So like over 2 months’ worth of PCT rn okay go

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It’s time to put this at rest…blogging for the PCT.  Reminded about this because I hung out with Whatever who hiked Oregon with me- I never finished this, it’s about time.  I love reading other hikers’ blogs and wanted to pay it forward a bit but…it’s hard!  I have a newfound respect for sure for those hikers that indulge.  I got super burnt out by the PCT and by the PCT I mean the whole culture of many of the people I met on the trail.  What I call the dude-brah phenomenon.

For those who nerd out and read about hikers, over the winter there was this whole to-do about “toxic masculinity” on the trail.  IDK, I think that words are powerful and they’s more fighting than healing words…I prefer to call it the dude-brah phenonmenon.  The dude-brah phenomenon is certainly not limited to those of the male persuasion, at least not what I witnessed (tho for sure, I definitely saw it more amongst guys, but there were more guys…IDK).  I started to witness even in the desert, it picked up a notch going into the Sierras, where I got off and hung in Bishop a few days to rest which is also where everyone was freaking out/being judgmental/being judged by if you did/did not go through at that time…HYOH was SOOOO discouraged last year and that was super f’ed up.  LEGITIMATELY PEOPLE DIED, HELLLOOOOO.  Let me remind y’all once again about Haiku’s #1 rule of thru-hiking: Don’t die.

I escaped these people for a bit when I skipped to Truckee and an area I felt more safe tackling, then when some of the early Sierra people started filtering through it came back full force.  I actually had on multiple occasions someone say, oh, you skipped Sierras and are coming back later?  Have fun on your section hike.  Whaaaa?  I don’t even know what to say, but this is not the type of camaraderie I’d like to be around.

I did meet some cool people tho as well coming into Oregon, especially the two Germans Chipmunk and Triple S.  I’m not sure if it’s because they were older as well.  My buddy Grouse/Quick Start from the AT joined me there.  The first day we actually got on trail (we dicked around in Ashland for 2 days first, haha) we managed a 30, as well as a momentarily sketchy side-trail adventure (already losing points with the purists club, well, F you, we had burgers and free beer), we were over it.  Since it was a heat wave (it hit 114 in Ashland a day or two later) and also sections were starting to get closed due to fires, we decided f it, 25ish/day is fine, let’s take 4 hour siestas by lakes.  Or trail magic with Cold Drinks.  During this time Grouse/Quick Start found her new name (she didn’t like her old names)…in trying to describe herself to other hikers, she was like, “You can call me whatever”…so obviously this became her name (Whatever).  Hahaha.  Classic.

The dude-brahs were a drag tho.  Example 1: Shelter Cove, all these dude-brahs bragging about how fast they are going and stuff they went through trying to outdo everyone else.  I’m standing in line at the grill talking to someone behind me, I feel someone bump into me.  My reaction is to push hands out, which land on a hiker who keels forward into the ledge, then sideways onto the ground.  Just straight passes out.  He came to right away but it was a heart-stopping moment for a sec.  Until he goes: “Huh uh…hey, yeah, so I’m probably low on electrolytes, I ran 20 miles here this morning in 3 hours…yuk yuk yuk.”  I mean, this guy actually just put his health at risk, and people are no lie, giving him high-fives.  Does anyone else think this is just terrible, or is it only me?

Soon after there’s another guy from this crew, an older dude trying to relieve his youth hiking with a pack of younger hikers.  He takes a break at a lake where Whatever and I have decided to siesta for a couple hours.  He makes some comments about how there’s no way he could siesta like we are, he’d just be thinking about how many miles he could have hiked during that time.  Riiiight.  He starts yammering about the Sierras and starts to grill me about it…I can tell he is about to be super judgmental about me skipping to do it at the end of the season by his other comments, I don’t even want to deal.  I say the Sierras were fine.  Which they were.  I hadn’t done much of them yet.  Imagine whatever you want dude, my hike isn’t your business.

Soon another older gent comes by and they start getting into this competition, as I guess only old dads can do, about the accomplishments of their sons.  “Well you know, my son just finished his post-doc in medical research…delayed his entry into the workforce you know, but starting at a salary of $200k a year isn’t too bad”…”Oh yeah, I know what you mean.  My son knew he wanted to be an engineer at age 5, so he accelerated his courses and had his doctorate by age 22”.  Yada yada yada.

Whatever comes over and shows me her phone.  On it she has typed: “These dudes suck.  Can we leave?”

We cut our siesta short by 2 hours (including not swimming as we’d planned and hike on.   I parody the dads.  “Well you know, my son’s so advanced, he actually lives in the future.  It’s been a little difficult for me on the trail, but not too bad.  I actually have stage 5 testicular cancer, but I’m managing.  Explains why my balls are bigger than yours tho.”

As soon as I say this we immediately have to take a pee break mid-trail.  It’s just too much.

Later we see two super cool hikers, Gutenberg (she’s a printer and has block-type tattoos floating up her arm, so cool) and JC (Jesus Christ, named for his sandals).  They’re sitting in the middle of a burn section by a tree.  “We have service here!”.  Ok!  Resume siesta.  Shit!  Then I spy that dude coming like gangbusters again.  We hear him yelling up to us.  “We have to lose him!”  I shout.  Whatever wants to get water just off trail at a lake so we hope we can hide and he’ll just pass us.  Then we hear him shouting at us asking if we see any girl packs.  Um, seriously WTF?  I’m like, yo, what’s a girl pack?  And he’s like you know, it’s smaller, some other nonsense.  I say there is actually not any discernible difference between a woman’s pack and a man’s…if he’s talking about why MY pack is small, it’s because I’m ultralight and my base is tiny, I don’t need a lot of room.  He gets angry and says he’s saying it because he found a girls’ rain jacket on trail and is trying to return it.  Oh yeah?  How does he know it’s a woman’s?  “Well, it’s pink.”

Y’all wanna slap anyone yet?  We decide to rename him Girl-Packs.

The trail gets closed at Fish Lake right after we pass through and as we are coming into Crater Lake there’s tons of smoke.  We apparently (along with a few other hikers) got on the wrong trail a few miles before, and the fire was about a mile west of that.  Neat.  When we got to the highway signs were posted that the trail we were just on, and north of there was closed…as was the alternate on the Rim.  The dude-brah purists decide to hike on the highway that has no shoulder and cars zipping by at 60mph…um, no thanks.  After a night and most of another day trying to figure out what to do, this trail angel gives us a ride to Diamond Lake where 4 of us girls just chill.  So much better.

