If you’ve read C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair, you know of Harfang. Our protagonists are trekking through the wild, tired and hungry, and a scheming witch tells them of that city, populated by “gentle giants,” where they will be cared for and fed and housed. The children drive themselves to distraction thereafter with thinking of all the pleasures they will enjoy upon reaching the city after their arduous journey.
Today, the Greensprings Inn was my Harfang.
(Thankfully, unlike in the book, [spoilers for a work published sixty years ago] nobody attempted to cook and eat me. My story has a happier ending. So far… [end spoilers for a book you should really read right now if you somehow missed it up until this point in your life])
I set out from just south of Ashland, near Callahan’s Lodge, and found myself on a planet far removed from my Southern California experience. The air was crisp and cool, with low clouds drifting overhead. The trail was gentle and soft (save for occasional stretches of volcanic rock). And everything was green! Landscapes come in colors besides brown! Who knew?
It was a beautiful day; I took so many pictures I feared my phone might burst. My body was a bit shocked to be back on the trail, but got into step reasonably well. I walked amongst moss-draped pines and along volcanic ridges; I hiked past a peregrine falcon nesting area (no sightings, sadly) and saw the distant prospect of Mt. Shasta to the south; I wandered through meadows strewn with a yellow and white and purple-blue and red profusions of blooms. I planned on going just 8 or 10 miles.
But then I read in my guide of the Green Springs Inn, with its fabulous hamburgers and free camping for hikers.
So here I sit (on the deck in the cold breeze so as not to offend other diners—they would have let me sit inside, but I didn’t want to be rude), 18 miles later, stuffed with an amazing bleu cheese and avocado burger and a whopping piece of apple pie, sipping coffee and typing this. I’m the first hiker they’ve seen this year. With something as simple as skipping 1,300 miles of trail, I’ve suddenly gone from the back of the pack to the front. Amazing.
It was worth it. Tomorrow will be an easy day, though; my legs don’t seem to want to work…
World of green.
Pilot Rock, the peregrine nesting site (which is really hard not to see as a smiling giant’s head rising over the trees).