- Date: Saturday June 27, 2015
- Miles hiked: 15.57 PCT
- Miles covered: 1313.25 to 1328.82 PCT
- Weather Report: Low 61, High 91. Sunny and hot with very few breezes, and a touch humid. Most of the day was hiking in the mid 70s to upper 80s with half shade.
- Wildlife seen: chipmunks, lizards, deer, and a single garter snake
- Mood of the day: Feet hurting. Get it done.
Not really much to talk about today: it was a short little bump up, then a long walk across a ridge just above 7000 feet, then a drop down to 5000 feet and the busy highway into Chester.
Once again, it was weirdly hot and humid overnight, with a faint hint of sprinkles that made me wake up in a panic about an hour after falling asleep. Should I put the rain fly on the tent? Will it go away? I fell asleep before I decided, too tired after yesterday's semi-death march to care much.
Today was relatively easier: 5 miles of gradual uphill to Butt Mountain (hee hee, and yes, that's its name), then 10 miles down, and a little mile at the end uphill. Junior offered to amble down the hill to the spring and fill up all our water bottles ; Sage and I packed and ate breakfast. I have five dinners--one package of Idahoan Garlic Mashed Potatoes, two couscous boxes, two Knorr pasta dinners--but just four "snack" items. I tried to decide what was for breakfast--the two Clif nut bars with chocolate and sea salt? A Cool Mint Clif bar? Or the beef jerky? Finally I decided that I needed calories and made the mashed potatoes for breakfast, with a heaping spoonful of milk and a tablespoon-plus of olive oil. It cooked up real fast and was tasty and a good 700 calories or more, which is what I'm needing to start the days now.
Sage took off, with Junior and I trailing him about ten minutes behind. It took a long while for me to feel warmed up, three miles or more, and all the while my feet were complaining, particularly the outside of my heels where the blisters haven't fully gone away. Today I get new shoes, which is a big yay, but I get to suffer the last 16 miles in these crappy deflated beasts, and I could feel the hurt with every step as I pronated up the trail. The trail itself was dull for those first miles, just forest with a bit of blowdowns to scramble around. Junior and I both were pretty quiet, we had this thing called "Town" on our minds and beer and Ben and Jerry's and milkshakes.
After cresting at some 7500 feet, the trail headed east along a volcanic ridge for a few miles, with some breezes that we were thankful for as the temperatures climbed to around 80 degrees. We were wondering "OK, trail, what are you trying to show us now??", but apart from a mildly interesting volcanic knob we saw nothing but the rolling soft hills of the Sierra--though there was a singular perfectly framed view of Mt Lassen, the southernmost of the Cascade volcanoes, which erupted spectacularly exactly 100 years ago.
Around the flanks of Butt Mountain (hee hee) we went, then the trail decided to head on down through a little six inch slot through scratchy shrubs, just enough to irritate your lower legs but not enough to draw blood. We came upon the halfway PCT marker post, which I thought was going to be this chest high impressive statement--which it most certainly wasn't. The monument had all the stature of one of those "don't park here" posts that might be in front of a dead mall, or more specifically along side streets in Amsterdam, for the post was definitely just Butt high.
After resting, it was downhill yet again, through the most blowdowns we've seen yet; one fine fir with a six foot trunk had even crashed across a switchback, making it a two-detour tree. We did hit bottom eventually, running into the Most CF'd Blowdown yet, which took five minutes of scrambling to get around, then we were at the highway.
Junior had gone ahead and texted to say that a cop had picked him up hitchhiking... and taken him to the supermarket for shopping. Sage and I tried for 15 minutes before Sage just started walking to town. Two other hikers showed up and stuck out their thumbs upstream from me (grrrr); I tried another 30 minutes before thinking "this isn't going to work--who's going to pick up three smelly dudes?" so I texted a trail angel and she showed up 25 minutes later. Wow, thank you Piper's Mom--she even picked up Sage on the a couple of miles towards town on the side of the road.
In town, we had an oops at the motel; I changed my reservation to tonight but they overbooked, but the hotel owner Dan was great and had already found us other lodging. We shopped across the street at the fantastic Holiday Market (seriously, this is one great market, better than many large supermarkets), then Dan The Man drove us to our motel. Thanks Dan.
And that was that--I unboxed my new shoes, which are fluffy and wonderful and look a million times better than the old beatup pair I've had since Kearsarge Pass on the other side of the Sierras. We made sandwiches, had Cokes, sorted food, called loved ones, planned the Hat Creek Rim crossing, and just enjoyed relaxing.
Tomorrow will be a slow day, then after lunch we'll walk 9 miles north on the PCT to the Feather River and camp for the night. Monday we'll stop at Drakesbad for lunch, and set ourselves up for evening/night crossings of the lava fields... and Thursday we'll head into Burney and take a real zero. I haven't had a full day without hiking since May 26th, in Mammoth... I'd love to just rest and do nothing for a full day for once.