7/10/17 – Etna

Day 78

Miles: 1,591.47 to 1,597.25Total miles hiked: 1,013.39
With less than 6 miles to town, we started our day an hour later. It was a decision we hoped we wouldn’t regret. Etna is a small town with not much traffic going through and waiting for a hitch can be a long affair.

The last snow before Etna

But before we could even think about a hitch, we had to get to the road. In our way stood a “deadly” snow patch as it was described to us by a group of backpackers yesterday. They said it took them 3 hours to cross the approximately 75 feet. I was little worried about what this patch would be about. The terrain took us through some very cliffy terrain lately where a slip on a snow patch could end up very badly and I was worried this patch would cross the trail on one of these cliffs. 

When we arrived to that spot, we found a long snow drift covering the hill side. Somebody busted a decent path across and the snow was in a great condition so crossing it was a matter of few minutes. After the steeper section, we had about 100 feet of a ridge run that allowed us to have fun doing few short standing glissades.

Hikers waiting for a ride

One couple was already at the road when we arrived. They told us they were waiting for 45 minutes, and during that time they only saw two cars, both going the opposite direction. We joined them and waited and waited and more hikers came in the meantime and eventually there were 11 of us.

15 minutes later we heard a vehicle approaching so the three ladies in the group jumped up and started hitching. The Jeep Patriot with Oregon plates stopped and offered ride to two people. The nine of us remaining joked that all we need is for the next vehicle to be a mini bus. 

View from our hitching spot

The road was quiet again for a while. The next vehicle we saw was a red truck going the opposite direction. It stopped at the trailhead for hikers heading North and we saw several PCTers jumping out including our friends Grey Ghost and Daybreak. I walked over to say hi and asked the driver if she was headed back to town and if she would be willing to take few hikers with her. It was a tight squeeze, but she fit all of us. Some people rode in the truck bed which on the winding mountain road was probably not the safest thing.

Small but super friendly town

In town we found our room at Etna Motel. From the very first moment, we liked the place. The room was spacious and clean and had a very nice large bathroom, and the manager was super friendly, letting us do a load laundry, even offered us the drier for Dave’s sleeping bag that got wet after a bottle of water spilled inside his pack.

Etna is a very small town with quiet, relaxing atmosphere and super friendly people. It’s not uncommon for cars to stop ask hikers if they needed a ride back to trail, waitresses and cashiers have extra smile for hikers as well. I guess we bring most of the summer business and so it works both ways.