I think actually Shelter Cove was after this part…few days later we opt to go into Bend, a town we both wanted to check out.  More issues with fires ahead, it’s still hot (Whatever is a lil less heat tolerant than I), tons of burn sections, it’s just kinda meh out here.  But Bend has fancy coffee shops and eateries (Wild Rose Northern Thai Eats is actually the best Thai restaurant I’ve ever been to outside of Thailand, primo and 100% authentic!).  We hitch back to the trail but then realize the guy is giving us a ride to Highway 20, instead of Highway 242.  The trail is closed north of Highway 20 anyway.  ugh.  Well, we hike like 2 super flat and pleasant hours to Big Lake Youth Camp, which is where we wanted to get anyway that night, for the buffet.  It’s a good thing we did, since it’s the last night for it apparently.  Rides around the huge Jefferson fire closure seem to be offered mainly here, it would have been difficult to get one at Hwy 20/Santiam Pass anyway.  A guy named Maverick might be able to get us a ride the day after next, but we manage to snag one from this other dude for the next day, along with a couple French hikers.

Ollallie Lake is a pretty remote place- no idea how we would’ve gotten a hitch here and most hikers we find out later aren’t able to, instead hitching to Highway 26 or even to Timberline Lodge or Cascade Locks.  Even the PCT at some point is like, there’s no way to get around this one.  It’s super chill there, and we have a good hike out after buying a snack or two.  Timberline I find is super overrated and this hiker there named GQ is tagging onto our group of Whatever and I pretty hardcore.  It’s very obvious he’s 1. kinda full of himself (red flags: software developer who can “live or work whenever/wherever I want”; says with a completely straight face, later explained to me because of his “shirt, general cleanliness and beard maintenance” that it’s “obvious” why he’s named GQ; thinks that Manayunk is the best part of Philly….um….nooope?) 2. interested in my hiking buddy, who by the way, has a boyfriend at home.  I feel like sometimes she can be a little oblivious to interest from men…this is a thing it’s been difficult for me to understand historically, when dudes are/aren’t interested in people, but this time it seems very obvious.  And she is super attractive, and also pretty chill/not giving AF.  The brunch at Timberline is just ok for me and they’re annoyed that I don’t agree with them I think.  Then we just keep hiking and hiking and hiking…20 miles clicks by and even tho I’ve requested a break I have to keep pushing to try to catch up with them.  I have a mini-meltdown around 6pm when we stop to get water and he still wants to do like 8-9 more miles for a, IDK, 34 or something?  I’m frustrated- he’s not in our group, why are we letting him dictate our hike?  The rest of the time we’ve been chillaxing.  I have my fear of abandonment issues, about how I’m always a person that people just bide their time with until they find something, anything better.  Whatever is like, I just assumed you’d take a break if you wanted one, which is not how we generally do things, but makes sense.  We hike maybe 4 more miles to a campsite up the hill, which is totally fine and still like 28 or whatever for the day including the time off @ Timberline.  I get my period soon after this night which makes sense why I’m PMS’y but I’m in a Mood until the border.

Once in Cascade Lakes I’m still in a Mood and worrying about time, I don’t want to stay overnight even tho I do.  Whatever decides to splurge on a little cabin hotel and I crash on the floor.  I find out I messed up my Canada border crossing application, and have to hitch to Hood River the next morning for the nearest fax machine.  I try to get a ride, this sketchy ass dude comes up, I explain as I’m standing next to Whatever.  He doesn’t look at me at all, only stares at Whatever.  I’m not sure what to do but I kinda need to get this done and I’m a tough girl sooo…?  Then he’s like, “Wait, she’s (pointing at Whatever) not coming?  I don’t knooowwww….”.  Wow.  Maybe turned down for a hitch for being too fugly.  WTF.  I say, never mind, I need to grab something else from the hotel.  Although again, not dead yet?

Again we dick around town but there’s not a ton to do.  Trail Days is starting later that day so I decide to stick around a bit…it starts up, it’s windy AF, all the vendors have their cuben tents flapping wildly in the wind and I feel like it’s not a great way to sell your stuff?  Thermarest takes my loaner pad (thank god, it sucked, tho grateful to have something) as they’ve sent me a new one (apparently old pad was unrepairable- this makes pad #4).  There’s really not a lot of things to do here tho and dude-brahs are approaching from all sides so it’s definitely time to split.

There’s a climb out of Cascade Locks but it’s moderated by tons of blackberries.  Couple days later I get a hitch to Trout Lake near some trail magic (22oz craft beers on ice, are ya kidding me).  Trout Lake has a great lil restaurant and super friendly people.  I decide I’m hitching back to Oregon for the eclipse, which everyone is super judgmental about (“I can’t imagine taking that time off, think how many miles you could do in that time!  You’ll lose the continuity!”) Unnngghhhh.  So.over.it.

Getting to the eclipse is probably the easiest thing ever.  I make a sign that says: “PCT Hiker to ECLIPSE” where I get all crafty and put a lil eclipse art after it.  I get a ride to Hood River after 10 minutes and then as I’m getting out of the car, another one pulls up and offers me a ride.  Score!

The second car has some kids in their 20s who are pretty chill, one of them really wants to go to the festival in Madras.  We first take a rest break by the Deschutes River at a picnic spot and it’s very, very dope.  Desert fun time!  With rivers!  I learned more about the Oregon Desert Trail while in Bend and this makes me really, really want to do that hike someday.  I’ll hit up the PCT sections that were closed in 2017 probably at the same time as well.  We get down to Madras but I see thousands of people over at the festival.  Think wistfully about that picnic site.  With a store across the street.  Yeah, big festival isn’t for me right now.  I get a hitch back with some drunk Native Americans coming back from a baptism in Vegas.  Drunk as in they are actively passing beers around the van, and the driver is drinking.  Um, well, it’s not SUPER far to Warm Springs?

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I get to the site and end up making friends with this dude who is a PCT trail angel.  He actually went to Trail Days offering rides to hikers, and no one wanted to take him up on it, all wanted to head to the border.  This might be the only time in our lives we see this phenomenon, WTF?  Anyway, he’s down with me camping behind his truck for protection (the state of OR decided to not enforce rules about no overnight camping during the eclipse).  The next day we drive north a bit on the highway and find a great site near the road and open desert.  I’m able to have my own space and do my own thing.  Yo!  The eclipse was definitely one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen in my life, I totally want to see the next one in the US in a few years.  The trail angel gives me a ride to Hood River and on the way back to Trout Lake I get a ride with a guy who gives me the ins and outs of mushroom hunting…apparently quite lucrative!  It’s pretty cool but then he starts going on about George Noory and Coast to Coast, and seeing if I’m a Trump supporter or not, so I’m pretty relieved to get out of the van and start hiking again.

Back on trail, hopefully with my diversion I’ll see some different people.  Washington ends up being full of pretty chill people and more importantly, some spectacular landscapes.  There’s some dude-brahs, but maybe the ones from trail days either got ahead of me or are still partying behind me because of Trail Days.  When I get to Snoqualmie it’s hot AF and hazy AF…another fire is approaching!  Ugh.  I decide to take the rest of the day off and try again tomorrow…it’s pretty easy to find other hikers to do the same thing- including this French girl and US guy that were on the hitch around Jefferson in Oregon, and Gourmet.  Frens!

