Ashland Zero Days
I enjoyed 3 very relaxing days in the Hippy town of Ashland, and was able to indulge in all the things I wanted to indulge in during that time.
Things like sleeping, not hiking, sushi, sleeping, taco bell, not hiking, the movie theater, sleeping, people watching, Air Conditioning, and sweet tea whenever my heart desired.
Ashland is without a doubt the largest friendly town I’ve encountered on the trail thus far. It was billed as a “Hippy Town, ” and for the most part it was…the older generations at least (40 and above). The rest were the “Hipsters,” mostly the college aged kids, and Ashland being a college town, there was no short supply of them. The hipster movement is a movement I’m positive I don’t understand. I’ll leave it at that.
Nevertheless, Ashland is certainly one of my all time favorite cities in this country. The overall atmosphere and vibe of the whole area was one of acceptance and friendliness. During the three days that I spent here walking around (I walked everywhere), I can’t say that I had a bad experience with a single individual…except almost one.
I was in the taco bell at around 11 pm getting my late night cheesy potato burrito fix, when a (I’m assuming) homeless man in his early 30s walked in. He looked rough. Filthy skin, tattered clothes, dried blood on his legs…he looked like a hiker; except for the fact that he wasn’t.
I thought nothing of the man as he ordered his food to go, while I sat at a table directly next to the glass exit door. It just so happened that I needed to refill my drink, just as he was getting his food. I got up, leaving my cell phone and my wallet on the table with my food, as I made my way across the restaurant to the soda fountain. The man passed me with his bag of food while on his way out when I was maybe halfway to the drink machine.
Sadly, I immediately regretted leaving my stuff on the table. I quickened my last few steps to the machine, then turned my head to watch the man. He reached the door, looked down at my table, pushed the door halfway open, did a double take at my table, stared at it for a few seconds (you could see the cash in my wallet), then turned to see what I was doing. Well, what I was doing was looking him dead in the eye, watching his every move. “Try it,” I said nonchalantly in a loud talking voice. He didn’t respond, finished opening the door the rest of the way and left.
Yes, I totally profiled somebody based on their appearance, and I felt bad, but it ended up being warranted based on his body language. I left temptation in the path of desperation, and the desperate was tempted. I’ll carry my effects with me from now on, no matter how temporary my absence may be.
Nothing else too exciting or out of the ordinary happened during my stay. It was very tame and fairly mundane.
I will fill you in on some changes to my gear repertoire, as well as some hiking and hygiene decisions I’ve made.
Pertaining to gear, I have sent my hammock and my suspension straps home. This means the only form of shelter I have is the rain fly tarp that I used with my hammock; which I will only set up in the event of inclement Weather. What this also means, is that I will be cowboy camping for the remainder of the journey. Cowboy camping is simply throwing your sleeping pad on the ground, laying down on it, then going to sleep. No bug protection, no wind protection, just sleeping out in the open on the ground.
I decided to do this for a couple reasons. The first reason was to eliminate a couple more pounds, and free up some more space in my pack. The second reason is for personal growth. I don’t necessarily like nor enjoy sleeping on the ground all the time (especially when a hammock is perfectly viable), and I don’t particularly enjoy feeling vulnerable (in this case, to bugs, animals, the elements, etc).
I feel that it’s going to make me a stronger, more versatile human being if I can get myself accustomed to exclusively sleeping out in the open without cover (Weather permitting). As a result, building my tolerance to bugs, the elements, uncomfortable angles and terrain, as well as my own hang ups and fears.
I can’t promise I won’t cave on these new self imposed stipulations and get my hammock back, but for now, we’ll see how it goes.
I spoke to Schweppes today, who’s around 150 miles ahead of me due to my Ashland zeros, and he told me about a funny challenge he swears he invented. Since he swears he came up with it, I’m giving him full credit. Even though I’ve never heard of this challenge, the play on words for it seem so painfully obvious, that someone has to have also thought of it at some point. Since Oregon is only around 450 miles long, with fairly mild terrain, it is possible to finish it relatively fast. The challenge Schweppes came up with is called the “No wash until Washington” challenge. This simply means that you cannot bathe or wash your clothes until you’ve finished Oregon and reached Washington. I think it’s hilariously clever, as well as a legitimate challenge. I’ve made the decision to partake. It’s going to be an interesting trek through Oregon…