Tag Archives: Callahan's Lodge

PCT Oregon – Day 4: Passing Pilot Rock to Hobart Bluff

Day Four
Today’s Miles: 11.5
Total Miles: 40.8
Callahan’s Mountain Lodge to Camp 7 (near Hobart Bluff Trailhead)

Sleep did not go so well last night. I tossed and turned in my big comfortable bed with pillows. You just never know with sleep…My daughter had an 8 a.m. Zoom meeting for work, and I was up on my computer as well. I checked the PCT Facebook pages for any pertinent updates, and even posted a photo. I was really doing it! I met my very first thru hiker at breakfast. I envisioned seeing several PCT hikers at the lodge, but this would be the story of my journey; there just weren’t that many people hiking this year.

I was nervous about being alone in a few short days, and hoped I’d find a buddy to tag along with, (like all the PCT videos I watched on YouTube). I wasn’t scared to hike solo all day, but I was nervous about being alone at night. (If you missed my spooky story of solo camping Labor Day weekend 2019, you can enjoy it here.)

*Shannon was a spunky woman who was not shy in telling me all her terrifying close-encounter animal stories through California. This was NOT the kind of conversation my anxious mind needed. She was averaging 20-mile days, but taking the day off (zero-day), was heading into Ashland today. Shannon would easily catch up to me, and maybe we could try to stay together for a bit. I didn’t think there was any way I would ever be doing 20-mile days, but knowing she wouldn’t be far behind gave me some comfort.

At breakfast, Carl’s vegetable omelet arrived with no veggies, but the fruit plate was amazing, and my little guy enjoyed more lizard viewing.

At last it was time to say goodbye to Callahan’s and to the kids, and we hit the trail. Our 4-year-old was really sad to see mom and dad go, mostly because he wanted to hike with us (he loves to hike).

It was 11:15 a.m. and my heart was heavy to see my daughter and son drive off, but my soul was joyous to be on the trail again. It already felt like home. The book described this section as being “somewhat undesirable,” crossing several roads with a close proximity to civilization; but, I loved it! I learned to take the book with a grain of salt. Sure, this section might not compare to the views of Mt. Hood that would greet me at the top of the state, but each day on the trail had it’s own beauty I found easy to appreciate.

More lizards greet us along the way.

Today brought a huge array of landscapes, and a wide variety of vegetation. We saw Junipers, Firs, and Madrones, sweeping views of Mt. Shasta, and most notably, we went right by Pilot Rock.

Turbo bug spray repellant up for grabs – I will need it in a few days!

We had a couple locations of phenomenal views that beckoned snack breaks, and open hillsides with I-5 far below.

As suddenly as it appeared, Pilot Rock was behind us. This felt so magical, and I never tired of it through the whole state as I watched landmarks come and go.

Pilot Rock in our rearview mirror

One of the most interesting vegetation I saw in all of Oregon was during this section; a seed pod or fruit. It looked so edible, and there was definite evidence of critters enjoying it.

Can anyone identify this?

We met another hiker along the way, *Thomas. He was doing all of Oregon as well, but had a hurt knee, and was taking long breaks. We all filtered water at a piped spring (marked by a post in a grassy clearing). We planned on camping only 2 miles ahead near a pond, but we figured water from a piped spring is always preferable to a pond.

Half a mile up from the spring, Carl realized he didn’t have his sunglasses. We dropped our packs, and he ran back to find them. He returned with one of the best “close-encounter” stories of the trail…it just didn’t involve me.

He was running, trying to hurry when he thought, “I should slow down and walk. I won’t see my sunglasses if I’m running.” Nearly 30 seconds later, he saw a HUGE rattlesnake in the trail. He may have stepped right on it if he had still been running. In this area, the PCT was overgrown with thick grasses, so it was hard to see the trail. I made Carl walk in front of me through tall grass sections the rest of the day, and I was happy it was his story to tell, not mine.

We made it to what my book calls “Camp 7” for this PCT section, 1.7 miles south of Hobart Bluff Trailhead. This was Carl’s first real-deal backcountry camping experience. No amenities here, except a great water source. The pond was barely accessible, and the water looked very questionable, but Carl found a pipe with flowing water nearby, much better than the pond! Thomas camped here as well.

Carl and I snagged a wonderful spot with a great view next to a meadow full of wildflowers. This was one of my favorite nighttime locations on the whole trail, and one of my favorite evenings; probably because Carl was with me. Hiking with him was fun, and he made me feel safe. I was nervous I’d be facing the trail alone soon. Not only was I nervous about sleeping in the middle of nowhere all alone, I was nervous about carrying all my gear. With Carl, the weight was shared between the two of us, and my pack already felt so heavy.

