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No. 25- Etna to Ashland

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Etna, CA: 41.456807, -122.894755
Yreka, CA: 41.735419, -122.634471
Seiad Valley, CA: 41.840406, -123.192549
Horsetail Falls: 41.928183, -123.129491
Callahan\'s Lodge: 42.073846, -122.602530
Ashland Hostel: 42.200173, -122.717193

 

June 23- 11.5 miles, camping near Shelley Fork Trail

This morning I attempted to pick up my resupply box from the Ashland post office, but it hadn’t arrived yet. So, I’ve decided to head back to the trail without it. Not to worry! I will actually be back in Ashland within a week and can pick it up then. After looking over my itinerary and talking with Art, I figured out I can still hike part of Northern California. Kim gave me a ride to Yreka this morning, I hitched a ride to Etna, and then got another ride up to the trail. I was hiking by 2:45 and it felt great.

Yreka was a strange place to hitch hike. Kim dropped me off near Highway 3 and I stood about thirty minutes with my “PCT Hiker” sign before anyone stopped. The first car had a man and a woman- I thought, “Fantastic, a lady’s in the car. I’ll feel safer.” Then the man asked me if I’d like to make some money so I could get my ride to Etna. Uh… nope! Don’t need money; I just wanted a ride. I’m pretty sure he was a pimp and the lady was working for him.

The second car that pulled up was driven by Michelle and Marlee- a couple of medical sales reps on their way to a lunch date in Etna. Lucky me! We had a great time in the car together. The two were adamant about me carrying some kind of weapon, which I’m currently not. I said I didn’t want a lethal weapon turned against me. Marlee, who is a gun owner herself, said if men just see that you have a gun, they won’t mess with you. “You don’t even need a real one! Get a water gun!” Michelle was so enthusiastic about this idea and my hike that she used her iPhone to order me a fake gun and holster on Amazon and it’s being shipped to Ashland. Ha! I’m excited to see it. Thanks, Michelle!

Marlee and Michelle

Marlee and Michelle

Marlee and Michelle dropped me off at Etna’s little grocery store so I could stock up for the next section. I’m not going to be eating as well as I usually do when I have my own resupplies. Oh, well!

I stopped in at the hiker-friendly bed and breakfast, Alderbrook Manor, to get a ride up the mountain. While there, I met several other hikers: Blue Moon and Scarecrow, a husband and wife from Wrightwood, and Janet, who is section hiking southbound. Janet had an awful story about loosing her sleeping bag several nights ago.

Bear Scare!

Bear Scare!

She was camping near Seiad Valley and had a bear bothering her at night. Despite yelling at him, he kept trying to get her food, which she’d hung in the tree. She decided to pack up, dawn her headlamp and hike away from the bear. But he followed her! It freaked her out so much that she lost the trail in the dark. She headed down to a lake that she thought she knew, but it turned out to be a different lake, and as she spent most of the next day bushwhacking her way back to the trail her sleeping bag fell off the top of her pack. She didn’t realize it was missing until that evening when she set up camp. She had to go three nights without a sleeping bag until she reached Etna! She’s ordered a new bag and will hang out at Alderbrook Manor until it arrives. I made sure to cook dinner before reaching my camp for tonight. I don’t want any bear problems!

Scarecrow and Blue Moon

Scarecrow and Blue Moon

Blue Moon, Scarecrow and I caught a ride out of Etna with Dave, the owner of Alderbrook. I’m so happy I’ll be able to hike the Marble Mountain Wilderness again and visit Seiad Valley. Etna and Seiad Valley are a couple of my favorite town stops along the PCT.

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I hiked with Scarecrow and Blue Moon for a couple of hours, but lost them when I went off trail for water and cooking dinner. I’ve found a lovely spot to camp tonight along a ridge looking down on Etna and Mount Shasta shining in the distance.

Camping near Shelley Fork Trail

Camping near Shelley Fork Trail

 

June 24- 18 miles, camping at Paradise Lake

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I started out this morning feeling pretty slow, even though I was hiking at a good speed. I just didn’t have much energy and my body was struggling to readjust to the trail. If you ever thru-hike, don’t ever take five days off in a row- it’ll totally screw up your momentum.

The sunrise was spectacular, but that also meant my tent heated up quickly. So much for sleeping in!

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I’m so glad I made the effort to rehike this Wilderness. It’s so beautiful with its dramatic and colorful mountains and abundant meadows blanketed with wildflowers. I like to imagine that a rainbow just dumped it’s colors all over these meadows, creating the rich variety of flowers this wilderness offers.

