From Snow and Skeeters to Ticks and Toxins

June 11, 2018

We spent the stormy weekend (June 9-10) writing blog posts, watching water pour out of the sky, and laughing at Clementine, the cat, whenever she expressed her disgust at the wet weather. I felt cosseted, getting rescued by Jay’s parents and enjoying their hospitality.

However, the PCT continued to sing its siren song. Since the snow was too deep in the Cascades, we decided to spend a week hiking from Seiad Valley to Ashland, giving the snow more time to melt.

The trail began by ascending out of the Klamath River drainage. Poison oak grew abundantly, reaching across the trail, climbing shoulder high, caressing our legs and packs. Toiling uphill, I suddenly felt something crawling along my neck, just at the hair line. I reached up … and raked out a tick!

“Oh, yuck!” I exclaimed.

“Looks like we’ve traded snow and mosquitoes for ticks and poison oak,” Jay observed. “Maybe you’d better check my back and neck.”

We camped on a flat shelf 1,000 feet above the Klamath River. The sinking sun sent light between the tree trunks to illuminate our tent.

June 12, 2018

I’ve become accustomed to 1,000 foot climbs on the PCT. But I have to admit, it’s been a while since we’ve had a really big climb. This morning the trail took us 3,500 feet above last night’s airy campsite.

What’s it like, gaining that much altitude in a morning? Our hike goes a bit like this:

Begin hiking. Stop to negotiate a downed tree. Continue climbing.

Stop to watch the last two feet of a black snake disappear into the bushes. Keep climbing.

Notice that the ceanothus is outcompeting the poison oak. Cheer, and keep climbing.

Stop to admire a view of the Klamath River winding through the Seiad Valley. Keep climbing.

Stop to watch a quarter-sized toad hop up the bank. Keep climbing.

Notice your water bottle is almost empty. Keep climbing.

See a tiny sign, “H2O”. Gladly turn off the trail to get water from an ice cold spring. Enjoy the break while the water bottles slowly fill. Then keep climbing.

Stop while another snake slithers across the trail. Admire its bright scales in rectangular patterns. Keep climbing.

Stop to photograph a whole slew of wild flowers. Keep climbing.

(From top to bottom, unknown purple wildflower, Indian paintbrush, yellow leaf iris, plumed Solomon’s seal, penstemon.)

Listen to a spotted towhee exuberantly fill the morning with it’s flat “tweeee” song. Keep climbing.

Find a shady tree for lunch. Discover a flower beneath the tree, pink with white picotee edging. Look it up and learn its name – cliff maids. Keep climbing.

About two hours after lunch, finally reach the top of the climb! More wildflowers, a rattlesnake, and fabulous views are the reward.

(blue star tulip, bear grass, spreading phlox)

Indian paintbrush in the foreground, Mt Shasta in the background!

Near the end of the day, we hiked through a section of burned forest. This was one of the many fire damaged sections of the PCT closed last year. We were glad to see it open, thanks to the hard work of trail crews.

June 13, 2018

The lovely thing about a huge climb is being on top. The spine of the Siskiyou Mtns holds our path today. Flowers galore! Bird songs everywhere! Sunshine, cool breeze, blue sky, tall evergreens! The world is a wondrous place, and today I am devoutly thankful to be here, surrounded by nature!

(bleeding hearts, Columbia windflower, cliff maids, larkspur, arrowleaf balsamroot, unknown flowers bordering the path, burned lodgepole pine, currant)

Fabulous views!

(I must give Jay credit for the alliterative title and many of the wildflower names.)