Mile 1284.4 Belden to mile 1416.5 Burney Falls State Park
Back on trail.
Day Sixty-five: 6 July 2015
Start: HM 1284.4
End: HM 1304.8 large campsite
GPS Point: 40.120564, -121.395950
Day Total: 20.4 miles
Water at mile Sacramento, mile 1290.6 Large Stream, 1294.3 small creek, mile 1303 Cold Springs
Woke early for the first time this whole trail break. Liza drove us back to Belden. Another trail angel who has gone above and beyond regular levels of kindness for strangers. I am still amazed and so thankful! We said our goodbyes and snapped a group photo before hitting the trail. It was 10 AM. We sent Liza toward the Caribou Crossings Cafe for a scrumptious milkshake.
For me, the rest of the day can be described as: hot, uphill, miserable, tiring, and brutal on my weakened feet and legs after all the rest. No blisters or pain, but my legs will definitely need a coping period. I cannot imagine hiking the PCT in sections if I only had a few weeks each summer. You would always be going through the worst part of the trip with weak legs, blisters, and whole body exhaustion where 20 miles is a long day.
S&M was first to camp. She killed it on the 15 miles of uphill! I was dying and she just shrugged off the last few hours of my torture. I didn’t get there until around 8:45 PM. Too late in my opinion. There was an older man already camped there. His name is Deluxe for Luxembourg, where he is from. I hope we weren’t too loud getting in late and having our nightly bedtime story.
Twenty miles and I am beat. Another day off and I might not have made it to camp. My body lost its ability to cope with the miles. I am convinced that means that zeros are bad and they make hiking harder. Getting back to neros might be the best plan.
We crossed mile 1300 today! It is incredible to think about how far we have come. I have walked 1300 miles, give or take. My feet have seen some amazing places, and I am thankful my body still carries me forward despite all the struggles, ails, and pains.
PCT midway point!
Day Sixty-six: 7 July 2015
Start: HM 1304.8
End: HM 1338.2 North Fork Feather River campsites
GPS Point: 40.352093, -121.351262
Day Total: 33.4 miles
Water at mile 1313.8 creek, mile 1325.5 Soldier Creek, mile 1338.2 North Fork Feather River
Another day of so many people, I am just going to list them. Smokey, the guy from last night at the water source, passed me still at camp then I passed him again. He was very intrigued by my geology background. I liked him. Then I chatted a short while with Deluxe, the Luxembourg man from last night’s camp. I met Brawny and Root Canal at the mile 1313 creek. It was a 0.3 mile downhill trek with an uphill return of the same trail. I really didn’t want to go down there but the next water was a ways off. Endless and I chatted with Brawny and she said Root Canal would have extra water if we waited. Wait we did and quickly Root Canal returned bearing gifts like a water angel. Then I saw Tom Tit and Bush Tit. The couple from the day going into Echo Lakes. At the midway point was Half Slow. He is hiking Chester to Belden on a flip. He is the hiker I heard about from the two guys I met the morning after leaving Kennedy Meadows. Half Slow is supported by Legend and an RV. He kept calling at me, “Nice dress lady!” and, “Halfway! Lady.” Very entertaining. It reminded me of the day hiking over Kearsarge Pass, Cat Lady had never seen me in my dress. When I showed up at the lunch gathering and chatted with Tami, Cat Lady asked someone who the nicely dressed lady talking to Tami is. Still cracks me up. Rain Gear was also there. I met him at North Kennedy Meadows with Johnny Walker. I arrived at the midway monument with Cookie Monster. I really love his name! Coincidentally I turned on my mobile to take photos and received a message from my roommate, Andrew, with a photo of a little girl annihilating a Cookie Monster cake and a note that the picture reminded him of me. So sweet! There was also a man named Road Walker, and two guys named Wild Pony and something else, who were all at the last water source before the highway crossing for Chester. At Highway 36, I met a couple at from Hawaii. They were really nice. I spent a fair amount of the evening rain running into them and chatting at the camp area a few miles passed the highway.
Maybe a bit more information than necessary, but today is day two of going commando in my dress. My thighs are chaffed right where my unders rub the crease area and I just cannot have fabric there right now. I will say that I feel shockingly free in this setup. Every chore that became easier by wearing a dress was even easier by not wearing unders. Had to mention it. I have met many hikers who aware by the commando lifestyle on trail.
