so ya, i finished up the oregon coast trail a few weeks ago, actually i left brookings (the last town on the trail) just short of one month after i started. i stayed in brookings for 4 nights. the state park with a hiker-biker site was just a 20 minute walk from town, but i did get a hotel the day i rolled in, or should i say floated in. it was a hella-rainy day and i was done DONE done with having wet feet and cars splashing road grime on me. most people were really nice and gave me some space when i had to road walk, but sometimes, there were these people who i could actually see swerve to splash a puddle my direction. it didn’t matter if i walked with or against traffic (i walked where there was the widest shoulder). anyway, i digress.
i stayed in brookings trying to decide where to go next and what i should do. i was still getting reports about snow still falling in the sierras and the cascades. i knew it was still raining at the lower elevations so streams would be flowing high, wide, fast and cold. i don’t have super strong skills for either, well i have stream crossing skills, but it makes me nervous, especially with how cold the rivers run here. one slip, that’s all it takes to get everything wet and invite hyperthermia to the party. some times the best skill and piece of gear one can carry is intuition. so i parked myself at the chaco brewery tap-house for a few days and did some writing out of my options and having conversations with friends about living to hike another hike.
i was trying to decide if i should go on south into california and try to find a job in some place like arcata, or take a bus up to eugene, bend maybe… and as i was exploring the beach around harris beach state park some voice in my head said, “how about ashland? its close to the syskiyou wilderness area…you know how much you love the syskiyous”. so i did a little search on how to get to ashland. first i was tempted to take the rougue river trail. its 40 miles and would dump me close to I-5. but then i saw that there was a bus! and the bus would take me down one of my favorite highways and would follow the smith river for a bit! sweet! yes please.
that last night was one of the worse nights on the trail for me. actually almost every night at this campground was not great for sleeping. the first night i ran into a guy that i had seen a couple of days before who was biking from portland back to l.a. we spent the morning chatting while he packed up. we both were confused by the noises that night. we couldn’t remember seeing any construction that would go on all freaking night, except for a couple of hours maybe around 3 am. later as i was walking around town, i figured it must have been the lumber mill on the edge of town. but that last night, it was the worst.
it started with the rain. it wasn’t just a nice light rain. it was a hard heavy rain with big drops and it rained all freaking night. then at some point i could hear a loud sniffing sound right by my head, and because of the sound of the rain, it really had to be right next to me to hear. at some point, whatever it was, i like to think of it as a dog from the nearby neighborhood, tried to get into my vestibule area and started pushing things around. i finally got it shewed away, but i think it came back a couple hours later, but left quickly. after i thought about it (like in the morning on the bus) it was probably looking for some shelter. all my food and whatnot were in the bear canister so i doubt it could smell anything, and i didn’t cook any food there that night because well rain. but geez! there were a lot of odd noises that night, so when morning finally came, i was more than happy to pack up and head into town. yes, it was still raining, but i’ve gotten pretty good at packing everything but in my tent then using the umbrella to cover the pack while i roll up the tent and head on down the road. that lightweight backpacking umbrella has sure come in handy!
so i arrived in ashland, got a room at a hostel, dried everything out and started looking for, and found, a job fairly quickly. my second day on the job, i found a place to live for a few months, till the end of august. then i will decide: “should i stay or should i go now”. i’d like to stay here a year. ashland is an odd little town surrounded by wilderness. the city park has trails that will take me to california and connect with the pct and i imagine the other trails i want to explore in northern california. i’ve started avoiding the co-op here like crazy. the first couple times it was nice. the first trip i reconnected to some great portland friends that have relocated here. later i ran into people who i had to ban from the co-op i use to work at. and to be honest, their buying guidelines are not that great and i’m not sure how they treat their staff, but they don’t usually seem very happy. then again i don’t think their customer base is inspiring. i shop across the street from where i am currently living, at shop-n-kart! its affordable, they have great vegan options (not so much at the co-op), and i see more working-class folks, fewer hippies, more crusty punks, more people of color, and i can walk there. to be honest ashland is small enough i can walk across town in an hour, bike across in 10 minutes, from end to end in 20.
i did finally make it to the farmers market. it happens on saturday (downtown) and tuesday at the armory in south ashland. the tuesday market is huge! its amazing! and most of it is organic, so i’ll be going there more for my fruits and veggies. it certainly had a community feel. and for being from 8 am to 1pm on a weekday, it was packed! lots of vendors. lots of people having lunch. it felt really good. there was also an animal rights group with a chicken cage challenge. they had a cage the approximate proportion for a human that a chicken gets. when i went to thank them for being there, they asked if i wanted to get in…nonononono. i have done that before, no need to do it again, but i do recommend that people do it. as i walked away the women at working the booth said nice hoody, it was then that i noticed i was wearing my ALF hoody that my pals sent me when they sent me my tablet. ha! maybe that is why i was getting some looks.
anyway, so here i am in ashland, oregon. my plan is not really no plan, but i am kicking around some ideas. i think it would be super rad to be able to spend at least a year here working and saving money, but also getting some writing projects started. i hope to take the time and space to really deepen my practice and maybe come up with some tangible projects that can pay my way around this country. i also want to re-evaluate my goals/desires/purpose for the adventures, so i may reframe it more. so i have some ideas that i want to flush out or try out while i am here. i’m just really realizing how much energy the co-op in portland took, how much of my time and energy i gave to it even when i wasn’t there. i know i need to give that some time to sink in and to let go of some of those feelings and process what it means for me personally. i will forever be grateful for the experiences i had there, the connections and friendships i made, and how much i learned about myself and community. and yet, i am so glad i am no longer there.
alright so, here is what i have planned for the next few posts: write-up a review/wrap-up the oregon coast trail, i am still going to do a gear list and review, and i want to write about some of my ideas on the current political climate on climate change, as well as maybe start a regular month post on changes we can make in our daily lives that require no governmental accord! and this week i hope to get out on some longer hikes in the area so i will post some pics and such soon.
so that’s the rambley long update!