice it when I'm putting my socks on and off. Lately we've been walking about 12 hours a day. Even as I write this now, after a whole day off, I'm still exhausted. The end feels like I can see it in at the horizon, but it's still too far away to really worry about. Oregon should be a nice change and hopefully we'll be able to stay with Oilcan and Caveman.