CALIFORNIA TO OREGON (AND THE DEVIL ON MY SHOULDER?!)

PCT DAY 106.. July 20th Mile
1430.2 4600 feet 23 miles

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?!

PCT DAY 111.. July 25th Zero day in Tahoe

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!

PCT DAY 112.. July 26th Mile 1508.6 3500 feet 10 miles

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!

Fields of wildflowers greet us in Oregon..

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!

I will write no more of the day as there really isn’t much to favor! I only hope the coming days.. see an external AND internal change!

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!

I then spent the rest of the day walking around town resupplying for the days ahead and buying new socks and insoles to try to ease the wear and constant pain in my feet! Let’s see if these work??

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!!

19 thoughts on “CALIFORNIA TO OREGON (AND THE DEVIL ON MY SHOULDER?!)

  1. Hey Chris from over here in Whangaparaoa….. once again we are so impressed with your quest. Can only imagine what you experiencing physically and spiritually. An awesome experience as told in your Logs. Keep it up we are so enjoying catching up each weekend when you update your travels. from Susan and Martin

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow!!! You are amazing Chris.
    Keep safe and take care of your feet.
    Our granddaughter is presently in Portland and we visited the area near where you were in 1990. So we feel close.
    Look forward to your next post.
    Cheers from us both

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are amazing Chris and I know everyone you meet will think so too. The get together in Tahoe must have been food for body and soul. So sad for Rock Doc not being able to finish what she started. Keep safe. We love you xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely to hear your update Chris, was getting worried about you, fantastic that you have had some time out and done usual things as in being around people and socialising, really sorry to hear you are suffering with your feet again, sure this will all be worth looking back on, stay strong and detetmined, sure you will, and safe as always, shame about Roc Doc having to leave you, luv from us both, J & D xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Photos of scenery are amazing especially with the sun. Obviously getting harder for you with each step, Chris. I’m just home from my family revisiting trip to Switzerland and U.K. Had a great time but looking forward to my own bed! Surely must be your wish too! Stay strong. Love Angie xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey Chris, while it must be difficult for you at the moment, don’t forget that your friends surely keep wandering with you in their minds, even if they don’t walk physically beside you. Soon you will be crossing the Bridge of Gods, until then enjoy Oregon and new encounters on your way (hopefully not with more rattlesnakes). It is funny to think of your stories also travelling around the world through your readers from various continents. BTW, very good stories with nice people and beautiful landscape again. Cheers, keep safe & found, and above all keep walking.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. At last, an update from you! I was quite worried about you as knew about the wild fires and it seems ages since you last checked in! I’m so impressed with the mileage you have covered on some of the days, 31.2! No wonder your feet are protesting – take care of them. It must have been a welcome break with all Lovely Heart’s family. Keep up your positivity, each step is one nearer your destination. The photos are just fabulous. I’m going to reread right from the beginning – you are on the most incredible journey and taking us all along with you. Keep strong and keep smiling. Gxx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey chris awesome blog , pics and scenery,stay positive , tough to lose your companion , however sounds like you have another on your shoulder, give him/ her heaps, carry on , small steps, one at a time, check yourself, look after your health, hey and don’t get caught talking to that shoulder person , you know what they say!!!, keep smiling , thinking of you , love you, John Shirl teah and Chloe

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You are so very welcome!! Truly enjoyed having you, feeding you and learning a little bit about you and your family. Love reading your blog and seeing the beauty that you encounter through your pictures. You and your family will always have a home in Tehachapi, CA if you ever plan to come and visit again! Big hugs and much love……❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh Chris what an amazing few weeks you have experienced, wonderful scenery, exquisite flowers, and the wildlife! The Bears and the snakes so scary, and yet those pesky mosquitos seem to bother you the most. You are experiencing an amazing trip, and I am thoroughly enjoying your blog, but my feet are sure happy not to be doing it!
    You are certainly counting down the miles now, so keep going, we are all thinking of you, so take care and keep safe.
    Love John and Wendy xx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Chris 🙂 I wrote you a long post and for some reason it seems I have 2 addresses and passwords that I think my computer automatically fills in one and it is not correct and so my message to you was lost in cyberspace @%*)^$@!$^*)……. So here goes again.

    Hi Chris! What a challenging blog this time filled with all sorts of challenging emotions! I hope you got that devil off your shoulder as you are doing so INCREDIBLY well 🙂 Your pictures are INSANELY MIND BLOWLING. The flowers are exquisite as well as the waterfalls,snow capped mountains, and the sunsets. There really is Heaven on Earth 🙂 I love the pictures of the Praying Mantis, deers and the butterflies. Those rattle snakes and bears must be nerve wracking. I would die on the spot if it were me. I am so pleased that you manage to get off the PCT and spend time with such lovely people and get back to ” reality” and REAL FOOD :)))).

    Those blisters sound excruciatingly painful. Do you have aloes around that you can dab the flesh onto your blisters? I also heard deodorant is good to take the sting out and dry them more rapidly. Not sure if you have deodorant …. LOL :)))) amongst the contents in your backpack.

    We are all well here. Thinking of you. Enjoy your hiking through Oregon. Keep safe. Love and God bless xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Chris, spectacular again – there are some pretty sever challenges out there. The journey thus far with firstly Lovely Heart and Grizz and continuing on with Rock Doc has been a ‘life changing’ experience for you all – sad, the time comes to part and follow one’s own destiny – great memories of your lives together.
    Now back to ‘basics’ for you – considering all the obstacles remaining, we know you will manage them with respect. You set yourself a schedule, remember it is only a ‘guide’ – your physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing are most important for you to consider and manage. “Smell the Roses” and remember your ‘Goal’. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Phew darling you are certainly going through a very testing time and can imagine you really feel like quitting…….who wouldn’t? and that is surely the devil on your shoulder whispering in your ear.
    just give him a really good shove and then trample on him….hard! you have a new passenger on your shoulder now ….your Mother, and there is absolutely NO room for anyone else! You will hear me whispering lots of love and encouragment and telling you that you are really on the home stretch and you know you can do it. No more bad thoughts please. What an achievement that will be.Oh and you do realise the Praying Mantis was Granny. She absolutely adored them and quite often one would fly into her room and stay for days be it in India, Africa England or NZ. but its alright she can just fly along beside you.We are so proud of you. A truly amazing journey.Now you have the fires!!!! Everything happens for a reason though hard to see at the time.God bless. Love and hugs from everyone. X

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Hey Chris, your Mom speaks well, so listen to her. It must be hard to cope with all the current challenges, mosquitoes, wildfires, pain and the loss of the physical presence of your friends. But you have come through so many incredible challenges so far, and the remaining strech of the PCT is just waiting for you… There is a quote in the book of Wild: ‘If your nerve deny you, go above your nerves’. I guess the best way to follow this line is just keep walking, making one step after another, if it helps taking them slowly…, and you will see that the feel of loss will give its place to gratitude for the beautiful friendships you made on your way. You will also realise that while friends take part of us, they also leave some parts of theirs. We just swap and that is how we remain ourselves ‘as a whole’. That is how we can continue. So, in fact, you are taking not only your Mom on your shoulders, but all your friends reading your posts or having met you on the PCT… Hopefully we are not that ‘heavy’. But there is definitely no place left for the ‘quit devil’. So HYOH further, and keep safe & found. Cheers, Eszter

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Wow chris it just blows us all away reading your blog! Just an incredibke effort so far! Your tenacity and enthusiasm is just mind blowing! We’re all in awe of you! Walk safe! Xx Jen, russell and kids xxx

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