Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August 31

End: top of a ridge in live trees!
Daily: 21.5
End: 2011

We walked down to the coffee shop with Kevin today and said our goodbyes before getting picked up by Lloyd Gust's nephew in law, also named Lloyd. Lloyd Gust is the premier trail angel in central Oregon. Anyway, Lloyd the younger took us up to the pass, where we started the long slow push to Santiam Pass. 

Today was mostly either on lava or in a burn area. It would suck on a hot day, but I wore my jacket and rain pants all day to stay warm. 

We wanted to camp after Santiam Pass but there was burn that looked like it went on forever. We don't like to camp in burns because those trees usually have burnt or rotting roots and are prone to falling over, especially in windy conditions. And surprise, it's really windy today. 

So we passed up a few flat spots, hoping the ridge would somehow be better. It was! As soon as we got up here the trail dipped slightly to the leeward side and there were live trees instead of ominously creaking dead ones. We even found a real campsite with a fire ring. 

It is so damn cold. I'm glad, since it will kill the mozzies and it's supposed to get better, but man! Haven't had a night this cold since before the Sierra. We really have hiked all summer. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 29 - Bend

End: McKenzie Pass
Daily: 16.5
Total: 1989.5

We weren't too tired today but we just couldn't move that fast. The morning was beautiful hiking in meadows and near creeks. We walked through an area where all the pebbles and rocks around were black obsidian, then past Obsidian Falls, which was pretty cool. There was a beer cache up there! One Coors Lite for the trail while swatting the mozzies and we were off.

Later in the day we got into some lava. I think Chris's exact word were "But it was so pretty, why did it have to turn into Mordor?" Lava is my favorite. These are the times that I wish there wa a font for sarcasm. No, lava is actually pretty cool looking, it just sucks to walk on.

We were about 3/4 of a mile from the road when we saw Kevin walking up the lava trail in a white shirt and sandals. Hooray! He had his roommate's crazy dog Digby with him. Digby is a 1.5 year old Doberman that is the biggest idiot I've ever met. Everyone agrees he's just dumb, and he's got so much dumb energy that he's really entertaining to watch.

Another friend, Robbie, is also in town! He came down to do some mountain biking and Han out with us. He brought his dog, Zaia, who is the sweetest dog ever. I missed both of them!

Anyway, we hung out at a couple of the breweries before comin home and playing Scattergories. Good times were had by all.

UPDATE: I'm not able to get my card reader to work on Kevin's computer, so unfortunately I think pictures will have to wait til Hood River. Sorry!

August 28

End: lakelet after separation creek
Daily: 31.2
Total: 1873

Over 30 and we don't feel completely dead!

Morning was incredibly buggy. Bugs really help our mileage because I just want to run away from them. They died down a little while after the first really rays of sun hit us.

After Horseshoe Lake came about a million horses. One couple on a pretty paint and a mule who said they might do trail magic at Hwy 26 this weekend, then a few pack trains and families. We tried to hitch to no avail. Then one of the mules saw us and freaked out. I'm sure if he'd had a rider he would have bucked him off. We weren't even doing anything threatening - we were sitting on the ground.

Anyway, then past the Elk Lake junctions we ran into Mowgli! She had taken a zero in Bend with Shaker. We hiles with her up the big climb and then later on in the day. I was nice to catch up since we hadn't seen her since we were still wallowing around in snow.

We also ran into Billy Goat and Amoeba today, at the top of the climb. I guess Oregon's where you go to meet trail celebrity.

The end of the day was so beautiful. Views of South and Middle Sister over meadows, creeks and flowers. This section has a unique beauty. I would recommend a section/day hike in this area. It's hard to explain, but the rough rockiness of the volcanos and thing like the Rock Mesa with obsidian cliffs, along with the trees and meadows and flowers just make this place really interesting.

Camped with Mowgli near a lake. We have a gorgeous view of South Sister. To Bend/Kevin's house tomorrow.

August 27

Happy 4 months on trail!

End: stormy lake, aptly named 
Daily: 28.7
Total: 1941.8

Today was a green blur with some lakes built in. We passed Rosary lakes this morning after a beautiful sunrise over Odell Lake. The first Rosary Lake had tons of people camping and fishing around it, and when Chris asked if the other two lakes were as popular, a guy with a giant tent looked at him like, well I don't know, I've never been all the way up there... Up there being .25 miles away. 

Anyway, then on through a beautiful, healthy looking forest (so nice!) and to Charlton Lake, which was gorgeous.  Spicerack was eating lunch there and said the swimming was great, which was awesome because the day was hot! So we swam and washed socks and got water and enjoyed the place. 

Then on into the Three Sisters Wilderness. I can't believe we're here, so close to Bend. Walking thousands of miles to a place you've spent time in makes it seem like a different place entirely. Plus, soon we will get to spend time with our friend Kevin!

