Jun 29

Last year, the Wuhan virus prevented most people from hitting the trail. This year was assumed to be a normal season. Distinctives included a higher than normal snow season in Oregon and Washington, and a lower than normal snow season in the high Sierra. Now, as I head down to central California, we are experiencing an extreme heatwave in the Northwest, with temperatures as high as 106F in Puyallup, and hotter in Portland. This heatwave has extended down to central California, with only the high Sierra having relief from the heat. The heat has affected the train, as they claimed that above 100F, they were limited to a speed of 40 mph. So, I’m not sure that I’ll reach the transfer point in time to switch trains to Bakersfield.

I purchased a business class seat to save money, yet sleeper cars just make sense for overnight travel. Hopefully, I can get some sleep tonight. At least the train is air-conditioned. They require you to wear masks, which creates a stagnant air environment, enough to make one sick.

Towards late evening, as we were coming up on Klamath Falls, we were informed that the train could go no further since there was a fire that was close to the tracks. By morning, still in Klamath Falls, they notified us that the fire had actually encroached on some train trestles so that further travel was impossible. They also tried to find a bus to transport us southward, but virtually none were available. Therefore, they were taking us back home and refunding the train fare. 

Lava fire in Northern California. You can see that the Amtrak track goes right down the middle of this fire. They are represented by the dashed white-black line that runs under the fire shield on the map.
One photo (that I did not take) of the fire. Mt. Shastina is on the left. The train tracks run right through the middle of this fire. 

At this point in time, there truly is no sensible way for me to get to the trailhead, as I am not going to fly there. My options have completely run out. I called Betsy to let her know what was up. I am a bit disappointed but also realize that God sometimes uses such means to lead me on the correct path. So, it is unwise for me to be angry about matters. Yes, I believe in the providence of God that works all things for His purpose, and for the best of his children. The fire was caused by lightning, and because of the dry hot weather, the high Sierra is also experiencing an abundance of lightning storms, which present significant dangers to the hiker. 

What to do? Well, I’m sad to not do the high Sierra. Even if I schemed another way to get back to Walker Pass or Kennedy Meadows, it will be past the time permitted on my permit and thus run a problem. So, I will do other things. Like, hike the Washington portion of the trail. Get back into bicycle riding. I have some serious home projects that need to be done. Even though Washington has had a heatwave, it was a winter with much snow, and a moderate portion of the trail in Washington is still covered with snow. Thus, several weeks delay before starting at the Columbia River would be ideal. 

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