My challenge to myself
29.06.2012 - 15.07.2012
So after leaving Sierra City and having to say goodbye to Corley, it was very tough for the first while. I was very sad to be leaving her, but hiked on non-the-less. Up until this point, with the low snow year, no HUGE challenges had befallen me along the trail. Everything that had happened was expected, and some things expected, weren't there. My original thought was to make Ashland on Friday the 20th of July and hopefully have some time over the weekend with Corley, but that day is her fathers birthday and the party was that weekend. I wanted to make it work to see her very badly, so I found that I could push myself and make it there earlier to give it a chance. So to make a challenge for myself, I have pushed for the last 506 miles, completing them in 16 days. That is averaging 31.6 miles each day.
I left Sierra City at 11:15 and was off to get back to hiking. I hiked a good long day through some beautiful country. Seeing the view from the Sierra Butte and seeing some beautiful lakes, it was a wonderful hike. I was able to call home and mention my new thoughts of making Ashland earlier to my mom, then was off to keep pushing. At the end of this first day I had made 25 miles to a beautiful saddle where I surprisingly found service and met a new hiker, Buster, who was pushing to make 300 miles in 10 days.
The next day, after a quick call to Corley in the morning after she made it home, I was off and caught Buster. We hiked together for a while and eventually came into view of Mt. Lassen. It was far off and had some beautiful snow caps on it's peak. My feet were killing me with the new shoes, most likely because I had left in the original inserts instead of just putting in my super feet. I wanted to get some miles out of them! So I switched those out and kept hiking. No pain no gain! I had planned on 33 miles that day, but made those miles by 1745! I couldn't stop that early so I decided to hike on and that I did. I had no luck finding a spot to set up camp, so made camp square on the trail and slept in fear of rolling off down a cliff. I had hiked 37 miles! My longest day yet!!
In the morning I felt all right. I wake up and my feet and body feel fine for the first hour or two until the sweat softens the skin and the deep bruises have less protection, but still, I hike on. The small town of Belden was a mere 30 miles from where I had made camp, so I shot to make it there. I caught Buster in the mid afternoon, and we hiked the last 8 miles together, which included a 4000 foot drop over the last 5 miles. We decided to count the switch backs down and counted 42! My feet especially hurt with the pressure of going downhill! We made it into Belden at 1715 and a crazy party was going on, which I hear is how it is every weekend. A hippie parade and travelling carnival was in town. It was fun to get to people watch, and even though it really wasn't stuff I am in to, I enjoyed seeing such crazy people acting weird. I made camp way out at the edge and was in my tent by 2030 to go over maps and relax. It was great.
The next day, my friend Jackie Daum, whom I had worked with on the National Geographic Sea Bird for nearl 5 months with, came to visit me and get lunch. It was great to relax all morning. She brought me my resupply of food and dropped me at the trailhead at 1330. Out of Belden was a 14 mile climb up. It wasn't too bad, just 14 miles of uphill at any grade gets tough eventually. But I made it up by 1930 and caught my buddy Bo! I was very happy to run into him. We hiked on another three miles and made camp, as well as chatted until nearly 2330. He is a great guy and I was happy to chat with him that day!
I left in the morning just a little before Bo, but after myself going off trail 1/3 of a mile to get water, he had passed me. We hiked together a while and it was a great day. I split off on an uphill, my specialty! I saw him again when I took my break at a wonderful sign post readind MEXICO 1325 CANADA 1325 PCT MIDPOINT. The mileage was off by a little, but I had hit to midpoint! What a great feeling that was! I was very happy to make it there! I was off to get another 9 miles in for a 31 mile day. I wanted to hit highway 89, so I hiked until I hit the road. As I came up to the road there was a sign reading, Cold Soda and Fresh fruit across the road! NO WAY! Trail magic in Cali! I was happy to hike across the road and make camp over there! It was a wonderful treat. And I had cell service to call home and talk to Corley as well! It was a great night!
Next day just kept getting better! I was hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park and thought it reminded me of Yellowstone with the boiling springs and gysers! I made a short side hike over to see the Terminal geyser that was going off. Half way through the day I came across Drakesbad Guest Ranch and hiked a half mile in just in time for lunch! An all you can eat sandwich buffet for $6.50! What a treat! I ate so much and was leaving at 1600 after meeting Zeek and Raisins. I wanted to make my 30 miles that day! It was a nice little climb out then just a great level hike for a few more miles! I had to make my water source and hit that, but had lots of mosquitoes around. I hiked on just a little further and found a spot with a beautiful view of the sunset against the west face of Mt. Lassen. It was a beautiful spot to camp! Happy 4th of July! The only sound similar to that of fireworks exploding were my hands clapping to get rid of those few annoying mosquitoes that still came around. Not much special that day! Haha
I was off a little early the next day, just a few miles to make it into Old Station. It was a very nice hike heading down into the small stop along the highway 89. I made it to get a little ice cream and had found out that I caught some of the people I had hiked with earlier along the trail. So we hiked down the highway a couple miles to the small grocery, then to a cafe! It was a delicious afternoon! I was back on trail about 1400 and hiked out into the flat and hot hike along Hat Creek Rim. It was a 30 mile dry stretch with no water, but I had heard of some thru hikers from previous years making a cache along the way! So I hiked to there, just before mile 1400 and made camp. It was great and was right at my 30 miles for the day!
