Out of ‘Bernies’.. Rock Doc and I made good time through the early morning.. meeting up as we do after 3 hours.. which is always approximately 9 miles and as we start at 5am.. by the time the sun has risen and the land has changed from night to day.. we catch up for breakfast together.. usually a breakfast of snacks and water by 8am!
The rest of the day is split into 2 hour chunks and lunch is usually taken together at some predetermined point around 12 to 1pm.. the afternoon.. usually a repeat of the morning with two.. 2 hour hikes and by 4 or 5 pm we will meet up again at a predetermined spot as our camp for the night.. invariably and if at all possible by a water source such as a creek.. stream or lake. The day is spent solo hiking and the breaks our catch up time!
PCT DAY 107.. July 21st Mile 1461.4 4300 feet 31.2 miles!
Another day of stunning views as we crested the mountains.. the peace and quiet complete.. Meeting not another soul on the trail today gave it the serenity and remoteness for which it is often known! A big day as far as miles go.. in fact I think today was both Rock Doc’s and my.. first day over 30 miles! The feet.. shoulders and back all feel it.. but the sense of achievement is greater!
Today I saw another rattle snake.. I had thought them confined to southern California.. but have since been told it is possible to expect them all the way to Canada?!! Though this one was small.. I still jumped at his hissing and rattling before he slid deftly back into the undergrowth!
PCT DAY 108.. July 22nd Mile 1486.9 4500 feet 25.5 miles
Over the mountains and through the seemingly endless forests of northern California.. past the romanticism of exotic names such as Fitzhugh Gulch.. a little creek winding through the endless valleys and
Squaw Valley hill.. where we set up camp for the night!
This land is as it was hundreds of years ago.. untouched and now untouchable as a part of the nations heritage.. the PCT runs through the best of it all.. and one can only wonder at the determination and bravery of those who settled this land of California.. Oregon and Washington from the far off East Coast.. all those years ago?!
PCT DAY 109.. July 23rd Mile 1499.2 2500 feet 12.3 miles
Quick to finish the remaining miles into Shasta.. Rock Doc and I managed to shower at the nearby campground for a fee.. and waited to catch up once again with the rest of our ‘Sierra’ family!
Lovely Heart and Grizz had rented a car from their exit off the PCT at Bernies Guest Ranch and had driven up to our exit at Shasta to collect us for a weekend of food.. fun.. and most importantly family and friends!
We all drove back down to South Lake Tahoe where Lovely’s mother Denise and the rest of her dear family had rented a very large home for their family ‘get-together’! Both Rock Doc and myself had been included in this very intimate circle.. a testament to the overwhelming kindness flowing constantly within this loving family! From the moment we arrived.. the conversation and laughter never ceased.. and this was to last over the coming days until our departure three days hence!
PCT DAY 110.. July 24th Zero day in Tahoe
Down to the beach here in Tahoe with the family.. games and laugher.. but overall the total relaxation and removal from hiking the PCT! What a family.. their closeness and shared love reminding me so much of my own amazing family back home in New Zealand.. I hope that one day.. the two shall meet?!
Another wonderful day.. thank you all.. and a huge and very special thanks to you Denise.. thank you for including us in this your very special time with all your family! Thanks for baking weeks beforehand just to feed us hungry hikers.. as well as all it took to feed your own.. THANK YOU!
Our wonderful time with Lovely Heart.. Grizz.. Denise and their amazing family had to come to an end.. and this morning we all said our goodbyes.. and drove the 5 hours from South Lake Tahoe to Mt Shasta and the point at which Rock Doc and I had left the PCT seemingly eons ago.. Grizz and Lovely Heart dropped us at the base of an impossible mountain climb and drove off after our final emotional goodbyes!
Rock Doc and I.. now left to attack the climb on our own did our best on full stomachs.. the result of two full days of wonderful food and company! Needless to say we only made it part way up the mountain from the Interstate 5.. 10 miles up to be exact.. and finally set up tents at a place called ‘Disappearing Creek’?! There WAS no creek.. it really had ‘disappeared’ by the time we arrived.. so we were quick to prepare dinner and huddle down for the night.. knowing that the climb was less than half done.. the remaining 18 miles awaits tomorrow!
PCT DAY 113.. July 27th Mile 1534.2 7300 feet 25.6 miles
Today we (Rock Doc and myself) completed what has become the longest and highest continuous climb yet on the trail! Yesterday we started at 2000 feet.. just out of Mt Shasta and today in one continuous and particularly arduous climb we topped 7500 feet.. all over 28 miles.. and throughout we were dealing with an extremely rocky/pebbly ascent which proved both difficult and painful on the feet! Needless to say we were exhausted by the end of the day.. but very thankful to have this hurdle out of the way!!
Great views of both Mt Shasta and the Castle Crags as we progressed up the mountains.. and finally we settled down to camp on the shores of Upper Deadfall Lake.. Up at 4am tomorrow so after a Freeze Dried Mountain House dinner of Spagetti and a Snickers bar for desert.. we are off to bed!