We set up the tent and had dinner, now equipped with plasticware from the lodge. We no longer had to eat with my toothbrush! The most amazing sunset followed. We sat on a big rock for over an hour watching the sky turn colors as a doe grazed in the meadow nearby.

As soon as it was completely dark, we saw city lights below that added to the whole scene. The weather was perfect, it never got cold, and there were ZERO mosquitoes, even though we were right by the pond. It felt like a miracle. Despite the nervousness in the back of my mind, my heart was full, and my smile was wide.

*I’ve changed the names of fellow hikers I met along the way for privacy.
Did you miss the beginning of my PCT Oregon journey? Here is Day One.

Oregon PCT Backpacking Day 3 to Callahan’s Lodge

Day Three
Today’s Miles: 9
Total Miles: 29.3
Mt. Ashland Campground to Callahan’s Mountain Lodge

I slept MUCH better last night with the help of the wind lulling me to sleep. It took some time for me to figure out how to be comfortable without a pillow. Carl has decided a pillow will be his one luxury item on future backpacking trips. I was out of the tent by 5:15 a.m. and watched the sunrise. It was a beautiful morning, and the wind had died down.

Only faced with 9 miles for today, we enjoyed our morning, not needing to rush. However, we were low on water, so we rationed last night in order to make breakfast this morning. I was feeling a bit dehydrated, but water was hopefully waiting for us at what used to be the Mt. Ashland Inn, 3 miles ahead. We were on the trail by 8:30 a.m. and enjoyed another morning of wildflowers, some views of Mt. Shasta and a giant manmade birds nest.

Trail Art?

The Mt. Ashland Inn used to serve PCT hikers, but is now a private residence. Thankfully they have maintained a water spigot for hikers to use. I wasn’t sure it would be turned on this year amid the pandemic, but it was! With proper use of hand sanitizer, water bottles can still be filled. We enjoyed a little break snacking at the picnic table overlooking a beautiful garden full of vegetables and flowers.

I was sore and tired today, so a short hiking day was perfect. Shortly after leaving the Mt. Ashland Inn, I saw my first deer on the PCT.

There was also a fun view of Pilot Rock. We saw it the first day, and it already looked so much closer just three days later. This would be the first of landmarks on the horizon I would see far in the distance and watch it draw closer as my feet moved along the trail. This felt so phenomenal, but it was especially magical with Pilot Rock. We would go right by it tomorrow, even though it looked so far away still.

Pilot Rock

Old stage coach road

We made it to Callahan’s Lodge in no time. Taking the side trail down to the lodge, we got turned around for a minute (thanks to some locals who sent us in the wrong direction), but we retraced our steps and found the way. I crossed my first paved road today, which was weird, and later hiked under I-5, which was even more strange. We got to the lodge around 1:30 p.m., and immediately remembered the pandemic, putting our masks on before entering.

It was early in the day and we could have kept hiking, but I was excited to stay at the lodge, and we made plans for the kids to meet us here to give grandma and grandpa a little break.

The lodge offers a backpackers special for hikers who simply arrive with packs on (much cheaper than booking a room in advance). We could tent on the lawn outside the lodge, or for a very reasonable price, we could get a big corner room to ourselves – we splurged on the room! The kids were staying the night, so having a big room to coral the 4-year old would prove extremely useful. I was a little nervous with the pandemic, but we only saw a few other people there the whole time, and it was easy to keep distance.

Carl and I headed to the patio for lunch while we waited for the room. We have only eaten outside at restaurants during the pandemic, and this patio did not disappoint.

We shared a delicious pitcher of Amber ale from an Ashland brewery, but didn’t have the best food experience. However, we were gifted with a free pitcher, so I won’t belabor the point that food arrived frozen, or was completely forgotten. The service was friendly, and we have to give restaurants a little leeway during all the COVID craziness. With my beer buzz, I was happy, if not entirely fed.

Our room was ready shortly after, and we showered. Showering is the BEST after a couple days of backpacking (or 11 days of backpacking…which I will get to later in the journey). The kids arrived shortly after this, and the little one was SO happy to see me. I worried about the next four weeks. How was I going to be away for so long? We walked the quarter mile nature trail around the property a couple of times, stopping to view the waterfalls and lizards along the way.

My parents came to have dinner with us at the lodge and helped me replace the batteries in my GPS, which were already dead.

That evening brought anxiousness for me. It felt overwhelming to go through my resupply bag, and repack for the next leg, as well as factor in what the kids needed for the next couple of days. I had to figure out where Carl and I would get water the next day, etc. etc.

On top of all this, my book made the next leg sound awful; hot, not that pretty, and basically a means to an end. I felt defeated, What am I getting myself into? I was so happy to see the kids and give my parents a night off, but it threw me a little. Plus the 4-year old napped on the way to the lodge, so he was up past midnight. We had big comfy beds with pillows, but still didn’t get the best sleep. Lessons learned…