Day before 1: I hike to Callahans, a hiker friendly lodge right off of the trail as well as right off of the highway. They have affordable camping for hikers. I sleep in a tent on the property behind the lodge near a fountain and dine in their resort restaurant, donning a white bathrobe they provided, while doing laundry.
Day 1: Nero at Callahans. Sean (the assistant deputy superintendent ranger of crater lake) my friend, comes down to visit. We had met in 2014 while I was an artist in resident at Whiskeytown Recreational Area. He took me to some smashing breakfast joint in Ashland, where the butter had lemon and orange zest mixed in and I ate the butter, drueling. I got resupplies at the Co-op, drank 4 pints of Kombucha, toured around Ashland, and then he dropped me back at Callahans where I gathered up my crap, charged my electronics, and road walked in the dark for 5 miles.
Day 2: The next morning, since it was a self declared Airplane Mode Eclipse Holiday, I stayed in my tent until 10 AM! That’s right! Party in the sleepin bag!Coffee!Cell service!
Walked a mile without having a clue as to how to watch the eclipse. I texted friends “so how do I view it?” I then tried to make a pin hole camera with my paper towels, aka toilet paper. The results were like trying to watch a cricket jump with bad eyes and no glasses. I packed the toilet paper away and decided, instead, to watch the light change on the surfaces of plants. And…then…I bumped into a bunch of Ashlanders viewing the 99 percent eclipse with special glasses on the trail! They shared their glasses and experience with me and Your Honor. 22 mile day in bright Oregon, smoke filled air and heat.
Day 4 1764.5-seven mile marsh trail head. (12-14 miles)
Walked with James Baxter, my hiking friend and nature guide. James, a fairly big bloke (6’2″ and 200 ish pounds) was hiking in his briefs because they didn’t cause as much chaffing as his shorts did. When I hike with James, it is like we are editors for a trail version of People Magazine. Let’s call it Tramp Magazine. (Any better ideas?) We catch up on all the trail gossip: who is shagging who, who looks great, who got off, who flipped, who flopped, who is behind, who is forward, where is so and so, did you meet so and so, who is the most popular, who has a hurt back, did they break up?!,who is counting miles, who is too serious, whi is doing the road walk, who needs to get their act together (usually me), who made big miles, etc.
I also learned from James the difference between mountain hemlocks, furs, and spruce trees. Hundreds of little 1″ frogs everywhere on the trail, jumped irratically out of foots harm – perhaps the most surreal visual experience on the trail thus far. Not yet ripe huckleberries? Or are they blueberries? Smoke. Fire closure ahead makes us have to take a detour.
I was lollygagging with James, and so I asked a forest ranger going in the other direction and up a mountain, that if when he had cell, to contact Sean to change my pick up time from 1:30 to 3:30pm. Sean picked me up at 3:29pm. Whow.
I stayed at Sean’s where he fed me chicken cabob, kale salad, and provided respite from the dirty trail. I am now using my pot scouring pad to clean my legs. It is effective. My face is breaking out, and my body hair has become a curious experiment in learning what my body hair really looks like as I started shaving around 12 years old, and haven’t stopped until now. I watch it with fascination, like a personal Chita Pet, growing in weird patches on my calves, armpits, and hamstrings. I guess I’ll shave it when I return to civilization, but not before the end of the trail. I am starting to like the sensual sensation of the wind through the hairs on my legs and it is going to be colder up north, so I will need a little extra warmth.
I didn’t end up doing the 42 mile road walk detour around the fire. James did!