Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day 76 - 88

Day 76: PCT miles 1336 to 1344

Chester was a very nice little town. I finally managed to update the blog at the library. D.C. had a friend come visit so we had lunch and then a ride back to the trailhead. As we were in no hurry we did not get hiking until around 2:30.

The next eight miles went pretty fast as we walked by fir, pine and cedars. Found a great spot to camp at the north fork of the Feather river.

Day 77: PCT miles 1344 to 1357

Entered Lassen Park today, which has quite a bit of geothermal action. I had to check out the terminal geyser as well as Boiling pond. Neither was as cool as their names led me to think but still interesting none the less. I had my first bear siting of the trip, it was a smallish blonde colored black bear that ran away as soon as it saw me.

Stopped at Drakesbad guest ranch with some other hikers for a very filling and tasty lunch. It seems that along the trail, the places which have ranch in their names are nice while those with resort are trashy. The guest ranch was great with free showers and a hot spring fed pool which I took advantage of despite the heat.

Terminal Geyser

Camped next to a river with D.C., Red, Smokes and Daniel.

Day 78: PCT miles 1357 to 1374

Took it easy today, only 17 miles. But for some reason, I hiked it straight through without a break. Had my second bear siting early in the morning. This was a large, light colored bear that was ripping apart old logs looking for grubs and insects. It either did not notice me or didn't care but ignored me as I watched through the trees.

Made it to the campsite by two and immediately jumped in the river. It has been quite warm this past week and I am happy to cool off when I can.

There is a 30 mile section of trail coming up with no water. Trying to be a bit strategic so as to minimize the amount of water to carry. The plan is to hike a few more miles into Old Station tomorrow and rest for most of the day, then in the evening start the 30 miles. Hike for 10 to 15, camp and finish the rest in the morning. I think this will work out well, I still will carry 5 liters.

Day 79: PCT miles 1374 to 1391

Spent the majority of the day at the store of the Hat Creek Resort eating and watching the world cup quarter finals. It was a great way to stay out of the 100 degree heat and fortify for the night hike. D.C. and I finally dragged ourselves out at around 4:00 and hiked the three miles to the water at Subway Cave. After walking through the cave, which is a lava tube, we filled up our water bladders and headed up to the Hat Creek Rim.
Despite the name, there is no water near the trail for 30 miles and it felt like we were back in the desert again. The trail winds through sage, is exposed and hot although not too hot as temperature cooled. I saw my first rattlesnake in about 800 miles as well as many lizards and rabbits.

resupply frenzy

The hiking was quite nice as the sun set and we continued by moonlight for a couple of hours.


Day 80: PCT miles 1391 to 1411

The last 20 miles of Hat Creek Rim were not as fun as the first 10. Despite getting on trail by 5:30 the heat and sun made walking less enjoyable. I basically did the entire 20 miles without stopping just to get it done before the day got really hot.

Fortunately, D.C. had a friend who picked us up and is letting us stay at her house. We were brought over to another house for wine and barbeque, I was pretty stoked. We were also able to clean up and resupply at the local Safeway store in Burney.

Day 81: PCT miles 1411 to 1424

After a nice breakfast (thanks Carrie and Frank!) and a trip to the PO for D.C., we were dropped back off on the trail. The good part was that we only had 12 miles to walk, unfortunately we did them during the hottest part of the day. These are the highest temperatures of the trip and today reached above 100 degrees. Hot and sweaty hiking but we did get trail magic twice. The first was at the Wild Bird Cache, which is one of the nicer caches of the trail. They even had a solar shower set up. The second was with the pop-up trail angels. Chef and her husband treated us well.

So it wasn't all suffering by any means, though it was nice to finally reach our destination at Burney Falls State Park. The falls really are spectacular.

Burney Falls

Day 82: PCT miles 1424 to 1447

Beautiful day today, the temperature was not too hot. Climbed back up to 5000 feet and I just watched the most impressive sunset of the trip so far. An incredible view from the campsite.

