I left the cabin and the grass around it to a few deer who seemed to have no problem with me being there. A couple grazed withing 15 feet of me as I pumped some water. I arrived at the trail leading to Fish Lake at about 10:30. The trail is so wide, flat and manicured you could probably push a wheelchair down it with no problem. Two miles later I was at the lake resort which includes a restaurant, store, cabins, dock and a campground. I had lunch, then joined Rob and Barb at the cabin they had rented for the night. They invited me to come take a shower, do laundry and hang out until Dad and Jon arrived. I helped Rob get Halfmile's trail waypoints loaded onto his GPS, then we went back to the restaurant for some appetizers before dinner. Dad and Jon arrived around 6:00, we ate some burgers then got a campsite for the night.
Monday, July 30, 2012
On Tuesday I think I heard a bear running off. I never saw it but it didn't sound like a deer or elk crashing through the brush. I also heard a very large tree fall only a couple hundred yards off the trail. There was no wind, just suddenly a loud cracking and a huge crash. That'd sure be something, walk all this way just to get flattened by a dead tree that decided to fall over as I went by...
Wednesday afternoon I caught back up to Rob and Barb, a couple who are doing the Oregon portion of the trail. We ended up stopping together at the South Brown Mountain Shelter for the night. It's a log shelter built by an Army Reserve unit about 20 years ago. It was a nice place with a woodstove and bunks along two walls. There's a hand pump on a well next to it. I stayed the night inside; no mice tried to get into my food.
Monday, July 23, 2012
I've heard of something referred to as the Oregon Challenge (it may have a different name), completing the Oregon part of the PCT in 2 weeks. That's an average of about 32 miles per day. Tempting to have an ambitious goal, but I think I'll pass on it and go slow instead. After all, it's Oregon. Plus, it's day 2 in Oregon already, I only did 9 miles today, I'm 2 plates into a bottomless spaghetti dinner and stumbling down to the yard behind Callahan's to set up camp is about all I'll be able to handle after #3... until bottomless pancakes tomorrow for breakfast. I'm finding restaurant stops mentioned in my trail guidebook that I didn't notice when browsing it while planning this trip. I've also got family coming to meet me in a few places so far. I think Oregon will be closer to 4 weeks.
First up is hiking from Fish Lake to Crater Lake with Jonathan this weekend. I may take a side trip over to Diamond Lake on Monday (30th). Then Odell Lake the following Thursday (2nd). I'll hit Highway 22 to Sisters on the 6th or 7th and Timberline Lodge on the 12th to hike with Rachel and Laura for the last few days of Oregon.
I'll have a couple days to kill in there between Crater Lake and Timberline, may take a day off at Odell. It'd be good to have someone join me for Sisters so I can skip hitching in and out on Hwy 22. Or anywhere else, I have a bit of flexibility. If I were doing 32 miles a day the best you could hope for is to stand along the trail and wave as I go by. That doesn't sound like much fun.
The trail has been crossing a lot of fairly open areas, brush and meadow covered hillsides. It hasn't been hot enough to be uncomfortable, so the views provided have been great.
Saturday was one of those days where I just can't get in a good rhythm. I watched the sun rise from my sleeping bag around 6:00, rolled over and went back to sleep until almost 7:00. It turned out to be a hot day with pleanty of climbing, lots of hiking with no shade, sweating, horseflies, overgrown trail and so on. I took a lot of long breaks until I realized I'd have to hike for the last few hours of the day without stopping to make it to decent water before it got late. I made it to a road with a spring down the hill at 8:00 that evening, got water, set up camp and ate dinner quickly before it got dark.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
I found G-Man at an RV park that also welcomes hikers next to the store/post office/cafe, the town is primarily that one building. I left my pack there and got lunch and a blackberry milkshake at the cafe. The store, like most I've visited along the trail, had exactly the sort of food I've been eating the whole trip; junk food, ramen and instant potatos. It also had some fresh produce, hardware and camping supplies. I got fuel for my stove; I ran out for the first time when there wasn't any in Etna. Not bad for a little store. That's part of the reason I haven't been sending myself hardly any resupply boxes, to support the stores like this who make an effort to cater to hikers. The trail is on the highway for a few miles when it goes through town. It's always nice to have a town right along the trail. I'll bet almost every hiker stops in that store. The owner has trail registers hikers have signed dating all the way back into the mid-80s.