Then on through more beautiful ( some not so beautiful) ponds and lakes. Our destination was Stormy Lake, and I had said earlier in the day that if that lake is stormy, wouldn't the rest of them be stormy too? And then about a quarter mile from Stormy Lake, the sky turned dark and thunder pealed and we got rained on. I have suggested changing my name to Jinx multiple times. Maybe that'll be my middle trail name. Hah.

Anyway, the rain let up enough to let the mozzies have a field day during dinner. Wonder how many we ate. 

Dinner was cous cous and curry lentil soup, with olive oil and dried carrots. Delicious.

Friday, August 26, 2011

August 26

End: awesome overlook campsite above Odell lake
Daily: 25.1
Total: 1913.1

Mosquito hell again. We were able to get a few squirts of bug spray plus some Off wipes (and a cookie!) from a really nice family at Summit Lake in the morning. Their kids, Madeline and Isaiah, had just gone on their first backpacking trip in the Smokies earlier this year. Hearing about kids playing in the woods makes me think maybe there is a little hope for the next generation.

Anyway, then we entered Diamond Peak Wilderness. It was gorgeous! And also a breeding ground for mozzies. Lakes and ponds literally everywhere. And a huge mountain ridge above everything! Tons of snow on it, but it wasn't too bad for walking.

There was a spring halfway through the day, which wasn't on Halfmile's maps. Which almost never happens because his maps are the best. But Scott Williamson mentions it in Yogi's Guide and it sounded great. For those of you who don't know who he is: current record holder of the fastest PCT thru hike in something like 66 days. Just to make it really official he did it with NO hitchhiking, just walking, into town. He's thru hiked 12 times and he's currently hiking southbound again.

We were bouncing around with Spicerack and he kept joking about "oh it's Scott williamson's spring, maybe we'll meet him here." The spring was awesome, and the rest of the day was pretty easy downhill with tons of bugs until the last few miles. Chris went ahead to get our package from shelter cove and meet me back at the trail. I carried the tent and sone extra stuff up to this awesome campsite, passing Spicerack on the way. While I was setting up the tent I noticed he was talking to someone I had assumed was a day hiker because of the size of his pack. They chatted for a while and when they parted Spicerack came up to check out this site, and said "I just met Scott Williamson." !!! I'm pissed I didn't go down. The guy was 155 miles from Canada a week ago!

Anyway, that was the crazy story of the day.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25

End: on a ridge near cowhorn mountain
Daily: 29.5
Total: 1888

Hooray I get to post from the trail again! No pictures til Bend, sorry.

We slept in til 6:30 today and left camp at 7:20, and it seemed like we just couldn't get the miles in at first. Part of the reason is that we spent over Hal an hour chatting with Mike, a retired guy who started as a thru and then got held up by snow, plus his wife and two friends. When we realizes that we'd only done 7.5 miles by 10 am (normally we've done at least 9) we decided to push and not have a morning break. We ended up making it to Maidu Lake for lunch, which was beautiful! Apparently the Umpqua River flows from the lake as well. For non-NW people, that's a relatively major river. 

Anyway, we took the side trail to Maidu so we didn't have to carry too much water (Six Horse Springs was supposed to be gross) and then intended to follow a connector trail back to the PCT. Well, we took the only trail we saw, which followed the lake, realized that wasn't the trail we wanted, then bushwhacked straight up the hill to find the connector. Found that - but it was really outsloped and not maintained. As we walked on we realized it REALLY hadn't been maintained in a while - like 20 years at least. There were good sized trees growing in the middle of the bench and other trees in the later stages of decomposition lying across it. So we continued to bushwhack along the trail until we got home sweet long, skinny home: the PCT. 

Anyway, the rest of the day was easy. We made miles so quick - 4 miles an hour sometimes. We ran into Spicerack at Windigo Pass, who we hadn't seen since Kennedy Meadows south (702). So good to see him. Sounds like we will be for a while - he's going around our pace.

Anyway, then sprinkles while climbing the hill to camp and now a camp with an awesome view of Cowhorn Mountain (Thielsen this morning was also crazy looking). Tons of bugs. We need some repellent.

August 24

End: on the side of Mt. Thielsen
Daily: 28.4
Total: 1858.5

Crater Rim today! Man that was gorgeous! Blue blue when the sun was out. I want to go to Wizard Island so bad. 

We had weird weather all day. It sprinkled for five minutes four or five times. What is this thing called rain? It's been sooo long. 

During one of those sprinklings was thunder and lightning! Awesome! We were walking through a flat field of pretty much identical trees, which is where you want to be in a lightning storm, so we weren't scared, just in awe. I love thunder. Thunder is the sound of the air breaking. How awesome is that?