Day 83: PCT miles 1447 to 1476

Hot day but we were mostly around 5000 feet so it was not more than the low 90's. There were a couple of nice views of Mt Shasta but for the most part the trail went through brush and forests. It was easy to put the head down and hike.

Camped with D.C., Crusher and Ridgerunner at the Ash campground next to the McCloud river. A lovely place and I arrived early enough to take a dip in the river to freshen up and cool off.

McCloud River

Day 84: PCT miles 1476 to 1506

A long day getting to Castella. I did see another bear, it was very small and hiding in a tree. Made it down to the store with DC and Dirtwolf before it closed. The market has quite the beer selection. We ended up sleeping in a field out back. Woke up to a light rain and pulled my tarp over myself to keep dry. Also picked up my resupply box, new shoes, shirt and underwear, how exciting.

pair # 3

Day 85: PCT miles 1506 to 1523

Today was warm with a steep climb. The trail was half treed and half exposed. Some of the water sources are drying up as well. Beautiful view of Mt Shasta and the crags under the moon.

Day 86: PCT miles 1523 to 1549

I was dragging all day today, my legs just felt like jelly. I guess the last few days were more tiring than I thought. Nothing to be done about it, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. DC and I did stop and swim in a lovely little lake, that was refreshing and I felt clean for a couple of hours.

California Pitcher Plant

Day 87: PCT miles 1549 to 1571

Water is becoming a bit of an issue in this section. Normally, the water sources marked on the maps is reliable but we are finding more and more dry springs and creeks. I don't like pulling water from stagnant pools but sometimes it is that or go thirsty.

The morning hours went by quickly today and I did the first 15 without stopping. That was partly due to water sources being dry and I had to keep going until I found a good one. At Hwy 3 there was some awesome trail magic. Food, drinks and an Epsom salt bath for the feet. A great way to spend a couple of hours. After procrastinating for as long as we could, DC  and I headed back up into the mountains to do some more miles. I really felt tired and dragged myself into camp and laid down for a while. I think there is going to be a nice sunset but I am going to bed, my body is telling me to rest.

Day 88: PCT miles 1571 to 1597

Another challenging day with heat an quite a bit of climbing. However, the views were beautiful, reminding me of the Sierra mountains. DC and i passed through two wilderness areas: Trinity Alps and Russian. We pushed hard to get in a  good position for our trip into Etna tomorrow for a resupply. It sounds like a cool town and I am looking forward to checking out the brewery.

I also updated the Portraits from the Trail and Selfies from the Trail pages, feel free to check them out as well.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Day 55 - 75

I know it has been far too long since my last post. I have been having difficulty finding a computer to update the blog. The issue is getting the photos uploaded, I could do blog posts without photos but I really don't want to. I think they give a much better feel for the trail than words alone. I hope you can bear with me, hopefully this was the longest time between posts.

Day 55: PCT miles 904 to 919 (approx.)

Dave and I had a nice night at the hostel in Mammoth Lakes. After a shower and packing we went for breakfast at Stellar Brew which has some great coffee. I updated the blog while Dave got his permit to hike into Yosemite. We got a ride with Doubletap and his girlfriend who I think should be called The Lizinator because she loves the terminator movie so much.

Dave and I sporting our headnets

We didn't end up starting until 11 so we weren't able to do all the miles I thought we might. But no problem, we will get an early start tomorrow. We took the JMT alternate route, which is why the PCT miles are approximate. The JMT and the PCT split for about 14 miles, and I had heard that the JMT section is more scenic. It has been lovely.

Day 56: PCT miles 919 to 932

Dave and I left camp and reconnected with the PCT in five miles. I am starting to see many JMT hikers now, it seems that most people choose to go south. Also, more people as we get closer to Yosemite. Today was beautiful, cooler than yesterday with a consistent breeze. We went over Donahue Pass (11,100 ft) and there was much less snow than I anticipated, which is not a bad thing. Still got off track a couple times. We are camped for the night near the Lyell creek crossing, I am so happy to go to sleep.

