There have been reports of smoke from the wildfires in Southern Oregon drifting as far south as the Bay Area in California. We heard about this news as we left Castella, but Oregon still seemed very far away – 200 miles away – so we kept plodding along and hoped the fires would be contained by the time we reached the border. However, as we ascended into the beautiful Castle Crags Wilderness, we soon learned that the fires were about to affect our hike in ways we were unprepared for.
Castle Crags is a rock formation within the Shasta-Trinity National forest. It is known for its beauty and is a popular stop for tourists. Unfortunately, as we climbed toward the wilderness, we encountered a thick layer of smoke laying like a blanket over the hills. At first it looked kind of pretty; it made silhouettes of the trees on the hillside against the horizon. But soon we grew to resent the smoke. As we walked, it began to obstruct our views of what we knew was supposed to be beautiful wilderness, and later on it grew thicker.
We would later learn from a day hiker that there was a new fire, one just east of Etna, California. Great, we thought – Etna was our next stop on trail, and we were going to meet Ashe’s parents for a night at a B&B. We continued to hike – what else were we to do but move forward into the Trinity Alps? As we went, the smoke grew thicker and thicker. We could smell it; it filled and stung our mouths as we breathed, and we grew lightheaded.
We hiked with our friends Drop Bizkit, Shedder, and Roo and pushed on to Etna. We made it there safe and sound through the smoke and met up with Ashleigh’s parents who brought all sorts of baked goods, fruit, and goodies. We hike out tomorrow with hopes that the Salmon River Complex Fire, the name of the fire near Etna, will not come closer to the trail. The latest news we heard was that the fire was just 5% contained. We hope to do some big miles out of Etna to escape the blaze. Wish us luck.