‘A New Reality of the Trail’ – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

Pacific Crest Trail Hikers Escape the McKinney Fire

Jamie Lusch/Mail Tribune Andy Seldon, 51, PCT Trail Named “Sad Spot,” in Jackson Wellsprings, Ashland, brushes his teeth Tuesday with a toothbrush he cut in half to save weight in his pack.

It took some angelic work to navigate a nearly 110-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail that closed in response to the McKinney Fire.

The “Trail Angels” and other connections that PCT hikers rely on helped ease their transition from the trail after the U.S. Forest Service closed the road between Siskiyou County, California, and the Etna Summit in Mount Ashland.

More trail closures lie further, more fires burning along sections of the trail north of Rogue Valley, making such blockages part of a new PCT reality.

Three hikers who broke camp Tuesday at Jackson Wellsprings considered themselves lucky to survive the closure with relative ease. All three emphasized on the tradition of PCT, which was carried on by their old names.

Sad Spot, Bed Penny and Tinder determined to keep on the trail and with positive acknowledgment saw the few hundred miles lost.

“It’s becoming increasingly rare for people to be able to extend PCT all the way through,” Said Spot said.

“It’s just a new reality on the trail,” Bed Penny said.

The three hikers were scheduled to meet two of their friends, Melissa Willers and Geoff Calkins, and hiked part of the trail together outside Yereka when they learned of the closure.

Villars and Culkins are already living in their vans and traveling in the area and were ready to ferry their friends around the McKinney Fire and up to Crater Lake, where the group re-trace despite being closed 60 miles further. hopes to take. Because of Windigo and Potter’s fire.

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Hikers hope to get around those closures in the same way they have McKinney closures, through close communication with hikers and reliance on outside help from the trail.

Sad Spot said he heard reports of fire closures from other hikers, but didn’t believe him until the group stopped in a herd of hikers and waited for a ride in an area 50 miles south of Mount Etna. was doing.

He explained that all pedestrians would need outside help to get out. He had friends in his group; Others had scar angels.

“A whole caravan of trail angels pulled over and just got everyone out there.”

“There’s a gotcha every year,” said Bill Axley, an eight-year-old Trail Angel, “and this year it was the McKinney Fire. This year was extraordinary.”

Trail Angels, Axley explained, help PCT hikers complete the arduous 2,650-mile trail by offering them riding, staying or hiking sections of the PCT with cold water, beer, soda or other sugars and thousands of calories per day. Dear Carbs Days by Kindle Hikers.

Every year PCT hikers flip-flop — skip a section of the trail due to unforeseen conditions like fire or snow, then return and hike through that section, Axley explained. But this year, he said, dozens of hikers were suddenly forced to change plans when a larger-than-usual section of the trail was shut down by the McKinney Fire.

“I bow to all the angels from Southern Oregon and even Central Oregon who rose to the occasion and helped the pedestrians,” he said.

Daryl Burks describes himself as an angel, not a super angel, as he recently refused to take a mother and her teenage children from Ashland to Bend. But even confining himself to pedestrians from Callahan Lodge to Ashland, Burks described himself as busy.

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“A lot of them are scrambling,” he said. “This summer was a little different. We ate it sweet until the last week of July.”

Sunny J. Lindley estimates that he has helped about 10 hikers in the past eight or nine days. Several people have stayed at his house while they have learned how they want to work around the shutdown.

“In my experience, they are very determined. They want to finish the mark. Everyone has a very different choice about how they want to navigate,” she said.

Despite all of them saying that he expected a fire, Lindley described him as disturbed by the experience.

“They try to act unstoppable, but you can see it in their eyes,” she said.

Lindley said she particularly remembers three men, one from Italy, one from France and one from Austria, all exhibiting varying levels of English comprehension and fluency.

They got up at night to see the ashes on their tents and were told to walk; They went on only to be told again, Lindley said, as he struggled to understand them as he told his story and speculated that they were probably struggling to understand evacuation orders.

He said that after a few days of rest, the three men continued on the way.

“A lot of them, it seems, they are seeking some sort of change – it is a unique mindset that prepares them to deal with wildfires,” Lindley said.

A group of hikers resting near a waterfall outside Callahan’s Mountain Lodge said on Tuesday that they escaped the fire with the help of danger alert trail angels and hikers heading south.

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Despite the smoke, they were preparing to move towards Crater Lake.

One hiker gave the trail the name Fly, saying that he and his fellow hikers understood what they were facing.

“Hiking in Northern California in late July — oh yeah, in the lion’s den,” he said.

Another traveler, Fried Green, said she was working toward the “Triple Crown”—a title earned from hiking the Appalachian Trials, Continental Divide Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail. He has already crossed the other two trails; PCT is all that’s left, and it won’t accept any gaps.

“I have to add my steps,” she said.

She and other passengers in her group will hike this section of the route when it reopens.

The disappointment of the closed road was a painful moment for Fried Green, who confessed to a brief cry in his tent, but said that hiking the trail meant rolling with the punches and accepting the conditions.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Morgan Rothborne at [email protected] or 541-776-4487. Follow him on Twitter @MRothborne.