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I’m the only one who wants to do the Goldmeyer hot springs alternate, of course.  It proves to be a clutch decision, as 1. so interesting to be on lightly maintained trail, with some sketch rocky sections, and then mosses and shit 2. it’s in the next valley over, so no smoke! 3. other access points to the hot springs are closed, so I have them all alone for a couple hours.  Incredible!  Definitely the best springs I’ve been to in the US so far.  Just don’t camp there, rodents are so bad.  I’d hike a mile to the bridge and camp on that.  The hike the next day back to the PCT was just incredible.  I find out later from hikers who did the normal route that it was pretty meh and not great views.  At Lake Ivanhoe I look up and see what looks like a mushroom cloud in the distance, cripes.  A couple days later there’s a 100 mile section of WA closed too due to the fire.

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Winding up towards the border…at some point I see Triple S again, yay!  I miss the side trail for a lake we were gonna meet up at for lunch tho…which was also where I was going to refill water, whoops.  1L for 20 miles, and a big climb at the end, yah, I was hurting.  When I finally got to the next source I chugged almost a L without filtering ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

When I got to Stehekin it seemed I caught up with Gourmet and Triple S, but unfortunately also a bunch of the dude-brahs…the other guy at my campsite got this girl loaded and had noisy sex with her while I was cowboy camped like 8 feet away.  Yoy.  I didn’t want to eat the overpriced food at the restaurant the night before so when the bus dropped us off at the bakery, I was like, you know what?  I’m’a eat here for a bit.  Again other hikers were being judgmental “you’re so close to the border?  How can you waste a couple hours???  Just get some cinnamon buns” but actually I think the food (like, actual food- curry chicken soup and salad and stuff) was the best food on the entire trail.  So fresh.  I had a great conversation with Reptar who I met in the desert.  He was working on a documentary of the trail, it was very refreshing.  Later that night I ended up camping where Triple S and other hikers were anyway.  Found a replacement washer for my water filter, score!

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The last few days to the border were pretty spectacular including a rainbow 5 miles before I crossed over.  I got to hang with Triple S which was great but with that main pack of hikers that included the super-annoying Girl-Packs.  I’m at the border too soon for my flight and have to stay 3 nights in Vancouver, during which time I shatter the face to my phone, but it still works?

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Get down to Sacramento on the plane where I stay overnight on hotel points and then take the Amtrak to Truckee…I super love taking trains and hang out in the cafe car where they have a guy giving interpretation and local facts.  In Truckee I get a hitch from a local who seems bored and buys me beer at the cafe near the trail…another hiker joins us and he gets beer as well.  I hike about a mile up the trail kinda drunked, yah…set up a super shitty campsite.

The next bit is just meh for me, Desolation Wilderness, I’m not feelin it.  Then I get my period- early, again!  Why do I not plan for this.  I have to get off trail and hitch to town early (was going to try to hold out to Sonora Pass) and I say F it.  It’s been super cold too so while in Lake Tahoe I buy some thicker leggings.  The next couple days I’m just not making the miles I want to- like 25s instead of 30s- and I’m just draaaaagggging.  Colder temps + All The Wind = no bueno.  Then I hear rumors of a snowstorm coming, great.  I have a resupply planned for Sonora Pass…supposed to start snowing later that night, it will definitely hit at that elevation at least a foot…ugh, what to do.  F it, I hitch to Bridgeport, I’m done.  I decide I’m quitting and going to hot springs, get a room at the hotel.  Aight.

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The next day after hitting up the hot springs and looking at the snow up out on the mountains (Travertine Hot Springs!  also super dope) I keep my eyes out for hikers.  I spot a guy and get a harrowing story.  He got caught in the storm and ended up hiking at night over the pass, because his tarp situation flooded and his down bag got soaked.  Blizzard-like conditions, he dropped his headlamp and also couldn’t operate his phone because his hands were too numb.  He decided to try to hike the couple miles to Kennedy Meadows North but then he knocked on the door of these guys camped in a tricked out bus and they let him crash.  He was super chill and a SOBO hiker from Washington.  We shared a room that night and the next day met Miguel who was this sponsored hiker from Mexico doing a long section.  I don’t even know how to explain his situation except that he had everything paid for by this retired rich guy, and then the dude decided to quit, but he was still gonna pay for him, so we all crashed his hotel room for free.  I decided to unquit and me and hiker #1 (I can’t remember your trail name!  Sorry!  But we IG frens, it’s all gutt).  We made it over the snow bit a good 15 miles…I didn’t want to start hiking at 5:30 the next am, so I never saw him again.

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Sierras were, uh, mixed.  I definitely liked barely seeing anyone on trail.  Between it being late season (mid-late September) and then the snowstorm clearing people out, it was pretty sparse.  All the cottonwoods or aspens or whatnot changing to yellow were super beautiful.I sang lots of Tori Amos with my earphone in, probably sounding like a maniac.  In Mammoth the trolley stopped running…I selected the Duck Lake alternate on the way back which was primo.  I got to the Muir Ranch turnoff a day too late to grab food there…disappointed, but kinda wanted to be done.  I got to stay in the Muir shelter on one of the nights with 3 other hikers which was pretty fun.  Each day started getting more and more windy, although very sunny.  But long tedious days trying to rush to Mt Whitney and Lone Pine so I could get back to LA for my flight.  I got over Mather Pass and then right after I got down to the S Fork of the Kings’ (where Strawberry died, wild!  It was ankle-deep at 9pm in early Oct) I dropped my phone on slickrock, recracked the surface, and it stopped working.   Nononononono!  No more easy maps, no more gps, no more I-conquered-Whitney-finale-pic.  Well, it fit tho.  This hike was about letting go of any and all expectations.

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Anyway the day with Glen Pass I saw a few more JMT’ers which it had been a couple days since I’d seen, a beautiful day really and the wind died down a bit.    Which was good because I also had to do Forester.  So happy I was doing it then and not in June which would’ve been socked in.  A long day the next (Whitney?  whatevs at this point PS I guess those Korean hikers didn’t understand to send me the pic they took of me) but I got into town late at night and had an underwhelming, but tasty post-trail celebration.  Felt a sense of confusion the next day- none of the other hikers were ones who’d finished there, there were a couple of SOBOs, mostly just random travelers- what am I doing here in Bishop again and civilization and all that?  I took the bus to Lancaster and then train to downtown LA where my friend Chris picked me up and returned me my trumpet but didn’t have time to hang due to a gig, so I sat in his house alone for 2 hours before I ubered back downtown to have Japanese hotpot and get drunk on wine and sake with my friends Erin and Jay.  Flew back to Philly, had a bizarre gig that night playing what I call “Mummers rep”, 2nd line tunes I don’t actually know, and some Balkan stuff on the street, find an apartment within 3 days, come back and it’s a lil like I never left?  Or I did, but so much is the same.  IDK, but I do feel a sense of relief here, the familiarity of things, the non-stress of LA or cruise ship pressures.  “How to eat a watermelon and be yo’self” sorta shiz.  I think it’s the right place for my home base, though I know I am done with the normal person life and need to have my adventure time still, at least in part.

