Lesson learned: California is approximately 10 times longer than us “east-coasters” imagine. 1,700 miles? The same distance as my home town in Alabama to Salt Lake City, Utah? This is ridiculous… Most Californians even want to chop the state in half. However, the mental disappointment of not crossing off a single state on the map has come to a victorious end. California complete, Oregon here we come. Coming to you live from Ashland, Oregon on my birthday (narrator takes obligatory tequila shot).
How about a frequently asked question response?!
Q: “Sooo… what do you do every day?”
Here is a very average day:
-Wake up (in the dark).
-Put absurdly dirty and rancid hiking clothes back on (YAY!).
-Pack up everything.
-Brush teeth and bathe in sunscreen.
-Eat a honey bun (ideally I remember to eat before brushing my teeth… but life is tough).
-Walk 20-25 miles.
-Eat more honey buns (YOLO).
-Filter drinking water (stupid survival stuff).
-Listen to at least 12 different podcasts (anything to keep my mind off walking).
-Play our favorite break-time game: throwing rocks at trees.
-Take a nap while Boo Boo rambles about backpacking gear.
-Eat Reese’s Pieces to change things up.
-Check the map to insure that I’m not 7 miles off the trail.
-Question life and existence.
-TAKE OFF SHOES AND SOCKS.
-Set up tent and inflate sleeping pad.
-Change into camp clothes that don’t smell like week old road kill.
-Cook up some Au Gratin potatoes with home smoked/dehydrated pork tenderloin (or just be lazy as hell and eat another honey bun).
-Play a card game (Eukre, a Midwest thing) with the crew.
-PASS OUT (until the mosquito attacks elevate to the point of ruining your sleep).
Now that I’ve walked the entire length of California, I feel falsely entitled to make a list. Here is my “Best of Cali” resupply town roundup.
-Best Large Town: South Lake Tahoe
Population / 21,000
It’s tough to beat 4th of July weekend on a boat with Dad and Claudia; catching up with my old friend Suggs playing disc golf; and chasing a 400 pound bear after leaving a bar at 2am.
-Best Medium Town: Big Bear Lake
Population / 5,000
We spend a few days here when I injure my leg. Our new friend Kelly takes us to an awesomely unique zoo where all the animals are injured and receiving treatment. Other highlights include hiker basketball, tennis, and BBQ.
-Best Small Town: Lake Hughes
Population / 600
These are the towns you never expect to be great. In Lake Hughes, there is a bar/restaurant and a gas station. That’s it. The bar takes us in like locals, the gas station encourages us to loiter as long as we want, and the owner of the local ostrich farm gives us a free tour. Winning.
Summary/Fun Fact: Upon talking this list over with my group, we realize all three of these towns have two very important things in common.
1. The have “Lake” in their name.
2. They happen to be the three towns in which we have been able to show off our exceptional karaoke skills, complete with group choreographed backup dancing and vocals.
– I now have 2 failed attempts at making a log crossing over a raging creek. If anyone has any tips on dropping massive dead trees across streams, please comment below (sarcasm encouraged).
– We hike through 1,700 MILES of California without seeing a DROP of rain. Within 1,700 FEET of being into Oregon; the clouds, thunder, and rain roll in. It rains the next day as well. Let it be known, I am NOT ok with this trend.
– One day while taking a break, a large spider crawls into Michigan’s food bag. He shakes the bag to make it scurry away, but it has already done its damage… He peers into his food bag to find hundreds of freshly born baby spiders. That candy bar just became significantly less appetizing.
– Speaking of critters leaving things behind… One morning, we are abruptly awoken by our friend Jukebox screaming “no, no, NO!, SHIT!!!”. It turns out that Manzanita (our family trail cat) wasn’t just innocently cuddling with Jukebox through the night. As he begins to stuff his sleeping bag into his pack, he feels something wet. He pulls his sleeping bag back out to find multiple rounds of kitty diarrhea embedded in his bag… Poor thing… (Manzanita that is).
As I sit here in the bar of the Wild Goose Saloon in Ashland, Oregon; I realize how unequivocally blessed I am. However, I don’t want to get too deeply into this subject until the final chapter. But I will say this in praise of the current moment: it’s my birthday, we made it to Oregon, and it’s time to celebrate (with karaoke).