We left Monday morning after seeing Jessica and Kris (J&K) off to work, heading north on I-80 towards Sacramento, stopping briefly at a Starbucks to redeem a reward, in this case a gigantic latte, before turning north on the I-505 (a nice short-cut eliminating the need to go into Sacramento) and hooking up with the I-5 just south of Dunnigan.
This section of the drive to Kamp Angst is well known to us, traveled many times since the early 1980’s when Kathy and Tom first moved to Selma, Oregon. It’s a roughly a seven-hour trip from Oakland to their place and the timing was right for us to make a lunch stop in Corning at that great burger stand we’d discovered in 2015 when we last came this way, Bartels Giant Burger.
We pulled in, found an open booth and placed our order at the counter, a double cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate mocha shake. Like the last time, the place was busy serving a diverse crowd, including a number of electricians who’d parked their rigs in the lot. The burger came and we as we worked our way through its sloppy goodness, realized we could just as easily made do with the single. The fries here are crisp as if they are double fried, the way I prefer them and the shake, hand dipped, was thick and difficult to pull through the straw. Our only complaint, minor that it be, was that the coffee flavoring they used, some type of powder, did not completely dissolve leaving behind little pockets of concentrated bitter flavor.
We finished up and rolled out of the stand, feeling like we wouldn’t need to eat for a couple more days. The rest of the drive went smoothly; familiar landmarks like Shasta Lake and Mount Shasta, Redding, Klamath River, and crossing over Siskiyou Summit (the highest point on I-5 at 4,310 feet) ticking off the miles. Exiting the highway at the south end of Grants Pass onto Highway 199 we stopped for gas and then drove through the southern edge of town to head towards Selma. This part of Grants Pass is relatively new, at least in the last 20 years, the kind of growth one finds in all towns, that part of the city where the big box stores (Walmart, Fred Meyer, Home Depot, etc.) land outside of the historic center.
We found the same pattern in Europe in 2014. No matter how old the town you were entering, before you got to the center you passed through outskirts with that country’s home improvement and furniture stores and any number of fast food establishments, including McDonalds, KFC and a European standard, the Quickie Burger. As you head out of town on 199 an obligatory detour is to Cary’s of Oregon, where we picked up a few bags of seconds, a variety of flavors of chocolate covered toffee, some of the best we’ve ever eaten.
Entering Selma, we stopped at Ray’s Market to pick up some beer as I hoped to be rewarded with a twelve pack of one of my favorites, Henry Weinhards. I’ve enjoyed this brew since first discovering it in the early 1980’s. Originally brewed by Blitz Weinhard out of Portland, Oregon, it has since passed through a number of hands (Stroh’s and Full Sail) and is now owned by SAB Miller. They had both the original and the Blue Boar Pale Ale and we picked up the first, knowing that we’d be back later for the second.
I fondly recall summer nights in Los Angeles when I lived on Ocean Park Boulevard in Santa Monica with my brother, Chuck. Friends and I would schedule a softball practice at Mar Vista Park on Palms Boulevard and on the way there I’d stop at Jay’s Liquor just down the street from the apartment and pick up a twelve pack of Henry’s and a bag of ice, all for a little under five dollars. I’d load the beer into the built-in refrigerator in the 1965 VW Van I owned at the time, throw in the ice and head to practice. We’d play ball for a couple of hours and then finish up by taking care of that twelve pack. Simple pleasures taken for granted and not to be duplicated; the common regret of those growing old.
Returning to Kamp Angst is a joy, the mile-long journey on the potholed dirt road, up the steep driveway to park outside the barn/guest house, the barking dog who comes to greet you, the welcome hugs and greetings of the best of friends. We stayed up late that first night, getting caught up, consuming most of that twelve pack of Henry’s and putting a dent in the large bottle of Drambuie we always bring with us.
Our agenda for the next day was simple. Drive out to Merlin and then through Galice to the Grave Creek trailhead and hike some portion of the Rogue River. Joanna and I have a grand ambition to hike some or all of the Camino de Santiago in Spain and one way to gauge if we can manage it would be to hike for some number of days in conditions similar to those we’d encounter there, that is with a light pack and staying in an inn each night.
This exists along the Rouge where you can hike for 40 miles from one end to the other, in our case downriver, staying in a back country inn at the end of each day. We figured that one day in the spring would give us a good sampling and determine if we might not return in the fall for the full hike.
On the way to the trailhead we stopped in Grants Pass to pick up a sandwich a piece at Babe’s Bakery. Joanna and I usually split meals but knowing we’d be hiking a pretty good distance, each ordered something appealing. I ordered the Katie Girl (Rustic bread, ham, turkey, bacon, mozzarella, sprouts, tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions, mayo, and Dijon) and would eat every bit of the full sandwich when we stopped for lunch later in the day.
When we started hiking it was already warm and would only get warmer as the day progressed. From here the trail is fairly level, with minor modulations in grade as you follow the river. Nice views abound as your move around a bend, looking up or down the river depending on your orientation. Joanna and I seriously underestimated the amount of water we would need and had consumed more than half of what we had brought with us by the time we stopped for lunch, a little over three miles in at Whiskey Creek.
We sat on large boulders and devoured our sandwiches, splitting a bottle of Foris Winery Fly Over Red, in hindsight not such a great decision given our dwindling supply of water. Finished eating, we walked a short distance up the creek to the historic cabin still standing there, the oldest structure of its kind in the canyon. Built in about 1880 by an unknown miner, it was occupied continuously until it was purchased by the Bureau of Land Management in 1973 and then listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
We returned to the trailhead via the way we came it, running out of water about a third of the way back, making for a longer seeming hike than it was. Dog tired and quite dehydrated, we arrived at the car and asked a group there if they could spare some water, which they graciously gave us. On the drive back to Merlin and Grants Pass, we stopped at the Galice Resort, situated on the river bank, sat at an outside table and consumed in short order two bottles of Gatorade, three beers, a glass of water and a large soft serve ice cream cone, restoring us to a state somewhat closer to normal.
Back at Kamp Angst we settled in for another quiet evening, full of conversation, good food, more wine, some reading and a good night’s rest. We’d hiked over six miles that day and done well, particularly considering our error with the water. Feeling confident about our abilities, we discussed returning in the fall to see about tackling the entire forty-mile hike. Only time would tell if that were to become a reality.
Bartels Giant Burger: http://www.bartelsgiantburger.com/
Henry Weinhards: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Weinhard%27s
The Camino de Santiago: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camino_de_Santiago
Rogue Hiking: http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Rogue_River_Hike
Babe’s Bakery: http://babesbkry.com/
Foris Winery: http://www.foriswine.com/index.htm
Galice Resort: http://www.galice.com/