Destination: Grouse Gap
It's nice to be out hiking again, but what a different world it is. We made the decision to leave the Sierras so the snow could melt more, and the snow fed streams would be safer to cross when we return. We jumped north to the Oregon - California border to hike southbound. As far as trail culture goes, it is virtually non-existant here, as there are next to zero hikers who have made a similar decision. We saw no one today, and we expect that to be the case for the next month or so.
We woke this morning at the hostel, and went straight to a coffee shop. Apricots moaned, "Yes, sweet glorious coffee, no longer do I need to add sugar to the coffee to hide it's bad taste."
After coffee we went to the Post Office and grocery store to resupply. Then we went to an outfitter to buy some new insoles for Apricots, as her last pair suffered from a bad case of too-close-to-fire-itis. We also picked up a new drip filter, which should make re-hydration more relaxing.
After the outfitter, we dropped our rental car off at the airport, where a kind trail angel met us, to return us to the trail. Sue has been "angeling" for ten years now, and has given too many rides to count, yet she is still happy shuttling stinky hikers to and from their home that is two-feet wide, 2660 miles long, and has wrap around windows. (Thank you Sue).
Back on the trail by noon, we made our ten mile ascent up Mt. Ashland, which offered us frequent views south to the snow capped Mt. Shasta, North California's gem. It is strange to be in a new world, with new vegetation, but it is our home and carries an air of familiarity for us.
The typical granite of Southern California has been replaced by thick basalt. The Foxtail Pines have been replaced by Douglas Firs (the Oregon state tree), and mountain hemlocks. The abundant sage is substituted now with frequent ferns, particularly Bracken Fern. The tread is now largely composed of dirt, rather than decomposed granite.
There is still an abundance of snow, as it is early season up in Southern Oregon. Unfortunately the days are colder, as the air has a much higher content of moisture. Our hopes of making larger miles may be interrupted by an inability to get out of our warm sleeping bags in the morning.
Tomorrow we will continue our climb past Siskiyou Mountain, and likely spend the majority of our day wishing snow was warm rather than cold.
A sad note:
Some hikers carry a totally useless item, that helps keep high spirits, be it a stuffed animal, a wrist-rocket, or a plastic sword. Psycho has been carrying a plastic sword he picked up in Idyllwild. The Sword of Doom (known as "The Dagger with Swagger" on trail) had an unfortunate run in with a downed tree. The tree won, separating blade from hilt, and rendering Psycho's masterful dwarf defense mechanism useless. A memorial service was held for The Dagger with Swagger this evening as the sun set on Grouse Gap.
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