After packing up camp early and silently, we got back on the trail eager to slay the 20 miles we had to Callahan’s Lodge and a hitch to Ashland. Is was odd, surely an imaginary line shouldn’t lead to noticeable change in environment, but we sweat the hills suddenly were more gradual in Oregon and that miles came far easier than before. There was one long and fairly large climb to do before starting the predominantly descending trail down to town.

Half way up, a SOBO hiker told me and all behind me that at the top there was soda. I felt rude in my response, essentially running up the hill away from him with excitement, but this would be our first magic in far far too long. It was a long ways to go but sure enough at the top of the hill there were two coolers of soda and plenty of shade to enjoy it in. This push had brought us far fast, only 9 miles to go and it’s not even 10am.

The descent took us through meadows and fields, past dirt roads and day hikers, and finally into the rolling foot hills beside the interstate. We could see Mt Shasta’s North side now, the change in perspective throwing us off from recognising our old friend at first.

Arriving at Callahan’s Lodge for lunch was such a blessing, though it’s fancy decor didn’t seem to be the place for hiker trash like ourselves with sweat soaked clothes, salt stained shirts and a pong that lead to one lady confidently stating that we could do with a shower. With that said, it was time to get to Ashland and do just that.

A trail angel gave us the lift we needed to the Ashland Motel for mid-afternoon. Showers, supermarket, and an Indian takeaway finished the day perfectly. Bellies happy, we tucked up into our soft bed and filled our brains with the nonsense of the world and with sleep.