Today was the halfway mark! Seriously unbelievable! The monument says 1325 miles to Canada and 1325 miles to Mexico. With changes in the trail over the years, the mileage is actually sitting at Halfmile 1326.3. The current trail tally is sitting at 2660.1 miles, so the official halfway should be 1330.1. Either way, I crossed the midpoint today!
Thought I could see Mt. Shasta in distance today. Turned out to be Lassen Peak. We are coming up to the Lassen National Park area very soon! Can’t wait for some volcanic activity and needing out on geology thoughts!
There was rumored trail magic at Hwy 36 where the Chester hitch is. Cookies and milk, fruit, soda. Sadly, nothing was left when I arrived. I suspect we have to cross magic early on in the day for there to still be anything left for other people.
Endless and I hiked through rain tonight. Rain is miserable, but sitting around in rain is worse. The rain had stopped by the time we reached camp. Only the ground was wet. Three or so other tents at North Forks Feather River where we setup. S&M never turned up. We will wait for her at lunch tomorrow.
The sky is crying.
Day Sixty-seven: 8 July 2015
Start: HM 1338.2
End: HM 1355.4 slightly less soggy patch off the Rainbow Lake trail junction
GPS Point: 40.508244, -121.360919
Day Total: 17.2 miles
Water at mile 1338.2 North Fork Feather River, mile
This morning I met a woman named Steady. She has the same Exifficio shirt as me. Which is impressive because either that shirt is still made or Steady bought hers about eight years ago. Steady was one of the tent occupants from last night. Light Feather was another tent occupant from camp last night. She is the Western States 100 runner who Endless and I met before reaching Donner Pass. She was at Drakesbad Ranch with us. Pine Stick, an older man I passed in the rain last night, also arrived to Drakesbad while we were there.
While at Drakesbad Ranch, I turned in my phone and received a message from S&M detailing that she had went off trail at Chester and will not be coming to meet us. This news really saddened me. I was upset and confused and without service to call her. S&M has become one of my favorite persons since starting this trail. I was a little devastated to receive that message.
Endless and I ate lunch at Drakesbad Guest Ranch. So much food! And a kitchen worker gave us a whole tray of leftover breakfast scones while we waited. My plate included carrot cake, chocolate chip cookie, salad, potato salad, pasta salad, fruit salad, biscuits, fried chicken, and so much more. I ate way more than my stomach could handle and struggled in the afternoon. But I think it was worth it.
Today was a rainy day again. But much worse than yesterday. The clouds and thunder started shortly after we left Drakesbad. A very light sprinkling at first, it turned into a cold, hail dropping, deluge that has not let up yet. I don’t mind hiking through rain, but it needs to stop at some point. Today I was already bummed about S&M, overstuffed from lunch, and then so cold and wet my fingers weren’t functioning. It became a miserable day in all.
Endless and I hiked for a while into the rain but we only lasted a couple hours before the allure of a warm bed stopped us on a very early and short day. We saw only one tent after leaving Drakesbad. Though I doubt if anyone made much forward progress in that sodden misery. The rain started about 3 PM and there was a very brief pause about 8:30 PM, but the rains continues.
Day Sixty-eight: 9 July 2015
Start: HM 1355.4
End: HM 1391.1 cow patty paradise on side of dirt road
GPS Point: 40.843306, -121.423911
Day Total: 35.7 miles
Water at mile Old Station, mile 1391 water cache
Saw Steady again this morning. She caught me in my unders trying to avoid putting on my cold and wet dress. She must have been the sole hiker tent we saw the night before.
I am so glad Endless and I stopped when we did last night. Almost immediately after our camp area, the trail went through a burn area for several miles. Camping in burn areas is not my favorite, especially during thunder and lightning rain and hail storms, where charred and fragile tree carcasses are waiting to plummet to the ground. A dangerous camp area in all. Anyways, it made me think of the crews of people who clear the trail for us. All the hard work they put in, only to be disdained by the oblivious hiker who is inconvenienced by a tree fallen across the trail. Seeing the burn areas this morning also made me think first of the scene from Fantasia 2000. Igor Stravinsky’s 1919 Firebird Suite. The evil black firebird sleeping in the volcano sweeps over the land in a raging burning front, leaving a charred and destroyed forest in it wake. Love that movie! And the original one too. I used to watch those movies repeatedly at my grandparents’ growing up as a child. Then I started thinking about the different types of fires in terms of fire speed and landscape logistics, canopy versus ground burns, and fire paths and movement. Which lead my brain back to my summer internship at UMN working on a paleoecology fire proxy project looking at different types of preserved tree char. In lake sediment. I focused so much on the paleo side of that project that I never thought much about what a stand of burned trees around a lake would look like. Especially in terms of the ash transportation into the lake. Science is a wonderful thing.