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Civilization load-up

At some point Grouse/Quickstart and I stop giggling like we’re at a sleepover, and actually get to sleep.  In the morning we chat with Chipmunk and Triple S who were in bed by the time she got in last night.  Maybe we’ll see them later that day?  We make tentative plans to get a beer together that night.

By the way, Grouse/Quickstart doesn’t want to be called either of those names, she went by those two and a third one that I never learned on the AT, she didn’t feel any of them fit, so time to start over.  We hitch a ride to town with an expat originally from Rhodesia in a sweet old green Ford.  We get dropped off at Ruby’s which is a recommendation we’d had; they pretty much have one type of breakfast- burritos- but hey!  I love Mexican food so yay.  I confuse them by getting no eggs but scrambled tofu with meat sausage.  Also I get hyped up on coffee, I think Grouse-Quickstart (this is really getting annoying, hey?  But I feel like I should not use real names to keep a ‘lil privacy?) is getting juiced too.  She seems pretty amenable to whatever and I think it’s ok for her to not necessarily hike right away since she’s been working?  So today is pretty much planned to be a zero.  She has a reservation for the hostel tonight, which is where her first resupply and poles are.  Hopefully I can get in there too.

I want to make boxes for Oregon at least, maybe even Washington.  I read about this amazing place called Shop ‘n’ Kart in Ashland on Carrot Quinn’s blog, I want to go out thataways. In the meantime we wander around town and look at vintage clothes for real life in thrift stores and wander the Co-op for overpriced health food stuff.  Eventually tho I need to get this resupply jawn done.  When looking on the map I see that Goodwill is also in the same shopping center, along with another discounty store that might have groceries.  At some point we head over.  It takes us a little while to get a hitch, but not TOO long.  Goodwill is not that great, I can’t find a dress, but I do find a (to me) super boring but ok teal athletic shirt and short black running shorts, something I have never ever worn in my life.  I don’t even understand this, I have never hiked in shorts before.

At Shop ‘n’ Kart I nearly have a heart attack at the underpriced healthy snack types, and decide I’m resupplying for not just Oregon, but also Washington.  I buy the entire stash of Pamela’s grain-free Ambition bars, like 50 or 60 of them.  I take a long time…is Grouse-Quick Start annoyed?  IDK, it seems like she’s grabbing things she wants and doesn’t need either.  I also stop in this other store that’s basically Kmart of the 2010’s and buy lots of almond M&M’s and licorice Scotty dogs.  I think I will like this?  Later I end up throwing all of them out.  Why do I always have too much food?

At some point we get back to the hostel, hang out with other hikers, go out to try to find the Germans, but they aren’t there, get dinner anyway.  I totally have hiker hunger and feel sheepish.  Ok, well at some point tomorrow we will hike!

What actually happens is not hiking for much of the day again.  Buy more things at Safeway.  Then get my new backpack from the post office and then mail all my boxes which takes some time.   Then ice cream because why not.  Then hitch to UPS because I remembered at the last minute Shelter Cove won’t accept USPS packages.  The lady who gives us the UPS hitch is awesome- she also gives us a ride to Callahan’s, where we promptly don’t start out for the trail, but eat spaghetti.  The owner offers us a ride to the trail (we missed like 1 mile, sue me) and then at maybe 7:30 we actually hike a mile before setting up in this super mosquito-ridden spot on the side of a meadow with some other hikers.  Oh well, better than nothing!  I do admit that I’m pretty relieved to not have to worry about resupply for the rest of my time, I 95% used maildrops on the AT, it was so much easier/stress-free than my mixed strategy so far on the PCT.

Ashland yiup

Haha another title I don’t even understand.

Today should be pretty good, looked like a nice downhill into town.  I hit a small patch of snow and that nice Sheep Spring within the first hour, where I saw some other hikers.  Of course they all passed me, oh well.  But then I was alone, except for the TONS of weekend dayhikers out to see wildflower wonderland.  I was too eager to get to town to take pics but it was great!  Except I kinda wanted someone to give me props for being a PCT hiker, but I think no one knew bc I wear a dress, and have a small-looking pack.  Ugh.  Even as dirty as I was which you could see in the border pic from yesterday.

I reaaaally wanted to get to town so started zooming on the downhill.  However, there were distractions!  About halfway I hit a perma-trail magic with a cooler full of sodas and a lounge chair!  Don’t mind if I do!  Also I had reception so I sent some txts to 2 of my friends.  Not really sure what the plan is for tonight, but I saw there was a hot springs and it was cheap and I luuuuurve hot springs.  There’s a hostel also but not sure if it’s booked.

Ok- resume zooming!  Except, again a distraction, there was a water faucet in another couple miles with a picnic table and again reception.  I don’t know why I was wanting to text today- maybe it was getting into Oregon?  IDK.  I ate jelly beans for way too long and finally set off again, maybe at like 3 or 4pm.  I got to the Callahan’s turn off path which was a lil sketch, but actually just fine- just a lot of overgrowth.  I learned later that a lot of hikers don’t do that alt bc HIKE EVERY SINGLE STEP ON THE PCT TO CANADA!  For me, oh pleaaaaase.  IDK, you do you, but don’t judge me.  I like my Adventure Time when I can take it thankyouverymuch.

When I got to the road Triple S and Chipmunk were there trying to hitch.  Yay!  They had already been to Callahan’s and said it was meh.  Also- the hostels were full, bummer- but luckily they were down with my hot springs idea. Yay, Europeans!  Other Amerikanski’s didn’t seem too thrilled by the hot springs.  I didn’t want to go straight there tho bc I was super hungry and wanted to get some shopping done if I could.  They already ate.

We managed to get a hitch from a friendly outdoor adventures type lady.  I called the hostels but they were both full, so made plans with the boys to meet at the hot springs later.  I asked if I could get dropped off in town.  Went into an outdoor store and bought a new canister, but couldn’t even concentrate for whatever else I needed so went downstairs to a Thai restaurant.  I had a huge bowl of Tom Kha AND Pad Kee Mao which tasted amazing but was way too much.  So I went outside and was trying to figure out what to do, I literally could not even sit up bc bloatathon.  Maybe there was some MSG going on, who knows.  Sometimes rice f’s me up too.  So I’m lying down on this park bench taking pictures of the hippies

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bc I literally Can’t Even and then this lady is like, uh, are you ok?  Great, I am being mistaken for a homeless person.  Except, I’m not!  It’s a lady who works at Seiad Valley, who recognized me from 2 days ago.  She had just driven some hikers from SV up to Ashland who I guess were skipping?  I was really surprised how many people were trying to skip that section.  It was hot and a lil smoky, but not THAT bad.  Plus I think uphills are the Worst (most hikers think downhills are the Worst) but even I did it without a crazy amount of fuss.  U-du-U.  Anyway I guess the dress gave it away.

