Miles: 8.14
Camping: Ashland, OR hostel off PCT mile 1727.6 (plus .8 mile road walk)

I feel as if somehow everything is in overdrive and I’m on one heckofa ride! Now that the longest state in the history of states is over Oregon seems so short, and I don’t want to leave. I woke up already 20 miles into Oregon’s 450, and I ate a Clif Bar while watching the sun rise. I’m out of oats, so it’s good that I’ll be in town by 10am. Clif Bar is my least favorite breakfast but I forgot to ration my Pro Bars, and I keep them as a last resort. I pictured a plate piled high with pancakes a steaming cup of coffee nearby, and hiked on into Oregon.

Somehow the state line represents more than a physical border. Plants and terrain seem to know they belong to the state north and they behave differently. The False Hellebore is in bloom here, and though it was profuse throughout California I never once saw one even close to flowering. It’s beautiful. The trees wear the neon mosses with pride, they stand a bit taller, the hills roll into valleys and somehow it’s so distinctly Oregon. I beamed with joy and pride on my short hike this morning. I touched the grasses, smelled the flowers, crushed the mint and inhaled deeply, I sang songs and knew there would have to be a total foot breakdown to keep me from walking across Oregon.

It was almost too soon when I hit the road into town. I’d already skipped the shortcut, wanting to stay on trail that much longer. My feet don’t typically hurt until after lunch, so just having a morning hike is perfect. On the road, a car immediately pulled over and offered a ride. I only had .8 miles to go and was enjoying myself so much, I politely declined. Cars drove by waving, and I smiled big at them as they passed.

Callahan’s is a lodge off the I-5 just south of Ashland. I’ve never been there but I’ve driven by many times. It’s nicer than I expected and they are very hiker friendly. They showed me to the hiker lounge, a conference room on the second floor where we are welcome to unfold ourselves and our belongings. I set my pack down and went to the bathroom to wash the dirt off of my face and hands before breakfast. They sat me on the balcony by the gardens and a stone waterfall. I felt a little too dirty for the place, but I owned it. I’m too happy to care. I ordered a Denver omelet and it was served with fresh fruit of which I savored every bite.

Halfway through breakfast, Angles appeared. He had gone to the campground the night before, but didn’t seem bothered by the miscommunication. We laughed over breakfast while making arrangements for our stay in Ashland. When the waitress came back, she told me that a woman had paid for my meal that morning! She was already gone so I couldn’t thank her, she must have been a true angel! Thank you kind stranger!

We walked to the road next, prepping to hitch into town, when a car pulled over in front of us. Never having put out our thumbs, we thought it couldn’t be for us…but it was! They squeezed us in with another couple who are hiking southbound and drove us all to town. Wow! Such luck already today! They were even willing to wait while I ran into the hotel where my packages were being held. I finally got some Chacos, and a nice blog reader named Jim sent me a pirates booty worth of Peanut M&M’s! I will not run out of those any time soon. Thanks Jim!!!

We got dropped off at the Ashland Commons, an apartment building turned hostel. The exterior is covered in a tiled mosaic, and it’s a bright and cheerful place. I was shown to my room on the second floor where I took a shower and got in touch with Danger Spoon and CrackerJack. They have been in town for a day or so already, and I was excited to reunite with them. Danger Spoon is back! We met at the Caldera Brewery and I had a pint of lager and some lunch. The food was the freshest meal I’ve had in a long time, fresh greens in my salad, ripe tomatoes, crisp carrots, and a chilaquiles lasagna with whole ingredients (ie not authentic, but tasty!). It was amazingly delicious eating real food, drinking a nice local microbrew, and enjoying the company of friends.

They were at a different hotel, so they went to go check in, and I wandered back to the hostel. I stopped at the Co-op on my way back, and was immediately wrapped up in the wonderful smells. I love a good local food store, and I bought fresh greens, an organic peach, an avocado, 2 types of yogurt and some goat cheese. I returned to the hostel and made a salad while getting my laundry done. Other feiends came into town, but we all stayed in different places. I needed the down time, so I opted to relax in my room with my book. We will all be together tomorrow, and it will be a great day for a zero with friends, in Oregon!