PCT DAY 114.. July 28th Mile 1563.4 6300 feet 29.2 miles
Unfortunately now that we are out of the Sierra we’ve managed to swap one evil.. the snow.. for another.. mosquitoes?! They are constant companions for most of the day.. especially around water sources.. and especially so in the evening when they seem to come out in droves! I guess they figure we’re eating.. so they can partake of the smorgasbord in the shape of humans that have dropped by for the night?! Something’s one just has to accept!!
Today we covered a lot of miles and the last 5 were particularly difficult as we climbed the switchbacks in the full heat of the afternoon sun.. By the time we hit camp I was so utterly exhausted that even setting up my tent was deep in the ‘too difficult basket’?! Eventually I settled for dinner first to re energize.. and then setting up tent before crashing into bed! Another productive day and up again tomorrow before first light at 4 to try and hammer out 10 or so miles before the heat returns!
Saw my second rattle snake since leaving the desert section today.. a rather large ‘Mohave Green’ which are renown for being particularly aggressive?! This one however retreated into the undergrowth from the trail after hissing and rattling.. just feet in front of me! I’m sure I’ve passed a lot more on the trail.. but traveling fast.. I rarely see or hear them.. I’d like to keep it that way!
PCT DAY 115.. July 29th Mile 1591.5 6400 feet 28.1 miles
Yesterday we entered an area called the Trinity Alpes Wilderness.. and though short (today around late afternoon we transitioned into another area!) The Trinities were spectacular with all their craggy peaks.. a multitude of flowers and wildlife as well as particularly steep and difficult climbs and descents.. and all this on treacherous and unstable rock and stone! The heat today was unforgiving at over 100F and once again.. by evening I was done.. totally exhausted!
I did however see another black bear.. or rather I should say he saw me first?! All I really saw was his ‘be-hind’ as he went crashing off through the bushes and undergrowth.. obviously startled that I had suddenly appeared! Too fast he was gone!
A little later as I was descending though the trees into pasture deep in the valley.. I heard a symphony of ‘bells’! This IS after all.. called the ‘Trinity Alpes’.. and true to the european alps.. the cows here are all adorned with clanging bells!
PCT DAY 116.. July 30th Mile 1621.2 5600 feet 29.7 miles
Blisters and incredibly painful feet! One would think.. and I’ve often been asked when the feet become accustomed to the hike.. when the blisters disappear and the pain subsides.. the answer unfortunately is never?! This is part and parcel of daily life on the trail and today was particularly excruciating!!
We climbed the usual mountains and descended into the subsequent valleys.. the descents are without doubt a far more painful experience than the climbs!! The temperature rose and tomorrow is supposed to be one of the hottest days of the year.. an awfully humid.. stiflingly hot 115F!!
The day’s end saw us in the tiny town of Seiad Valley where we camped in the public campground.. trying to sleep in the rising heat and anticipating the huge 5500 foot climb out of the valley tomorrow through a maze of switchbacks on an otherwise unprotected and barren cliff!
PCT DAY 117.. July 31st Road walk 8 miles
Today has been unbearable.. the hottest day on record in this part of California since the 1890’s! As was expected.. we baked under the trees.. the thermometer rose above 115F! Far too dangerous to negotiate the exposed cliff above us!
Sensibly we delayed our departure from the shade of the campground till 5pm.. and then only sluggishly ascended the mountain via an alternate route.. a road joining the PCT 12.5 miles up.. a far shadier and relatively cooler route than the PCT itself!
We camped near a bridge on this desolate gravel road.. 8 mikes from the town of Seiad Valley at 8pm.. leaving the final 4.5 miles to tomorrow before we once again intersect the PCT!
PCT DAY 118.. August 1st Mile 1693.6 6800 feet 29.9 miles
FINALLY!! Today was the day that we left the state of California.. a state that has taken me over 4 months to cross.. from the southern deserts and the Mohave.. through the treacherous Sierra in a year that has seen more snow since the 1960’s.. an area where we saw the actual trail for a mere 5% of the time in the 6 weeks we were buried in its mountainous depths.. and then finally through the forests of Northern California! ALL this has brought us to the boundary between California and Oregon! FINALLY!
I say ‘finally’.. not because we didn’t enjoy our time there.. thank you California.. we LOVED you and in turn you looked after us.. seeing us safely through an adventure few will ever experience in a year unlike any other! I say ‘finally’.. because it has taken us an exorbitant amount of time ‘proportion wise’ to cover this magnificent state from south to north.. with all its challenges.. beauty and dangers.. and now here we are crossing the line into this next state of Oregon! Please treat us as well.. and look after us in the fashion of your neighbor California!
After crossing the border and climbing the associate mountain.. we settled at the top to spend our first night delighting in the knowledge that we have come so far.. ‘Goodbye’ California and ‘Hello’ Oregon!
