Mile 1728 to mile 1757.5
It’s so peaceful. I’ve bounced my neo-air up to Cascade Locks since I don’t need it for warmth, and on my 1/8 inch pad the lumpy ground cradles my spine just so. It’s cool, so much cooler than in Ashland, and it feels good to be snuggled down in my sleeping bag. Ants crawl over me and away, going here and there.
I wake up at 5:15. Goddamit. I’d get up but then I’d wake Twinkle, who’s cowboy camped next to me. He’s so good at sleeping, I don’t want to ruin it. I close my eyes and doze for a half hour, and then start to tentatively rustle my food bag, looking for breakfast. The others wake up- and I notice that Chance is already gone. Dang, when did she hike out? Four a.m.?
I’m slow this morning. We’re in Oregon! We’re in the forest! The trail is cruiser! But it’s hot, and kind of smokey. Fire season has begun. I’m sweating, and my pack feels too heavy. Did I bring too much food? I move the pack around on my back. Packs always sit wonky on me. I think I’m crooked? Probably.
We take breaks throughout the morning, at springs coming out of pipes or just on logs. We talk to day hikers and section hikers, we chat with Sochi about the two cougars he saw during his 64 mile/24 hour speed challenge. The day grows hotter and hazier. I have some poison oak on my hips and butt from sliding down the embankment to the Klamath river, and it itches in the heat. I can feel it creeping down my legs, up my back.
At 5 p.m. we get a text from Chance- she’s ahead, at the Klum campground next to the resevoir. Making dinner. Free showers, she says. It’s a few miles away, and a third of a mile off trail. But I could take a cold shower! That would help my poison oak. And besides, I just feel tired today. I’d planned to hike until eight but damn, I just want to camp.
Should we camp at Klum? I text the others. They’re not very far behind Guthrie and me. I get a few tentative yesses and Guthrie and I head down there, figuring they’ll show up. We sit at the picnic table and make our dinners, but no-one appears, and our phones can’t get service. Last year I camped here, but Spark and Instigate couldn’t find it, and the three of us ended up camping in three different places that night, each of us alone, wondering what had become of the others. I wonder if that’ll happen again this year- like there’s a strange fold in the fabric of space-time and this place exists inconsistently, and some people never find it.
I take a cold shower. It feels glorious on my poison oak and my morale, and afterwards I sit dripping in the dusk, eating rice crackers and spacing out. I feel worn out from our stint in Ashland- an early night in camp is just what I need. The campground is empty save for a few day hikers at another table, and it’s incredibly peaceful here. I wonder again where the others are. I get anxious being separated from the group. I worry that someone is lost, or sad, or that messages got mixed up. But I can only worry for so long before my sleepiness kicks in, taking over everything. I unroll my bedroll on the hard ground, feeling so happy to be exactly where I am.
Photos on instagram.