Today was an interesting day.  I had a pancake breakfast with the same crew as last night then walked the last 6 or 7 miles into Seiad Valley.  There I was able to buy a days worth of food, shower, do laundry, and eat a burger and milkshake.  All that was left to do was climb 5000 ft out of town.  Yikes.  I’ve been dreading this climb for three hundred miles.

I slept in a little bit but probably got up just before 6:00.  I needed to get water since I ran out in the middle of the night so I went down to the river and loaded up.  I decided to go ahead and pack up to give Legend a chance to get things in gear and since I was walking the road into town, I didn’t want to waste any more time packing after breakfast.  Everyone except Peru was awake by now.

Legend was just flipping the first pancakes as I got back to the picnic table.  They were hot and fluffy and he had molasses for syrup.  I’m not normally a pancake guy, but these were good.  I must have eaten four of them.  The last batch he put raisins in.  They were good as well.

After breakfast, everyone helped pack the truck and they were off to town.  I was the only one who elected to walk it in.  It took just over two hours and was a nice walk.  I stopped several times to pick blackberries.  There was very little traffic, even on the main road for the last mile and a half.

I went to the store first to get a drink and an orange and basically to scope it out for when it came time to buy the one day of food I needed to add to the food bag.  Next was over to the RV park for shower and laundry.  It ended up costing $12 for a shower and laundry, which I thought was a little steep, but I stunk.  Meanwhile, I was charging all my goodies.  As I put the laundry in the dryer, it was time to hit the café.  Burger, salad, and fries went down quickly.  I ordered a blackberry milk shake but not to make it yet, so I could eat it on the way out of town.

Back to the store to buy food for tomorrow.  Mashed potatoes, cheese, Fritos, crackers, and a tram bar.  Oh, and don’t forget the Skittles.  Back to the RV park to pack.

Then a local told me about a forest road that passed by two waterfalls, was well shaded, smoothly graded, and crossed the PCT about 14 miles up the trail.  That sounded much better than a steep, rocky, shadeless exposed hike up a mountain in full sun.  It was 1:30 and already 92 degrees.  Legend had driven up the road before and confirmed everything the local said.  So I grabbed my milkshake and headed up the road.  The first mile had no shade and the milkshake did not last the entire first mile. 

I passed a road crew patching a section of road and talked with them a while.  The main thing they wanted to know – how many miles do you get out of a pair of shoes?  I told them 750 to 800 and they said that what the last guy said.  They like to talk about shoes, I guess.  I had a nice chat and headed on up the road. 

There were houses along the road as the shade started to come into play.  Lots of neat and interesting houses on this road.  One of them had the Sasquatch sign, so this must be a popular alternate route.  I stopped at one of the houses where the owner had just driven home and he had one of the interesting trees that I saw yesterday that I thought were a cross of magnolia and rhododendron.  He said they were madrone trees.  Tight grained white wood that splintered and split badly, so everyone used it for firewood since you couldn’t use it for much else.  I’ll have to research these more when I get home.  They were all over town, but yesterday is the first time I saw one in my life.

The road turned to gravel after about four or five miles, but stayed well graded.  The shade continued the while way and there were creeks along most of it.  I took a snack break at about 5:00 and noticed I was about out of water.  This area didn’t have a creek, but I checked the map and the waterfalls were only a mile ahead, so I could get water there.  The first waterfall was a decent size and getting water there would be difficult just because of the mist and splashing.  So I went on to the second one and it was much smaller and had easy access to the water, so I filled two liters there. 

I was just over a mile from the trail and got there about 7:30 and there were camping spots there, so I set up camp there for the night.  The couple from breakfast was already there.  They had taken the trail and it had taken them eight hours.  My route on the road took six hours.  I’m glad I took the road because I would have hated to hike until 9:30 to make it to the camp site.  I think the road was actually longer, but since it was less time overall, I think it was the right choice given the time I started.

So here I sit 21 miles from Oregon, eating mashed potatoes, tuna fish in oil, and sour Skittles (not all at once) and life is good.  The breeze up here is nice and cool and the trees have returned.  Let’s hope they stay all the way to Oregon.