Ashland – NOBO 1718

This post is from August 27, 2020.

GPS tracking details of this day’s hike can be found at: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5450467037

I was up reasonably early and was hiking by 6:50 AM, which was good because today turned out to be a fairly long day mileage-wise. My plan had said it would be a 22 mile day but it actually turned out to be almost 23 and some of it was a bit hilly. I also think I’m basically just a bit tired. In any event it all went well enough and here are a couple of shots of the scenery from the early part of today’s hike:

Around mile 17 a very well-cared-for husky dog started accompanying me. It had a collar with a license and I knew it belong to someone but it wouldn’t leave me. He stayed right with me like he was my dog for about 5 miles and I was really concerned that he would follow me off the trail to the Callahan’s hotel. Thankfully about a mile before the end he finally decided to go somewhere else so it didn’t turn out to be my problem. Here is a view as I descended down to Interstate 5:

Note that two weeks ago when I was descending to I-5 into the town of Dunsmuir, I was coming from the east whereas this time I’m approaching from the west. The PCT spends an awful lot of time going east and west and sometimes even south; interesting for a trail that is ostensibly going north from Mexico to Canada!

At this point I can actually see the Callahan’s hotel that Helen has booked for me for tonight:

The trail reaches old Route 99 and that was the end of this 432 mile section for me. When I continue, hopefully this fall, it will be a road walk along this asphalt road for about a half a mile until the trail resumes it’s Northward journey:

This is my elevation profile for today:

Oregon!++ – NOBO 1696

This post is from August 26, 2020.

GPS tracking details of this day’s hike can be found at: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5450462543

I was sleeping pretty soundly until after 6 AM today so I got a late start and did not start actually hiking until 7:25 AM. The trail was much easier today than yesterday though so I made the 21 planned miles for today by 4:30 PM even with that late start. Here are a couple of shots from the morning’s hiking of the last few miles of endless California:

At 2:30 in the afternoon I reached the long-awaited border between the states of California and Oregon. It was quite a thrill and emotional to reach this major mile stone on the PCT. I have hiked almost 1700 miles from the Mexican border to reach this point:

Here is my tent site for tonight:

Since I had to switch maps between Northern California and Oregon right in the middle of today’s hike it’s not convenient for me to publish the elevation profile because it would be in two separate pieces so the readers will miss that lovely addition for one day. Tomorrow I have 22 miles to go to reach the road near Interstate-5 In Ashland, Oregon that is the end of this section hike for me. My body is tired and I’m ready to have a good long rest.

Unnamed tentsite – NOBO 1675

This post is from August 25, 2020.

GPS tracking details of this day’s hike can be found at: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5450458533

 Bill and I got up at 6 o’clock AM and prepared a breakfast of eggs and English muffins and sausage. I also had the luxury of coffee early in the morning which I have missed dearly:

We drove from Happy Camp back to the trailhead 20 miles to the east and started climbing at 8 AM. We quickly saw the Klamath River receding below us:

Bill hiked the first 5 miles with me and then it was time for him to head back because he had a 5 hour drive from the trailhead back to his home in Meadowvista California. These are the last views we had of each other on this section:

Today was 18 miles of forward progress on the PCT with about 19 total miles of hiking. As you can see from the elevation profile below it was a day of almost all climbing. Of the 18 1/2 miles of trail that I hiked about 15 of those were uphill. The first eight were steeply uphill.

Beyond struggling with the climb the rest of my day revolved around getting to the spring at mile 14 and loading up with all of the night’s and tomorrow morning’s water and carrying that extra load the remaining 4 1/2 miles to my campsite. As I have mentioned several times in the blog, carrying a lot of water to a dry campsite is one of my least favorite things to do when it’s several miles of hiking. This is a picture of the tiny spring around which today’s plans revolved:

This was the only source of water during the 18 1/2 miles that I hiked today and it was found at mile 14.

This is my gorgeous tentsite with magnificent views seemingly forever to the south looking back down towards Mexico almost 1700 Trail miles south of me:

This is the elevation profile for today:

Other than Bill, I saw no other hikers today at all.

Seiad Valley – NOBO 1656

This post is from August 24, 2020.

