Brown Mountain Lava Flow

July 27, 2010.

This morning, I decided to make up for my lack of calories last night with a greasy small town breakfast. I stopped in the soon-to-be ghost town of Chiloquin and located the only place serving hot food. There were four middle-to old- aged, burly working men seated at the counter when I arrived. They were chatting up a storm about all sorts of stuff, including stories of other folks’ stupid attempts at robbery, farm animals, and funny anecdotes. I had a huge, but mediocre, breakfast burrito and went on my way.

Following Sullivan’s directions in the Southern Oregon hiking book I pulled off rt. 140 and parked on the side of the road near milepost 32. Here, the PCT nonchalantly crosses the road; this became my starting point for the hike. I walked south along the nicely groomed trail, crossing a few other trails that appeared to be maintained for winter travel, enjoying the smell of the forest. After about a quarter mile, I crossed the rocky lava field for the first time. The path is extremely well built through this section; I had no trouble walking with my crutch along the trail. Just as it was getting too hot to handle, the trail re-entered the woods. It kept doing this, alternating between wide open lava and shady woods, for the duration of my hike. I only encountered two other parties on this quiet, peaceful afternoon. I spent about 3.5 hours on the trail, including a couple of short breaks and a nice long rest at the mid-way point. Over the past few days I had been traveling at about 1 mile per hour so I estimate I traveled approximately 2.5-3 miles on this hike. That was by far the longest hike I’ve done with my broken foot!

All the way back I brainstormed about how to get into the water without having to go to one of the foolish “resort” lakes up the road. I was hot and caked with filth from the last few days of being in the woods with no amenities and really wanted to wash up. As I approached the car I first heard, then saw, running water. It was pouring over a short drop just under the road’s bridge to my left. It seemed accessible only by a nimble, two footed person so I searched for other ideas. Looking across the street I saw a portion of the river that paralleled the road, which was accessible via a wide gravel pullout set just enough off the road to not be obviously visible.

I grabbed the Dr. Brommer’s out of my car, dashed across the road and stuck my feet in the water. Aaaah. I scrubbed as much as I could without being indecent and dried off in the sun before continuing on my journey.

This night’s accommodations were provided by the Siskiyou National Forest. The Mt. Ashland Campground is located just a couple of miles past the ski area, has a handful of sites with picnic tables and fire rings, and is free. I pulled into the camp just as a short burst of hail exploded from the sky so I waited a little bit before unloading my gear. The only downside was that I had to carry my things down a short, steep, narrow path to get to the closest campsite. After giving my knee a real workout today, this was mildly unpleasant.

I amused myself by scrambling around the boulders, looking at the lovely alpine plants, scoping the view of Mt. Shasta and trying out a little picnic table-top yoga. It was a relaxing evening.

The thunderstorms finally caught up to me here, though. The wind blasted through the camp all night and rain fell in spurts from late evening on. I lay, reading in my tent as the weather blew through, enjoying the dichotomy of peace and violence that makes up nature.

The photo set from the entire trip is on Picasa.

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