And then there were the mosquitos. I may jump off a cliff if they are as bad tomorrow. 

I took a Benadryl to help with the bug bites and it's kicking in. Night.

August 23 - Mazama Village

End: Annie creek trail junction
Daily: 27.3
Total: 1830.1

Mosquito hell! We haven't had a problem with them for weeks up til yesterday so we didn't bother to buy more DEET and now we're regretting it.

Gorgeous views in the morning. We woke up early for us (5:30) so we got a sunrise over some giant reservoir in the distance that had islands in it. Then past Lucifer (aptly named, the thing looked crazy!) and Devil's Peak. It was nice to get some views today because it has mostly just been forest walking. Mosquito-y forest walking.

The rest of the day was just easyish, flat whatever. We both felt pretty good all day, despite having to carry enough water for a 21 mile dry stretch.

We got into Mazama Village by 5:00, did laundry, took a shower, picked up both packages (hooray!) and then had the all you can eat buffet (thanks Moms!), which happened to be thanksgiving dinner - real turkey and turkey gravy and mashed potatoes and yam and my favorite, green bean casserole. My mom's green bean casserole is still my favorite, but this was pretty good. Anyway, my favorite part was when the guy tending the buffet told us happy thanksgiving. And eating dinner with Stagg and 12-ounce was nice too.

Time to try to sleep despite the chorus of mozzies outside wanting to suck our blood. Crater Lake Rim tomorrow!

Oh, my mom sent her old iPhone so I'm typing this like in Southern California! Hopefully I'll be able to post from the trail again soon!

August 22

End: snow lakes junction
Daily: 26.4
Total: 1803.8

Most of today was pretty flat, which was nice. There were a couple climbs, but even the climbs seemed flatter. Although Oregon is not a plain as we'd hoped. We're still exhausted by the end of the day. 

We saw our first elk of the trip today. I think there were two cows, a bull and two calves. From the noise I thought it was a bear, then I saw them, and then we SMELLED them! Ugh. Got to be the stankiest animals in the forest besides skunks. Smells like all those bottles of deer pee my dad keeps on the counter at the ranch. 

Anyway, we had some pretty views of Mt. Laughlin today, and tons of mozzies, as the Aussies call them. Bugs!

We also flip flopped with 12 Ounce and Stagg today. First people we've seen consistently in a while. They're fun. 

August 21

End: in an ant pile in a lava field
Daily: 27
Total: 1777.4

Today was pretty boring, scenery-wise. I'm glad I have something to distract me from the monotony of flat forest walking. 

It was eventful in other ways. First, we met a couple of runners  who had already read our blog. Cool! I don't remember if names were exchanged but I hope they're still reading.

Second, after lunch we arrived in the land if ripe huckleberries! Finally! After eating handfuls, we put some in a water bottle for our morning granola.

Last, at about 2:30, two riders on horses appeared on the trail. The first horse hesitated a second after it saw us, then freaked out and bucked it's rider off. The man was pissed off, but not hurt. We were thankful we didn't meet them on a cliff or something. 

Anyway, the day ended on a ton of lava fields, which are hard to walk on because not twisting your ankle on a rock every step takes a lot of concentration. So we found a flattish spot in some trees, but apparently we interrupted a nighttime raid between two ant colonies. Oops. Time to kick some ants out before bed. 

August 20

End: near hyatt lake resort
Daily: 22.2
Total: 1750.4

I got to walk with my new iPod today! There's so much music on here that I love and that I've never heard. Now that my battery is more than a third dead and we've still got three days out I guess I'll have to be more careful with the battery. 

Anyway, today was pretty uneventful except that literally seconds after I put my headphones on for the very first time I saw the biggest rattlesnake I have ever seen slithering slowly into the bushes. Chris didn't hear it rattle so I felt better. But it still freaked me out. We haven't seen a single rattler in over 1000 miles and NOW one shows up. 

I forgot to say how nice it was to get so much stuff from our parents in the mail. Chris's mom sent dried veggies, puppy chow (chocolate chex mixy stuff - we don't eat dog food) and two loaves of bread. My mom sent our maps and more baked goods. They also both sent us money! Thanks, both of you! We really, really appreciate it. With that money, we really had a hard time getting out of town. It was hard to remind ourselves that staying an extra night meant we would have to move faster later. 

There weren't any (cheaper) tickets left for plays so we saw the newish Woody Allen movie, Midnight in Paris. We told the guy at the front desk we had been in the woods for four months so what movie should we see? He laughed like it was a joke, realized we weren't joking, and looked at us like we were unpredictable wild animals that might pounce at any moment or perhaps start doing cartwheels in the lobby.

Anyway, we'd recommend the movie wholeheartedly. 

We'll definitely be coming back to Ashland. I would love to live here. There's even a university!

