Pacific Crest Trail (2018) 23: Welcome to the State of Jefferson

Monday, June 18, 2018 – 14.10 miles

I was buying nothing the trail was selling today. Lars had warned me about the overgrowth and ticks, so I was over the walking before even leaving camp, and the experience was exactly as expected throughout most of the canyon. The most annoying part was that poison oak was mixed with the undergrowth, masked so that it was virtually impossible to avoid. Eventually with the sweltering heat I was just ‘meh’ and reassured myself with the fact that I would be able to do laundry this afternoon in Seiad Valley. Fingers crossed that I won’t get poison oak.

The trail improved as it neared Grider Creek Campground, becoming less overgrown and more open to the creek.

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I ate lunch at the campground, which had picnic tables and shade (i.e. it was the Sheraton). The rest of the walk to Seiad Valley was on roads. Initially it was painfully hot and the road was painfully bright so in a rare move, I put on my sunglasses. I don’t like how sunglasses change the colours of the scenery, but for me they provide the illusion that the heat is less unbearably intense as it actually is. Before long a woman pulled over and offered me a ride to the highway, but I would be disgracing the name of Heysen hikers if I skipped a short road walk like this one. I continued on and the walk actually became pleasant as the road passed into shade and the river came into view.

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View from the road

Seiad Valley is an interesting place. On their town sign they have the seal of the State of Jefferson, which eTrails provides some information about: ‘Section Q is in the heart of the “State of Jefferson.” This rural portion of extreme northern California and southwestern Oregon has attempted to secede and become the 51st state, named in honor of President Thomas Jefferson, a proponent of liberty. The movement began in 1941 and remains active, with the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors passing a nonbinding vote to secede in 2013. The conservative counties feel unrepresented in the liberal state capitals and are resentful of water and environmental issues. Highway 96 is called the State of Jefferson Scenic Byway and the Southern Oregon University public radio station calls itself Jefferson Public Radio.’

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The RV park ($15) is hiker-friendly and provides a towel, soap, shampoo and a Tide Pod, which happily no one attempted to eat while I was there. It has two areas for hikers to hang out in, one inside and one outside, both with electrical outlets and fridges. The outdoors area has a barbeque and fire ring, though the owner didn’t want us to make a fire. He was very welcoming and I was impressed by the mellow way in which he dealt with some of the more eccentric hiker personalities. He and Sid argued civilly at length about land use, gun control, divorce, etc. (the topics seemed to get increasingly obscure as the argument continued). The store is also hiker-friendly and seems to be making a sincere attempt to stock a variety of pastas, potatoes and other hiker foods. I bought salad, bananas, ice cream and a can of chili. How are you going to open a can, you ask? Yes, that’s something I should have asked myself. Chew and Swallow however had a can opener on his Swiss knife and opened it for me.

To introduce the other hikers in attendance: there was Sid, who I had passed/been passed by a few times on the trail but not had a proper conversation with until today, and who unfortunately was now dealing with an injury; Chew and Swallow, who was returning to the trail after bailing out in the desert; and Alex(?), who was hiking the Bigfoot Trail. I talked with Alex(?) a lot over our stay but we never introduced ourselves formally to one another, so I’m not sure of his name. I think that I heard Chew and Swallow call him Alex, but that could also be something that I made up and convinced myself of. At any rate it’s a great group and I’m having fun chatting with them. Everyone is planning to take a rest day tomorrow.

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