I’m currently reclining on my rolled up sleeping bag inside my tent, waiting for the sky to turn dark and the Perseids (meteorite shower) to begin. It’s like waiting for a movie to begin except there’s no previews and no popcorn.
The rest in Ashland was just what I needed. I don’t think I’m magically healed, but I’m in much better shape than when I arrived. After Dale dropped me at the hostel the owner Sid let me check in early and I was wrapped to find the room had an adjoining bathroom with a freestanding bathtub! I had three baths in the space of about 12 hours and made the most of my one day of privacy making Skype calls to my parents and eating the treats my mate Jessie in Oz had sent me. I had enough food in the room that I didn’t leave the hostel for the rest of the day, and only left my room when Sir Poppins, the Aussie hiker who attempted the pancake challenge in Seiad Valley, offered to share the huge pot of spaghetti bolognese he’d made with me and Robin Hood.
The next morning after my third bath I moved upstairs to one of the dorm rooms and finally stepped outside the hostel. I headed towards the central plaza and scoped out a place to eat breakfast. As I wandered around I felt like I was on a weird solo vacation in a completely foreign city but with familiar faces (hikers) popping up here and there. I went to a place called Brothers and sat at the bench looking out the window feeling somewhat lonely and a little sorry for myself. As the waiter was about to take my ordered I spotted Lullaby on the other side of the road and literally jumped off my seat and ran out the door of the restaurant. I was so happy to see someone from my old original hiking group that I burst into tears as he crossed the road. I dragged him in for breakfast and we caught up on the last 1000 miles as I hadn’t seen him since just after Kennedy Meadows.
In the afternoon I had a massage by a man named Daniel, who was recommended by a girl from Ashland I met one day on the trail. He worked on the area where I’m getting the shooting nerve pain and we talked a lot about what the possible cause is and how to reduce it. Afterwards he dropped me at the post office where I sent ahead my Olympus camera, SPOT device, water bladder and a few other items to Cascade Locks, which I believe I can live without for the Oregon leg. Even these few items have made a major difference to my base weight, and with only four days of food to Crater Lake my pack is feeling much lighter.
I went to the outdoor store and got new ends for my hiking poles which had completely worn out (again), then headed to the Ashland Food Cooperative which was full or organic goods and a juice bar where I asked for the most healthy item on their menu!
In addition to Lullaby, I bumped into some of my other favourite hikers including Dingo and Mud who I had breakfast with on Saturday morning, Katie who I haven’t seen since the mosquito hell through Yosemite, and Leaky and Moonshine who I’m pretty sure snuck off the trail at Truckee just to get away from me! 🙂 I also met a lot of new hikers including a guy called Sunshine who told me they were planning to make a spoof video of my mountain lion encounter but weren’t sure if I’d be offended or not. Almost every hiker I meet now has heard some version of the story and I’ve probably told the story myself at least 100 times. I hope they make the spoof video, I’m looking forward to hearing someone impersonate me with an Aussie accent!
This morning before I hit the trail again, Leaky, Moonshine and Sagitar cooked up a storm in the kitchen of the hostel and shared it with the group of us staying there. I was going to eat some stale leftover bread with peanut butter which was too painful for them to watch.
Just as I polished off the eggs, pancake and sausage, Dale (who dropped me at the hostel on Thursday), his wife Sarah and the two Shiba Inus picked me up again and took me back to the trail. Thank you so much guys!!! I was walking again by 10:30am and felt really good after getting another massage from Daniel yesterday afternoon. I also got a new piece of padding to put between my skin and my hip belt which seems to be reducing the pressure on my nerve. I stopped 9 miles in for lunch and was feeling great until a bee got caught between my thigh and shorts and stung me just as I was about to sit down.
After waking a sleeping hiker with the commotion of the bee sting I ate lunch with another hiker called ‘That Arsehole’ who I’ve heard about but never met before. He’d had an interesting run in with two bears one night so we shared our wild animal encounters with one another. The next descent water source was at least 11 miles away, but just as so many had promised, the miles did tick over quickly on the well graded Oregon trail! Alleluia!
It’s 22:30 and I’m not seeing a lot of action in the sky just yet. Fuller, where are the shooting stars you promised!!??