Friday, August 19, 2011

August 18-19 - Ashland

Ashland, OR is my new favorite town on the PCT.

1. Shop N' Cart: huge natural foods warehouse-type store with rows and rows of cheap bulk food and a ton of sales.
2. All of the gear stores give at least a 10% discount to PCTers.
3. I got new clothes!! No more shirt with holes in it, and now I have shorts!
4. Caldera Brewery. 'Nough said.
5. There are so many plays and shows! I wish we could be here for a month.
6. Downtown like Hood River.
7. Went to breakfast at the Wild Goose next door to the hotel and saw AMAZING art on the walls, asked who the artist was, and it was our server. Asked for a card and she gave me three real greeting cards with her art on them. Then was served tomato mint soup that was amazing.
8. First hotel room in over a month.
9. Hopefully a play today? Maybe? We're trying to leave, but we'll see.

And most importantly:

I got my new iPod. So there was this hole in my heart that I didn't know was there, but it's full now. As I was listening to my iPod, bought by Chris, filled by his brother Greg, and two friends, Niki and Kevin, I was thinking that one of my goals on this trip was to be more conscious of wants versus needs. I was really trying to figure out whether music is a want or a need, because the line wears thin there. I eventually decided, realistically, that music is a want, not a need, but that I will never, ever take it for granted again.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, you four.

August 17 - CA/OR Border

End: campsite surrounded by down trees. hurrah.
Daily: 26.3
Total: 1720.5 <-- sometimes it hits me that THAT IS HOW FAR I'VE WALKED THIS SUMMER.
Donomore Meadows


It took forever to get here, but we're finally in Oregon! Seriously, even this morning I felt like it took forever. That's partially because in Donomore Meadows (good name for the last think you cross before getting out of California), we found an old rundown cabin with a fire still going outside of it and nobody there. So we put out the fire and explored a bit. Just an old hunting cabin with empty bottles of booze and mouse-chewed mattresses.

Anyway, then the Oregon border and a couple of hills before we hit Day Hiker Land. This seems like such a random place for so many day hikers, but I guess there are roads everywhere so we should have expected it.

I'm running really low on snacks, so I was trying to conserve when some day hikers told us there was a cooler of sodas coming up, and gave us a fiber bar. Then another couple of hikers gave us a Clif Bar. All without us asking.

Anyway, now it's like 8:15 and time for sleep. Oh, Chris did end up getting poison oak this time. It's not too bad, and hopefully it doesn't worsen. I'm not surprised. I know I have the oils on my pants and legs. It was unavoidable this time.

August 16

End: near an unmarked spring
Daily: 25.7
Total: 1694.2
Lily Pad Lake

Today was cow patty day. Seriously, almost every water source we came to was contaminated with cow crap. We've gotten so used to our crystal clear springs that we expect good water at every source. But there were cow prints and patties everywhere today, and for the last half of the day we walked to the rhythm of the cowbells all around us. Who needs an Ipod?

We passed up one good spring because we knew there was water everywhere, and then the next 3 water sources were contaminated, so we took water from one of them and treated it twice, but I still didn't drink it. I went 8 miles without drinking anything but a couple of sips from Chris's camelback that he had leftover. By the time we got to this spring (which comes directly out from under a tree and is GUSHING, thank God), we drank and drank and drank.

Waking up on the ridge this morning was a little disorienting, in a kind of awesome way. It's just not every day you wake up to a 3,000 foot drop on one side, roll over and see another 2,000 foot drop on the other side. I'm glad that ridge was not a foot thinner.

We also woke up to Cinnamon Toasters cereal and powdered milk. Oh man! Why haven't we been doing this more? In Washington, we're going to have to buy cereal that goes well with huckleberries.

We didn't see anyone else today, which is awesome. I hope it switches back and forth, but for now I'm happy for the solitude.

We'll be in Oregon tomorrow morning. I think it's all a giant lie and California never ends. How could it? It's so long! I'm reminded of Hotel California.

August 15 - Seiad Valley

End: ridge between Lower and Middle Devil Peaks
Daily: 23.8
Total: 1668.5
View from our campsite

Kalamath River

We would have been in Seiad Valley way sooner if the berries hadn't all been ripe on the way down. If we don't make it to Canada before the snow falls it will probably be because we spent too much time picking berries. Strawberries, thimbleberries and tons of blackberries down on the road.

After following the trail through a poison oak forest, we had to walk 6.4 miles on roads. Apparently people around here don't want to allow the PCT through their land. Which is understandable, just annoying. It added about 3 or 4 miles to our day, all on roads.

This is the State of Jefferson. For those of you who have never heard of it, here's the explanation. Northern California and Southern Oregon believe that they should be their own state, because they aren't represented enough in the state governments, they government officials don't know what's best for this area, and the state government doesn't do enough for the area for the amount of taxes they pay. So almost everyone around here considers this place not California or Oregon, but the State of Jefferson. There are even road signs. I wish they could be their own state.

