Today was a chore day. I walked all over Medford twice and barely had time to make the last bus to get back to Ashland so I could have an easier hitch back to the trail. I grabbed dinner then headed out and made a few miles before cowboy camping.
I’m not sure why, but I slept horribly last night. I was in a nice comfy bed with a fresh shower and perfect temperature on the a/c but for some reason I woke up at 2 am and never really got back to sleep. I slept in until 8 just to try to get more rest, but I had too many things to do today. The first bus ran at 9:33 and the last one at 4:10, so that was the allotted time I had to get everything done.
I dragged my butt down for breakfast just after eight and it was lackluster for a Town Place Suites. Fruit, yoghurt, cereal, and two rubbery fried eggs was what I had and it would have to do. I got back to the room and got everything ready. The first main chore was to go to REI to exchange or return the poles and buy new pants and socks. My pants are getting too baggy and the hems are starting to shred. And two of my socks have huge holes in them. The second chore was to mail a few things back which is mainly extra clothing. I would have to make two trips to avoid having to bring all my extra things plus have to change at REI. The REI was North of town and there were two post offices which had differing hours and were both North and East. If I got everything going early enough, I could hit the closer post office, but if not I would have to hoof it out to the farther one.
I took the bus from just outside the hotel to the transit center. There I had to wait for the second bus to take me to the north end of town. The first bus was ten minutes late and it was already getting hot. The second bus was right on time since it was leaving from the transit center. I got to the REI by 10:30 and tried on several pairs of pants. The next smaller size fit well, but they had two different styles and one was a slim fit which felt good, but I was afraid might chafe after getting sweaty. I went with the same style, but a size down and dark gray in color. Good for hiding dirt, but bad for staying cool. I was hoping to get green ones. They did not have any shorts I liked, and I just could not bring myself to buy a new set of poles, so I just bought the one pair of long pants.
Rather than wait for the bus, I decided to walk back to the transit center and saw there was a New York pizza by the slice shop right there. I had to stop in and I was not disappointed. I finally found good pizza, but let the record show that it was not in California and it was New York style.
After lunch, I would have to wait half an hour for the bus, so I decided to just hoof it. There was a Big 5 sports a few blocks from the hotel, so I swung by there for socks and shorts. They had my Thorlos and had a pair of shorts that seemed decent. I bought them without trying them on, then hoofed it back to the hotel.
I knew chores would take a while,.so I had arranged for a 2 PM checkout and got back to the hotel at about 1:15. I did not have time for another shower, but would have liked one. I had to pack everything up and get all the extra things I needed to ship back home. I tried on the shorts and they just didn’t feel good, so I would have to return them on the way to the post office. I had everything packed and ready right at 2, so I checked out and left my pack with the hotel staff.
The closer post office closed at 2 and the farther one closed at 4, so I had no choice at this point but to head for the farther one. I would have to wit thirty minutes for the bus which was not an option, so I set put on foot again. Google said it was a 51 minute walk and it was pretty much that on the dot plus a little time to return the shorts to Big 5. The two buses would have taken much longer than that not to mention the extra stop at Big 5.
I got to the closer post office first and yes, it was closed. A lady in the lot asked me if it was closed and I told her it was but there was another one a few miles North. I was trying to Yogi a ride from her, but it did not work. Back to walking. I got to the farther post office and it was just a counter at the back of a Hallmark shop. No matter, mail is mail.
I got my goodies mailed out and now it was time to hoof it back to catch the last bus. The last bus was at 4:10 and Google now said I would get back to the hotel at 4:04. If I miss this bus, there is no bus service on Sunday and no Uber in either Ashland or Medford, so I would have to either hitch 30 miles on I-5 or walk 20 miles to Ashland. I never got to rest at all, but staying another day was not an option because of the Sunday bus situation. My best hope for rest was to get back to Callahan’s at the trailhead and hope they had a cancellation.
I ran part of the way back just to have a little more time buffer. Catching this last bus was the only thing on my mind. I had been walking nearly two hours in 102 degree heat and was thirsty, so I stopped at a Burger King just to get a soda. They have those fancy machines so I was able to get a Powerade, gulp it down, and get a second one and head back out. The drink really helped alot. I got back to the hotel right at 4:00, hit the bathroom, got my pack, and made the bus stop at 4:07. And of course the bus was late. Only about ten minutes and I was able to get on it.
Now the decision was where to get off the bus in Ashland. My best bet would be the interstate, or highway 99. The interstate was only a few blocks from the second to last stop, so undecided on that one. The last stop would have dropped me on 99.
I had made a sign at the hotel that said “hiker to exit 6” that I thought might help me. When I got to the onramp, there were three homeless guys there hanging out, so it was looking a little grim. Plus it was hot in the sun. I positioned myself behind he shade of a telephone pole and went to work. One of the homeless guys came up to me and started talking about the PCT for a while. All three of these guys travel the country sitting on the side of the interstate. And they actually had met each other before in other states in previous years. There’s a whole other culture that lives on the country’s interstates that most people know nothing about other than the cardboard signs on offramps.
It took about thirty minutes, but I did get a ride. A quick ride back to Callahan’s and I was set. The hard part was done, and I was now back in control. I was exhausted, so I inquired about any cancellations. None yet. Oh well, let’s have dinner and check back again. Spaghetti dinner done, I checked again, still no cancellations. I guess I’m camping tonight. The lodge would let you camp on their lawn for $12, but I didn’t really need any other services, so I decided to just hoof it up the trail. I grabbed a snickers from the gift shop and headed out.
The next mile was road walk, and then hitting the woods. The trail was through grasses and pines and actually pleasant other than the freeway noise. I came across a group of eight hikers cowboy camping in a meadow. Six of them were all watching a movie on a cell phone. I just don’t get the need to watch movies in the woods, but I see people doing it all the time. I hiked about a half mile past them and decided to cowboy camp in a small field. I can barely hear the freeway with earplugs in, so I’m hoping I can get some decent sleep tonight. Fingers are crossed.