We woke up by the usual time, 6:30, and started getting ready and making breakfast. After a few words with one another we figured out that no-one actually slept very well that night, mainly because of the deers that were just rummaging through our camp, which had made Posie bark – it woke up even those who were ok with the hyper deer activity. At night those things look alien: just two large red eyes moving around in a kind of freaky manner, especially when the deer don’t give a damn about you, they just wants to lick your pee or chew on your hiking pole handles (they want the salt)!
Anyways, we started going only around 8:20 as is normal after a lousy night like this one – it simply takes longer to pull your s&@! together. Jen had also decided to continue with us and was taking her time to get ready.
It went well for about few kilometers, which is when we noticed that both Jen and Posie started to slow down. So we took our first break already after less than an hour of hiking – it was a very beautiful spot, though, by a small lake with lots of fish making splashes during the morning feed and awesome underwater lizards (they probably have a more appropriate name).
We kept motivating Jen and being enthusiastic, saying that she can make it. After a few hours it somehow happened that me and Stiina hiked on and Tom stayed with Jen, but because of the morning delay we decided to have our lunch a few miles earlier than planned. The spot was beautiful, an open grassy field on the side of a mountain with a valley right below. We proceeded with our lunch and once we were already done there was still no sign of T-Bone and Jen; we decided to wait until they arrive. And they did – an hour after us, so then we all hung out for another hour while they had their break.
We felt slightly bad that we had left T-Bone to babysit Jen alone, so we told him to just go ahead and that we would stay with Jen. He took off and we started a little after and soon realized that Posie could not really walk anymore. Her paws were hurting and no matter how much she wanted to follow her mommy she couldn’t. Her muscles must have cooled down during the break and the soreness had kicked in. We still had 13 miles (21km) to go so I knew that if we don’t carry that dog we won’t make it today. So I offered to put Posie in my pack so that we could walk fast again, which we did for a short while, but then Jen started to have problems so we kept taking small breaks and in general moving slowly. But there was nothing we could do by this point – we had to get her to town with us because if we would just leave her there she would not survive.
So we just did what we could, one foot in front of the other. Around 5 miles (8km) from the desired campsite we suddenly saw T-Bone in his undies, just chilling by the lake, so we went to join him. We decided to go for a swim and eat dinner right there, so that when we got to camp all we have to do is set up our tent and sleep.
As we were finishing our dinner the sun went behind the mountain that rose from the lake right in front of us. It helped us to get back on trail faster as it got slightly cold without the sun. We packed up and charged towards the destination: we managed to move at a descent pace and the swim and longer break must have helped Jen because she was keeping up. I was still with Posie in my backpack, though. Poor doggles, what has mommy got her into.
As we had an ascent after the lake we managed to get to the sun again and watched it go down behind the mountains and hills far away as we walked on the ridge of the mountain we were on. It’s amazing what colors a sunset can produce: the valleys under us seemed to have a purple haze on them with an orange glow on top of the mountain ridges on the other side of the valley – just beautiful. We kept hiking and for the last mile we were almost running, it was because we wanted to get to camp before it got too dark and we’d need to put on our head torches. We managed just on time and as we arrived at the camp spot and started setting up our tents we had to get our lights on.
Once we were already in our tents the deer gang arrived. There was about 10 of them and they were all eager to get to our pee to the point where they started to make barking-like noises and we could hear them clashing, rumbling and running around. However, we were so tired that we fell asleep regardless of the deer noises.
Town day means an early start in order to get to town earlier and have more time to get things done. We ate breakfast, packed up and left the camp at around 6:30. Already from the start I had Posie in my bag as it was a 22 mile (35km) hike and she still could barely move around. The trail also promised a descent for most of the day: easier for muscles but harder for knees, especially with the extra weight of the dog – good training, as I say.
The sky was blue and the sun was already hot despite the early morning. Luckily we were covered by trees for most of the way, otherwise a heat stroke would have been inevitable. The area we were walking through had been burned down a few years ago and was now packed with green leafy bushes that produced a lot of humidity in the air so it kind of felt like walking through a rain forest as the trail was also often overgrown and forced us to bushwack.
The walk went amazingly smooth and we got to the desired lunch spot around the time we had planned, despite Jen having some knee pain. The lunch spot was a creek with a bridge over it and steepish rocky banks around it. We sat in the shadow on some logs right next to the bridge. I climbed down to get some water and soak my feet in the cold refreshing water. Jen decided to go for a quick dip. When I got down I gathered water and found a rock on which I could sit with my feet in the water. The water unfortunately was so cold that I couldn’t sit there for too long, I think I only lasted for a minute, but it was totally worth it.
When I stood back up I checked the seat in case I had forgotten something (a habit) and I got very surprised when I saw that I had been sitting right on a snake! Perhaps I should learn the habit of checking the seat before I sit down?! Anyways, it wasn’t a very big snake and because it was on the rock surrounded by water I assumed that it’s just one of the river snakes – they are usually non-venomous. I got a few cool shots of the snake and climbed back up to where we were sitting for lunch. Nothing exciting happened besides everyone having a short nap. The sun started to peek over the trees, blasting us, so we knew that it’s time to get going again.
It was about 10 miles (16km) left to go until Seiad Valley, which was broken down into two legs: the first 4 trail miles (6,5km) until the campground, from where we would need to do a road walk for 6 more miles (10km). Our hope, however, was that we would meet some people at the campground that could give a ride to Jen and Posie as that would make our packs lighter, especially mine, and we could get to the town faster. Everyone seemed slightly tired after the lunch break so we weren’t moving that fast, but the important thing was that we were moving.
The trail was now pretty easy: a gradual downhill with just a few small climbs. However, one thing we had to look out for was poison oak, which grew right next to the trail and was often blended in with other bushes around it. It’s a sneaky plant that will choose the shape of its leaves to be somewhat similar to the plant it grows next to. But often the leaves will look like oak’s leaves. We personally haven’t tried the effects of poison oak, but they say that if you rub it against your skin it will leave an unpleasant, itchy rash and even blistering. Sounds clear enough so we tried our best to avoid it.
We managed to get to the campground and saw that there were a few cars in the parking lot. We sat in shade at the picnic table and took a little water break. Jen managed to arrange a ride for herself and Posie to Seiad Valley where we would then meet up in a few hours. Now, with a considerably lighter pack, even though it was a road walk, it felt much better.
It wasn’t a very busy road so we could just walk next to each other and be all over the place. That allowed us to talk all the way and time flies when you are having fun! We saw another snake, right on the road in its full length, enjoying the evening sun. It’s always exciting to see these amazing animals and this time the snake also seemed curious about us as it did not hurry at all to move to the side of the road and hide while we just stared at it.
We could feel that our bodies started to complain after pounding on the hard asphalt for a few hours, but luckily we were almost there. Seiad Valley is a small village with the population of around 200 people, a few houses, an RV park, a general store and a cafe which was already closed, but it was all we needed. We decided to stay at the RV park, which offered showers and laundry and even such extras as a grill and a lounge room with TV. We didn’t care about the latter but the grill tickled my mind so I hoped that the general store would have something good to throw on that grill.
The selection in the store wasn’t that exciting but it would be enough to get us through the evening and so we got tater-tots and onion rings to throw on a grill for our “fancy” dinner. While we were preparing the meal we met some other hikers in the campground that turned out to be a fun bunch so we shared the table during the dinner. After dinner we remained around the table to chat and play cards until it was time to go to sleep.