White Mountain

White Mountain

 

wpid-pct-section-q-31-marble-mountain-wilderness-flower.jpg

As I approached Marble Valley, I saw a little black bear running across the meadow below me. I was too slow to catch him with my camera, but he moved gracefully for such a large animal. Shortly after the bear, I was taking a long lunch break and playing my new ukulele when two chipmunks or ground squirrels showed up and hung out with me on the log where I sat. They just hung out, it seemed, to listen to the music. I felt like a regular Snow White! Then I realized they were interested in any crumbs I left from lunch. I bet Snow White had crumbs, too.

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It’s supposed to warm up to 102° tomorrow and 107° the following day. That’s going to stink because those are the two days when I’ll be hiking in and out of Seiad Valley. The climb out of Seiad Valley is notoriously hot, dry, and difficult. I’m hoping to camp tomorrow night just outside of town so I don’t have to pay for tenting and then I’ll hike in for lunch, wait out the afternoon heat, and hike a few more miles in the evening.
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I put it a relatively easy eighteen miles today to camp at Paradise Lake with Heather and David, a couple of PCT hikers I met this morning. This site truly feels like Paradise. The temperature is perfect, there aren’t any bugs, the tent sites are flat, and the water is warm (even though the lake mud sucks you down about three feet!). Getting into camp early allowed ample time for wading in the lake, chit chatting, and playing some ukulele. I’m lying in my tent now, listening to hundreds of frogs croaking in the lake. It’s wonderful.

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June 25- 20.2 miles, camping at Grider Creek Campground

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The majority of the descent today went through a recently burned area. As a result, there was less shade than I had been hoping for in this 100° weather. As soon as I came to a little creek, I stripped out of my shirt and skirt and laid directory in the shallow water. Two of the bridges crossing Grider Creek were also out, which meant fording the shallow, but wide creek. For the last eight miles, I popped on my sandals and happily just walked right through the water whenever the trail allowed. Overall, I laid down in the creek three times this afternoon because it was just so hot.
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The Grider Creek campground is not quite as I remembered it. There are bulldozer tracks everywhere and many of the trees have been chopped as firewood. I’m sure that’s a normal way for maintaining trees in campgrounds, but it doesn’t feel as nice. There wasn’t anyone else in the entire campground, so it felt kinda creepy. I made dinner and rinsed in the creek, but decided that if things didn’t feel right, I might just pack up and hike the six and a half miles into town. Just as I was starting to feel comfortable, David and Heather showed up. Heather practically bounced into camp and David looks like he can’t wait to drop his pack and rinse off.

Grider Creek Campground

Grider Creek Campground

 

June 26- 18.5 miles, camping at Cook and Green Pass

Klamath River

Klamath River

It was a hot, six and a half mile road walk into Seiad Valley this morning. I met up with David and Heather at the cafe and had myself a bacon and avocado burger with a banana milkshake for breakfast. I love Seiad Valley Cafe. The owner is an older, single woman who cooks, waitresses, and cleans the tiny cafe with the periodic help of her daughter. The food has always been delicious and the milkshakes are the best I’ve ever had. Two hours later, I showed up for a grilled cheese with cottage cheese and pineapple.

Heather and David at Seiad Valley Cafe

Heather and David at Seiad Valley Cafe

It was incredibly hot today, but lucky for me, some light thunder clouds rolled in later in the afternoon. The RV park allows hikers to lounge and camp on their lawn and also provides showers and laundry. I showered and then tried to nap in the heat, waiting to start my hike out until it cooled off. Bruce, the RV park manager recommended an alternate route up the mountain: a road walk along Seiad Creek Road that parallels the trail but is shaded and follows a creek.

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I headed out of town at 5:30 and decided to take the road walk alternate. I’m glad I did! Since I hiked the trail last summer, it was nice to take a different path and see new things. The road took me past Horsetail Falls, which had a large pool perfect for dipping in. I couldn’t resist! It was 8:30pm and I was soaked through with sweat.

Horsetail Falls

Horsetail Falls

I had another mile and a half climb to the top of the pass, where I’m camped tonight. It was dark by the time I arrived, but the moon was bright and the dirt road was easy to walk. Blue Moon and Scarecrow are camped here, too, but already alseep. I’m cowboy camping under the silhouettes of trees- it’s almost too hot to use a sleeping bag.

 

June 27- 26.2 miles, campingat Sheep Camp Spring

Scarecrow and Blue Moon, Cook and Green Pass

Scarecrow and Blue Moon, Cook and Green Pass

My phone isn’t charging very well, so you’ll have to excuse the brevity of this post! It was a beautiful hike to Oregon today, canopied by light thunder clouds and sprinkles of rain.
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Donomore Meadows

Donomore Meadows

 

Welcome to Oregon!

