August 3, 2015 (18th Re-Ration – Seiad Valley)
Tentsite before Buckhorn Spring (1638.8) to Seiad Valley RV Park (1662.1)
23.3 PCT miles today
1702.4 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 2,318 ft, – 7,678 ft
Some days are just more physically exhausting than others. Today was almost completely downhill and on flat road, which you’d think would be easy, but is in fact incredibly jarring on the feet, legs, and hips. Both Pickles and I had numb, somewhat painful toes and front pads of our feet for most the day, and the lower we dropped in elevation, the hotter it got. Many of our fellow hikers either forded a river (went off-trail) or hitched on the road walk, but in order to do continuous steps and stay “purists”, we were in for a long, challenging road walk into the on-trail town of Seiad Valley. Fortunately, our afternoon and evening here at the RV park in town made up for any discomfort, since we had a great time hanging out with friends, drinking beer and eating snacks, and getting all cleaned up.
Our morning hike reminded us once more of why we are so fond of waking up extra early. Within a couple miles of our tentsite, we were walking through a beautiful meadow, the sun just rising over the horizon, when we heard a commotion down the hill and looked to find a mama bear with her two cubs about 200 yards away. Mama grunted a few times, which we interpreted to mean “Kids, go up in that tree while I sniff these animals out”, and then while her cubs climbed up the nearest pine tree, she stood on her hind legs and stared right at us, daring us to threaten her family. We felt no danger, since we clearly weren’t a threat and black bears aren’t spontaneously violent, so we just stared back, huge grins on our faces, whispering to one another how amazing of a moment it was. Eventually mama got tired of us and got back on all fours, hiding behind some bushes and guarding her tree, and we moved on, completely and utterly enamored with nature.
It wasn’t more than an hour later that we had our second unique wildlife encounter of the day. We still hadn’t seen any other hikers, and the weather was still nice and cool with the sun being shielded by smoke, when a buck crossed the trail and we got to watch him trip his way uphill, exactly like a teenage boy who just went through a growth spurt. His antlers were still growing in, but they were the first we’d seen yet on the trip…somewhat surprisingly considering the total number of deer we’ve spotted.
When we got into town in the early afternoon, it was nearly 100 degrees out and we were eager to grab a cold drink and sprawl out in the nice green grass of the RV park. We stopped in the quaint little market, one of the first reasonably priced markets on the trail, and picked out a few snacks and then checked in at the RV park, getting the scoop on showers, laundry, camping, and wifi. There were already a couple hikers we’d never met hanging out, and Mosey, 70%, and Platypus were there but they were hiking on, but within an hour or two, a whole group began to congregate and make up a wonderful circle of friends.
We spent the whole rest of the afternoon lazying around and socializing. Throughout the evening we managed to take showers, do our laundry, get our re-ration, buy some groceries, and make dinner, but we didn’t let any town chores interfere with our fun. The night snuck up on us and before we knew it, it was already past our bedtime. Tomorrow morning we have a big climb out of the valley, so now I must go to sleep, let my feet rest up overnight, and prepare for our final days in California.