PCT DAY 119.. August 2nd Mile 1717.5 4400 feet 23.9 miles
We were told Oregon was flat.. easy to walk.. and water was in abundance?? Not so this part! We have to carry huge amounts of water over extremely dry stretches.. climbing the mountains as if we were back in the southern deserts of California?! I guess the flatter more fertile sections of Oregon.. the areas we’ve heard about are yet to come?! After all.. we have only just left California.. and unlike the dream many of us share.. the terrain does take time to change!
We are trying.. Rock Doc and myself.. to hike briskly through this ‘new’ terrain as she has the goal of Crater Lake before finishing her hike! With the snows of the Sierra well behind us.. we are hoping that nothing will impede our progress..
We must push on.. but the large mileage is certainly showing on both our spirits and legs/feet! I have bandaged mine.. and secured the worst parts with a particularly adhesive tape called ‘Leuco Tape’.. I only hope they hold up to the miles and strain yet to come over the next few days?!
PCT DAY 120.. August 3rd Mile 1748.7 4500 feet 31.2 miles
Nothing but the same for today.. and I often find my mind fighting over the logic and reason of doing.. or even continuing such a hike?? I think we all have a love/hate relationship with this trail called the PCT! Mine today.. combined with the heat and humidity.. the aching muscles.. the constant hunger and needless to say the pain at every step.. the challenge to continue is the ‘devil’ on my shoulder!
PCT DAY 121.. August 4th Mile 1771.0 5100 feet 26.3 miles (22.3+4)
Today we received bad news that the forest fires around Crater Lake had finally closed the PCT in that area??! Devastating for poor old Rock Doc.. as she’s been hammering the trail for the last few weeks.. doing all these high miles.. just to get to Crater Lake before she has to finish her hike and head off to University in Minnesota! We’ve both been pushing to the max.. only to find that the trail is closed and the end point will be out of our hands? We did our best!
Today took us through lava fields.. an extremely difficult and tricky area on which to walk! Very sharp on the boots and feet.. as well as slippery when on the tiny glass like pumice.. this lasted for an astounding 6 miles and took us a good deal more time to navigate than does the normal trail.. very frustrating along with the knowledge of the closure ahead!
We then deviated to strategize at a place called Fish Lake Resort.. only a couple of mikes off the PCT.. and somewhere we could get on the internet to find out more of what was going on in this confusion of fires?! It seems the whole of Oregon is on fire if you listen to the reports of various hikers?! We have to get the correct information??
PCT DAY 122.. August 5th Mile 1798.3 6100 feet 27.3 miles
Well.. today is Rock Doc’s last full day of hiking.. and then we’ll be off to a town called Klamath Falls for a night before she catches the train to Portland and flies back to Texas.. I’ll certainly miss her!
We dealt with the veils of smoke from the Crater Lake forest fires throughout the day.. turning the distant mountains a blueish hue.. unfortunately the smoke did nothing to deter the tenacious mosquitoes as they clung to us even though we were racing through the undergrowth.. after a number of nasty lumps appeared I finally halted and applied a decent covering of deet to arms.. legs and face before continuing.. that seemed to do the trick!
In the evening as we sat amongst the forest undergrowth for dinner.. the skies finally.. and for really the first time on the trail.. opened in a deluge of rain and hail.. forcing us both into our tents to eat separately! Is this the PCT’s last go at Rock Doc before she leaves or is it the heavens crying for her loss??!
PCT DAY 123.. August 6th Mile 1801.3 4500 feet 3 miles (The PCT is closed from here to Crater Lake by the Forest Department due to the fire’s!)
We walked the last few miles in silence early in the morning and then took the side trail off to a parking lot where we were met by a waiting trail angel who took us into Crater Lake by road.. a rather dismal end to Rock Doc’s hike.. but we accomplished the best.. and she certainly gave it her all!
I will return to the closed PCT in a few days tô ‘road walk’ the section we were driven by the trail angel.. thereby not missing any section of the hike from Mexico to Canada.. albeit by road to Crater Lake! For the time being.. we hitched a lift into Klamath Falls about 40 miles away and found a motel near the train station as an easy option for Rock Doc’s train early tomorrow morning!
Dinner at the nearby brewery.. and collapsed into bed at 8pm.. washed.. showered clothes laundered and clean sheets! BLISS!!
PCT DAY 124.. August 7th ‘Zero’ day in Klamath Falls!
The ‘Goodbyes’ were emotional this morning as I dropped Rock Doc at the station.. we’ve had an AMAZING ride and I really wish her all the best in her endeavors at school in Minnesota! She is such a solid.. determined person for one so young and I have no doubt she will excel in anything she does.. Thanks for everything Rock Doc!
Tomorrow taking the shuttle bus from here in Klamath Falls back to Crater Lake.. n then I’ll get the same trail angel to drop me back where I left off so that I can road walk the 25 miles back.. yet again.. to Crater Lake??! Crazy I know.. but it’ll mean an uninterrupted hike! I hope it’s not too hot on the road.. yesterday was over 100F!!