Lyell Creek

Day 57: PCT miles 932 to 942

It was cold this morning, the water started to freeze as it was coming out of the filter. But we made good time heading into Tuolumne Meadows. There are quite a few people here, more than I am used to.
I picked up my resupply box from the post office and got ready for the next section. We had some time to kill until the bus came for Dave, so we wandered around the meadows for a couple of hours. Meeting up with some thru hikers I have not seen for a while, its been great to catch up.

Lambert Dome

I had a nice couple of days with Dave, he managed to do pretty well and had a great attitude.

Day 58: PCT miles 942 to 962

Today went well, I even bathed in a river, very refreshing. A little bit of up and down but the trail went through some nice meadows as well. I am camped by a river and being watched by a couple of young bucks. I don't think they know what to make of me.

Day 59: PCT miles 962 to 987

Today was full of climbs and descents, I didn't realize there would be so much today. It is good to get it over with, there is 19000 feet of climbing in this section I am doing so the more I do today means less later. Only saw three people, I know there are more around but we are spaced out such that it feels deserted. Mosquitoes are out and I am using my headnet but they are still not as ferocious as they can be. No cell signal for days, it is a little frustrating not being in touch with people. Especially on Father's day when I would have liked to make some phone calls. I just have to enjoy the peace and quiet.

Day 60: PCT miles 987 to 1018

I decided to celebrate my 60th day on the trail by hiking 31 miles. Well not really but it happened anyways. I passed where I had been thinking of camping and by the time I realized there was no way I was going to go back. Unwritten rule of the PCT, never go back. So it was 11 more miles of exposed and waterless ridge walking until I came to Sonora Pass. A very beautiful walk it was though. Very different from the lush valley I started out in this morning. And... I passed the 1000 mile point, my feet are sore just thinking about it. It has been a great hike, everyday I am thankful to be out here walking the west.

1000 miles!

Just before Sonora Pass

Day 61: PCT miles 1018 to 1041

I realized today that I had the day of the week wrong since I left Tuolumne. So, it is Wednesday instead of Thursday. This is great, I was stressing out how I was going to make it to the post office for my next resupply by Saturday but now I have lots of time. It is kind of cool to lose track of time, just about as nice as not hearing the news for weeks on end.

Another nice day on the trail, do I sound like a broken record? Every day is nice. I hiked with Crusher for a while, we hadn't seen each other for about 900 miles, we both have a lot more facial hair. Had to cross more snow today and was postholing again and cursing, I thought I was done with the snow. But it was over relatively quickly and I dropped down into thickly wooded forest. Camped next to Wolf Creek tonight with Crusher, Possum and Almost Awesome. Still not too many mosquitoes, I hope I don't curse myself but I am pleasantly surprised, I expected mosquito hell from Tuolumne Meadows on.

Day 62: PCT miles 1041 to 1065

The only person I saw today was Crusher, so I had a quiet day on the trail. It wound through some granite and then into miles of volcanic rock, dark red and black. I felt sluggish today and I am not sure why. The trail would descend quickly then there would be a long ascent back up. There was very little flat area. I am camped alone by Lily Pad pond and the mosquitoes are fierce. I have my full body net and am putting it to good use.

Moon Set

Day 63: PCT miles 1065 to 1094

Getting low on food is not fun. This was the second time I had to ration my food because I didn't bring enough. This resulted in me getting a little cranky and pushing to get to the next resupply. I notice the lack of food most when I am climbing hills, I seem to slow right down and can't go any faster.
My goal for today was to get to the Echo Lake store before it closed. The guidebook said 6:30 and I thought that I would have just enough time to make the 29 miles. I pushed as hard as I could until I got to Carson Pass, there was fresh fruit there, thanks to Ginny at the information building. After lunch I pushed again going as fast as I could, it was mostly downhill and that helped. 

