Pinecone here! Or now ‘Turkey D’ second trail name after finding a Turkish delight coloured pinecone! 5 zero days has felt like a lifetime! It began next to the giant Feather River in Belden. Camping on its sandy shores, we packed our stuff and went to the shoppe for coffee. After crafting some pretty good hitch hiking signs we headed to the highway to start thumbing it. It took some goofy waves and grinning but after an hour we got a hitch! It was a 90 mile drive to Chico from Belden in which Mitch told me his life story. Growing up in Salt Lake City, mining for copper and moving to California after the death of his brother. We shared some drunk memories together and had a laugh. He kindly dropped us off at the greyhound station in Chico from where we made plans.
A bus was not going to Ashland till the next day, so we find a cheap motel and settle in for the night. This one was defintely too good to be true, free breakfast and pool for $60.
Chillin in Chico was funny, being a collage town there are lots of young people around, however it is summer and it did have a strange sleepy vibe. Quiz learnt what good American collage culture is about from Mushy. The next morning we head to the bus stop. After confusion with the driver, we are piled into the bus with our hiking packs. It was a bit of a stressful 6 hour journey with ice axes and hiking poles on board.
At Red Bluff I recognised a hiker from the trail and he sits next to me. His name is Phone Belly, because he always keeps his oversized phone in his front pocket. He’s from Washington and gives us lots of tips for the trail up ahead. We get off the bus at Medford, a more industrial town, 15 miles past Ashland. Our plan is to stay here a night and go to Walmart and do all our shopping for re-supply for Oregon. The next day is pretty hot and arduous from carting shopping bags around, to the post office and to UPS. We get really good tacos from a food truck and eat them in the park and wait for the free bus to Ashland.
Our three days in Ashland mostly revolve around the Jackson Wellsprings we were staying at. I can best describe this place as a kind of trailer park resort for hippies with a rather lush volcano water pool, spa and sauna. Even the showers are volcano water, smelling of Sulphur but leaving your skin soft and hydrated.
Over the days we were welcomed into the community there and spoke to many enlightened hippies. After 8pm the pool became a nude pool and a man helped me to learn how to beat box by saying all I needed to do was say ‘boots’n’cats’ over again. I think the funniest moment for me was leaving the spa to go back to the camp ground and this old hippie watering the garden stopped me for a chat. ‘Are you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated?’ He asked. ‘Yes, thank you for having us!’ I replied. ‘ Our pleasure’ he said. ‘Has anyone told you that you are beautiful today?’ I blushed a little and replied ‘No, no one has told me today’. He sighed and said ‘Well that’s just a problem right there’.
We found ourselves checking out Ashland downtown. It’s was hustle and bustle with the Shakespeare festival on. We had some nice food from a bakery, checked out the local co-op.
I often found myself laughing and completely amazed at the stereotype or unconditional positivity (people singing/over hearing conversations) of the place, despite the fact that I was really in the perfect place to hang out. On our way out ppl who we hadn’t even spoken to wished us well on our hike. We made friends with a lovely person who I named Monique (she didn’t tell us her real name, just whatever we wanted to call her). Monique ended up finding my wallet, which I then went to collect from the front desk. Everyone in the office gave me a high five for the universe, being a great place after all! I tried to give Monique some money, I knew she could use it on her travels. She was very uncomfortable about it, so ended up giving me some cool rocks, damiana (a herb for female strength and fertility), and a massage.
Wow what a couple of days, I feel so relaxed and rejuvenated just as the old man said. Not one thing to feel anxious about! Also Quiz and I now have tickets for Columbia!! At 4pm we head of Callahans Lodge and walk the PCT north for the first time in a month. Back in Oregon, feels good!! We walk 10 miles without even noticing and camp at a piped spring. It’s been a great 5 days off!