“My mom said, ‘Does that girl know she has a bunch of holes in the butt of her dress?’  I told her probably, and it likely doesn’t matter either way.”

Word.  Tho I was about to get a new outfit since there were additional holes higher up giving me slight pack sores.

Anyway she said she could give me a ride to the hot springs, which were located out of town, in about an hour.  I basically laid there digesting and then we were good to go.

The hot springs outside Ashland were pretty much the perfect way to get into the local vibe.  I got checked in by a dude with a giant straw hat with feathers in it, who was also wearing a t-shirt about medicinal mushrooms, and a sequined skirt (also no shoes).  He gave me the lowdown and then I went over to set up my campsite.  I saw Triple S’s and Chipmunk’s tents so setup near them.  The “hot springs” were just a big pool that was heated, not even that hot really, but I still dug.  I like to go nude usually at hot springs but it was a weekend and a billion people and co-ed, eh, meh.  To be honest a lot of people there who were subtly checking each other out, especially pervy old men and women.  I hate that so was glad I left sports bra and underwear on.  Eventually I got out, grabbed a sparkling water from the snack shop and then went over to my camp.  I saw that I’d gotten a text from Quickstart/Grouse, she was down to camp at hot springs!  Yay!  Finally she came and we spent first night cowboy camped and giggling and being silly, catching up.  I was very stoked to have a hiking partner for the first time really.  We will see if it works, I was nervous because her group was very fast, I caught up with them in towns mostly.

 

 

 

 

South of the Border

And north too, just barely.

In the morning I wanted to get up early-ish, get some miles done, and see if I could catch up to the Germans/definitely get into Oregon.  6-something?  I forget.  Definitely walking by 7.  Kinda ridgy walking and then down to some wetter areas with lotsa vegetation, some wildflowers, streams, etc.  I want to say I saw at least one of the Germans but just as they were leaving.  Manuel, meanwhile, was behind me, not even up when I’d left in the morning.  Only other thing I remember was listening to Deltron3030 like 4 times in a row.  I think there mighta been some Outkast too.

A bit different day, in the late afternoon there was even a marshy area.  Cool.  About a mile from the border there was a cabin just off-trail, but I was loosing steam and thought there was a good chance I was going to camp at the border for 25.7 mile day, I was a little zonked.  So I didn’t check.  The next day I found out from the Germans that there was trail magic- sodas and sandwiches!  Arrrrgh!  I shoulda checked, oh well.  In the meantime the mile uphill to the border, not even that steep, seemed like the worst thing ever.  I took a $hitty selfie, you’re welcome.

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Kinda grub-a-thon in this pic, I like it?  Dress was for sure on its last legs and I was looking forward to thrift store hunting with Grouse/Quickstart for a new one in Ashland.

Saw that I was only like a week behind Gourmet and Godongo, which was cool.  I remembered that Gourmet said she was going to go off trail maybe to hang with her bf.  Maybe I’d see them again?

Anyway I basically was looking at this point for the next campsite to call it a night.  Got to a road where there was a “campsite”- I usually am not super freaked about camping near civilization but this one had absolutely no shelter at all.  I sat there and cooked dinner and the wind picked up- nope.  Couple streamlets ahead I was hoping for something didn’t have a spot either.  Finally there was a nice area I want to say 2 miles from the border, it was a bit before Sheep Spring which was where I think the German guys had wanted to get to.  Really nice tentsites that I don’t think were on Guthook, not seeing them anyway.  It was a little early for me, maybe like 7, but I called it.  There was a group of guys who came later and seemed like they wanted to camp, but then I was already there…IDK.  I mean, I don’t care about sharing campsites.  But they parked themselves far away on the other side of the trail where there wasn’t anything really great (where I was there were like 5 tent sites).   Oh well not my problem.  Ashland tomorrow!!

Seiad Valley Death March Uphill

The next morning we all get up at a reasonable time and start the slog.  I head out first bc I am prolly slower anyway.  Also, I really really want to try swimming-fording the Klamath in a neoair!  Which I read about on some blog.  IDK if that’s a good idea this year, what with all the rain, but it would be super fun to check it out.  Mostly today is a roadwalk, which is fine with me- I love roadwalks!  I am seriously the only idiot who is considering to hike the CDT mostly because I heard there’s a lot of roadwalks, and I love them.  Why do I hike opposite of everyone?  Anyway I get my jams on, and then my REAL jam on.  Oh, yeah.  All the blackberries in history ever are on this road and I stop eleventy billion times to eat all of them.  The Bigfoot crew passes me on the way and gives me a super stale cookie.  I feel bad but I can’t eat it, I toss it and trade for more blackberries.  Just as I get to the connection from one road to the bigger main road, where we will walk 2 miles up to a bridge and cross the Klamath, then 2 miles back, Chipmunk catches up.  I feel sheepish and don’t want to drag him into my sketchy river crossing adventure, I’m uncertain if he’s down for that.  We have another good chat.  I like talking to adults with brains and who have actual introspective qualities.  Have not been exposed to people like this in a looooong time, especially after working on the cruise ship last year, and hiker bros (male/female) of this year.  Talking to Chipmunk makes me realize I need to be more adult tho.  I feel like I haven’t worked through my dirt again.  I guess we all need to do it and it never ends, but still.

We get to the cafe where everyone is there ordering food.  Man, some of the best food on trail thus far- maybe a top 5 contender.  And, one of my major trail landmarks happens- I meet Optimistic Turtle!  OT aka the Original OT as I like to call her (very sideways reference to the best rapper of all time, obviously Ol’ Dirty Bastard) is I think maybe the most trail-famous person out here this year?  At least among hikers (lay people all talk about Dixie and I just don’t want to hear about it based on couple interactions and something that happened to a friend of mine out here…..anywhoooo)

Anyway when I find out it’s OT, and I’m like, “Yooooooooo!  OMG, I am a huge fan of your Guthook comments, you hooked us up with the only campsite in a couple miles/hours either side that night when we had the earthquake near Truckee”.  Yeah, this is totally not a way to scare people.  Anyway, we’re hikers, it’s all good, everyone laughs.  She is coming up with some complicated flip flopping plan and I’m like, yo- just hike north!  Stop flipping, it’s too confusing for everyone!  Again laughter.  I end up seeing OT quite a bit in Oregon as it turns out.  We also learn that there was 25 fires started by the storm 2 days back, that’s what all the smoke is.  It’s not on the PCT, at least not now.