GPS tracking details of this day’s hike can be found at: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5435638641

I hiked almost 16 miles today for a total of about 15 miles of northern progress on the PCT. I was up at 6 AM and hiking by 6:50 AM. As you can see from the elevation profile below today was very long descent followed by a lot of flat.  The long downhill was generally easy except for the very overgrown trail that required pushing my way through bushes that enclosed the passageway of the trail. At about mile eight the trail itself ended and I started walking on dirt roods which then became paved roads, which ultimately became a 7 mile road walk to the virtually nonexistent town of Seiad Valley. A lot of that walk was alongside the Klamath River. In the shot you can see the river and in the second shot you can see the bridge crossing the river.

This weird road walk interspersed in the middle of the PCT is really due to the presence of the significant river that requires using an auto road to cross. Apparently the trail designers could not bring the trail down to the level of the river anywhere near the bridge itself which results in this very long walk on roads. As I think back, I believe that this is the largest river the PCT has crossed since I started at the Mexican border.

Bill Johnson reached me in his car at about mile 13 on the day and after that he walked with me and hop-scotched ahead with the car until we arrived at the town itself:

This is my elevation profile for today:

We have rented a cabin for the night in a very small town called Happy Camp about 20 miles to the west of Seiad Valley. This is a shot of me in the cabin as I compose this blog and ice my ankles:

Nameless tentsite – NOBO 1641

This post is from August 23, 2020.

GPS tracking details of this day’s hike can be found at: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5435634791

I was awakened at about 1 o’clock in the morning by a pair of owls hooting each other. One was hooting at a higher frequency than the other and they were obviously answering each other. It was interesting. I was sure that they were coordinating to attack my tent for my food, I made sure I had my airhorn within easy reach. 😜

I did not awake until 6:00 AM so I did not start hiking today until 7 AM. The first few miles were easy enough but then I got into a section between mile six and mile 12 where it again brought to mind the New Hampshire trail builders and the general difficulty of that kind of trail.

Around mile 12 I began the very very long descent that you can see in my elevation profile below. There will not be a lot of scenery pictures from today because the smoke from the forest fire that I have referred to is so thick that I can really not make out in neighboring mountains. Instead of scenery I do have a couple of other pictures though. Here is one that happens every day when I take my midday break and what it looks like when I do my foot maintenance.  I let my feet air out, take the weight off of them, take 2 ibuprofen and wait 15-20 minutes before putting the boots back on to let the vitamin-I circulate for a while.:

I lied. There is one scenery picture today. This is what the trail looks like just as I began that long descent:

I was gathering water from the stream and I put out my purifying chemicals on the trail itself and I hadn’t seen anybody for hours so I was sure I could have the trail for my little preparation. I went to the stream to gather the water and all of a sudden a dog comes along all by himself. But the dog has a collar and he looks well cared for. I expect to see hikers come along any minute that own this dog. What finally appears is quite a sight! I see one horse rider with something behind him. I shifted the side of the trail asking him if he thinks there’s enough room for him to pass. He politely suggested I probably need to climb uphill a bit for them to pass. He was right. It was a whole pack train! There were about five riders and horses and each horse was towing a mule and all of the mules were heavily laden with big boxes of equipment. I saw a big chainsaw on top of one of them. I asked if they were going to do trail maintenance and he said that they were going to do that but I had a feeling that there were other things that they were going to do as well. They were very friendly. I struggled to get my camera out as I saw them because it was quite a sight to behold. As usual under these circumstances I could never get the phone out and into the camera app while the subject is still in view!

Close to the end of my day descending through burned-over the forest I had to walk through almost a mile of completely overgrown trail where when you looked ahead you actually didn’t see the trail at all; all you saw were young trees. But as you pushed through the trees you could see the trail at your feet. Obviously this is a lot of work and irritating.

After that very overgrown section I saw something I don’t think I’ve seen before. Here was a tree that had fallen over the path and it was so large and so embedded in the ground that the trail maintenance people who would normally just cut a piece out of the tree for hikers to walk through decided to make a notch in the tree and a step for hikers to step over:

Here is my tent site for tonight. I hiked 21 miles today.:

Here is my elevation profile for today:

Cold Spring – NOBO 1620

This post is from August 22, 2020.