I kept thinking about what I would eat when I got there. It was all planned out in my mind so you can imagine the disappointment when I got there at 6:00 and they were closed. I was in a foul mood until I got my last dinner in me. Then I felt better and learned two important things 1. Bring enough food! and 2. Keep expectations low.

I stealth camped overlooking South Lake Tahoe and ended up having a great night.

South Lake Tahoe

Day 64: PCT miles 1094 to 1098

Rakesh was coming for a visit today and so I had some time to kill. I ate, of course. The store opened at 9:00, and I got right in to start eating. Also picked up my resupply box from the post office
Rakesh picked me up and took me to South Lake Tahoe to do some errands. I picked up a fuel canister, did laundry and supplemented my resupply with more food. We also needed to get Rakesh a permit to backpack with me in Desolation Wilderness. That turned out to take longer than expected and we got on the trail by 5:00. Fortunately the hike was short as we were both hungry.

I was so excited, Rakesh had brought Indian food from Davis. It tasted way better than it ever does on town. I did not realize how much oil is in those curries until I tried cleaning out the pot. I ended up having to use some soap, which I almost never use. But that calorie rich dinner was just what I needed.
We spent the night camped at Tamarack Lake.

Day 65: PCT miles 1098 to 1122

I seem to have found a routine that works for me. I wake up between 5:00 and 5:30 and pack up most of things before breakfast. I save the food and clothing for last. I then make my coconut latte and eat whatever I have for breakfast. After cleaning up I pull out my morning snacks and pack the rest up. This process usually takes me around an hour so I normally get on the trail by 6:30. Then I walk until around noon. I take at least an hour for lunch. I clean up from lunch, filter water, wash my feet if I can and sometimes take a nap. I get back on the trail and walk until around 6:00 or 7:00. When I find a campsite, I set up my sleeping things, get dinner ready, wash up, change into sleeping clothes, write a few words for the blog and then go to sleep.

Lake Aloha

Today was all familiar terrain. I have hiked Desolation Wilderness many times and it was great to visit again.

Day 66: PCT miles 1122 to 1150

There is a series of ski huts built back in the early to mid 20th century that are open to the public to stay in. There happens to be one at mile 1150 on the north side of Anderson Peak. I was curious to stay in one so I put in a long day and made it before sunset.

It is a nice building made of stone and wood, the inside has a stone floor and the second floor is made of wood. There are also six folding beds attached to the wall. When I arrived, the only other person there was Mulberry so we had the place to ourselves... and the mice. I started to notice them running around and so I hung all my things so they couldn't get at them. That did not stop them from running around all night and making lots of noise. It was not one of my better nights on the trail. Plus it was stuffy inside, I guess I am used to fresh air now.

Bensen Hut

Day 67: PCT miles 1150 to 1180

I want to get into Sierra City tomorrow before 2 pm when the post office closes. So, I had to put in another long day. This was the last of the familiar parts of the trail. After today, it is all new. I passed highway 80, dropped some trash off at the rest area and continued over Castle Pass. The hillsides are covered with blooming mules ears. The mountains are getting smaller and although I still go up and down a lot, it is not as tough as it has been.

Tiger Lily

Day 68: PCT miles 1180 to 1196

A town day so the legs were moving faster plus it was mostly downhill or flat. The vegetation is starting to change as well. There is more of a pacific northwest feel with the trail going by hemlocks and cedars. Sierra City is a really small town but had a nice feel to it. The public bathrooms were very nice and the public spring for drinking water was cool. Not much to do though and no cell coverage either.
Slept in back of the Red Moose Inn and met up with some hikers I hadn't seen in a while and met new people as well. Overall a very nice stop.