I loaded up my pack and left town around 2:30, just behind G-Man. The first 6 miles after getting off the road and onto trail again are a steep hill. The area is sometimes one of the hottest on the trail, thanks to the elevation and the time of year hikers reach it. It was about 85 in town when we left, but G-Man and I huffed and puffed and sweated our way up to a small spring, then on a bit further to find campsites. I literally wrung sweat out of the front of my shirt during a few breaks, but my breaks were always over before it dried out. I cowboy camped on the only decent patch of flat ground I could find, not even big enough for my tent. Not sure where G-Man ended up.
Tuesday morning I hiked a couple miles down to the road. I found Mousetrap there talking to a man with a Jeep. Mousetrap hadn't seen any good campsites and had made it all the way to the road the night before. We talked with the Jeep owner for a while, then he gave us a ride down to Etna. The road down had next to no traffic on it, is very curvy and downhill the whole 15 miles into town. We went to one of the few restaurants in town for breakfast. There we ran into G-Man. He had made it to the road the morning prior and waited until 3:00 or so before getting a ride.
We all stayed at a motel just down the road. I got a shower, did laundry, had a burger for lunch and got food from the grocery store. Too much, as always. Even though I eat a lot on the trail, I almost always buy more food than I need. It's just 3 days until Seiad Valley, but I probably bought enough for 5. I have to carry it all the way there, but it's less to buy in the next town (where I'll still buy too much).
Dennis, Bird Nut, Basa and another hiker named Andrew made it into town that afternoon. It was nice having several other hikers around after going quite a while only seeing one or two here and there. After breakfast G-Man and Dennis got a ride to the trailhead with the hostel owner. I wasn't packed in time to try to tag along. Instead I tried calling a local who offers rides, but couldn't reach him. It turns out he had to give that up anyway. Mousetrap and I ended up standing in the middle of town trying to get a hitch. There's very little traffic going up into the mountains there. We actually ended up getting a ride from a sheriff who was heading out there. We were hiking again by 11:30. Dennis and I camped that night near a tiny lake on the side of a ridge where there seemed to be a stream across the trail every 1-200 feet or so.
On Thursday I wanted to get set up for an early afternoon arrival into Seiad Valley the next day. I did about 26.5 miles over 12 hours; marathon distance but not exactly marathon speed. I do take lots of 20-40 min breaks. Friday will be a big downhill into Seiad Vally, which is at about 1300 feet in elevation.
Friday, July 20, 2012
The next couple days the weather was much nicer. On Saturday I saw 2 bears within about 1 1/2 hours of each other. The first walked down a hill onto the trail 50 yards or so in front of me. It looked back up the hill as if it was glad to be down on the flat trail then started walking down it away from me. I tried to get a couple pictures as it walked off. It stopped for a minute when I whistled at it. I glanced at my camera to see if it was showing up and when I looked up the bear was gone. I stopped about a half hour later for dinner near a couple streams flowing down through a grassy area. I stood up to pack everything away and saw a bear climbing away up the hillside 150 yards away or so. I'm not sure if it ever saw me or how close it had been before it started walking away. It just wandered up the hill into the trees.
I hadn't been seeing hardly any hikers, just people out for a day or two and a couple guys doing a section hike, heading south. But on Monday I caught up to a couple hikers I hadn't met yet, Mousetrap and Dennis. G-Man had charged ahead of me out of Castella to reach Etna so he could get in a zero day. Monday evening some clouds were rolling in. I passed Mousetrap around 7:00 with the sky looking like it might decide to rain. We were both ready to take the next decent campsites we came across but we were in a steep area only 5-6 miles from the road down to Etna. I ended up finding a decent spot up a side trail and got my tent up with a couple raindrops falling. The rain held off though and the sky cleared up during the night.
