My attempts at getting started before sunrise have continued to fail, and I didn’t start hiking until almost 6:45 this morning. By that time, the sun was well on its way into the sky, though it was still relatively cool. At least it would be a mostly downhill into Seiad Valley.
From my campsite, the trail continued to descend down the valley, eventually reaching Grider Creek.
A relatively large creek, especially this far north of the Sierra, the trail crossed Grider Creek four times over the course of seven miles, each time over a nice steel-and-wood bridge. Three of the bridges were relatively new, having been replaced after burning in a fire here a few years ago. (There were still quite a few dead trees from the fire, but the forest had recovered a lot since then, and it was generally pleasant to walk through.)
After the last crossing of Grider Creek, after just under eight miles, I took a break at a picnic table at one of the campsites in the Grider Creek Campground next to the trail.
After leaving, at the next campsite, a box of cans of root beer sat on a picnic table. Another hiker beckoned me over, or I might have missed it.
The trail then turned onto a dirt road, which began the longest roadwalk on the trail so far. As the trail/road left the park, it was flanked for a mile or so by blackberry bushes, which had some incredibly tart fruit.
After about 2.5 miles of dirt road, the road became paved, and began to follow along the Klamath River. Another 2.5 miles after that, the road reached CA 96, made a U-turn, and crossed the Klamath over a bridge. After another mile of walking along the state highway, the trail finally reached the town of Seiad Valley.
My goal was to reach the Seiad Valley Cafe before noon, and I made it there, 14.3 miles from camp, with a couple minutes to spare.
The cafe is home to the “5 Pound Pancake Challenge”: if you can eat five pounds of pancakes in two hours, you get them for free. Needless to say, few people actually complete the challenge. There were already a few hikers there eating, including Alias who was attempting the pancake challenge. He was two (of five) pancakes in after an hour, and seemed unlikely to finish. (When he left, he took two and a half pancakes out with him.) I got “only” a burger and smoothie for myself.
After lunch, I picked up my resupply box and a fuel can from the general store next door, and then went next-door to the RV park, where I hid from the heat (now over 100 degrees) in their office with a few other hikers. It wasn’t air-conditioned, but it was inside, and there were fans, so it was way better than being outside.
I considered hiking out that evening when the sun got lower and the temperature dropped, but the temperature was forecast to be over 100° F until after 6 pm. Pretty much everyone else who arrived in Seiad Valley early in the day hiked on, but I just didn’t want to hike further in the heat when I could avoid it.
I got dinner from the general store, and continued to hang out in the office until it was cool enough to set up my tent in the area of the RV park reserved for PCT hikers. (There wound up being four other hikers, including Bronco, and Jelly, whom I first met in Idyllwild, and then didn’t see again until today.)
While it was still warm in the evening, it had cooled down a fair bit. As I was going to sleep, I noted that the crickets seemed fairly loud — at least, much louder than they generally were in the forest.
Tomorrow: Get up at 4:30 and hike out as early as possible; it’s a six mile exposed climb out of Seiad Valley, and the sooner in the day I can do it, the better.