Day 89: Trees

Memories from July 18

Today I saw trees. Lots of trees. Trees with trunks. Some have leaves and some don’t. Some are just trunks. Eventually, you’re ready for some of those scenic views you’d come to take for granted.

The Squaw River. This is not a tree.

A bridge over the Squaw River. Also not a tree.

One of these guys mentioned that they had a package in Etna that they wanted to get by Friday. Today is Monday and Etna is about 100 miles after Castella where I’m resupplying tomorrow. He said it wasn’t open Saturday. So… go fast and get there on Friday or go slow and get there on Monday? That’s a problem for tomorrow.

Day 89: Trees

Memories from July 18

Today I saw trees. Lots of trees. Trees with trunks. Some have leaves and some don’t. Some are just trunks. Eventually, you’re ready for some of those scenic views you’d come to take for granted.

The Squaw River. This is not a tree.

A bridge over the Squaw River. Also not a tree.

One of these guys mentioned that they had a package in Etna that they wanted to get by Friday. Today is Monday and Etna is about 100 miles after Castella where I’m resupplying tomorrow. He said it wasn’t open Saturday. So… go fast and get there on Friday or go slow and get there on Monday? That’s a problem for tomorrow.

Day 88: Shasta Fan Club

Memories from July 17

I camped last night at an exposed site with a view of Shasta.

More Shasta!

Even more Shasta!!

This trail sign is not in the best shape. Given how common this and worse were  Olympic National Parlk last year, I’ve been surprised how well maintained PCT signs usually are.

Moments like this in the trail are wonderful. You’re on this thin ribbon of trail with a drop on one side and rock on the other. The view is commanding. The trail nips out of sight around the rock face. Whatever is around that corner, it’s going to be awesome. With a setup like this, could it not? 

Day 87: Maps are important… hey look! Soft serve!

Memories from July 16

America’s a crazy place. Things like this make me feel safe sleeping in bear country with my food bag for a pillow.

A progress update.

The bridge over river dry.

One mile sice the last sign. A day hiker asked how far I’d come when I told him I’d started at the Mexican border so I turned around and read the sign.

I went in to the Burney Falls Campground to get some maps Dad had mailed me. After paying $7 to pick them up, I noticed try sold soft serve and promptly left my envelope on the desk to go buy some. The mistake was realized quite a few miles down the trail. Good thing the trail is well marked.

Trail crosses a dam.

As a bystander said, “That’s not apple juice”.

Day 86: Hat Creek Rim

Memories from July 15

I got up at 3am with Little Red Riding Hood to hike as much of Hat Creek Rim before the sun caught us in the open. Sunrise was just a plus.

The view from the rim as the morning processed.

After the rim, the land looked a lot like this. The dry grass is one of the things I most strongly associate with summers growing up.

When I finally stopped at the first water, I’d successfully crossed 32 waterless miles without support (OK, there was a stream near the trail you could have climbed down to and Cache 22 had water but I didn’t use either).

I took a nap by the stream and visited with some other hikers on their way through. It’s been hot in a way which gets to you so I didn’t hike on until early evening. At some point I came across a sign on the trail pointing to Burney Mountain Guest Ranch with the promise of showers, laundry, and resupply. I was feeling tired despite not having hiked that far from the stream so I stopped in for dinner and resupplied figuring I was trading the time spent resupplying today for the miles tomorrow when I’d planned to resupply. Before showering I saw myself in the mirror and my face was quite red. I’m not sure when I got burned but it explained the exhaustion.

Dark had fallen by the time laundry was done but I walked back to the trail to avoid paying for a campsite. The family which runs  the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch are good folk and I would have paid to sleep on their dirt instead of sleeping for free on public dirt if I hadn’t set my mind on hiking out before I hiked in.

Day 85: Old Station

Memories from July 14

Today was largely a flat walk through trees of varying densities and levels of burnedness. The one very small rise of maybe 100-200ft was almost a shock to the body which couldn’t figure out which muscles to apply to this strange obstacle.

I first stopped by the RV/Cabin camp in Old Station for a snack and wound up eating a box of cereal with chocolate and strawberry nesquick milk. It was good going down and not good for the next two hours. While I lay down to give my stomach a rest, Short Shorts was practicing on his guitallele which was a pleasant distraction.

I “hitch raced” Short Shorts & Co. To JJ’s Cafe, 3 miles down the road. I walked and they hitched. I want to maintain the continuous footstep track I have from the border and figured that since we’d just watched a guy fail to get a hitch for two hours, I would have dinner half eaten by the time they arrived. Instead, they got a hitch as I was hoisting my pack and had clean plates when I joined them and Juice.

After dinner we walked to the Subway Cave, a lava tube which is the last easy water supply for 32 miles. Technically, there’s water access 8 or 10 miles in but the short trail to it crosses a lot of tightly packed elevation lines on the topo map so I loaded up with enough to not need to visit it. After a quick trip though the lava tube, we set of into the dusk for a night hike onto the exposed, waterless Hat Creek Rim. Just was we reached a parking lot at the start of the rim, a couple of half-drunk folks invited us to join them on the asphalt to enjoy a beer and conversation with the sunset.

