Here in the State of Jefferson, it’s been hot and dry. Water has been scarce and there are long stretches with minimal shade.
The trail drops 5,000 ft to pass right through the tiny town of Seiad Valley (and then climbs right back up again).
Our strategy is to hike early, rest in the shade for a few hours in midday and then push on into the evening. Hiking late isn’t my favorite. I get hungry and tired, and it’s mentally hard. On one of these late evenings, hiking into the dusk, Kicks stated bluntly, “I’m hurting and I’m hungry and I need to fix one of those things.” We ate, stopping right there and plopping down in the dirt to cook. Then we walked on a few more miles to find a spot of flat ground.
Fortunately, we don’t always hike this way. Sometimes we stop early for a particularly pretty campsite.
This flat rock ledge had the most beautiful sunset view.
We also decided to linger here for a full rest day in the tiny town of Etna, CA. We swam and lounged at the little community pool (free!) and stayed with a wonderful local trail angel that hosts hikers in return for a little work around the property. Eating watermelon, reading poolside, riding slowly around town on borrowed old bicycles, it was a welcome change of pace from trail life.
This part of rural Northern California is a world apart from the California of the Bay Area that I know and love. Politics aside, we’ve experienced nothing but kindness and generosity—we’ve been given rides and cold beers and pointed to the best blackberry patches and burger joints. Still, my mind is already on the Sierra. I’ll be more than ready to gain some altitude and hit that home stretch of spectacular scenery. Almost there!