As I set off from Bend in the early morning, the sky was hazy with smoke from the wildfires coming in from Northern California. I headed west, and when google maps had told me to head northwest, my gps in the car told me to head straight west, on the exact same road that the transamerica trail takes. The slow and winding road was on of the most beautiful I’ve driven on so far in this country, and as I reached a summit a man stood with his fully loaded bike admiring the mountains. I stopped too, to take some pictures and offer him snacks or water. He refused everything, but we talked some. Nowadays I rarely tell people that I started this journey by bike for some reason, I just leave that detail out. But I couldn’t stand there talking to him thinking I was an “ordinary” car driver so he got the full story. I would be reaching the coast in just a few hours, and he still had days to go. It’s weird how that works now that I’m on the other side.
South and North Sister in front of the Sea of Lava. The air heavy with smoke from the fires.
As I drove on I soon saw a sign telling me that the Pacific Crest Trail goes through that area, and soon after I saw a man sitting by his backpack by the side of the road. I pulled over right away, there was no way I wouldn’t offer my services to a PCT thru-hiker. He was from New Zealand and had been hiking from the Mexican border for 3,5 months. So extremely impressive. I read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild a few years before it became a movie, and since then I have been fascinated by the PCT. It stretches from the Mexican border through all of California, Oregon and Washington before ending at the Canadian border 4286 km/2663 mi later. Though I’m only now getting into hiking, it’s been a dream of mine of someday attempting it, but at the same time I know how extremely few who set out to do it actually finish it. But that is truly to measure yourself, isn’t it? Someday, maybe. In the meanwhile, I recommend this blog about the youngest girl to every thru-hike the entire trail. Sierra was only 9 when she and her mother finished the PCT in 155 days, I’m so amazed by that girl.
He didn’t want any water nor snacks, as he was heading the opposite direction to stock up on food himself. That tiny backpack is all he’s carrying on his hike, wow. Too bad we were going our separate ways so soon, I would have loved to given him a ride if it wouldn’t have meant a huge detour for me. Hopefully someone picked him up shortly thereafter.
I kept heading west, feeling very conflicted. I saw so many bicycle tourists and it still hurts you know? Every single one of them could have been me. But then I saw the small roads, with lots of traffic and very narrow shoulders and was kind of happy that it wasn’t me. Like I said, very conflicted.
At around noon I got to Florence, Oregon, and could drive down to the beach and dip my feet in the Pacific Ocean. I made it. I definitely took the longer way to get coast to coast, but every single second of this trip has been so amazing. When it comes to the people I’ve met and the things I’ve seen on this trip, it’s been more than I ever expected.
You should have seen me try to take pictures of myself in the ocean. I set off the self timer and RAN as fast as I could into the water. I have at least 15 pictures of me running, just turning around or looking silly…
Finally someone came by who I could force to take a photo of me instead.
After a while on the beach I got back in the car and drove south, to the tiny city of Coos Bay. There I found this:
I got super excited, but that excitement quickly diminished once I realized that the girls working there not even knew that the name of the café was in Swedish. Kaffe means coffee in Swedish. Oh well. I went and bought sushi instead and got this in a fortune cookie.
I like it!
On Wednesday I was back in the car heading south. I passed the border into California, and had to drive through some sort of inspection for the very first time.
Police: Where are you traveling from?
Me: Eeeh. Wow. Well right now Oregon. I picked up the car in Idaho but I’ve come from North Carolina originally on this trip. Well, from Sweden really. I am from Sweden. So is that where I’m traveling from? Or Oregon?
Police: Okaay. Are you carrying any fruits or vegetables?
Police: There’s an apple on the passengers seat.
Me: Oh right. I forgot about that.
How he even let me through is a miracle…
And once again, it’s the random encounters that makes this trip. I stopped at an overlook, and an older man had stopped there as well with his RV. He wasn’t a person who I would have probably started talking to had we been anywhere except a beach overlook right past the border of California, but we got talking and talked for 20 minutes. He told me about his travels through the lower 48 states, and I told him about Sturgis and everything I’ve experienced (this is an example of where I didn’t tell him about it starting as a bike trip, I don’t even know why…). He was such a nice man, and even if he did have a kind of rugged exterior I could tell his heart was good. And he gave me that same stern look as everyone has been giving me for 2,5 months now “Be safe, there’s a lot of weird people in this country!” as we said goodbye.
I was heading towards a trail in the Jedediah Smith redwood forest, the Boy Scout Tree Trail. I had to drive on a dusty little road up a mountain to find it, but it was definitely worth it. The boy scout tree is one of the tallest trees on earth, measuring up to around the same size as the statue of liberty. That is insanely tall.
There were some other people on the trail as well, but mostly it was just me and the jingling from my bear bell. It’s a great conversation starter apparently, as a lot of people stopped me to tell me about their bear encounters. One even took out her phone to show me a picture of the grizzly mama and her two cubs they saw in Glacier national park just a week earlier. Scary! They had been terrified and left as quickly and quietly as possible.
After a great hike I only had 1,5 hours left to drive to my hotel. Highway 101 was full of bicycle tourist, and once again I didn’t exactly envy them. In many parts the road is narrow and the speed limit high. I was just waiting for something to happen really, but maybe I’m just overthinking everything when it comes to cars and bicycle tourists at the moment.
On Thursday morning I headed north again on the 101, as my very good friend google had told me to go back up to Prairie Creek redwood forest to hike there. I checked in with the ranger to get a map and ask about the trail, something I always try to do. I’m hiking alone, so I want to at least make sure someone knows I’m out there, where I’m going and what I look like. I also carry my road ID with my information on it, and my gps tracker with emergency functions.
I took miner’s ridge trail down to the beach, then hiked along the beach to Fern Canyon and back on James Irvine trail. All in all it was 24 km/15 miles. That’s the longest walk I’ve ever done in my life. It was also the loneliest hike I’ve ever done. I didn’t meet anyone at all until I reached the beach, and only a few on my way back. You could reach the canyon by car though, so that was full of people.
The last photo shows that not all trails are easy to walk. Here I had to climb over this huge tree trunk. Someone had put nails in to make it easier I guess. Well, it wasn’t. But I like obstacles so I didn’t mind!
I was completely exhausted after that very long hike, so after some snacks I was ready to go back to the hotel. I was so dirty and smelly, but luckily this hotel has a guest laundry. It was needed. And as interesting as it would be to hike the PCT, I doubt this is how they can soften up their muscles at the end of the day.
The perfect end to an exhausting day!
So what’s up next? I’m driving highway 1 to San Francisco on Friday. I haven’t taken the short way so far, why should I start now? I’m planning on going slowly and enjoying the scenic drive, before I make it to San Francisco by late afternoon. After that I’m planning on locking myself in a hotel room for 24 hours because I’m in desperate need of some relaxation and rest. As much fun it is to travel and hike, it’s exhausting too. Luckily I have been to San Francisco before and will go back once my parents get here later, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on much. And on Saturday night I’m finally seeing Taylor Swift in concert again. And even better, this time I’ll be joined by my friend Josefine coming all the way from Sweden! I’ll be able to speak Swedish with people LIVE, not just on Skype! Weird. Josefine and I have been friends for a long time, we were figure skating buddies when we were little, but we also went to California together 8 years ago to study at college for a year. We also went to San Francisco then, but that was on Thanksgiving and we saw rain for the first time in months. It sure didn’t rain much in Southern California that year.
And after San Francisco it’s finally time for Yosemite national park. The only question is, should I try to hike a fourteneer or no? We’ll see, we’ll see…