Two more milestones today – I crossed the 1700 mile point and hit Ashland, Oregon.  The day started out cool and ended very hot.  Is this Oregon or California?  Doesn’t matter, I’m in a hotel drinking beer.

I left the fly off the tent last night and slept soundly until about 3 am when I awoke fully rested and ready to get up and hike.  I didn’t, of course.  I sat there and watched the stars a while.  There was a meteor shower the night before, but I missed it and nothing interesting going on in the skies tonight.  I was wide awake, so I listened to music a while until I got sleepy again and then went back to sleep.  I woke again about 5:15, listened to a little music, then ate breakfast and broke camp.  I was on trail right at 6 am.  As I was checking the trail notes, I noticed the Ashland post office closed at 5 PM and was not open on Saturday, so today was it – Ashland or bust by 3 PM to have enough time to retrieve three packages from the post office.

I loaded up the hip belt pockets with every breakfast bar I had since I knew I could not delay this morning.  I needed to do 14 miles by noon to make Ashland by 3.  The morning was cool, and even though there was lots of climbs and descents, the grade was gentle enough I could keep a good pace.  I ended up doing 14.5.

Two hikers had passed my camp late last night, so I had hoped to catch them sleeping in the morning.  That was not to be.  They were as motivated as me and got up early as well.  I saw their tracks in the dirt along with tons of deer tracks.  They would beat me to Ashland.

At about 10 am, I ran across a soda cache and some lawn chairs.  Perfect timing, I was running low on water and the black cherry Shasta went down smoothly. As I was sitting there reading the register, the couple I had camped with the previous three nights showed up.  I made sure to get their names – Ladybug and The Cup.

I hiked with them a little bit.  Their pace was brisk, but I could keep up.  We passed a day hiker who happened to be responsible for the soda cache.  We thanked him and chatted for ten minutes.  We hiked close to an hour until they stopped for lunch.  I wanted to go further because I noticed an hour ahead was a spot listed as spigot and picnic table.  One thing about the PCT that differs drastically from the AT is that there are very few good spots to stop and eat.  The AT has shelters with picnic tables every 8 to 10 miles and the PCT has very few good rocks or logs to stop and rest on.  Most of the time I just lay out my pad and eat on the ground.  That’s what they were doing, but I wanted a table.

I went the extra hour and hit the picnic table.  It was right next to a garage and near what looked to be a brand new house being built.  It was like I was eating in someone’s back yard.  But there was a spigot and a table, so I was eating.  The table was in the sun, but a third of it was shaded so I ate there.  In about a half hour, the shade would be completely gone, so I ate quickly.  Just as I finished, Ladybug and The Cup showed up and loaded up with water.  And right then the shade on the table was gone.  Time to move on.

We all left together, and I stopped to take the picture you see with some tiki poles marking private property.  It’s not something you see every day, so I took advantage of the photo opp.  The other two went ahead quickly, and I never caught them again.  It was five miles into town and just a matter of cranking them out.

The trail by this time was lower elevations and it was getting quite warm.  There was still decent tree cover most of the time, so it was not miserable, but I was definitely working up a sweat.  I got to the road intersection at interstate 5 at a place called Callahan’s that has a very good restaurant and gives deals to hikers in their Lodge.  The first beer is free (Ninkasi IPA) and the food is excellent.  I had a mixed green salad with hazelnut dressing and it was superb.  The beer was superb as well.  I checked on the hiker rate, but they were booked tomorrow, but I took a card to call in case they had cancellations.  It was getting close to 4, so I had to boogie to hitch into Ashland before the PO closed.

I went to the on ramp and within ten minutes a van stopped.  She would take me to the post office.  Hurray!  I got there with plenty of time and all three packages were there.  I tried to rent a car, but Ashland was all out.  I could not get to Medford in time via bus and there was no uber in Ashland, so I went straight to the hotel in Medford via bus.  Most of the hotels in Ashland were expensive and all the cheap ones were booked.  No better time than now to use some Marriott points and stay for free.

The bus ride took about thirty minutes, but I got off at the hotel and there was a Walmart across the street.  Score.  A hot shower and Chinese food were in order first, then brief shopping at Walmart for beer and food, then back to the hotel for laundry.  This hotel is right next to another Marriott property where Karen and I stayed in 2009 when we came to Oregon.  Small world.

I will try to get all my REI chores done as early as possible tomorrow.  If things go well and the busses do me right, I might be able to get everything done early enough to make it back to Callahan’s to see if they have a cancellation, or possibly head out tomorrow afternoon.  If the chores take too long, I might have to stay in Medford another night. 

It was 98 in Ashland and 104 in Medford today, so either way hiking out in the afternoon is not an option.  The side of the valley I hike out next is bare of trees for quite a while.  It’s either drag out late tomorrow or hope up one more night and make it out as early as possible.  I can take the bus down to Ashland, but from there it’s ten more miles back to the trail and it looks like a hard hitch.  I should probably make a sign here at the hotel specifying the exact exit I need in case I need to hitch from the interstate on ramp.  I’m getting better at this hobo thing.