I heard Zeek heading out in the early morning and he was trying to make Burney Falls park in time to meet up with his mom at 1500 or so. He was out and I packed up quick to try to make about the same time! It was a good downhill followed by very flat hiking. And by the mid morning it was beginning to get very hot out! But I eventually passed Zeek, unaware of doing so until he caught me again during a break where I had met Sampson. I headed off and hiked with Zeek into Burney Falls State Park. The falls were beautiful and there was a little store to get some soft serve ice cream and food!! I also ran into other thru hikers I hadn't seen in a long while! Caveman, Focus, and the Cousins, who put some great food in the hiker box and I had enough for the next couple days! I left at 1900 after eating a bunch and hiked about 5.5 miles to get my 30 miles in and camped with Wrong Way, Joker, Hawkeye and Kambucha for the night!
I was off in the morning and out hiking before the rest of the group that was there. We were back into forrests and some actually hiking with good ups and downs! We would run into each other through the day and I met a couple new hikes, Nick from Australia, and Mousetrap. It is nice to be seeing people along the trail. I made it to the last water source of the day, Alder Creek which was .5 miles off trail and got lost trying to get back to the trail. Just bushwhacked right up the hill side until I hit it and found my way again. There were terrible amounts of mosquitoes around, so I headed out to hike a few more miles. I also saw a black bear running off back in the forrest before heading further. To my luck, past this spot was all side hilling in thick shrubs on both sides of the trail, which meant no places to sleep!! I had to hike on nearl 3.5 miles to a road to make camp, and about 1/10 of a mile before making camp I saw another bear! It just ran far off though. I had hoped to maybe find service, but no luck. That's all okay though! It had been a great few days with lots of cell and lots of good breaks during the day. Even though my feet ache so much, after a long break they start to feel a little better for a while.
I was out the next morning and went nearly the entire day before I saw any other people. It was quite a nice hike with lots of ups and downs! My body is completely adjusted to everything by now, well besides my foot issues, but all the ups and downs of hiking are becoming much easier for me! So I made great time and on the last climb of the day, I ran into three south bound hikers. The first people I'd seen all day! I was a little bummed, hoping for my first day not talking to another person at all, which has not happened yet. Not going to happen yet! I made camp after a 32 mile day and leaving 10 miles to get down to Castella in the morning. And as I was on the phone, Sampson made the road and made camp near me.
I was off in the morning for the 10 miles down to castella and made it there by about 1030. My mother had mailed a package with a few dinners to the PO there. I had heard that there wasn't much in terms of things to buy in Castella, which is simpy a gas station, PO, and campground which is closed. So I was happy to find that some rumors I had heard of the PO being closed too were false. I got my package, relaxed, ate a bunch of ice cream, and was off for the big climb out of castella! I hiked out with Sampson and made the climb plus some to make camp for 30 miles that day. Met other hikers, Panther and his Baby Sister. And caught a hiker I had not seen since The Andersons, Al H. It was a great day and had some beautiful views of Mt. Shasta! I love being in the Cascade Mountains!
I was off earlier the next morning and have not seen Sampson again as I am doing my big mile days. As I was hiking, a crazy haze had been covering all the skies. Come to find out, near Redding, a forrest fire was ensuing and that was the cause, with enough smoke in the air that I could not see the peak of Shasta. I am glad it was not affecting the PCT! It was a mellow hike all day! I was very pleased because my feet were still aching a lot. I wanted to make Seiad Velley a day earlier, on Friday rather than saturday so I could keep moving and make Ashland a bit earlier for a longer break. So I pushed myself to make a 37 mile day this day! I was there by about 1945, so it was a great day!! And Al and I camped together.
