Posts Tagged ‘rattlesnake’

The Standing Stone Brewery, where we ended up at in Ashland, was excellent and I ate copious amounts of food with good beer.  When we realized that the hostel was full, we had to hitch three miles back to the interstate, where all the cheap places to stay were located.  In the process, we encountered the local squatter population which seemed to want to take us in as their own since we were dirty, had backpacks, and therefore must not have any money to stay anywhere or buy our own food.

“Hey! You look like me!” one guy said walking by with a non hiking backpack.  Hmmm….how do I say this…no.

“Hey!  You know, the best squatting is down by the bridge!” Another one said.

“Thanks, but we’ll take a cheap motel instead,” Hop-a-long said.

We ended up having to call a taxi since everyone kept confusing us for the squatters begging for food near us, one of which had a sign that read, “Divorced Bigfoot…anything helps.”

Once we got there, Hop-a-long, Trooper and I split a room in the cheapest motel, the Relax Inn where we were put in the very end room, right smack next to the interstate.  The room reminded me of my freshman dorm room at college complete with concrete blocks and the owner dude watering the same flower bed for 30 minutes to watch us air our sleeping bags and put sink laundry out to dry.

After resupplying the next day, we somehow managed to spend most of the day eating, sleeping, and sending food places.  All in all, it turned into an inadvertent zero day.  We did not realize that until we found ourselves wanting food and noticed it was dinner time. Handily, a decently priced Mexican restaurant was located behind the motel, so we went there and ended up finding Splinter and Scooter who had hitched back to Shasta to climb it, then hitched back to Ashland, then Spins and Baboon.

Hop-a-long and I managed to get back on trail by noon the next day while Trooper waited for Funk to show up, who had gotten a day behind.  We also saw Tahoe and Taka at the trailhead and we leapfrogged them for the rest of the day.
At that point, Oregon did not seem too different from California: smokey from the nearby fire, dry, some sand, and a big fat rattlesnake.  Hop-a-long had boogied right by and it slithered out of the way to my right without rattling, but still managed to make me jump back, then ease closer to get a better look and see if I could get a good picture of it.  The thing must have been three and a half feet long!  Crazy!  I hadn’t seen a rattler in a while, just lame little garter snakes.

All four of us took a break by a spring that had a spigot.  Distrustful of random spigots in the middle of absolutely nowhere, we all treated it, and why not…the sawyer squeeze filter is so easy!

That night, Hop and I made it a little past a small highway and set up our tents in the most flat patch we could find, which wasn’t that great, but I slept fantastically anyway because the extra warmth of the tent blocked the breeze.  I reveled in having the extra two or two and a half pounds that my MSR Hubba offered.  I could definitely notice the weight change though.  Bye bye tarp!

I saw Tahoe in the morning as he packed up and we chatted for a wee bit as we took the newly rerouted PCT which seemed to add half a mile to go around the west side of a large hill instead of the east side.  Hop-a-long decided to cut off two miles by walking the dirt road instead, so I did not see her until lunch, where we also found Indiana Toad and Chocolate Chipmunk.

At the next water, I sat down to filter it when none other than Little Brown walked up heading sobo.  I had met him at the 501 shelter in Pennsylvania on the Appalachian Trail.  He had major knee surgery and the doctor told him not to thru-hike this year, so he decided to section hike.  Good spirit!  His knees seemed to hold up well and he told Tahoe and I a few stories with emphatic gestures.  He also gave us the important information that the last spring on the way into Crater Lake Mazama Village was dry.

We passed many small roads the whole day until we came upon Dead Animal with his blue Neon, a cooler of beer, and a five gallon bag of box wine.  We promptly sat down, drank a beer, and complained about how our feet hurt.  All three of us checked out the map and realized that the Brown Mountain Shelter (super weird to have a shelter on the PCT) was less than three trail miles away and .2 from another paved side/back road.  At the end of 26 miles, we hoped in the car and went the 2.8 miles up to the next road, then walked south to the shelter with arms full of food, beer and boxed wine.

The only person there was Little Steps, who had given us rides to and from the trail at the Anderson’s Casa de Luna (mile 478).  She was super excited to camp with other thru-hikers since she hadn’t in a bit.

Hop-a-long and I annihilated a large box of lettuce, some cookies, and any other food we could find, while entertaining ourselves with a trail register.  Her, Dead Animal, Tahoe, Little Steps and I began a game of “Slap the Bag” in which one person holds the five gallon wine bag for someone to slap and drink from above them.  Little Steps even joined in our little shenanigans…and she’s 60!

After dark, Scooter rolled in and before he could even get his pack off, we made him chug some delicious box wine, then stuck a beer in his hand.  He had a grin from ear to ear.  A wee bit later, Inspector Gadget rolled in and got the same treatment.  This went on until the five gallons was gone and we blew the bag back up with air to use as a pillow.

The morning was a little rough, but we managed to make it back to Dead Animal’s car where he cooked us all breakfast while we hovered in the little sunlight that poked through the trees.  It seemed as though fall had begun to set in since the nights became significantly colder and the days got significantly shorter.  Dead took all our stuff up to the road 10 miles later to Fish Lake so we could slackpack across the lava.

Despite the lava, the trail actually had such amazing construction that a great amount of dirt had been brought it so as not to roll your ankles with every step over sharp lava rocks.  The miles whizzed 0n by and we were back at Dead’s car before we knew it.  There,  we cooked lunch and Hop-a-long whipped up an amazing sautéed vegetable, soy chorizo mix to cram into a tortilla for easy mass calorie intake.  The boys cooked bratwurst.