GPS tracking details of this day’s hike can be found at:  https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5435628976

This morning start from Etna was not quite as easy as I would’ve liked it to have been. I wanted to have a big breakfast and then get a ride back up to the trail with the car leaving at 7:35. Since I found last night that my food box that Helen had sent did not arrive I have been scrambling to find replacement foods so that I could make it to my meeting with Bill Johnson on Monday, where he would have my next food supply. This took more than one trip to the supermarket as I did not think of everything first time. The second trip was this morning at 7 o’clock. So instead of having a big restaurant breakfast,  I had instant oatmeal that I microwaved in the hotel room while I assembled the replacement foods that I had purchased into my food bag. Nevertheless, I thought the scheduled ride at 7:35AM was still going to happen getting me to the trail around 8 o’clock for a not-terribly late start.  As it turned out the man who ran the motel overslept or something and basically came out at 7:45 saying he’d be with me in a few minutes. He was ultimately a full half an hour late which meant I didn’t really start hiking until about 8:45 AM this morning which is a much later start than I would’ve hoped for given the planned 20 mile day.

Once I did start hiking I noticed within about a half a mile that had a mild case of diarrhea today. This involves too-frequent bathroom stops which also impacted my pace. Overall it was a pain in the ass. Pun intended.

Here’s a shot of the trail during the first 10 miles today:

Things went relatively smoothly for the first 10 miles but then between mile 11 and mile 18 I had probably the worst terrain I have experienced so far in the PCT. I know I have complained recently about some sub-par trail conditions but honestly it seems to me that they must have brought in trail designers from the White Mountains in New Hampshire to get the trail to be this difficult. I just cannot imagine a horse getting over those rocks! This resulted in me doing some very slow miles as the whole process was exhausting. This photo might give you an idea of the kind of terrain I’m going through and while it’s difficult for them to build a smooth, gradually inclining trail, normally the PCT standard:

Here’s a photo of me at the end of the day where there is a psring about 4/10 of a mile off the trail. With that extra hiking down to the spring and back I ended up doing almost 22 miles today for only about 20 miles forward progress on the PCT:

This is my home sweet home for tonight:

This is my elevation for thought for today:

I saw a total of five other PCT hikers today which is a busier day than normal. I really only talked at length with one of them: a guy from Washington who’s trail name is Get Smart – he was southbound. He had a gray beard too, And that’s actually how he greeted me when we met on the trail. He said “Hey another gray beard!” The other hikers were all young whippersnappers that had way too much energy for my liking.

Etna – NOBO 1599

This post is from August 21, 2020.

GPS tracking details of this day’s hike can be found at: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5435623902

I hiked almost 19 miles today and have arrived at some real civilization. I’m very much looking forward to cold beer, chips, icing my ankles, posting my blog, big steak and some more cold beer.

I took these two shots when I emerged from my tent in the morning and it was sunrise on the ridge top:

I was hiking this morning by 6:40 AM. The terrain was significantly more difficult today so my pace was slower than it’s been and I got more fatigued than I have been. There were, though, some fantastic views this morning:

If you look down into the valley in the picture below you can see a blue gray haze. This is from the Salmon/Red-Complex forest fire that has been burning for a long time. I can smell the smoke a little bit but the fire is many many miles away from me and doesn’t pose any danger to me physically other than the bad air.

More morning views:

Here are some more views as I descended down into the Etna Summit trailhead where I will be picked up by somebody from the motel I’m staying in in Etna.  There is cell phone coverage 2 miles before reaching that trailhead so I can call and coordinate that pick-up:

I have been observing cow pies for several days now on the trail but I’ve seen no cows. I was about 2 miles from the trail head descending rapidly and frankly walking in somewhat of a daze when part of my brain heard a cowbell. Sometimes I hear things that I don’t recognize and usually if I don’t hear them again I put them down to just nothing, imagination, whatever. But now with full attention I did hear the cowbell again and I knew what I was hearing. I looked up and there was a small group of cows one of which was wearing a big Swiss style Cow bell!

Here’s a shot of me at the end of the day at the trail head waiting for my ride:

This is my elevation profile for today:

Tentsite past SF Scott River – NOBO 1581

This post is from August 20, 2020.