Anyway, after the road walk, we took a siesta in the tiny town of Seiad Valley. We had delicious milkshakes (best on the trail, and we've had a lot of milkshakes in the last 500 miles), and then washed off/napped by the creek and under the bridge with the Canadians and Hotrod. A wonderful afternoon.

Then up up up. This may be the steepest climb on the trip. We timed it to do part tonight and part tomorrow but we ended up doing most of it tonight. We did it at the perfect time of day, and we'd had a coffee from the cafe, so that really helped.

Now we're camped on the most badass campsite ever. It's on a knife's edge of a ridge with steep drop offs on either side, with a sunset on one side and a moonrise on the other. Barely big enough for cowboy camping.

Sleep and shooting stars time now.

August 14

End: campsites near unpaved road
Daily: 24.7
Total: 1644.7
OMG snow what are we gonna doooo?

We moved so slow today! I don't know why, but the uphills were really draining. There were a lot of them and they were really steep, but they cost more energy than normal for both of us.

I think probably my most used word in this blog is "gorgeous," but that's what today was too. We were in the Marble Mountain wilderness today and everything was so lush and green, with water everywhere and the Marble Mountains above it all.

Marble Mountain itself was crazy looking. It's this giant white rock thousands of feet high. I guess it's just a mountain, but the whiteness of the rock was just really different.

We heard something crazy in the valley. It sounded the first time like a dog getting in a fight way below us, then like a sick coyote howling. I think it actually was a coyote, but it was at like 10:30 am and alone. I kind of wonder if it was rabid.

Marble Mountains and wildflower fields!
Seiad Valley tomorrow, then Oregon soon!

August 13

End: camp "near a creeklet"
Daily: 13.5
Total: 1620
Truffula Trees!

Got breakfast at Bob's Ranch House after a bad night of sleep. Too many snorers and the knowledge that every time I moved I'd bother Boots (and vice versa), who was in the bunk above, meant that it took a long time to fall asleep.

We sat around relaxing until we decided we really needed to get going, put our packs on and I was barely across the street with my thumb out when a truck pulled over. She was a really nice bass guitarist who was playing in Sawyer's Bar, the tiny town on the other side of the hill. There's a benefit dance going on at the grange over there. I wish we could go!

Then we got up to the trail and I told Chris to meet me 10 miles up. I wanted to hike alone.

Hiking alone really helped my mood. I stopped a lot to enjoy the view in silence. I journaled (as opposed to blogging) which also really helped clear my thoughts.

I twisted my ankle pretty badly on that 10 mile stretch. This happens like five times a day, but I've always had Chris behind me. It always gets better, so I didn't worry, and it got better.

Anyway, now we're in a sweet little campsite with a velvet buck that is way too friendly (still in velvet?). Chris packed out a can of stew because he's crazy, so we had potatos and stew for dinner. Yum!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

August 12 - Etna

Hangin' out in Etna at the Hikers Hut at the Alderbrook Bed and Breakfast. A really nice place, but a little disappointing because we were told we get breakfast and we don't. Also, less than relaxing for me because there are A BILLION PEOPLE ALL THE TIME. I think I'm going to let Chilidog walk ahead and meet him at the end of the day. I just need some time to recharge. Maybe then I'll stop complaining about it. I swear, if I wanted to be around people all the time I'd move to the city.

This town is really cute though. Traditional America feel with a downtown and an old timey drug store with an ice cream bar. And there are bikes to get around town, which helps a lot. The Etna Brewery was also a nice place to hang out yesterday.

I think we're going to take it slow into Seiad Valley. We've earned it. Leaving sometime today.

Friday, August 12, 2011

August 11

End: Paynes Lake
Daily: 26.3
Total: 1600.6

Chilidog admiring the Russian Wilderness

Getting water at a spring (Chilidog and Yankee)

Gorgeous! The sunrise this morning started the day off right - bright orange over the peaks and meadows we could see from our tent.

The rest of the day was full of green, lush meadows and granite peaks and cliffs. There was water everywhere! Springs every couple of miles or so. It's so nice.

There were a few hard climbs today - the last one left us really drained. So by the time we made it here, to Paynes Lake we were really ready to stop. This lake is huge and surrounded by cliffs and it drains off a cliff.

We thought we were finally going to camp alone so we could wake up whenever we wanted but then Bubs and Boots and Sym showed up. Holden had left a notesaying he and Happy Meal might camp here, but they didn't. But Bubs can't miss a chance hang out so they pushed here. One day, we will not be surrounded by people 24/7.

Oh, there's some crazy huge salamanders in this lake. I've never seen one before. They're kind of adorable.