Welcome to Oregon!

I was surprised to find how good I felt after hitting the twenty mile mark today, so I just kept going to the next water source at Sheep Camp Spring. The sunset is beautiful- soft pink clouds wrapped gently around Mount Shasta, it’s stark, white and grey lines peeking through.

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Camping at Sheep Camp Spring

 

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June 28- miles, 23.5 miles, staying at Callahan’s Lodge

The light clouds from yesterday returned today, thank God! Despite the cloud cover, it was still hot and I eventually couldn’t tell which drops on my skin were sweat and which were rain.
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The majority of the twenty-three miles today were downhill and easy, so I made it to Interstate 5 and Callahan’s Lodge by 3pm. By 5:30, I’d taken a jacuzzi bath, done laundry, napped, and was enjoying a free beer on the deck, compliments of the Lodge. I’m in heaven! Tomorrow I’ll hitch into Ashland to run errands at the post office, library, and grocery store. We’ll see if the Ashland vortex sucks me in for an additional night!

A little bit of trail magic!

A little bit of trail magic!

 

Clouds atop Mount Shasta

Clouds atop Mount Shasta

 

Links

Installment No. 26- Ashland to Mazama Village, July 2015

Alderbrook Manor

Callahan’s Mountain Lodge

 

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No. 18- Sawyers Bar Road to Callahan's

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Seiad Valley Cafe: 41.842157, -123.196275
Callahan\'s: 42.073846, -122.602530
Sawyers Bar Road: 41.347523, -123.042395

 

July 23rd- 10.5 miles, camping in Shelly Meadows

While in Etna, we had to celebrate Red Light’s 30th birthday.  A group of us staying at Alderbrook went to the local pub and I couldn’t help buying him a brownie sundae.  Red Light and I first met near So. Kennedy Meadows when we camped near each other.

PCT Section P Etna Alderbrook Manor

Birthday Boy Red Light & Trail Angel Lion Heart/ JSF at the Alderbrook grill

Dave from Alderbrook Manor drove four of us hikers to the trail late this afternoon.  One of the hikers has pushed forward and the other two are behind me. I’m camped out at a beautiful spot next to a meadow, but there are cow pies everywhere.   Since the stream water is completely mucked up with cow pies and muddy hoof prints, I’ve decided not to take any water from here.  I’ll have to use it sparingly to make it to the next water source, but I really don’t want to worry about giardia.

PCT Section Q Klamath National Forest Marble Mountain WildernessEven though I just had a zero and a near-o day, both my ankles are hurting a lot tonight.  I do alright on flat or uphill and even trail; it’s when the trail is rocky or pitched to the left or right that I start hobbling.  It has me really worried about doing long term damage.

PCT Section Q Klamath National Forest Marble Mountain Wilderness Shelly Meadows

Campsite at Shelly Meadows

 

July 24th- 26.7 miles

I love this wilderness.  Like Toiyabe, Klamath forest is rich in colors, rock formations, lakes, and wildflowers.  The views today were so lovely and I took my time enjoying them.  Today I felt more like myself, like the me that started this hike full of wonder and joy at all the little details.  Don’t get me wrong!  I’ve been enjoying myself out here, but the physical and mental exertions have taken their toll over the weeks.  These beautiful views have rejuvenated me!

PCT Section Q Klamath National Forest Marble Mountain Wilderness

Approaching the Marble Mountains

 

PCT Section Q Klamath National Forest Marble Mountain Wilderness Marten Lake

Marten Lake

 

PCT Section Q Klamath National Forest Marble Mountain Wilderness

Grandpa’s Beard

I took my lunch break next to an abandoned forest service hut in Marble Valley.  I wanted to take a siesta, but was anxious about putting in enough miles for the day.  I settled for a power nap while I waited for my water to filter.

PCT Section Q Klamath National Forest Marble Mountain Wilderness Marble Valley Ranger Cabin

Marble Valley Ranger Cabin (abandoned)

 

PCT Section Q Klamath National Forest Marble Mountain Wilderness Grider Creek wildflowers

 

Part way up Black Marble Mountain I came upon a cave next to the trail.  It was beautifully shaped, probably by lava flows, but didn’t seem easy to crawl into.  I was definitely curious to see what might be hidden down in its depths.