GPS tracking details of this day’s hike can be found at: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5435619258

I was hiking by 6:40 AM this morning. I soon entered the Trinity Alps Wilderness area:

The hiking is a bit more difficult today even though there were not enormous elevation gains and losses the terrain was just rougher with lots of little ups and downs that tire the hiker. The previous two days I’ve been on the ‘PCT freeway’ where the tread is easy to travel at 21 or 22 Minutes per mile,at least for me. While the hiking tread itself was sometimes irritating the Trinity Alps scenery really made up for it:

I had intended to stop for the night at the South Fork of the Scott River knowing that I would have water for the night. That had become a bit of an obsession with me because I was getting tired of walking multiple miles with a few liters of extra water in my pack just so I could dry camp and I have all the water I needed through the night and into the morning for both supper and breakfast. One day – I think it was two days ago – I actually had to walk over 7 miles with all of that water. That was heavy and a pain! Anyway I reached my intended destination at 3:30PM in the afternoon. That’s frustratingly early to stop and I really wasn’t that tired yet. I have been trying to keep my miles not more than 20 not so much because of overall fatigue but because of the wear and tear on my ankles. The way I feel I think my overall body and energy levels could sustain a 25 mile per day pace in this area but not my ankles – they are quite a bit more sore after 25 miles than they are after 20. In any event I decided that I would indeed gather the nice water at the south fork of the Scott River and carry it 2 miles up the steep climb to to this campsite which is 2 miles further making my total mileage for today 21 miles. I am now slightly ahead of schedule and that will be nice because I will be able to get into the town of Etna tomorrow a little bit earlier than otherwise.

In any event this campsite that I have reached is absolutely gorgeous! I’m on a ridgeline with views forever in both directions and the added bonus that I have some cell phone coverage so I’ll be able to stay in touch with people tonight:

This is my elevation profile for today:

Scott Mountain campground- NOBO 1560

This post is from August 19, 2020.

GPS tracking details of this day’s hike can be found at: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5435614236

I had a fairly easy 17 mile day today with no major problems. Here are a couple of shots of the views I had of the Trinity Mountains while hiking this morning:

The only thing that I would really call a problem today was the manner in which I needed to fill up my water for the night at about 1:30PM. I knew that the only reliable source on the stretch today that was close to my campsite was about 3 miles from the campsite and I had planned to fill sufficient water to make it through the evening and the night and tomorrow morning. When I got to the indicated place I was shocked to see just how small the flow was. There was no way I could really gather water from any pool or flow from the surface via my normal containers but I eventually used  a Ziploc bag stuffed way deep in the hole as far as I could reach where the water was dripping out of the earth itself. This process took me about 30 minutes to fill 4 liters, one of which I CAMELLED-up on the spot rather than having to carry it:

When I finally reached Highway 3 at mile 17 I realized that I’m now in yet another national forest, Klamath:

My camp tonight is an established no-fee Forest Service campground. The big benefit of this for me is that I had a picnic table and pitt toilets.  Such luxury! There is no running water which is why I had to gather all that water and carry it the last 3 miles:

This is my elevation profile for today:

One interesting observation is that I noticed that over the past 60 miles most of the trail signs that had mileages only marked in kilometers. This is very unusual in United States! A while previous I had noticed they were both in miles and kilometers but usually they’re only in miles. What does this mean? I have a theory.

Back where they were only marked in miles the bars in town were open in violation of the governor’s order. In the last town everyone was wearing masks in every store and restaurant. I believe there is a correlation between these behaviors in the units of measure used.

Unnamed tent site – NOBO 1543

This post is from August 18, 2020.

GPS details of this day’s hike can be found at: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5435611129

Because of yesterday’s harrowing experiences I slept in until 5:45 AM so I didn’t get started this morning hiking until 6:50 AM. It was a relatively drama-free day. This is a scene of what I was looking at hiking this morning:

Here you see Mount Shasta from the northwest as it gradually recedes away from me to the southeast:

This is lower Deadfall Lake. I reached the Deadfall Lakes at around mile 15 1/2 and it was the last reliable water source of the day for me even though I wasn’t going to camp for 7 miles further. So I loaded up my water containers from the Upper Deadfall Lake’s water and treated them with chemicals and then began a much slower slog with that heavy weight in my back for another 7 miles:

By this point I am hiking in the Shasta-Trinity national forest. Here is a view of what that forest looked like from the trail this afternoon:

I hiked 24 miles today for 23 miles of northbound PCT progress. This is my tent site for tonight:

This is my elevation profile for today. Note at at one point I had reached 7700 feet above sea level which is relatively high for this area:

I met 2 PCT hikers today – they were an elderly couple from Hawaii. They were doing a 900 mile section of the PCT southbound. We had a nice chat. I also met a day hiker or at Upper Deadfall lake when I was filling my water. I had a brief chat with her as well.