August 10

End: Boulder Lakes Trail Junction
Daily: 31.9
Total: 1574.3
Golden Lupines

Longest Day Ever! Felt good - well, most of it.

We left camp at 6:15 and contoured most of the day. It was crazy to be walking on one side of a bowl and see the trail on the other side ... it seemed like it would be almost make a 360 at one point. We were laughing about the fact that the trail was so flat from the contouring that we were goingto pull a 30, but if we just went down into the valley and back up we could be just as close to Etna and just as tired with 22 miles. I definitely prefer the contouring.

Other than that, the walk was mostly gorgeous views, wildflowers and springs today. What a pretty area.

Man, mosquitos are bad at camp tonight. And our zippers don't work well, so it took forever to close them.

Okay, shorter day tomorrow, definitely. My feet were so tired. We got to the giddy, giggling stage of exhaustion in the last two miles or so. But we did such a big day, I'm content.

August 9

End: Deadfall Lake
Daily: 26
Total: 1542.4

At Porcupine Lake, after our swim

Happy Anniversary! We've been dating for two years today. And we still don't hate each other. Hooray!

It was a gorgeous day for an anniversary, too. A big climb, then rolling ridge walks all day, with wildflowers and beautiful views of the Trinity Alps - granite and other kinds of rocks jutting out. This is more like it.

This afternoon, we found Porcupine Lake, which we heard was great swimming. We spent 3 hours relaxing and swimming. Chris and I swam all the way across and did a tiny amount of cliff jumping. It felt so good to really swim! Then on to another gorgeous lake, where we're camped. We hung out by the fire with Holden, Boots, Bubs and Happy Meal.

I also found out today that Chris bought me an Ipod and got three friends/relatives - Greg Clark, Kevin Farron, and Nikki Daining to put music on it, and that it will be waiting for me in Ashland. I have been floating down the trail. SO HAPPY!

Now sleep. Maybe a 30 tomorrow?

Monday, August 8, 2011

August 8 - Sierra City

Hello to everyone who found this blog on the PCT website! I just noticed that it got put up. If you want, comment and let me know you're reading. We'd love to know who you are.

We set our alarm for 5, slept through that, and were woken up by Chris's backup alarm at 5 to 6. It still seemed really early - I guess the days are starting to get shorter, because it was barely light. We packed up in 20 minutes and practically ran down the hill. Now we're in Mt. Shasta, which is literally the most hippie town I have ever been in. Everything is Crystal Healing and Mastery Classes with Sananda (apparently Jesus's spirit) through a lady named Eterna and Truganic food (cuz organic's not good enough)... It would be fun to spend some time here and people watch.

We met a group of probably 60+-aged people who were interested in our walk at a cafe. Then we learned that they were some of the first whitewater kayakers ever, back in the 60s. They made the first descents of a lot of the rivers around here. They built their boats in their basements and made their helmets out of wetsuit material and fiberglass. Crazy!

We'll try to get out soon. Then on to Etna, where we'll take more time to relax.

August 7

End: ridge just before 1502.
Daily: 23.4
Total: 1501.5

Today was poison oak day. Seriously couldn't avoid some of it. At least we get a shower and laundry tomorrow. Hopefully we can find someone who has a room so we can use their shower.

Other than that, a pretty nondescript day. Lots of trees and climbing.

Oh! We saw another awesome view of Shasta (it's getting really close, although I think this is the closest we get to it before doing this big stupid curve around it). And Black Butte (now I'm looking forward to the Deschutes Brewery, but that's not for a while) and Castle Crag. Castle Crag is gnarly! It looks like something out of Lord of the Rings.

Ugh, bugs. Night.

August 6

End: Fitzhugh Gulch
Daily: 25.8
Total: 1478.1

Oh man, getting enough sleep really helps. I felt much better today.

We fought our way through brush for most of today, with some gorgeous forest walks mixed in. We got the big climb done right away so by lunchtime we got to sleep and rest. Then we fell down another hill for most of the rest of the day.

Poison oak started just before dinner. Hopefully we'll be as lucky this time as we were coming out of Belden and not have a reaction.

So we got to camp, set up, washed off in the river a bit and laid down, when we heard "IS that Seahorse?" It was Serenity and 3 Times a Lady! We haven't seen them since Big Bear. They flipped up to Ashland after being scared for their lives on Mather Pass and have been hiking southbound. So good to see them.

August 5

End: Moosehead Creek Headwaters
Daily: ?
Total: 1452. 3

Tiger Lily

Meh. I wanted to sleep all day today. We camped by a road and last night at 3 am someone came and started up a diesel truck (that was apparently parked on the road just out of sight), let it idle for 20 minutes, and then drove away. A couple more cars drove by, too.