After taking our leave from them an hour or so later, we passed a small herd of cattle. In the dark their eyes reflected my headlamp but they were far enough away that I couldn’t make out their bodies. Since their eyes were more widely spaced than a deer’s

Burn area featuring Lassen.

Target practice with trekking pole javelins.

Mountain House is a brand of freeze dried meal. And apparently a place with mountain houses.

The subway tunnel.

Lassen in the evening light.

Day 84: Drakesbad

Memories from July 13

[WordPress updated their app so that pictures which haven’t been uploaded are fuzzy while composing a post. Given that I don’t have internet on the trail, this makes it annoying to work pictures into the text unless you’re writing in real time which I don’t.]

It’s only 18 or 19 miles from Chester to Drakesbad so I slept in, had breakfast at a restaurant with friends, then hitched out around 10am. Most of the hike wasn’t eye catching. One highlight though was running in to Paul who through-hiked in 1977 and hosted a multi-day bonanza of trail magic at Chimney Creek when I was passing through. 

Just before the Drakesbad Guest Ranch, was a strangely colored lake: opaque grey green with red mud like the runoff water from a pottery project. There was a sign saying it was illegal to pass the sign and approach the lake. A trail of footprints passed next to the sign on their way to the lake.

Drakesbad itself was very pleasant. I got I shortly before dinner which was hamburgers. I got a shower, did laundry, and got my resupply box. My uneaten which was plentiful and of good quality went into the hiker box. Night had fallen before I walked down the road to to the Warner Valley campground and stumbled upon Little Red Riding Hood, Short Shorts, and Scrapbook who I’d left when hitching out of town after breakfast.



Day 83: Whoa-oh We’re Half Way There

Only one thing today really mattered.

Whoa-oh we’re half way there. Whoa-oh living on the tra-ail. Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear…

Shortly after the half way marker is the city of Chester. I got a hitch in from a trail angel and ran internet errands for a couple hours while eating both breakfast and lunch at the Kopper Kettle. Of course things dragged out as I didn’t have my account number in hand to update the address of my mortgage provider, helped Short Shorts get money after he lost his debit card, and waited for my house mate to get off work so I can ask him to forward my credit card which I had to get reissued since it dissapeared.

There’s a Lutheran Church in Chester which lets hikers camp in the back for free. They provide internet access so I wanted to catch up on blog posts and wound up socializing with other hikers. The WordPress app updated and, well, I have some feedback.

Hopefully I’ll hitch back out tonight since Chester wasn’t on my resupply itinerary. I’m not expecting to have good internet access again until Oregon.

Day 82: The White Witch

Memories from July 11

A flowery view from this morning’s hike.

At Cold Springs, I was lunching with a few other hikers when a Jeep with no top, just a roll cage, drove up and stopped on the dirt road a dozen yards away. Salutations were exchanged and the man and woman in black jeans and shirts hopped out and genially joined us in conversation. The woman was particularly talkative, asked about our trip, told us how much our connection with nature was going to change us, shared that she was going on a medical mission with Doctors Without Borders, and had a handgun holstered at her hip. At some point Zombie Dust noticed something in one of the woman’s tatoos and asked a bunch of questions which I didn’t follow other than that the woman called herself a witch, a white one, had a ring with something taken from a tomb her great uncle helped excavate, and a ring from a medicine man of the Hopi people. She wound up blessing everyone individually and gave us all hugs before departing. I’d never really been exposed to Wicca practice/culture/thought so it was unique experience. On an unrelated note, the spring itself has been piped o look like a bathtub.


Sometimes I think that trail signs look like toothpicks placed to identify points I’d interest in a giant’s terrarium or diorama.

You know, just in case someone wants to walk to Canada for no particular reason.


Mount Shasta by sunset.

Day 81: Belden Town

Memories from July 10

Today I reached Belden Town Resort where I started the section hike six years ago which inspired this trip. I remember seeing this sign on the second day of that trip and feeling a sense of accomplishment at how far Is made it.

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I distinctly remember this view as well. I hadn’t seen much of what the trail had to offer at the time and so had remarked to myself that it was the most beautiful view I’d ever seen.

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This I remember as my first scenic view of the Pacific Crest Trail. Between it and Belden are about 5,000 ft of switchbacks.

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My parents came up to Belden in memory of the start of the trip six years ago. We had lunch, I picked up my resupply box, mom passed out brownies to hikers, and dad gave Scrapbook a ride to Caribou Crossing.

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On the hike out, I noticed some delectable black berries.

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The point of this picture was to capture how ridiculously much effort has been put into getting power and communication lines down the valley. Instead, I think it just came out a pretty picture.

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I camped near the Williams Cabin Site but wasn’t able to find any remains of a cabin.