I was out a little before Al in the morning, but he caught me easily enough at water sources. It wasn't quite as mellow a day in the Trinity Alps. Much more climbing. And by the end of the day, we were in the Russian Wilderness! It was beautiful rocky mountains where the trail was cut right out of the granite cliffs! So wonderful! I was hiking more miles than Al and we split off around 1500 or so. I hiked a big climb out and kept on pushing for the big miles! I made it to my goal of a 38 mile day, close to a lake. This was a bad idea because as I was setting up my camp, I look up and see a black cloud of mosquitoes flying above my head. I packed up and was out quick! I went about 1 more mile to another spot and made camp, right next to another hiker who was camped there! I eventually realized my solar panel was missing though!!! I freaked out and ran back to the lake to see if I had left it there with no luck. I figured that some alder trees I had hiked through pulled it off my pack. I hoped this was the case and that possibly Al had picked it up and that I may run into him tomorrow.
Chris and I hiked out of our nice little camp in the morning and hiked to the little highway where some people hitch down to Etna to resupply. We split ways as I waited for Al. I waited from 0750 until 1130 with no luck, left a note, and headed off. I got about 1/10 of a mile and felt like Al had to be getting back just then, so I dropped my pack and ran back. And just to my luck, he was there!! And he had my solar panel! I was so happy as I literally skipped down the road to get it from him! What a relief! But I had wasted 4 hours of the day and had a lot of miles to try and get! I was super motivated and flew along the trail though! I had hoped for 32 more miles out of that road. I made great time through the mountains and by the end of the day, which was 2230, I had made 30 of those miles, enough for me for the day. It was really quite an amazing hike at points. One in particular was a section where literally every 50-100 feet for at least half a mile was covered in springs and waterfalls going over the trail. It was overwhelming and beautiful after such dry stretches I had had before. It was a great day and left 26.4 miles for tomorrow to get into Seiad Valley before the post office closes at 1600!
In order to make those miles, I gave myself plenty of time and woke up at 0430 to get hiking a little before 0500! There were 24 miles of downhill to get me to Seiad Valley, which wasn't as easy as I would have hoped. It was a lot for my feet which still ached and my knees as well. But I made that marathon by 1400! Plenty of time for the PO! I got my maps and mail from my mom! She sent me so much food that I had to hardly buy a thing for the next couple days!! At this point I was not far out of Oregon and Ashland! Each day though, I was telling myself only a couple more days to a break, just keep pushing! I took a good break to avoid the amazing heat that was there in Seiad. There is a wonderful RV park that welcomes hikers with coin showers and a place to hang out. So I chilled there with On Time whom I had not seen since hiking with my brother Joe! I left Seiad at 1815 for the 6 mile climb out. I was super motivated with plenty of energy though and made those 6 miles and 3000 feet in 2 hours! The only spot to sleep was right on the rocky trail along a ridge line between lower and middle Devils Peaks. It was honestly, one of the best spots I had slept though! Sun to see for miles and miles on both sides of me. I loved it!!
I was off in the morning and had the goal in mind to make the Oregon/California border! It was full of more ups and downs and heading EAST!!! I could look left and see Oregon there the entire day, just a few miles north of me. It was quite a tease, but I kept on going and felt pretty good. My feet are definitely getting used to everything. And Dad sent me some new super feet to use and they are helping even more! I feel pretty darn good! I made it to my last water source before the boreder and got water to have dinner there. I hiked on and finally came around a bend to see the sign marking the two states! It felt so good!! 1699 miles! What an accomplishment! California is a huge state and I was happy to make it to Oregon! Just keep moving forward! I ate dinner and was off to hike a little further to give a shorter day tomorrow in to Ashland. I camped at a water source and made a few calls. But mice kept running towards me and jumping to bump their heads into my sides! I knew it wasn't a good spot to sleep so picked up all my stuff and moved on a little under the shelter of trees. It was a much better spot and I slept great! Today marked 506 miles in 16 days!! Pretty unbelievable I think!
My last 24 miles into Ashland! I was off and moving quick in the morning, just wanting to make it in! A race had gone on the day before though, and I was rather dissapointed. There was plenty of trash left around from it along the trail and that made me pretty sad. GU gel wrappers were the biggest find. I eventually caught two hikers I had not met before! Snake Charmer and Back Out. We ran into each other just before Mt. Ashland at another source of great trail magic with some coolers of soda. We chatted for a while and I was back out. I kept moving quick and had 11 miles downhill to go! I made it to the Old Highway 99 and the 4th car to pass me picked me up on his way into Ashland. I was so happy to not need to wait long! We also picked up Wolfey, who I had not seen since Idylwild, just before getting on Interstate 5 at exit 6! How awesome! I made Ashland by 1530 and had plenty of time to relax! Renee set up my motel to stay at and I will be here until Wednesday! Corley is coming down and will get in Tuesday morning! I cannot wait to see her again! Now it is just a couple days to relax and let my body heal up before heading out to hike the state of Oregon!!