Day 109: July 20th
Mile 1512.5 (Sulphur Creek) to Mile 1534.7
Today was a big climb. Our camp at Sulphur Creek was 2,680 feet and we are camped tonight on a little ridge at 6,950 feet. It’s nice and cool up here.
The climb today was through forest and it was very steamy, with terrible flying insects (again). But as we continued to climb the trees diminished and the desert shrubbery appeared. Soon after we broke onto the ridge with beautiful views of the Castle Crags – they look like the wicked witch could be living in there. After that we walked along the ridgeline of the Trinity Divide. All these views made the long climb worth the effort!
We encounterd String Bean today, who is attempting a Pacific Crest Trail supported speed record. He has run/hiked in 33 days what we have done in 109 days. String Bean seems like a nice guy and we were surprised how much he seems to be enjoying himself considering what he is doing. He has a web site at http://www.runforcolin.com.
Day 108: July 19th
Mile 1494.6 to Mile 1512.5 (Sulphur Creek)
The 11 miles to Castle Crags (Castella) was easy walking and we ended up walking to the State Park. We decided to resupply at the small store just outside the park. The selections were limited but we were able to find some food, besides the normal oatmeal, in the hiker box too.
We considered staying overnight in the campground ($3 per person) but instead ate lunch at the store and then took showers at the campground (nice hot water!) while waiting out the afternoon heat. We had time to rinse some clothes too.
Then it was time to head back up the frontage road to the trailhead. We camped about 6 miles further up the trail. The off-trail road walk added about 4 extra miles to our late day and we made camp about 8 pm.
Day 107: July 18th
Mile 1476 (Ash Camp) to Mile 1494.6
We had quite a crowd of hikers at Ash Camp last night, probably around 20. Now that we have picked up our pace we find ourselves around the the same group of 30 of so hikers. We don’t see them all every day and it was unusual to see so many in one spot last night.
The Pacific Crest Trail lost a lot of elevation as it dropped to the McCloud River yesterday so naturally today we had to climb. We climbed a lot, around 5,900 feet counting all the ups and downs. It’s amazing how strong we have both become after 1,400 miles, the climbing was not really all that bad (so says Lon…).
A couple issues have arisen in this leg: Bees have been everywhere; apparently they think Deb’s orange shirt is a flower. And poison oak was all over the trail and very difficult to avoid.
We did managed to enjoy another pretty creek in the afternoon for second lunch, with a foot soak, swim, and jacuzzi waterfall. Water does wonders for our feet. We have many eating times during a day: breakfast, second breakfast, snack, lunch, second lunch, snack, and dinner. Deb thinks we need to add dessert.
Only 11 miles tomorrow morning to get us to a store to resupply – our choices are Castella, Dunsmuir, or Shasta. Which will we choose?
Day 106: July 17th
Mile 1452 to Mile 1476 (Ash Camp)
We awoke to a light rain which also provided a welcome cool down in the temperature. We only briefly considered going back to sleep. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise and helped us get in a high-mileage day to reach McCloud River. The intermittent drizzles wet us down, then the intermittent breezes cooled us as they dried us off. Improving the day were spectacular open views, including of Mt. Shasta. And making our day even better was an abundance of water crossings. Amazing how different the day was from yesterday.
The McCloud River turned out to be milky with silt, but there is a clear stream feeding it and a pool of water that all us hikers are enjoying at camp.
Photo: Sunrise rain.
Day 105: July 16th
Mile 1429.3 to Mile 1452
A warm day and 4,000 feet of up and down climbing tired us out today. We are at higher elevation now and hopefully the weather will cool down soon.
The trail is so dusty in this section that both of us are experiencing foot problems again. There also wasn’t much water today and it is difficult to justify using your drinking water to rinse your feet or socks at rest breaks. We have seen many colors of dust: brown (typical), red, orange, black (lava), and chalky white (gypsum?)
The day was spent hiking near the tops of the mountains but open views of the region were limited to just minutes. We mostly just saw the trail in front of us and trees – not too exciting and a little tedious for one of us.
Day 104: July 15th
Mile 1412.8 to Mile 1429.3
The weather cooled down today to just hot (from yesterday’s extremely hot). This combined with a several hours afternoon break at Burney Falls State Park made for a more pleasant day.
We did go into the town of Burney to resupply at the Von’s grocery store and to pick up a package at the post office. Lon ordered a new smaller sized hip belt for his backpack since he has lost weight. Another reason we also stopped at McDonalds for 2 large milkshakes to go.
Burney Falls was a sight to behold! The creekbed is dry and then water percolates out of the lava bedrock downstream, the water growing in volume into a magnificent waterfall. We are really enjoying our short detours off-trail.
Photo: Burney Falls
Day 103: July 14th
Mile 1391.2 to Mile 1412.8
The weather forecast was for 100 degree temperatures and it delivered.
The day started out nice enough. Pleasant, almost cool, temperatures as we started hiking the Hat Creek Rim were we stopped in the dark the night before (a few miles before the lookout tower site). Cache 22 was stocked and we found Coppertone there serving his trademark root beer floats. These were our third floats from Coppertone in four encounters.
And then, the day got warmer and warmer and warmer. 110 degrees if Weather Underground is correct. It kind of took the joy out of walking. Not much that we could do except tough it out and complete the hike down off the Hat Creek Rim to the next water about 10 miles away. Fortunately we were carrying plenty of water to drink.
We passed the 1,400 mile mark today.
Photo: Morning on the Hat Creek Rim.
Day 102: July 13th
Mile 1373.6 to Mile 1391.2
This morning we encountered trail magic from Chef and Jerry-can just after leaving camp, and enjoyed a second breakfast from them: yummmm, emu egg omelets!
We met up with a friend in Old Station who let us chill for the afternoon until 5 pm, waiting out the afternoon heat wave. Hah! Silly us! It was still hot when we left.
Still we took the time and extra mile to detour and investigate Subway Cave, a cool underground lava tube. Afterwards we headed up Hat Creek Rim for our long waterless stretch, each of us carrying 5 liters of water.
We stopped our night hiking at 11 pm, tired from being hypnotized by our headlamps: we had expected the full moon to do more to light the trail for us.
Photo: Sunset from the Hat Creek Rim.