We started out with a 2 mile road walk to the trail head. And then we climbed. We climbed into layers and layers of smoke from distant fires. On top of which, we were climbing through an old burned out section with blackened trunks of dead trees and the beginnings of new bushes and saplings starting to emerge from below. It was unclear whether the smoky scent was from the earth or the air. Luckily, water was plentiful, so we didn't have to carry a heavy load through all of this smoke.
The campsites in this area were depressingly small - one or two tents at most. So our little band separated as fatigue set in and we each had our own little sleeping quarters at intervals down the burned out section of trail.
In the morning, I began an unfortunate habit where I continuously lost things along this section of trail. I had put my socks over a rock to dry out in the night. But in the morning, as I was getting my croc for the morning bathroom break, I noticed a large brown spider on my trail shoes. "A brown recluse!" was the prevailing thought in my head for the next 45 min to hour as I dressed, ate, broke down my campsite, and packed up. So preoccupied was I with avoiding a spider that may or may not have been a brown recluse, that my socks stayed behind, forgotten on a rock by the Darkley Creek Trail junction.
Shortly thereafter, I passed Toolbox, who had left with Nick the previous morning. Toolbox looked awful. He had holed up in a shady spot by a spring to rest the day away. I got some water for the spring for him. as he was afraid he would contaminate the water source. I offered to walk back to the road crossing with him, to see if he could get a ride back into town, but he just wanted to stay put. So I unloaded my supply of GI distress medication for him,and continued on the way. It seems we all were getting hit with that bug eventually on this hike!
More miles, more smoke. No views.
But that was okay, because I got something better than scenic views on this particular day:
True to its reputation, Oregon rained on me the first night in. Fortunately, I was already inside my tent when it started. Even more fortunate for me, the rainstorm was short, and the tent was dry the next morning so I wasn't stuck carrying a wet tent!
Around 8 am, I caught up with Nick, again, my hiking buddy from before. We continued to leap frog back and forth as we neared our next big stop: Ashland. We passed through a few state parks and recreation areas and I started liking Oregon even more: every person we passed smiled and said "Congratulation! Welcome to Oregon!" And about half gave us food- granola bars, apples, fun sized candy bars. If possible, I was even happier than I was at the border.
As we neared the Interstate, things started looking eerily familiar-- like I had been here before even though I clearly had not. Then Nick started telling me that a friendly Oregonian he passed earlier in the day told him that the movie Stand By Me had been filmed here. I burst into a rousing rendition of "Have Gun, Will Travel", but Nick had absolutely no idea what the hell I was singing about. Bummer. And we didn't see that railroad trestle. Double bummer.
Oh, well. On to Ashland!