Oregon border to Etna Our way led south from the Oregon border sign post on 17th August along broad ridges through vibrant flower meadows with our main obstacle being limited water sources. We saw very few other walkers in this area but met a fellow European PCT hiker called Svein at ‘Cook and Green Pass’. Svein was from Norway and we kind-of hit off as our sense of humour matched as we all had a bit of rant about how weird but also wonderful the people are here compared to Europe.
From a ridge top past hot Kangaroo Mountain at near 6,000 feet we looked down at a long, long descent into the Klamath river valley at 1,400 feet where we knew there was a cafe, grocery store and a post office, hopefully holding our resupply box. My feet hurt horribly on this descent, I think from the heat and building humidity but mostly from the general continual pounding of going downhill.
We stumbled into Seiad on the evening of 19th August and found the staff friendly in the small store where we had a huge evening meal with Svein and also Sideshow who turned up. The milk shakes and pancakes at the store were something else and Seiad store holds a pancake challenge where I think six of their HUGE pancakes have to be eaten in one go. Of course this gauntlet must have been taken up by most long distance hikers passing through but I am afraid to say that Martina and I only made it through one and a half pancakes each. Quite a feeble effort really. We later heard that Josh, a northbound PCT hiker, had completed the challenge, but only after semi starving himself on the days before arriving at Seiad!
Our start the next morning was a bit slow after another large breakfast at the café and sorting food to do us to our next stop at Etna. The post office held a ‘hiker box’ which contained food and bits of equipment that hikers had left behind. Since our resupply parcel hadn’t arrived we were able to scrounge our way through the ‘hiker box’ and, after swapping a pancake for some dehydrated meals with Ron, were able to make up our supplies. The ‘hiker boxes’ became a major source of supply for some as food was often left by hikers who had dropped away from the trail or their tastes had changed and they couldn’t stand the food they had faithfully packaged in the spring before setting out.
We dragged ourselves away around noon with Buzz, a local teenager in tow, who managed to show us a shortcut across the valley saving half a mile of road walking. The next stretch involved a long gradual climb of nearly 6,000 feet up into the Marble Mountains and the promise of some more dramatic glaciated scenery to look forward to.
At our second camp at Cold Springs we noticed a slight mistake with our food. What we thought was a pasta sauce packet which we duly cooked with our pasta, turned out to be orange drink mix. It was a tribute to our hunger that we still managed to eat the results! So much for our scavenged food from the ‘hiker box’.
The scenery was splendid, bright and open without being overly dramatic and reminded me of the Pyrenees in France/Spain. Sixty miles south of Seiad Valley we hit the Etna road on 22nd August travelling over a high pass and we decided to hitch down into town for the night as we had heard good stories about Etna.
We waited for a while at the pass with very few cars passing until one eventually stopped for us. It was only once we were in that we both realised that the Native American driver and his white pal were both high on a mix of beer and drugs. The journey downhill via steep hairpin bends was a nightmare as we swayed across the road and hurtled around each bend. We finally staggered out the car feeling happy to be alive into Etna and vowing to check the driver next time before we excepted a lift. I suppose we had been extremely fortunate up until then and had always had helpful people offering us lifts who usually went out of their way to help us out. Maybe this, added to the fact that we were tired and just wanted to get into town had made us a bit complacent on this occasion.
We liked Etna, it was small, old fashioned with big white-painted wooden houses and none of the usual chain stores like McDonalds and Taco-Bell to be seen. The Alderbrook B&B was delightful and we had a clean up then headed into town for a big supper. Martina had two large fruit pies – so her appetite had now officially returned! On departing the diner we met Ron and Svein and we all agreed to pay $5 each for a lift back up to the road pass the next morning.