PCT Section Q Klamath National Forest Marble Mountain Wilderness Cave Black

Cave near Black Marble Mountain

 

I’ve picked a  weird spot for camp tonight.  I meant to go further, but my feet are hurting too much and I think I’ve put in my dues for the day.  I came across a dirt road and found a fire ring with what looked like a flat enough spot for my tent.  It took awhile, though, to flatten it out properly and clear all the rocks using my feet and snow stake.  My plantar fasciitis was really bad today.  Another hiker said I need to get a brace that keeps the foot flat and the tendon stretched during the night.  I’ve rigged up my ankle brace and an ace bandage on each of my feet for tonight.  Hopefully, tomorrow won’t be as painful.

PCT Section Q Klamath National Forest Marble Mountain Wilderness

 

July 25th- 18.25 miles, camping at Seiad Valley RV Park

I only had about eighteen miles to hike into Seiad Valley today.  It was all downhill or flat and mostly followed Grider Creek.  The forest was thick and jungle-like in the canyon around the creek- probably what the Washington forests will look like.  I had fun today playing with the vintage filter on my camera.

PCT Section Q Klamath National Forest Marble Mountain Wilderness Grider Creek

Grider Creek

 

There were a couple of really beautiful spots where I almost stopped to lounge or swim, but I didn’t because I wanted to make it to Seiad Valley before the post office and cafe closed.  It made me think a lot about whether or not I had taken enough time during this hike to thoroughly enjoy the little moments and spaces the trail had to offer or if I had hurried past them because I was determined to get somewhere else.  I came to the conclusion that yes, there were days when I’d past up some special spaces in the name of mileage or destination and I felt some regret for those lost moments.

There were other days, however, when I took the time to absorb and appreciate the “nooks and crannies,” as I call them, of the trail.  I think, overall, I’ve really appreciated all the trail had to offer.  It’s very difficult to stop and play in those small spaces every day when you’re thru-hiking because you have to work within certain constraints, like weather, supplies, and towns. It’s also interesting to notice the shift from being a child of wonder in the woods some days to being so comfortable in the wilderness that it feels like walking through your own home.  However comfortable I’ve become, though, that childlike wonder always stirs up again when I enter a new kind of land or environment.

PCT Section Q Klamath National Forest Marble Mountain Wilderness Grider Creek Grider Creek footbridge

Grider Creek footbridge

 

PCT Section Q Klamath National Forest Marble Mountain Wilderness No Name Creek

No Name Creek

I made it into Seiad Valley with plenty of time to enjoy the cafe and the post office. I had lunch with Brad, a thru-hiker I met in Mt. Shasta at the only restaurant in town, the Seiad Cafe. We both indulged in the cafe’s delicious and decadent milkshakes. He had a chocolate raspberry shake and I had an Oreo cupcake shake. Despite the claim of the Caribou RV Resort in Belden having the best shakes, I think Seiad Cafe blows them out of the water!

PCT Section Q Klamath National Forest Seiad Valley Post Office State of Jefferson

Seiad Valley Post Office

 

PCT Section Q Klamath National Forest Seiad Valley Cafe milkshake

Lunch with Brad a the Seiad Cafe

 

 

PCT Section Q Seiad Valley

Pilgrim grilling a giant zucchini

 

 

July 26th- 15.5 miles, camping at Cook & Green Pass

After an amazing breakfast at Seiad Cafe, I hiked out of town with Jalan Jalan. He and I met at Alderbrook Manor in Etna and he’s section hiking a big chunk of the PCT, like I am. I love his trail name, which he gave himself. While traveling in Indonesia, he got tired of people always asking him where he was going, so he started answering them “Jalan jalan,” which means, “I’m just wandering around.” My feet were hurting a lot this morning, so I let him hike on ahead. I resigned to distracting myself from the pain with podcasts as I slowly began the 5,000 foot climb ahead of me.

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains Seiad Valley Fern Spring

Fern Spring

 

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains Seiad Valley Klamath River

Seiad Valley & the Klamath River

 

 

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains

Backpacks make nice backrests.

I soon understood why so many hikers start this section either in the evening or early morning.  It was blazing hot, barrenly exposed, and steep all the way up.  Looking ahead at the trail and seeing not one tree for shade is so discouraging!  Without any nice places to stop, It meant I just kept plugging along, one foot in front of the other.

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains Middle Devils Peak

Middle Devils Peak

 

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains trail marker Lookout Spring

Trail marker for Lookout Spring

 

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains Lilypad Lake wildflowers

Lillypad Lake

I hadn’t thought much about where I was going to camp for the night.  I had played with the idea of putting in twenty miles, but knew that would probably mean getting in late to a waterless camp.  Not feeling particularly motivated, but also not ready to stop for the day, I meandered up to Cook and Green Pass prepared to fill up my bottles and keep moving.  To my surprise, I found Smokes, Pilgrim, and Jalan Jalan lounging about and their tents pitched.  Not long after, Red Light showed up, so I threw in the towel and called it a party.  I’m camping with the guys tonight!