That plus the fact that we've averaged 22 miles a day for the past few weeks meant a billion, long breaks today. We planned a 25, but we only did about 23. Oh well, not the end of the world.

Lots of overgrown trail today, too. At least no poison oak - but a ton of flowers! Tiger lilies and yellow lupine (never seen that before) and little blue flowers and scarlet gilia... awesome color combinations.

Okay, time to kill some mosquitos in our tent before sleeping forever.

August 4 - Burney

Morning at Crystal Lake

Up early again. Left at around 6 and walked along Crystal Lake for a while. It was gorgeous in the sunrise, and there were so many water birds around. Tons of geese, white pelicans, ducks, and about 8 osprey that have figured out how to navigate the wires covering the hatchery pools. The sound of their chirps remind me of home.

We also walked through oak and pine grasslands for a lot of today. We hadn't seen Boots since the Subway Cave, and Bubbles found us just after getting up and said she hadn't seen him either. His feet were really hurting him.

We took a side trail into Burney Falls State park that took us past the headwaters of the falls. The headwaters turn from tiny bubbling pools to a huge waterfall in less than a half mile. Crazy!

We talked to a lady named Shirley, who called her husband after an hour of unsuccessful hitching and he brought us into town. He was really nice, as was Shirley and everyone else at the State Park.

After shopping and eating in town (and finding Boots, who hitched out early from Hat Creek because his feet were killing him and is going to skip up to Mt. Shasta and wait for us) we started trying to hitch. It took forever for the first hitch, which turned out to be from this crazy woman who told us about how she's been married three times. The first two died, and the last one was murdered. I was kind of wondering... I mean, I'm really sorry for her loss, but you kind of wonder...

She dropped us off at the road intersection, where Boots and Bubs had gotten a ride. An RV picked us up and took us to the State Park, and Boots to Mt. Shasta. Lucky.

So Bubs, Chilidog, and I headed off to find this swimming hole we'd been told about. We found it, and it really was amazing. A waterfall bounces twice, forming two big pools in a canyon you have to climb down to. SO awesome.
awesome swimming hole!

Then on only a little further. My pack feels ridiculously heavy. Ugh.

August 3 - Hat Creek Rim

You can baaaarely see Shasta in the distance

Flat. Hooray!
Today was Hat Creek Rim day. Our first 30 miler! We left at 5:50 after downing some cold VIA (thanks Kevin!) and climbed up to the rim.

All you ever hear about Hat Creek Rim is that it's hot, burned, exposed, and there's no water for 30 miles... we were expecting an ugly walk, but it's actually absolutely gorgeous. We walked on a ridge hundreds of feet above the flat valley floor, and we had commanding views of Lassen to the south and Mt. Shasta to the north. It took my breath away. It was hot, but we had our umbrellas and there was a stiff breeze all day. We also heard somewhere that there is only one big shade tree the whole rim. Not true. There were trees everywhere! They didn't shade the trail, but since we had our umbrellas, that didn't matter.

Our first 30 miler day was also our first nap day. We stopped for lunch, then a two hour nap between 2 and 4, and still made it to camp by 7:30. We camped at a fish hatchery - another place we didn't know if we could camp, but then people who worked there drove by and waved and didn't yell at us. I really wanted fish for dinner (the pools are open to the public), but we thought we wouldn't take advantage of the hospitality. :)

August 2 - Old Station

Bridge Dance, to appease the Bridge Gods so we don't have to cross creeks anymore
Ugh, mosquito hell most of today. Tons of lakes around mean tons of mosquitos. I was running for a lot of it to try to get a break.

Once we got out of the mosquitos, it was literally flat. Normally we'll call something flat if there just aren't 200 foot climbs or descents every couple miles. But this was flat. We also noticed something weird going on... the place seemed unnatural. And then we realized all the trees were planted in rows and were of the same species. We were in a plantation.

Finally, we made it to Old Station, where we got our package from the (friendly) postmistress Sue. Then over to the store, where we got Taco Tuesday and milkshakes. Overall, when we left Old Station, we decided it was the least hiker-friendly place we'd been. There were no public restrooms at the store, and the nearby campground's bathrooms, we were told, were for "paying customers ONLY". Which to me means, okay, I'll pee on your building, thanks.

But then we left, walked 4 miles to the Subway Cave (a lava tube with interpretive signs inside - pretty neat), and were setting up camp there in the trailhead/picnic area (near the big signs that say no camping, hoping nobody was going to get mad), when Sue the postmistress drove up. She called "Lynn?" and we called Free Range (who we'd been hiking with a little bit), who came over. Sue had her shoes! Free Range had sent herself new shoes, but they hadn't come in, so she hiked on and asked them to be forwarded to Burney. Turns out she had accidentally sent them UPS to a General Delivery PO address (which means they get returned, usually), and thye UPS guy took them to Sue's house because that's what he does when that happens. And Sue came down to the picnic area once because she knew that was where we would be, but we weren't there yet, so she came again at 8:30, and we were there. We were all so amazed that a postal worker would do that. Awesome!

