- Date: Tuesday June 23, 2015
- Miles hiked: 19.88 PCT
- Miles covered: 1227.37 to 1247.25 PCT
- Weather Report: Low 49, High 89. Sunny and warm to hot as we descended in elevation. Most of the day was hiking in the upper 70s to mid 80s with half shade.
- Wildlife seen: chipmunks, lizards, deer
- Mood of the day: A bit irritated but the swim at the end dramatically improved my mood
The sun came up far too early, and blasted right in my tent, which was facing a distant ridgeline. It wasn't even a nice morning warming wakeup call, more like someone turned the furnace on full throttle and shone a spotlight at my face.,, and it wasn't even 5:45am. Rude!
What's worse is that I was really wanting coffee, but I only had a bit under a liter of water for the next eight miles to the next reliable water source. Sigh, just like southern California again, so I made due with a Chocolate Chip Clif bar and a swig of water.
Today's plan was to head down from our 7000' campsite to the middle fork of the Feather River, take a swim, and maybe camp a mile or three further on, if we felt like it. We hitched up our packs and got going down the trail.
But just two miles away at the Quincy-La Porte Road we saw Legend waving us over for his "Ultimate Trail Magic Experience". His sister was there, and the two of them took our orders and served us pancakes and even made an omlette biscuit for me--and this was after I had two orange Fantas. Thanks guys, it was great.
We scooted down the trail, it was still 18 miles to the river, and after 10am. The PCT wasn't very scenic, just more-or-less heading along northwest trending ridgelines, and often paralleling logging roads with rumbling trucks. Not exactly wilderness, and we even came along a salvage logging operation in a small burnt patch of fores, big old yellow CAT loaders dragging around severed tree limbs into a big old heap.
After stopping at Alder Spring for more delicious cold spring water, we walked down the paved logging road for half a mile to rejoin the PCT (why the trail avoids the spring is beyond me--it's 800 feet off the trail). The day was getting hotter and the Douglas fir and pondo pine forest sparser and we all were sweating and cursing the trail engineers. We knew we were going to be dropping 3000 feet in elevation, so why put in these little piddly uphill chunks that last three or four hundred feet, especially when we just lose that altitude immediately after? Taylor speculated that "they just want to make sure we see all the trees", and yep we did. Apart from a beautiful quarter mile of strolling through a field of lupine and yellow daisies, it was generally unexceptional.
At the midday break around 2:30, with six miles from Ultimate Trail Magic and six miles to go down to the river, we took a break, and I checked out this nagging painful sore spot that had developed on my left heel. Guess what--it was a big old inch long blood blister, protruding a couple of millimeters, and super tender. I popped it and put Neosporin and Leukotape over it. I really need new shoes; the ones I've been wearing are going on 600 hard miles, up and over most all of the High Sierra passes with their snow, through ice-cold creeks, they've taken a hard pounding on the tough granite of Yosemite, and the paved stones of the Kumano Kodo in Japan. I will thank my shoes for their service when they're replaced in a few days in Chester... and deal with my blisters until then.
From our rest spot, did the trail go down to the river in a no-nonsense manner? Uh, no--it went up, and up, then around, then finally about four miles out it decided that "OK, time to finally start descending" and it went down and down, a bit overgrown with green leafy maples and dogwoods and a bit slippery from shiny oak leaves. The temperature rose to 85 or so, and there was little breeze, the sweat was dripping and I was just tired of the trail.
Then, finally, we got to the Feather River. Oh yay, I was last and semi-hobbling to lessen the blister pain that the naproxen didn't take away, and I walked across the high footbridge to the north side of the river. Sage and Taylor were already down among the rocks at the river, washing away the trail; I did the same after spotting a most excellent campsite a few feet back from the river. I had no intention of going on and wanted to rest my feet.
Both Sage and Taylor felt the same way--they were even more irratable than I was at the long tedious downhill, and said "yep, we're camping here, we're not dragging three liters of water uphill a few miles to camp at some jeep road pullout". Yay, and after a few minutes Flying Fish and Pika and two Swiss guys also joined us at the little camp.
I made dinner (Annie's Pasta Shells with Real Aged Cheddar) and cooked it in the pot, it was delicious and I swapped some for a taste of Sage's dinner. He cooks four meals, and rotates through them; tonight was "corn meal dinner with peppers and tomatoes" but it was far too spicy for me. Ah well. It's still a wonderful night, it's 10pm right now and still 70 degrees, and it's just nice to hang out in the tent (to avoid the few mosquitos and write and think about the next few days.)
Tomorrow's excitement will be taking a detour off the PCT to go to the Bucks Lake Resort for a burger and a shake, then get back on the trail (if we can walk) and camp a little bit beyond. It still looks like we'll get to Chester either early Sunday or even late Saturday, and I'm kinda looking forward to that and new shoes and a comfy room. For now, it's just one day at a time, and while the forest can get monotonous it's fun to hike with Sage and Taylor. Keeps things interesting, and helps those boring miles pass quickly.