Etna to Seiad Valley

Etna to Seiad Valley

July 8, 2014

Start: Halfmile 1606.5
End: Halfmile 1635.5
Distance: 29.0 Mi
Cumulative: 1,714.0 Mi

Nero-ed in, bolted out. Hit the trail around 8a this morning and put in a full 13-hour day. Looking to be hiking before the sun tomorrow, hopefully by 3a. Seiad Valley is so close, too close maybe. We left Etna this morning and will likely arrive in Seiad tomorrow by lunch. Crazy. #Spoiled.

I’m getting a little nervous about my “24 Hour Challenge,” but I still really wanna do it. I mean, it’s only 64.8 miles from Seiad Valley to Ashland…and a 4,500′ climb over the first 8. Pft, cake. But really, I’m a little wary of cougars. I’ve heard that some hikers have reported being stalked by them in southern Oregon. Then again, what are the chances? I’m big and intimidating (5’7″, a buck sixty – haha). They wouldn’t dare.

One of my hiking buddies took a fall today. He just mis-stepped and landed hard, hitting his knee on a rock. Ouch. “That’s how fast your trip can end,” he said to me. That sort of stuff takes hikers off the trail who are otherwise fully capable of finishing. It could happen to any of us at any time, regardless of ability or conditioning. There are no guarantees. How’s that for a sobering thought? Every time I stumble or mis-step, I think to myself “That could’ve been it.” And I’m always so grateful that it wasn’t. Take nothing for granted. It takes a lot to walk to Canada – planning, fitness, flexibility, creative problem solving – not the least of which is a helping hand from Lady Luck. She can be a finicky mistress.

July 9, 2014

Start: Halfmile 1635.5
End: Halfmile 1662.0
Distance: 26.5 Mi
Cumulative: 1,740.5 Mi

Left just after 3a; made excellent time this morning. Ten by ten? Ha! Twenty by ten! The miles just fell away hiking with 10k. We talked about everything. For miles, we talked – hours even. And then we were at the road just 6.5 miles from a burger and a milkshake. It was getting hot, and somehow those 6.5 miles seemed longer than the first 20. Shoulda forded the river. “Shoulda, woulda, coulda – didn’t!” That’s what Mom would say. And she’d be right. Again.

As we neared the road, 10k dropped back for just a moment. A few short minutes later, I turned a corner and was within 20 feet of a black bear. The brush was thick, so he just looked like a tree stump to me. All I saw was a flash of black. He was crashing through the woods before it even registered. I reacted just in time to see him tearing through brush and leaping over downed trees heading for the creek. He was more agile than he looked. That trumps my experience in Glacier NP for the closest I’ve ever been to a bear. 10k was disappointed to have missed it, but I wonder whether we would’ve seen him at all with all the racket we were making this morning. He could’ve easily moseyed out of sight in time to avoid us had he realized we were coming. Again, how much wildlife have we almost seen? I can’t even imagine.