Unfortunately, no roads crossed the trail in the next 51 miles to Crater Lake, so we had to take all our stuff there where Dead Animal said he’d be the following day.  Inspector Gadget set off first on the challenge at 2pm, then Splinter at 3pm, and finally I left at 3:30pm.  Hop-a-long was battling a giant brain crushing headache combined with an obnoxious back rash from her pack, so she hopped up to Crater.

Twelve miles up trail, after scaring some day walkers, I found Gadget at the first water where we cooked dinner.  I had surprised myself flying up that first climb when I was so un-motivated.  We only managed two more miles or so after that and crashed out on a  side trail thinking no one else would hike that.

I was pretty determined the following day to make it to Crater Lake despite it being 36.3 miles away.  I went for it.  Up by 4:30am, hiking by 5:15am, and in almost all my layers because I walked all over a windy ridge.  The morning miles flew by pretty well, until I hit the 1800 mile mark and plopped down in the sun to grab a snack.
The only notable feature of the day was Devil’s something or other which had these sweet rock features going all over the place.  Why is anything crazy awesome have “devil” in the name?

On the way down, about 15 miles in, I ran into Scooter right after he finished digging a cat hole.  That was the only time I saw him that day until Crater.  From there, I went in six mile-ish segments all the way to Crater Lake.  I had begun to get tired, so I chugged some Crystal Light Energy (aka crack).  My feet had also begun to hurt for no apparent reason, so I took my socks off and that seemed to help significantly.

I hit the road at 7:50pm, found a tall boy beer Dead Animal had left, chugged it and walked deliriously into “town,”  ready for an entertaining evening.


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Warner Springs Resort had closed down completely leaving only the Post Office open, but the town pulled together and provided a wonderful store-at-cost in the community center, making it a fundraiser for the local school system as well as offering cheap meals, camping space, and music.  The music was three old dudes, two on guitar and a sax player who somehow managed to smoke a cigarette and play at the same time, between puffs holding it in his fingers hitting the right buttons.  The showers were too steep for me though, I’m not going to pay $10 for a shower.  I washed my socks in a sink though, that’s good enough for now.

Random girl helping out: “It smells like a bunch of hobos in here”

Hiker whispers to another hiker: “yeah that roaming herd of smelly hobos!”

The other hiker: “They just keep coming out of the bushes!”

Main problem though: no booze and it’s Cinco de Mayo.  We got a few tall boys from other hikers hitching over, but that was it.  Inspector Gadget claimed to need a ride for cigarettes (practically the only thing they didn’t sell) and got us some more beer and a small bottle of whiskey.

We left at 6:45 p.m. after dinner (which I dug through the hiker box for) and began drinking as soon as we were back on the trail.  Take one and pass-it-down-the-line style.  We lost Joe and Peter to a room in Julian but we picked up Shags and Scallywag.  Since Scallywag didn’t partake in our fun, he became the designated hiker.

On the way out of town, we walked through a horse pasture and then near a high ropes course which we managed to sling Ari up into as he sketchily hopped around up there.  He made it down ok and we continued on, watching the moon rise several times as we ducked in, out, and around small hills.  Each time we oo’ed and aw’ed and drank another beer.

By the time we got to the creek five miles in, we were doing well and even better when we found the campfire of two Canadians, a Belgian guy named Waffles, and a guy from North Dakota along with a few other randoms.  We made ourselves a little Cinco de Mayo party there.

In the morning, many weren’t doing too great, but we all eventually got moving.  The trail twisted over and over the creek many more times than the map showed and through some chilly areas until it began to climb and climb and climb.  I took my usual 7:30ish break to take off the wind jacket and to put on sun screen.  Luckily, I was not too hung over, guzzled water and kept pressing on for a nice 12 miles before lunch at trail angel Mike’s house, where one of the main water sources was a large tank.

On the way there I leap frogged Gypsy (an older Australian woman) and Hamburger (an older German guy) a few times and passed Neon and On-the-go. The sun blazed and all I could think about was getting to Mike’s for water and shade.  Right before the junction, I ran into a two foot long snake sunning itself across the trail – not a rattler, but looked similar without the rattle.  At the junction, on the back of the sign post someone wrote “Mike’s, shade, water, awesome.”

About a quarter-mile off the trail, I walked over to the water tank with Gypsy and Hamburger to read, “Free food and beer for PCT Thru-Hikers, come down if you dare to awesomeness.”  It was meant for the Cinco de Mayo party the night before, but we explored and there were plenty of leftovers.  Two vegans were even visiting and gave me a veggie burger!

Eventually, everyone came rolling through, got food, relaxed etc. Until we felt rain drops as we started to leave. Rain? In the desert? Really?  It wasn’t looking too terrible from the side of the ridge we were on but Hop-a-long and I reminisced about ridges and Colorado thunderstorms.  Our logic here was that we could scurry over the ridge and head down the other side before it got bad, plus the trail did not run on top of the ridge as the Colorado Trail did all the time, it just contoured it, went through a saddle, then contoured down the other side.

That we did.  We picked up the pace and made it through fine to a deathly stillness on the other side of the ridge, where we put on a layer, only to get rained on, then hailed on.  Magically, after a bit, it all cleared up just dandy.  We meant to get 25 miles in, but at 21 we were pooped and camped with High Life who had not been hung over and hike 27 from Warner Springs.

The morning was slow, but the sunrise was pleasant.  We found water at Nance Canyon and in the cache right after that.  I cooked there since I could grab water.

The next 9 miles were rough.  The sun came out blazing and it became ridiculous.   At one point I began hallucinating snakes that were really just tree branches on the ground, until a two foot rattler that laid directly across the trail answered me and made me jump around it.  I managed to dig my phone out for a picture while it began to slither into the bushes and coil. Aat that point, I decided it was time to go.


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