August 1 - Drakesbad

Old shoes/ new shoes

Boiling Springs Lake

Meadow at Drakesbad
I lost my pen and didn't get a new one until Burney, so I don't know the mileages for the next few days.

This day mostly consisted of Chris wanting to sleep all day and me dragging him along. He really needs non-drowsy allergy medication - he's reacting really bad to the pine pollen.

We crossed a ton of roads and made it into Lassen National Park, which is okay. No King's Canyon, but there are some pretty views. Most of it is just forests.

We did go through a really active geothermal area today and took a side trip to Terminal Geyser, which was a crazy steam vent that sounded like all the demons of hell were going to come up at any moment and swallow you up. It was crazy! It smelled like sulphur.

Then we passed Boiling Springs Lake, which is what it sounds like - a lake fed by boiling springs. It was awesome, this crazy light blue color and all the dirt around it was rainbow colored - reds and pinks and oranges and purples.

Then Drakesbad, of course. This place is awesome. To stay here as a real guest there's a two year waiting list and dinner is $21.95, but we can come in, use the laundry and shower facilities and swim in the hot spring pool (which they control by adding more cold or hot spring water depending on the temperature), and have the same dinner for $10. THE FOOD. I need to learn to make Chicken Valencia apparently. Best food on the trail by far.

July 31 - Halfway Point

End: Stover Spring
Daily: 19.9
Total: 1338.5

We hit the halfway point today!

We left late (almost 9) and leapfrogged with the Canadians (Lighthouse, Chewie, and Broken Record), Headbanger and Jimbrick all day.

It was a lot of forested ridgewalking today. We hit a little patch of snow which threw people off, but it wasn't much.

Lunch was at the halfway point. The marker was really anticlimactic - just a post with an arrow for Mexico and one for Canada that had the same number of miles each way (1325 - but it's off by Halfmile's maps).

It's nice to know we've done most of the trail. Although we've still got so much California to go. Like 370 miles or something. Crazy.

Then into Chester for a resupply and milkshake and finally back out to the trail. It was a quick stop, but the town was really nice and friendly and the hitching was easy. People around here are nice.

Then 3.3 more miles to this beautiful campsite, next to a gushing spring. Although there's a road here, which I don't like. Creeps me out. Anyone could drive up.

We traded our Vonnegut book for another book of short stories, Sudden Fiction. It's got tons of well known authors in it, and most of the stories are three pages or less. Some of the stories are really good.

July 30

End: Meadow on a ridge
Daily: 228
Total: 1318.6

Today, we were tired. Chris took a Benadryl before bed, but that was after 10, and then this morning we got woken up by Sparrow, Tum Tum, and Bubbles' headlamps shining in our eyes, and I was kept awake by GIANT ANTS CRAWLING IN MY SHIRT. We ended up starting hiking at like 5:40, but Chris was pissed and I was tired.

The huge climb at the beginning of the day was really tiring. We followed a canyon all the way up 3500 feet. In the middle we collapsed from exhaustion and then made some cold VIA (works really well). That helped a lot.

We talked about an imaginary house Chris wants to build all day. We have it down to the dimensions, how many windows, and what color the walls would be. That helped distract us from how tired we were.

There were a lot of springs the 1st half of the day, but now we're in a 13 mile dry stretch. Practice for Hat Creek Rim.

No idea what these were, but they smelled amazing

July 29 - Belden Town Resort

End: Williams Cabin Site
Daily: 25.3
Total: 1295.8

We got dropped off by the Williams at the road at 8, and hiked through forested ridges most of the day. At about 2, we started plunging down a mountain side, switchbacking and switchbacking into Feather River Canyon. Near the bottom, we got into tons of poison oak. It was terrible! Chris gets it like normal, but I'm not allergic yet and would like to stay that way. That probably won't happen after this trip though.

We finally got into Belden Town Resort, and in front of the store the first people we see are locals, and the first thing they say is "Hi, welcome to Belden Town. We're not creepy!"

This would sound even weirder to tsomeone who hadn't read Yogi's guide, which says "Belden Town is creepy. There's been raves every weekend for the last few years." We had heard about the raves, but there wasn't one that weekend. I wish there had been. It would have been interesting at least.

Instead, we hung out in and around the Feather River. It was nice because the heat felt like Texas in the summer at 6 pm. HOT.

Anyway, we cooked and headed out, intending to do 6 more miles. Well, we did them, but they were the worst 6 miles ever, and there was nowhere to camp until here. We had to fight our way through jungles that had poison oak growing all over. Ugh.