As usual people are having a hard time leaving, there’s a little vortex bc as it turns out it’s stupid hot.  I’m looking back at the weather and it was around 100F.  So of course Triple S, Chipmunk, and I set out to climb like 12 miles uphill, at 12 noon.  We agree to just hike a little and stop at the first water which is maybe 2, 3? miles up, part of which is a roadwalk.  Just to break the vortex.

It’s just stupid hot, partially because there is still some humidity hanging out in the valley.  Chipmunk decides to push on at the spring.  Triple S and I hang for a while but after an hour or so he heads off too.  It’s just stupid hot tho, I just am not in the mood.  I finally head out around 3.  It’s pretty sunny and not a lot of cover.  I do like I did back at Castle Crags and eat jelly beans every half mile or so for the next two miles.  I put Miş Miş on repeat and try to figure out the lyrics, which are in Turkish, which is a language I don’t speak, at all.  Hope I don’t see a rattlesnake in all the brush near the trail.  It is just hot and there is a ton of smoke out in the distance, the whole sky is a haze.  I have a really good picture of this, but it’s on my phone which I broke after doing Mather pass later on in the Sierras.

I decide to say F this and stop at the next spring, which is located precariously, literally on the side of a rock wall, on a little side trail.  Who even found this water location?  There’s a big dead tree to provide some shade and I hang out here for a whole hour, cooking dinner and just cooling off.  Finally I get going and there is some really beautiful ridge hiking.  A couple hikers pass, guess they’ve places to go.  I plop myself on a saddle and enjoy the sunset.  I think about cowboy camping there but I don’t know I’m into the possible wind there.  I think this is the day I end up camping at Kangaroo Spring, a spring I didn’t end up actually finding (I didn’t need water anyway, I just wanted some windbreak).  Manuel is there and I think a little freaked out someone is setting up at like 9pm?  Whoops, sorry, that’s how I roll.

Hiking buds and bigfoot magic

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In the morning I wake up.  All the teeny hail/rain has dried up and it’s easy to stash my tarp (PS- that was the, what, like 5th time I’d set it up this summer?  3rd?).  I have a general order that I pack my stuff up and usually my spare trekking pole (the one not supporting my tarp) is the last one to go in my hand.  I grab it and immediately notice something is wrong.  It’s completely gnawed up.  WTH?  It was right next to my groundsheet while I was sleeping, I didn’t even see anything.  Ew.

Well, yet one more way my trekking poles don’t match each other (I broke one last year coming off of Dragon’s Tooth on the AT, which was a totally stupid place to be using poles- it’s more of a climby scrambly thing, and got an old model Fizan donated to me by a lovely trail angel).

There’s a small up I think then a down?  I lose Chipmunk on the up but I know probably he will be waiting up at the Marble Valley tentsite which was originally where I wanted to go; he usually takes breakfast a bit up the trail.  Lots of lush vegetation today!  I’m feel like I’m going in slow motion a little bit, it sounds like I wasn’t too far behind.  As we are taking a break another hiker comes up and tells us about his ordeal yesterday- he said he was at the camp around 4:30 when the storms blew in- he got hailed on twice, with golf-ball sized hail in the first storm!  I feel vindicated?

I forget a lot about today which I guess is understandable being that I’m writing it about 5 months after the fact.  One thing I noticed is that I’m only writing memories of what I did, but not so much about the inner life, the sudden realizations about life, about mental programs, etc that one has day to day on the trail.  I think when I hike next year I will try again to be more consistent, actually writing on trail at least some notes if not a full post.  Plus!  There’s like 3 blogs on the AZT.  So hopefully it could be useful to someone.  Anyway, maybe today was the day of epic wildflowers?  It might have also been the eriogonumists day tho.  I remember coming through this field on the side of a mountain and freaking out with all the flowers.

Hey!  Actually, in general- Northern California was super dope.  I feel like when I read trail accounts people were like, yo- desert is hard and dry and meh, just get thru it.  Sierras ARE THE BESTEST!  Oregon is Boregon.  Washington is a’ight.  Like, NoCal just didn’t even get mentioned at all.  But Hat Creek Rim was amazing, the Marbles are amazing, Castle Crags was amazing.  Even with monster period cramps!  Just sayin’.

Anyway at some point later in the day I catch up to Chipmunk who is kinda my hiking partner right now (miracle of miracles) and also Triple S who are both super cool German dudes.  Triple S wants to go to this campground 6 miles before Seiad Valley, we we can resupply and/or eat a giant breakfast at the cafe.  Chipmunk is real chill and accommodating of my turtleness.  I can see he wants to go tho I say tentatively let’s get to the next tentsite and see how we feel?  Coz it’s a big day, 31 miles if we do it all.  I can do that in the desert bc it’s more flat and heat is good for me but once there’s more climby stuff it’s harder.  For me anyway.  We get to one last tentsite by a bridge and pretty much do or die, there’s not anywhere else guaranteed to stop.  It’s humid as anything, where am I, the East coast?  Blegh.  Ok let’s do like 5 more.

This last section just sucks because three things are happening:

  1. There is some nasty fire somewhere and it’s actually a lil smoky and not great to breathe
  2. There are a lot of overgrown brambles.  Pretty much once we were out of the desert this year there was a ton of blowdowns, but this is more annoying overgrowth, encouraged by all the water this winter no doubt
  3. There are a million billion microhills in this section.  PUD-time!  Updownupdownupdownupdown

I keep up with Chipmunk the first mile or two but then lost him.  It gets pretty dark and I can barely see the stream I grab water from before the campsite.  But finally I get there and guuuuuessss what!  There is traiiiiil magiccccc!  We meet some triple-dipple hikers (what do you call hikers who have hiked everything?  IDK).  I am sorry I forget the other dude’s name, you gave me your business card (yes, he had a hiking business card), but I’m ultralight and trash stuff like that?  Wait, there’s the internets.  Ok!  His name was Wildcat and I see from his blog that the other guy’s name was Steady- which I recall now.  They were thru-hiking the Bigfoot Trail (which like 5 people had thru hiked so far).  They said in some sections of trail they were going like 1/4 mile an hour through totally overgrown brush.  Anyway they were super chill, and hanging out with one of their’s wife (PS apparently my grammar is out the window) who was resupplying them from an RV.  I actually didn’t get that she was 100% thrilled to be there?  Maybe she just thought they were nuts for wanting to do that.  I get that.  We’re all pretty nuts to be out there.

Anyway after a glass of Dewar’s (! seriously) and some conversation I padded off to my sleeping setup and passed out.  Seiad Valley tomorrow!  Almost in Oregon!

