View of sunrise from the PCT access off Baldy Creek Road. [Photo by Amalie Dieter]

Learning lessons from the trail

I started the summer as a trail-crew intern with Siskiyou Mountain Club in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

"You know who built these trails right?" Aaron Babcock, the club's field coordinator, asked facetiously. We were all really curious.

"Satan," he said.

He was poking fun at the unforgiving nature of the Kalmiopsis, but a couple of miles later, I was defeated by the brutal Kalmiopsis Rim Trail 1124 on its steep ascent of Eagle Mountain. I wasn't going to make it. And that was really hard on me.

But Aaron and the club's leadership saw the defeat as an opportunity, and created a position for me that includes scouting trails, public outreach and other tasks to support the club's field operations.

Until a couple weeks ago, I'd never been backpacking in my life. I carry quite a few pounds without the pack, but as a girl with curves who has heard "you can't" too many times, I have the stubbornness and the drive to push myself, in order to prove that I can.

And that is what I am doing out here on the Pacific Crest Trail, pushing myself.

Early morning of July 3, I drove to the PCT access off of Baldy Creek Road, 20 miles outside of Ashland past Emigrant Lake via the Green Springs Highway. I parked the car and took my first steps into the Soda Mountain Wilderness, heading west, or "PCT South," meaning toward Mexico.

As I trekked toward Pilot Rock, I could not stop smiling. I love the outdoors, but having been recently defeated by "Satan's trails," I was a little nervous to set out into the wilderness again. This experience was a lot different.

The mixture of Ponderosa pine forest and rocky outcroppings dotted with wildflowers loaded with butterflies creates spectacular views, and the majority of the PCT trail going through the Soda Mountain Wilderness does not bring the devil to mind.

I arrived at the Pilot Rock Trail and headed off the PCT for its steep ascent. By the time I got to the base of this stunning basalt outcrop, the hour was late and I was tired, so I turned around and made the descent and five-mile journey back. I reached Bean Cabin — a trickle of a spring located 1/4-mile from Baldy Creek PCT Access — around 8 p.m.

On Independence Day, I headed eastward, or "PCT north," toward Canada. The views were again amazing, with stretches of forest that opened into wide, expansive fields. I set a goal of hiking six miles in order to get back to camp at a decent hour. After about four miles, I reached Soda Mountain Road. I continued toward Hobart Bluff, but turned around before reaching it.

While I am sure the view would have been nice to see, getting back to camp at a decent hour allowed me to set up my tent and catch the sunset.

As always, I come to the conclusion that even bad days are good, as long as I'm outside. I wouldn't give up a single moment, even the terrifying ones, because they provide the most important lessons.

If you decide to go to, pick up the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Map at www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/csnm/files/visitor-map.pdf

Brush up on the seven Leave No Trace principles at https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles

— Amalie Dieter is a 2017 Siskiyou Mountain Club intern serving as the club's field liaison. She recently graduated from Southern Oregon University. See more pictures from her adventure at https://goo.gl/photos/xFrhwiB4HwjxYVri8

Share This Story