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains Cook Green Pass

Red Light setting up camp and Pilgrim in the background, at Cook and Green Pass

 

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains hiker plantar fsciitis

Treating my plantar fasciitis

 

July 27th- 26 miles, camping at Sheep Camp Spring

Today was my last day in California for this section hike.  It’s so exciting to know you’ll be reaching some milestone this very day.  It brings out strength and renewed passion for the hike throughout the day.  I was particularly enchanted by a misty view of Mt. Shasta far in the distance.  At this point, the trail has curved around that majestic mountain making a giant letter “C” for 220 miles.

 

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta

Throughout the day, our little tribe of hikers would spread out like an accordion while we walked and then collapse back on itself for breaks.  Solitude and peace are wonderful to experience while in the woods, but after weeks of it, it’s so fun to share ideas, stories, and jokes with fellow human beings.

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains hiker trash

Lunchbreak, (L->R) Smokes, Jalan Jalan, Red Light

 

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains trail hiker food pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie for lunch

 

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains Donomore Meadows cabin

Abandoned cabin in Donomore Meadows

 

 

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains Oregon border trail register

Trail register at the CA-OR border

I reached the California-Oregon border just after Smokes and we squeezed into the little bit of shade there was to wait for Jalan, Red Light, and Pilgrim.  Watching the others come across the border and celebrate the 1700 miles they just walked and the 900-somehting miles left, made me wish I was continuing all the way to Canada with them.  But, alas, I am now on the home stretch of my hike for this summer.

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains Oregon border trail hiker trash

CA-OR border, (L->R) Red Light, Smokes, Jalan Jalan, me, Pilgrim

Oregon welcomed us with a lovely afternoon thunderstorm.  In fact, it was so refreshing that it truly felt like a rain brought on to celebrate our own achievements.

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains

Light afternoon thunderstorm

 

 

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains Sheep Camp Spring

Camping at Sheep Camp Spring

 

 

July 28th- 25 miles, staying in Ashland

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains

There’s been a lot of talk about how easy and flat Oregon will be.  “You’ll be putting in 30+ miles each day, no problem,” is what everyone says.  Somehow, I don’t think that’s actually true.  Just past the border yesterday, we were already climbing, climbing, climbing.  Today was nothing but little ups followed by little downs.  I think the elevation changes are so small that they look insignificant on the elevation charts, but there are so many of them that it actually adds up to quite a bit of gain and loss throughout the day!

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains trail magic bugs Oregon

Trail magic and big, Orgonian bugs!

 

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains wildflowers trailAfter what felt like a very tedious hike down toward civilization, I met up with Jalan Jalan and Smokes.  We tried to stay on the rough trail that would take us to Callahan’s, but lost it past some railroad tracks.  We said “Screw it,” bushwhacked through some bushes, and tubbed down a rocky slide t road walk the rest of the way.

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains Callahans

Almost to Callahan’s

 

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains Callahans bartenderUpon reaching Callahan’s Lodge, the staff show you to the “Hiker Room” (where smelly hikers and their gear are kept separate from other guests) and then present you with a free drink coupon.  I dropped my gear, threw my hiking shirt in the trashcan, cashed in my coupon and toasted to all the hikers I could find at the lodge.

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains Callahans first beer free

The first beer’s free!

 

PCT Section R Klamath National Forest Siskiyou Mountains Callahans hiker trash

Road Runner, Jalan Jalan, me, Red Light, Smokes, Justin

 

 

The closer and closer I got to Ashland, the more life back home was on my mind:  work, relationships, hobbies, and goals.  I think what I will miss most of all from the trail is the quiet mind and the clear sense of direction I had every single day.  That’s something that I don’t tend to have at home.  There are always so many things going on simultaneously that my daily goals always pulled me in five different directions.  While hiking, I had only one goal each day:  to wake up and walk.  I hope I can carry some of the simplicity of the trail back to my home life, and I’m already eagerly looking forward to next summer when I’ll finish the Oregon and Washington sections of the PCT.

PCT Section R Ashland

Celebrating with Kim!

 

Links

Installment No. 19- Cabazon to Big Bear, Nov. 2014

Wiki Article on the State of Jefferson

Callahan’s Mountain Lodge

Oregon Shakespeare Festival of Ashland