It was a beautiful calm morning. The trail was heavily covered with mulch. Clearly everything was flooded yesterday. It was quite and peaceful. The calm after the storm.
I also walked through a tree harvest area. The trees are all the same age, there are no other trees or shrubs or plants, everything was perfectly lined up, and there were access clearings every 50 feet or so. It has been awhile since I’ve walked through a harvest area. It was a stark difference to the burn area, followed by cleared blowdown area, followed by harvested area.
The trail went fast this morning. We arrived to Old Station earlier than expected. Are lunch at JJ’s Cafe in Old Station. I had a Cobb salad with wheat bread and pepper jack and cheddar grilled cheese on sourdough with fries. Delicious! They source locally, make everything fresh, and bake all the bread fresh each morning. Seriously one of the best trail meals I have had. This place needs to be promoted! While there, I met Cool Breeze and Puff Puff. Also saw Aloha! He got in as Endless and I were leaving.
Nerd out moment. Before leaving Old Station, we went over to Subway Cave, a lava shoot turned cave. Very cool! Tiny but spectacular! Collapsed ceiling entrance, scoria flooring, lavacicles, burst lava bubble. So awesome! I have minimal exposure to volcanic structures and it is definitely something I intend to investigate more once Cali becomes my new home.
We could see the rain approaching. Ominous clouds were slowing creeping over Hat Creek Rim as we were climbing up. We made it until 5:45 PM before the rain hit. Sudden and strong. But not overbearing like yesterday. Up on the rim I could see out in many directions. Blue sky and sunshine laid ahead if only I could get there. This is the type of rain I can handle, when I can see the light on the horizon. The rain stopped by 7:30 PM and Endless and I regrouped around 8 PM at the Hat Creek Rim lookout. Spectacular views! Clouds, sunset, deep red sky, vast mountainscape. Amazing.
We hiked until the rumored water cache. It was a cute little shelter. If only we had arrived before the rain had started. Regardless, we made a solid 35.7 mile day with a large multi-hour afternoon break. We camped at a flat spot on the side of the dirt Road 22 where the cache is off from. The ground was covered in cow patties and everything had a slightly too pungent odor after the fresh rain.
The only downside to the day, is that I left my socks at the cafe! Drats! And of course it was the non-holy ones that were left behind.
A day of reunion.
Day Sixty-nine: 10 July 2015
Start: HM 1391.1
End: HM 1416.5 Burney Falls State Park
GPS Point: 41.01684, -121.64561
Day Total: 25.4 miles
Soda at mile 1410, water at mile 1416.5 Burney Falls State Park
There was a group of three camped just passed us last night. Blues, his wife, Smellin’ Keller, and his brother-in-law, Screw Loose. I passed them just after coming off the rim.
The best part of the day was definitely the Wild Bird Cache at mile 1410. AMAZING! Saw Kay Catts and Longjump with Croomidor. Then Aloha. He brought my abandoned socks! So happy! Puff Puff saw me leave them behind thank goodness. I received a phone call from Hoots that he was in Burney the town but was heading to the park that night. There w a sobo section hiker, Jason. I met the people running the cache: Randy and Kathy and their friend Pete. Really incredible! They live just off the trail and have been slowly building this unexpected trail magic for the past four years. After four hours of loitering, I finally left to finish the last seven miles. I could have stayed there the rest of the day though.
Seven miles later, made it to Burney Falls State Park. Saw the falls lookout. Springs are the most fantastic things. The headwaters looked like a dried out riverbed. Then slowly it becomes these raging waters until they flow over the falls. Beautiful. Spectacular. Nature.
At the General Store I met Haymaker and Garbelly. Nice guys. Pulling big miles, like 40’s to reach Ashland really quickly. A nice man also came over and chatted with us. He is section hiking from here to Cassel Crags, 88 miles. He is hiking with his wife, son, and brother. Pretty neat!
Endless, Aloha, and I hung out a while at the store. Eventually Hoots shows up! And then Garbelly and Haymaker left for the trail. We walked to camp area. A guy gave us directions and soap bars! Setup camp and showered. Aloha and I got lost returning from bathhouse. Late night but not too bad. Tomorrow I want a bigger day so tonight I need rest. Castella/Dunsmuir/Shasta City are 83 miles away. I want to be there in three days. Let’s get going!