Day 120: (20 miles)
mile 1664 – 1684
Morning came early and so did the heat. By the time we were up and moving the trail was alive with hikers from the RV park trudging up the trail. We joined them and continued the 6000 ft climb we had begun the night before. The trail was steep, and poison oak would make feeble attempts to reach out to you. On our right, Mt. Shasta’s peaks continued haunt us, and make us feel like we were going nowhere but in tall circles. A log jam of sorts occurred on the trail mile 1672, when everyone stopped for water at a spring and discovered the sodas that two hikers, Siesta and Bomber had left. Awesome trail magic! The log jam continued as we climbed single file all morning, until the line finally self adjusted with the faster hikers in front and us slow old folk in back.
In the afternoon we arrived at a spring to water up and once again and the hiker crowd gathers. Sprawled out amongst the shade of the trees the crowd digs out snacks to enjoy with the ice cold spring water. Everyone is making camping plans, looking at maps, and zeroing in on their final destination. After a short break in which we think we have waited out the heat of the day, we take off up hill, which seems to be today’s theme, for a six mile hike. 20 minutes into it we realize we have not escaped the heat as we trudge across an exposed ridge line. Brilliant. The things we do in pursuit of miles. At least we are not alone in our idiocy as several other hikers had the same idea. About two miles in we meet two section hikers, Larry and Oompa Loompa. Oompa Loompa tells us she got her trail name because… well she looks like an Oompa Loompa, and I’m afraid I have to agree, even down to the striped shirt. They started in Seiad Valley yesterday and are hiking the state of Oregon. They are exhausted and I had to ask why they started with such an ugly climb? They told us they wanted to hike “all” of Oregon and this was the closest trail head to the California/Oregon border. If they started in Ashland they would have cut off 20 + miles. Now they wished they had. We gave them encouragement and told them it would be “easier” from here. We reached our miles goal and located a flat area to camp for the night. Tomorrow we will cross in to Oregon and say good bye California and maybe, just maybe, Mt. Shasta will finally go home. Tomorrow we will have been on the trail four months. Wow.