PCT Day 69... The Big Hitch

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I slept in this morning until 6 am or at least I tried to, but I woke up and checked my watch at 5:59.45. I watched as the last 15 seconds counted down before starting my day. I packed up my gear and took my time to make sure I had enough food for the next stretch. I was good for four full days’ worth. 

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Last night, I went to bed having to make a big decision.  I needed to decide whether or not to hike through the smoke from the wildfires.  I woke up with an answer. I decided to hitchhike my way up to Ashland and Uber from there to Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon. In that way, I could get around the worst of the smoke and have a chance to make it to Canada.

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On my way to the highway, I stopped at a bakery and got a couple of doughnuts and a pepperoni roll. The 3rd car that past me gave me a lift up the road to Yreka. They dropped me off on the north side of town at an access ramp for Highway 5, which ran through Ashland. So far, so good.

I arrived there at 8 am and immediately stuck my thumb out. Unfortunately, it was not very busy.  After 45 minutes, I walked to a Grocery Outlet and asked if they had any flat cardboard they were going to get rid of. They did, so I made a sign. Using the pencil I had, it was not great, and when no cars were coming, I colored it in more. It was very hot and tiring, just standing in the sun waiting.

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At 12:00, I gave up hitching from that spot, and walked the 3 miles down to the south side of town to get some lunch and to try my luck hitching from there. My backup plan was if I did not get a hitch, I could wait till tomorrow.  There is a bus that runs south to a town called Weed, where I could catch a Greyhound bus to Medford and from there I could then Uber out to Crater Lake. Thankfully after eating lunch, I got to the road, and was able to hitch a ride in about 40 minutes. The guy who gave me a ride had just finished a section hike and was headed back home to Ashland.

He dropped me off in town at a grocery store and I was able to get an Uber out to the trail with a guy named Grant. He was awesome, we talked the entire hour and a half it took to get to the trail. At first he thought I was headed to the more common trailhead which most hikers coming into Ashland go to, and was surprised when I said Crater Lake. He was very involved in scouts working most of his summers at summer camps around the state, and he almost became a professional Scouter. The Uber ride cost quite a bit, but I was glad he was my driver.

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I got to the PCT around 5:00 pm. I was on the northside of Crater Lake National Park.  I figured that way I will begin or finish my next hike (the one to finish the section I skipped this summer due to the fire) with the Lake. I hiked for two hours and found a great place to set up camp. A section hiker came and set up camp next to me and he showed me a video of a rattlesnake he ran into today. It was a good sized rattler, the first one he has seen in Oregon, and he has lived here for a long time. A few other hikers set up camp just up the hill from me, and after dinner I hit the sack. 

Etna Public Park to tent site

Miles Hiked: 6.3

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