Day 113-114: July 24-25th
Mile 1600.6 to Mile 1606.5 (Etna)
Yesterday we hiked the final 5.9 miles from Paynes Lake, our campsite, to Etna Summit. Our hiking companions, Princess and Mr. Sandals, had arranged a ride at 9 am and we were fortunate to tag along for the ride down to Etna. No hitching required!
In town we quickly got bunks in the Hiker Hut at Alderbrook, cleaned up, and headed for the famous Dotty’s for milkshakes and delicious burgers. Yummmm.
Today, we are staying a second night (a zero day) because we haven’t had a good rest since South Lake Tahoe. We are resupplying and sending some food boxes up the trail. We also are eating mucho and hikers are gathering for dinner at the Etna Brewery tonight.
The plan is for a 6 am ride back to the trail in the morning.
Mileage: 5.9 and a zero.
Day 112: July 23rd
Mile 1578.4 to Mile 1600.6
We woke to a Sierra morning: cold! Lon wishes he kept his down pants for sleeping instead of sending them home. We knew this would be a tough 22-mile day and the trail lived up to our expectations. Up and down about 8 times. But the scenery delivered the goods. We transitioned into the Russian Wilderness and it was like being transported back into the Sierra but without the snow. Rocky ridge lines, sandy trails, cool winds, hiking high above the densely forested trees and lakes below – simply stunning vistas. Definitely this is one beautiful section not to be missed. Deb’s regret is that there just isn’t time in the thru-hiker schedule to sit and enjoy the views for hours.
We reached the 1,600 mile mark today.
Day 111: July 22nd
Mile 1556.4 to Mile 1578.4
This morning was clear and sunny but cool. We haven’t had such a cool night in a long time.
The trail went downhill all morning to highway three and then began the inevitable climb back up. We are in the Klamath National Forest and passed into the very beautiful Trinity Alps Wilderness. Once again the views are spectacular – we hope a picture can do justice to what we are seeing in person.
We were hoping to do more than 22 miles today but just like yesterday thunderstorms rolled overhead in the late afternoon. We hurried up the ridge to find a small stream for our camp water and then stopped shortly afterwards just below the ridge. Deb worries about lightening because the GPS device on Lon’s backpack is extended like a lightening rod!
Photo: The Trinity Alps
Day 110: July 21st
Mile 1534.7 to Mile 1556.4
We woke to a beautiful view of Mount Shasta from our campsite. The hiking was much easier today after yesterday’s climbing. The trail was mostly level all day and the weather was much cooler, to all the hikers’ delight. We met happy hikers all day long at the water sources. The views continued to be expansive and colorful, views of the Shasta- Trinity Wilderness.
The nice day continued until late afternoon thunderstorms appeared and we had to hurry to find a campsite and set up our tent. We haven’t been clipping the vestibule doors shut for so long we almost forgot how they work. We just beat the rain by a minute! It rained all evening and put us to sleep.
Photo: Mount Shasta
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.