Franconia Ridge redux

The cafe in town is so sweet!  Good coffee, nice little sandwiches.  We all get seconds of everything.  This one dude heading SOBO that seems to have hit it off really well with Chipmunk is heading out, everyone is bummed since they have a really good connection.  Sorry I forgot your name, you were cool!  I think Chipmunk and I managed to break the vortex a little earlier than some others and decide to try to hike together.  He is a cool dude who is one of the only other people out here in mid 30s land (he was also 35 I think).  Kinda f’ed up since he came out here ready to mash miles from Sierra City to Canada (even tho his true love was biking)- his GF of 9 years was doing a thru and already did the Sierras- but when he got here she basically broke up with him immediately and was acting super irrationally.  They hiked for a couple days together then split up coz I guess she “needed” to do like 35s and 40s or whatever.  Hence, why when I first met Chipmunk he was drinking some beers at Drakesbad (she left him the day before).  Anyway with all this junk that just happened to him he was really a positive guy.  Really an inspiration.  I get too moody and complainy, I know.  Well, they say write what you know.  It’s what I know best, you know?  Whine and roses.

The trail is just soooooo awesome, each day better and better.  The wildflowers are on point, we are on this awesome ridge, views and flowers and granite everywhere.  At some point we sorta notice these clouds in the distance.  Then the sky gets darker.  And clouds are closer.  Then it starts to thunder and rain.  We are going up in elevation towards some sort of ridge, and I am starting to get really nervous.  He is cautious but not as nervous as me.

This is why.

Once upon a time, which was an actual time that once was upon, I was hiking the AT, in the Whites, coming up to Franconia Ridge, which as usual I didn’t know exactly what that was other than some sorta mountainy thing that was a bit exposed.  Storms in the Whites tend to come in the late afternoon.  I see my friends Badger, Grouse/Quickstart, and Round 2.  We discuss the day’s weather prediction- the storm is supposed to be around 3-4.  It’s like 12:30.  It’s bright and sunny.  There are 4 relatively easy miles to cover, maybe.  No problem.  Actually, I see now on the picture that cloud was kinda gnarly looking.  Whoops.13872750_10104247965664633_5634550180302158117_n.jpg

They get ahead of me and then I come out into the open, out from the forest, and start heading up the trail filled with dayhikers up towards Lafayette.  Within 15 minutes an electrical storm has blown in.  Thunder and rain on me, lightning on nearby ridges.  There is nowhere to hide and the slickrock is slick.  I know there is a side trail somewhere to a hut a mile off trail but I miss the turn anyway.  Finally I get into a forested area just as it lets up for a bit.  Get another mile or so out of the way before the downpour really starts in earnest.  I know we are not supposed to stop and “stealth camp” that early but fuck it, this weather sucks.  I set up at like 3:30 for the night and do the super steep Mt Garfield in the morning.  I later find out Round 2 also missed the turn, and that Badger and Grouse/Quickstart DID take the side trail, which was crazy steep and bouldery, and were in really bad moods since both didn’t agree upon it.

Anyway I swore I wouldn’t let that happen to me again if I could help it, so all this was going through my head as we headed up into a forest of dead trees.  Eventually we came out on a ridge again and there were at least patches of trail with tree cover.  The storms were threatening, but confusing.  We saw another hiker with his tarp pitched at the last of some trees.  We decide to push on to a campsite in our app.

When we get there we’ve done like 20 miles.  There was a campsite in 5 more that originally I was more into getting to than Chipmunk, but I don’t have a great feeling about this and want to stop.  I say let’s at least eat dinner first and decide.  Chipmunk is kinda up for going some more, especially when the other hiker who we saw with the tarp- Triple S (Super Sonic Seahawk) comes up and hangs out for a few.  Ugh, I *want* to go, but I also don’t.  It ends up starting to rain and mini-hail or freezing rain for a bit later on, though I guess not really that bad?  I feel ok with the decision for me but I hate that once again I’ve slowed people down.  What can I do.

 

A not great day plus a gradually better one

Well, actually it STARTS out pretty good.  Beautiful sunup, nice cruising trail on a ridge.  I’m feeling ok at first for a few miles, until I’m not.  My leg was a little stiff yesterday, it’s even more stiff.  And starting to be stabby.  In the other leg too.  Uggggh.  I start to slow down, long legs passes me.  I go to change my pad again and realize I’ve blown through a whole pack (guess there were only 10 in it) in just over 2 days.  Nonononono.  I don’t even know what I’m going to do, the one I’m wearing is already full.  I met a group of girls who are thru hiking together with a dog that just joined them recently, that’s cool.  They don’t have a stash.  I let them push ahead.  By this time I know what I’m going to have to do- hitch into town (luckily there is a road in a few miles) and resupply my ‘snatch.  Ughhhhh.  In such a crappy mood.

I also feel super embarrassed about this and since they are all dudes up behind I really am not in the mood to explain to them that I’m getting off trail for a minute to deal with my metrorrhagia.  So I try to hitch but keep an eye on the trail behind so that when someone comes by I act like I’m just taking a break.  A real low point.

I do manage to get a ride after about half an hour tho.  Get some pads @ gas station.  Get a microwave burrito.  Mope.  Get back on the trail and end up night hiking.  Not a good day.

The next day is really beautiful but I am just not into it which is a shame, bc it’s the Trinity Alps!  I got up early, I’m a little sleep-deprived, I just want to get into town.  I manage to get there just as the post office is closing, which is a good thing bc my replacement gaiters are there (I somehow lost one all the way back in Bishop) and a new charger!!!  I do a kinda lousy resupply at the grocery store/dollar store, I have ramen this time which I am not happy about even though they taste good- I try to limit wheat/dairy to trail magic + towns only.  But there isn’t much else to eat, the potatoes were all cheesy ones.  Get some food, a lil better.  See some hikers enroute to the town camp, better still, there’s a ton of blackberries on the way to the camp, okay okay.  I see Chipmunk and some other people I know, Chipmunk and I decide we want to grab coffee the next morning, but head out earlyish.  He had tried to hitch out and couldn’t get a ride and we heard it’s easy to get one in town the next day, people come to the coffee shop to see if anyone needs a ride.  I shower and charge up and it’s time for bed.

Super-stoker eriogonumists

Today is another day of a whole lot of beauty.  Maybe one of the best days on the PCT so far- a couple totally different environments.  The morning is, well, I guess craggy.  Granite and bushy little plants I don’t know the names of and spruces.  I see deer a couple times on trail.  I stop a couple times in the morning because it looks like period has picked up with a vengeance- what is going on?  Ugh.  At least as it warms up and I get 10, then 12, then 17 (!) miles in before lunch the cramp part is dying down.  I meet some other hikers up the trail who had left camp before me as they are stopped- one is repeating the trail which he hiked 40 years ago!  yikes.  Of course a big, “it’s so much easier now, back when I was a kid….blah blah blah”.  Ok.  I get it, we have a lot more infrastructure.  I guess you really can say it IS easier now.  We know this.  You don’t have to rub it in.  Everyone else in the group is talking about going up to this lake in a few miles for lunch.  I’m like, borderline hangry, but see if I can make it, even though it would be 20 miles without a decent-sized stop for me.  Push by a water source that’s dry and another that’s meh that were my original lunch stop ideas, finally there is water like 16 or 17 miles into my day and I set up my ground cloth in a really sketchy spot right next to the trail and by a big slope.  Don’t care have to take a break.

