Sunday, December 28, 2014

Seiad Valley

 On a hot, summer day, after road-walking with little to no shade for 6 miles, I was not a pleasant person to be around as I entered Seiad Valley. I trailed behind while Freebird walked quickly ahead to catch the only restaurant in town before they closed.

 By the time I arrived, Seiad Cafe was just a minute or two away from closing its doors. Freebird had already gotten a table. Despite my attitude, he was still kind enough to pay for my meal. Their burgers were delicious, though we had to keep swatting the flies away.

Several thru-hikers were eating in a nearby room. As a couple from the group came up to pay, Freebird and I had the feeling that the hat I brought along from the road belonged to the woman. I asked, "Hey, has anyone here lost a hat?" 'Almost Awesome,' with a huge shriek of excitement, exclaimed, "Yes, that's my hat! Thank you!" She had since acquired another hat from the hiker box in town, and was willing to give me the one that we had found. But I know how much she loved that one, so I insisted that she keep it. So in exchange, Almost Awesome gave me her "new" one.

Interestingly enough it displays the name, "Robby Naish," a famous windsurfer and friend of Freebird. They used to compete with each other years ago.

Seeing a thru-hiker happy with having a hat returned, something that is so vital to have on the trail for sun protection, really elevated my thoughts. I felt much better after that. 

But then something else very touching occurred. While our food was still being cooked, 
a Japanese thru-hiker named "Two Liters" arrived into town long after the restaurant closed. 
Rick, the previous owner of the Seiad Cafe and current owner of the neighboring Seiad Store, 
walked over with Two Liters to make sure she would still get some dinner. 

One of a few horses across the street from Seiad Cafe and Store that
belong to Bill Roberts, a man who maintains the PCT around the area.

 After dinner we walked down the street to the RV park and met Bob, who allowed us to take showers and do our laundry. He kindly extended our time allotment, since we arrived so late. He also allowed me to charge my camera batteries. Meanwhile, we met several amazing thru-hikers while going through the hiker box (which was a score, with almost everything we needed from Heet to Band-Aids to breakfasts and dinners).

After I got out of the shower, I met "Polar Bear" from Anchorage. My sister and her husband currently live there, and I visited a couple years ago. So we shared lots of stories, and I learned from a first-hand account of a local of some awesome places to visit around there.

I also got to hear more interesting trail stories from the other thru-hikers, something always enjoyable. Once every while, locals would stop by to meet us and ask if there was anything we needed. Some hikers were staying the night here, but Freebird and I preferred to camp back on the trail. Before leaving, "Yosemite Bear" gave us a huge bag of raisins that he found in another hiker box. He was grateful to be free of the extra weight, and we were glad to be given this treasure!

We had one last stop before we left Seiad Valley, back to the store to purchase whatever food we didn't find in the hiker box. While collecting food into the shopping basket, we got more of a chance to talk to Rick. We learned more about the State of Jefferson and the "No Monument" signs around town and listened to stories about his encounters with other thru-hikers and about his daughter. Then he showed us an old log book that Freebird signed during his last hike of the PCT.

 The residents were protesting the government taking some of their lands and turning it into a national monument. While this would protect the lands, Seiad Valley locals would lose their way of life.

Freebird and Rick in front of the store.

 We walked down the Klamath River that night to look for a place to swim. Freebird remembered a spot from years ago but couldn't find it. The next morning we realized that the river had changed its course, and the place where he swam was dried up. Oh well. It was a beautiful moon walk anyway!

Up the PCT we went, for one more night. We would 
camp there, and then hitch out the next day to the Redwoods.

Views the next morning of the Klamath River from the horse trail, that joins with the PCT. 
With smoke looming in the distance, it was the perfect time to head for
 the Pacific Coast, where there were no forest fires.

Now we had been talking for a few days about floating the Klamath. If the opportunity 
presented itself, we would do it. The Klamath empties in the Pacific Ocean, near the Redwoods. 
So as we walked, well above the highway, we saw something sitting in a parking lot beside the road. It looked like a boat! Excited and wanting to take a closer look, 
we bush-whacked and skidded down the steep hill...

...only to find a portable toilet! We laughed long about that one!

 Well now that we were by the river, we may as well go swimming! Actually, only Freebird swam the first time. I was a little frightened of the current. I had never swum in a river before. 

A couple of ospreys fished around us.
We left to hitch, but after awhile of baking in the heat and no offer of a ride yet, we returned to the Klamath to cool down again. This time I watched an eddy carry Freebird in a circle back to the shore, and I could no longer resist. I did three cycles of this, giggling the whole time and overcoming fear!

The next time we returned to the road, a Seiad woman named Laura and her dog, Beau, picked us up, and we began our journey to the coast. It has been a memorable, life-changing experience thus far during the last month on the Pacific Crest Trail. How did one month pass by so quickly? And yet, it felt like years had gone by. So rich were our experiences every single day, so many were the kind people that we met, and so powerful were the lessons that we learned.

And this was still the beginning of it all. We would only be on the Pacific coast for so long, until we would return to the Pacific Crest Trail in Oregon and continue hiking northward.

As we rode along in the car with Laura and Beau, anticipating the
adventures to come, we knew not just how grand they would be.

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