Friday, July 13, 2012
I left Burney Falls Monday morning and headed toward a stream about 6-7 miles from there that was said to be a good place to swim. I found the spot, a stream about 8 feet wide in a steep canyon. The trail crosses it using a bridge. I left my pack at the bridge and walked back down the trail 100 feet or so. After scrambling down a very steep, rocky slope between some cliffs I reached the bottom of a waterfall. The water drops down 25 feet or so into a deep pool, surrounded almost completely by rock cliffs except where it flows out down another shorter falls. It was pretty awesome looking and if my phone hadn't been dead I would have gotten a picture. I took a couple from above later with my camera though. The water was pretty cold though. It took me a while to finally jump in but no time at all to scramble back out.
I hiked about 20-22 miles a day for the next few days, hardly seeing anyone. The only other thru-hiker I would see was G-Man. On Tuesday I saw a couple bear cubs scrambling up a tree down a steep slope off the trail a bit. I could hear the mom down in the brush but couldn't see her. She probably couldn't see me either. I didn't hang around long enough for her to come check what was making noise on the hill above her though.
Thursday afternoon G-Man and I reached Castella. There's a market there with a gas station. It was a large enough store to have the food I needed for the next leg of the hike. Yeah, talking about food again; I got a sandwich, bag of chips and a peach, followed later by a pint of Ben and Jerry's, then a burrito. G-Man simply got a whole box of ice cream and ate the whole thing, something else I should have gotten a picture of.
I found Bird Nut and Basa at the store in Old Staion later that day. I got a few snacks and went a bit farther on the trail to camp. The others were taking a day off there. The next morning I slept in a bit then hiked a couple miles to a cafe for breakfast, a huge plate of corned beef hash and 2 big pancakes. I staggered down the highway about a half mile to Subway Cave.
The cave is an old lava tube, running horizontally for about 1/3 of a mile under 30-40 feet of rock. It was quite a bit cooler inside, about 45 degrees, a nice change from the heat outside.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
However, I didn't end up reaching the halfway point until after 10 pm. There was a small post and a box with a log book in it. I signed the book and took some pictures with my camera but not with my phone. I think it was somewhere off the right side of this picture though.
Piper's Mom, as she is known, gave me a ride to a motel where I got a room and a quick shower. It was July 4th, but I still didn't expect a little town of a couple thousand people to have a parade. It was quite a bit deal for the little town though. There were a few thousand people lining the main street for it. I got some lunch and a milkshake at a little restaurant and watched the parade from the patio area.
Starting back with Monday the 25th, I caught a ride with Gray Wolf and his girlfriend to the post office where I mailed home my bear canister. It's nice to finally be rid of the bulk and weight. Then we drove back up to Echo Lake. I saw Buster and a few other hikers waiting for a ride down to Lake Tahoe.
These pictures are from the ridge west of Lake Tahoe.
There's a huge hill to climb after leaving Sierra City. It was a little slow going after so many pancakes, but I made it. I stopped near a spring for the night with Buster and Itchy. Buster had dinner and hiked on. He's trying to get to mile 1500 before going home for a wedding; probably doing 35-mile days to make that happen.
The next day (Saturday) ended with another big descent to a river where I camped and soaked my feet. In the morning while climbing up the other side I saw a bear in the trail. It had just come up the very steep hillside and stepped onto the trail about 50 feet ahead of me. It was smaller ad much darker brown than the last bear I saw. It turned and ran, either up the trail or back down the hill, but I didn't see it again. A few minutes later I crossed Bear Creek, an appropriate name.
Monday (July 2nd) afternoon I dropped down into the town of Belden. There isn't a lot to it, a store/restaurant/bar and several other buildings along a river. They have music festivals there most weekends. One was just wrapping up when I got there. People were everywhere, packing up camping gear from where they were staying all along the road. Around the store they were loading chairs, tents and music equipment. Looks like it had been quite the party there that weekend.
I had a burger, crossed the river and hiked up the hill on the other side. It was in the upper 80s and fairly humid, quite a sweaty climb. I started wishing I'd stayed at the river and gone swimming instead.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
I got a hotel room, a shower, some Thai food, DEET and stove fuel at an outfitter and took the bus to Safeway for more food. The outfitter takes pictures of all the PCT hikers coming through and posts them on their website, www.lakeoftheskyoutfitters.com.
South Lake Tahoe is quite a bit larger than most of the towns I had stopped in so far. It seems to have two major draws, the lake and the casinos right across the border in Nevada. I didn't spend any time at the lake but I did visit the all-you-can-eat buffet at one of the casinos.