I get to the trail after everyone else has long passed (if they weren’t already ahead).  I don’t see them when I get to the lake anyway.  Ugh.  I later learn that they were there but way off to the side, and that some of them just stopped for the day.  Well, it WAS pretty sweet but I wanted to get to Ashland in like a week in time to meet/hike with my friend.

Keep going.

I passed some pretty cool lakes and though I was tempted to stay, I was feeling better and wanted to keep pushing.  Got to a trailhead around 4 and there were tons of cars and people wandering around!  Whaaaaa?  Yes, that’s right.  The International Eriogonum Society was in town.  Freaking out about all the wildflowers out and about this year after the heavy winter.  Apparently all over the West wildflowers that they’d never seen before were growing all over the place.  Anyway these botanists had come from all over the world to check it out.

Here are some fun facts I learned:

  • Eriogonums are the “true” buckwheats (I dispute this fact but these guys were real passionate-like)
  • Eriogonums are so named for their wooly/hairy (erion) joints (gonu-)
  • Eriogonums are found only in North America, specifically the West.
  • When Eriogonum flowers are pollinated, they start to turn from a white color to a more yellow, and gradually red color.
  • They grow in harsh arid environments, like deserts and dry mountains with crappy soils.
  • Butterflies love Eriogonums!  So much that sometimes they eats them (the caterpillars)
  • There’s more than 250 species of Eriogonums!

I was really into this but the guy didn’t seem to appreciate my level of interest despite mentioning I used to be in environmental science.  Later on one of the girls I met earlier in the day came by.  She mentioned she was a range ecologist.  Well, she also was young and beautiful, 6 feet tall with long blond hair.  She didn’t seem super into those guys at the time but once I spoke up the guy started talking with her animatedly.  I decided to leave since I’d been there a bit and they were ignoring me at that point anyway.  A couple hours later she caught up and told me they invited her to hang out with them tomorrow!  I mean, I guess I was on a schedule but I was still jealous.

The land changed to some really arid landscapes, almost desert like.  The soil got very orange, red even with my sunglasses.  Suuuuper cool.  One of the guys from yesterday passed me but then set up camp and was in his tent by the time I got to his camp.  He was parked at maybe 5:30pm!  Too early!  I hiked a bit more and that was when the girl Long Legs caught up with me.  She really was quite sweet despite my stupid “getting passed over” program being activated again.  I found out a bit about what a range scientist is (basically an ecologist who works in land that’s at least 50% open rangelands), there are only 5 programs in the country for it.  She said she’s just been floating around from job to job- she could get something better paying/stable whenever she wanted, but she was having “too much fun” doing all these different USFS gigs.  Super cool but again my program was tweaked- why can’t I ever find something rewarding like that?  I haven’t been hired for a job that wasn’t a gimme, and that they would take ANYONE for, in 8-9 years at least.  And those jobs sucked.  I’ve probably applied for about 100 USFS/USGS jobs over the years (yes, I do have a degree in Environmental Geology, with concentration in water/wetlands management) and never have even gotten a letter back.  Regrets about things I can’t control popping up.  Ugh get over it.

She passes me, cruising along without using trekking poles.  I do at least manage to get to the saddle we’re shooting for not too long after her.  My 31 mile day is dimmed by the 36 she just did.  Sigh.  At least there’s a lil spring, and a great sunset.  Need to take THAT part more seriously and all the rest a bit less.

The best campsite on the PCT!

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Originally this was called “A hot slog and beauty bits”.  Wow, what even is that title?  Haha.

Today there is a big ol’ climb out of Castella up to the Castle Crags.  It sounds like there’s a little buzz about the crags so I’m very intrigued to see what’s up with them.  First one passes through the state park with an interpretive center.  It seems like there is some other trails, I opt for the nature trail route back up.  I have to rebel, sue me.  It *looks* like it will join up?  It does, but first I find an outhouse which also was indicated on the trail, and poop while calling Thermarest to get ANOTHER replacement for my NeoAir (the valve keeps busting after like 8-900 miles).  I never seem to be in town when they are open to call them so taking advantage of the cell phone signal.

I head up the trail, see Chipmunk by a stream eating breakfast.  He ended up going into Dunsmuir so I caught up, yay!  I go ahead but end up getting passed by him and Manuel from France while I decide it’s time for lunch…at 10 oclock?  I am slow this morning after a fast start.  There is this big uphill exposed section everyone is fretting about, basically it seems like you need to get through it early or wait.  I should go but I dick around.  Lots of other hikers pass.  Finally reading in the Guthook comments how this particular stream has been the haunt of two mountain lions sometimes I get my butt up to start walking.

Period hasn’t been too bad today, surprisingly.  I’ve had some cramps but ok?  The good thing is it hasn’t been too heavy, it seemed to back off.  Famous last words.  I head up to the last water source before the exposed section, it’s like 12 something, maybe even almost 1.  F it, I’m staying here, low energy and why……just seems stupid to slog it in the heat.

I get some more water at the source and head a little further back to check out a supposed second source- it is seriously, this super-dope chillin spot.  A tiny pool has formed, with one area deep enough to submerge in, shaded just enough by some trees, there’s a rock that’s a perfect lounge rock, a mini-waterfall, primo!  Also you can’t be seen from the trail, it’s a ways back, even from people at the first water source.  Everyone else has hiked by it seems, f it.  Sunbathing and skinny dipping!

I hang out in/near the water for a while and then take a nap under my bug net.  The sun moves and wakes me up, maybe at 3:30 or 4 I head out.  Again it’s one of these 2mph or less slogs, I take a break for Organic Jelly Beans Of Power.  Right near the top of the climb two MIGs or something buzz me from overhead.  WTF.  Like, they are maybe 300 feet above the treeline, doing crazy turns through the mountains.

This area, Castle Crags, is just super beautiful.  The plants are changing here to more knobbly spruce types and tiny shrubs.   I’m not in a huge hurry.  I read about a campsite with a signal and epic view, sounds good enough for me.

I get there and it is just jaw-dropping, an amazing, amazing view of Shasta in the distance.  Lots of other hikers there enjoying it.  18 miles today but whatevs.  Cramps are back by evening pretty gnarly so I bundle up and hope the warmth of my bag will help.