Day 132- 8/8/18 (flip SOBO from Ashland, OR to Lone Pine, CA).
August 8, 2018
A “zero” for us as we continued driving back to Ashland, OR to resume hiking north. The drive has been quite smokey. We are “zeroing” at Callahan’s in Ashland. A great place that has wonderful hiker rates, treated us to a complimentary beer and the room is so nice.
We have been reflecting on our journey thus far. We were nervous about the desert. It was such foreign terrain for us being from Washington where water and trees are plentiful. A few days before we left Seattle I got a cortisone injection in my right knee and was not sure I would even make the first 20 miles. Then Jerry struggled mightily in the desert. His left knee swelled for weeks and gradually got better with KT tape and a shrinking tummy. We persevered while learning to dry camp. Often carrying 5-8 liters of water each. Our solar umbrellas were life savers in the sweltering heat of the desert. High winds and temperature extremes between day and night were surprising as was the dirt that constantly sifted through our mesh tent doors, clothing and shoes. Multiple times a day we removed our shoes and whacked our socks on any firm surface to remove sand and dirt as well as cool our hot, tired feet. We internalized how precious water is. We did not want to waste a single drop of the liquid gold. Cold water was a very special treat when we got it. We met all kinds of interesting people and saw all kinds of establishments. We are so grateful for the trail angels that stocked water caches, gave us rides and surprised us with cold drinks, fresh fruit, beers and other treats. We have learned that having preconceived expectations is often a recipe for disappointment. Many things were out of our control. We estimate half of all the places we stayed on our “zeroes” fell short of what they advertised. We got a glimpse of what homeless people must feel as we sat on a curb outside a mini mart struggling to find a place to stay for the night. We were hot and dirty and judgmental looks were prevalent from many who walked by us. We also internalized the real value of a friendly face and kind words when times were hard and we looked like homeless transients. Northern California was hard with all the dirt roads, clearcuts and surprisingly harsh desert terrain. Human impact in this area is extreme in our opinion. For example, a backhoe in the Trinity Alps Wilderness or places where “wilderness” is a narrow strip of land between dirt roads. It was joyous to see so many youth out backpacking with scout troops or family. Many people with significant weight issues were out hiking in the Sierras and this was so inspiring to us. We learned that with our different hiking speeds it can be best if I go ahead for an hour then wait up. The bonus is we go further between breaks. It also alleviates frustration between us. In particular when I’m following too close in Jerry’s opinion and I stab him with my trekking poles or step on his trekking pole. He had a point.The Sierras were much more enjoyable than Northern California since it did not have all the dirt roads. However, the sheer number of people including Asian tour groups was a real eye opener. One should not have any expectation of solitude or privacy anywhere on the trail in California. This was hard for me. We were surprised by all the elevation changes on a daily basis in California and how warm it can be above 10,000 feet elevation. We are in deep gratitude to the many strangers who gave us rides and surprised that the majority of them were single women. Regardless of the sex of the driver it worked best if I, a small woman asked rather than Jerry a large man. We had to “get over” asking strangers for help with basic needs like a ride. We are so accustomed to being self sufficient. And we were pleasantly surprised by the kindness of most of the people we encountered. We loved the spectacular beauty of thunder clouds and were in awe of the wrath they can unleash in an instant. Sometimes we are so tired that we can fall asleep on our feet, yet we find the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other. We will be continuing north from Ashland, OR. Before we started this journey, Jerry proclaimed this would be his weight loss plan. It has been an overwhelming success and his physician will be pleased.
Jerry asked that I include a snapshot of comments he and/or I have received about me on the trail. 1. “She is really crushing it”. Day 2 out of Hauser Lake by “Wheezer”, a 22 year old woman after I passed her and several young men. 3. “Lady, you are too tough and fast”. A comment from “Drift” as I passed him going uphill on the 20 mile detour out of Paradise Valley. 4. “Where did you get those legs?” From a young female hiker in Tuolumne Meadows. 5. “I stopped to admire your legs.”From a younger woman hiking with her husband as I was going up Mather Pass. 6. “How old are you anyway?” From an Asian man after I passed him coming down from Mather Pass and he came upon Jerry and I while taking a break. 7. “This is no beast for you the way you are going”. From a man I passed going up Mather Pass when I said “I cannot wait to get up this beast”. 8. “She is going like a scalded dog”. Said to Jerry when he asked a hiker if he had seen me. We were descending Pinchot Pass. 9. “Man, you really laid assault to that hill. We were watching you.” Coming up to Forester Pass from some men sitting at the Pass.