Day 69: PCT miles 1196 to 1212

Spent the morning going through my resupply box and watching the world cup. By early afternoon I was well fed and packed up. Headed back to the trail with Fat Dog and Marathon, a couple from North Vancouver. The trail climbed close to 3000 feet but it was a gentle grade and the weather was perfect for hiking. Big puffy clouds overhead and a nice breeze. I was supposed to meet Red at a campsite at mile 1205 but I went right by it without noticing. By the time I realized it was too late to turn back. So I continued on until the next water source and camping area. Set up my sleeping area next to D.C. 

Day 70: PCT miles 1212 to 1242

It is funny how badly I estimated my food requirements when preparing for this trip. I am eating about 25% more than I thought I would. This is fine as long as I can supplement my resupply box with additional food. I feel like I could just keep eating and eating. D.C. and I are planning a side trip tomorrow. There is an alternative route off the PCT that goes by a restaurant, it will add 2 miles to our total but is so worth it.
Today there were butterflies everywhere, of different colors and sizes. They are very difficult to photograph because they move when I get close but it was fun trying. Camped again with D.C., he saw a bear today. I still have not seen one on this trip.

Day 71: PCT miles 1242 to 1266

We were motivated by the thought of burgers and 18 beers on tap at the Buck Lakes restaurant. However, we never made it. There was a south bound section hiker who told us about trail angels at Bucks Lake. When we came across their sign on the trail we had to at least call and see what the deal was. Turned out to be a very nice rest stop. At the trailhead, Gear Slut joined us for the two mile road walk to the William's house. We were treated very well, fed, shower, laundry and good conversation. As well as wine and beer. Slept out on the porch and had a wonderful and restful night.

Middle Fork of Feather river (very refreshing to swim in)
Washington Lily

Day 72: PCT miles 1266 to 1290

The goal today was Belden where I had a resupply box waiting. Temperatures are starting to rise as summer progresses and the altitude is lower. Water is also not as prevalent and I find that I have to plan the day around available water. Also getting back to some things I was doing in the desert such a as soaking my hat and bandana in streams to cool off. There was a bit of a climb today and then the trail dropped 4000 feet down into a valley. Unfortunately, that means climbing back up tomorrow. But I did get my resupply as well as a very filling burger and beers at the Beldon resort. What is the deal with these "resorts" in California? Everyone, at least on the PCT, is run down and sketchy. Beldon town resort was no exception, it was called creepy in Yogi's guidebook and I totally agree. The one redeeming feature was the Belden burger, one of the better burgers I have had on the trail.

Reading the registry (how hikers keep track of each other on trail)

Camped with D.C., Patches and Dirtwolf by the north fork of the Feather river. It is warm, humid and the crickets are chirping. Surprisingly free of mosquitoes though. Will try to get started extra early tomorrow to get up the 5000 foot climb before it's too hot.

Day 74: PCT miles 1290 to 1319

D.C. and I are pushing hard to get to Chester so we can watch a world cup match. We have 46 miles to do in a day and a half, which is doable but challenging. Especially because of that 5000 foot climb on a day when we are going for 30 miles. We made a good go of it and hiked from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM but only made 29 miles. However, with another early start and if we can get a good hitch into town, then we should be able to make it. 

Getting close to Mt. Lassen which has been visible for a couple of days. The landscape is shifting to more volcanic soils and getting dry.

Day 75: PCT miles 1319 to 1336

Woke up just before five and was on the trail by 5:30. It was mostly downhill and the miles flew by. I had thoughts of food and world cup action motivating me. Passed the official midpoint of the PCT today. Halfway to Canada and still totally happy to be doing this adventure.



Just as I got to the road to hitch into Chester, a VW van pulls over and a pastor asks if Slow Bro and I need a ride. Heck yeah! After getting to town and as I am standing outside the motel, a CHP officer pulls over and D.C. is in the front seat, he got a ride from the cops. We head over to the dentist office where we heard we could get a $20 coupon for a local restaurant, and sure enough we did. I think I like this town!
D.C. and I are sharing a motel room and eating as much as we can. He has lost 20 lbs and I have lost 14. The thru hiker diet, eat as much as you can of anything you want and still lose weight.