August 1 (~07:45 – ~10:35) & August 2 (Zero day)
After Lone Pilot Trail – Interstate 5 (7.7 mi / Total: 1718.7 mi)
Total PCT miles: 1835.4
I’m not where I planned to be this morning, but I’m in a truly beautiful spot, and I’m glad I ended up here. I watch the skies change their morning colour as the sun emerges from behind me, casting a faint glow over the mountains ahead, slowly introducing the normalcy of the light of day.
I wander down the mountain, in and out of the forest, have a quick chat with two section hikers when suddenly I get stopped by a distinct movement in the trees. I halt, and watch a black shape move across a downed tree. A bear. It’s not fully grown yet, but it’s not a cub either. I watch it from a distance, and it’s on the slope just above the trail, an unfortunate position.
I decide to keep on moving while making enough noise to alert the bear of my arrival. Bears are supposed to be scared off by human noise, it should move away. So I press on, clapping and talking out loud, and I watch the bear as it doesn’t run off, but instead gets curious by all the commotion and moves towards the trail, looking right at me. Oh. That’s not what was supposed to happen. I turn around and walk back to where I came from as though that was my plan all along, something you’re not really supposed to do as far as I know, but then again, that bear clearly doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do either.
I walk until I’m out of the bear’s eyesight, and wait. I wonder if I should stay until someone else passes, but that could take hours. I take out my trekking poles, and listen to the bear as it moves around – hopefully away from the trail. Then I go for it again, clacking my poles together and verbally warning the bear I’m passing through again. I keep moving while eyeing everything around me, and the bear seems to have gone. I’m good to go. Then I remember – this was my first and last Oregon bear.
I reach Pilot Rock not long after, and it would’ve been a great place to camp, but my spot was quite special too. I continue on while the heat intensifies, and spot a bunny running down the trail from me. I love bunnies, and can’t even remember having seen any out here yet, so it’s a great way to finish this section. Then I’m on the old highway towards the Interstate 5 and Ashland again, where I escaped the snow from the other direction, two months ago. This marks the end of Oregon for me – another state finished. Now all that’s left are the remaining California sections.
The old road is quiet and it takes some time for traffic to appear, so I keep on walking towards the Interstate. One cars passes, but doesn’t stop. I almost don’t notice the second car as it drives by but just a few minutes later, they appear again – they turned around for me, and the couple picks me up and takes me to Ashland.
I stay in town for the rest of the day and the next one, but don’t nearly manage to do all the things I hoped to do. I check into the shabby Ashland Motel, enjoying the privacy of my own room despite the high cost, do laundry and clean some of my gear. I take the bus to Medford and visit REI where I manage to get some gear replacements. New socks (Injinji ones to replace the Darn Toughs and Smartwool socks – my feet thoroughly dislike merino wool socks and how the fabric rubs when they get wet or muddy), the Patagonia Houdini jacket to replace my Torrentshell, a visor to replace my cap which keeps overheating my head, a bug headnet, a tiny towel to replace the other tiny towel I already own, and shoes.
Sadly enough, the very cool blue shoes I picked up in Bend have proven too small. They’re the same size as the pair I started out with, but the old ones grew along as my feet swelled up in the desert heat. This time, they’re simply too small. I ordered a half size and a full size up, and end up picking the full size up. I’m a little worried they’ll prove too large, as I’ve had problems with oversized shoes before, but the half size up feels exactly the same as the original shoes – they’re just as tight. I can only hope it’s the right choice, and when I get back to Ashland I quickly make my way to the post office to send home all the bits I’ve replaced, including my blue shoes. I’ll be missing those.
I don’t manage to do much else. I do my resupply at both Trader Joe’s in Medford and Safeway in Ashland, which is of course confusing and proves a mistake because I pick up way too much food. I also work on some blog posts which is always very time consuming, and for two days in a row I go to sleep well after midnight, and wake up exhausted. This time in town is definitely not a relaxing one. I might have to let myself sleep in on trail one day to make up for the lack of rest. Nevertheless I’m happy I’ve at least finally sorted out my gear, which has been weighing on me – quite literally and figuratively.