- Date: Friday July 10, 2015
- Miles hiked: 22.32 PCT
- Miles covered: 1498.70 to 1521.02 PCT
- Weather Report: Low 58, High 68, and cloudy all day with only a sunbreak or two. Really excellent hiking weather.
- Wildlife seen: A northern rubber boa! And a cobra lily, which is really a pitcher plant. It's carnivorous
- Mood of the day: Really enjoying the day
Well, the seemingly never-ending Amtrak ride came to an end, and I actually slept six hours from Emeryville to Redding. The eyeshade and earplugs really did work well, except when I woke up at 1am to some argument behind me, so I got up on my seat and asked if maybe they could move their debate about illegal immigration policy to, oh, the lounge car? Maybe they just didn't think the two dozen people sleeping in seats around them could hear, I don't know, they were both rude.
It took a good two hours for the train to go the 60 miles from Redding to Dunsmuir, slowly creeping along the curves; I was glad to escape at 5:30am. I overpaid for a tax ride to the trailhead (ugh, $14, but whatever, hitchhiking at 6am is no fun) and started hiking again just before 6. Since I was right next to I-5, with excellent cell service, I texted Sage and Junior just to let them know, they're probably way way ahead.
Well, Sage is out of touch... but Junior had a couple of lazy and boring days, didn't push himself that hard, and was just five miles up the trail. I met him at his campsite at 8, and we hiked together; both of us were real happy for the companionship.
I had left Junior in Burney when I went home to recover, and he'd hiked the last week alone, which really ate at him. The section was tedious and boring: tedious because of lots of downed trees across the trail, boring because it was monotonous ferny forest for nearly the entire 80+ miles. He said I didn't miss much by skipping ahead.
This section, from Castella to Etna, was already proving to be wonderful. The trail was exceptionally well designed, with gentle grades and contours, as it gained a thousand feet in elevation over eight or nine miles. We stopped for lunch at a rock overlook beneath the massive Castle Crags. These big granite spires look only faintly interesting from the Interstate as you zoom by, up close you realize these are jagged 3000 foot tall shards and blocks of granite towering over you.
We both were just really enjoying the day--the broad vistas, the cool temperatures, the lack of sun. When the trail popped out on a ridge, I started seeing odd wildlife--huge strange fir species, pink lilies, azaleas fading in bloom, and was really happy I didn't skip this section! Junior was also feeling great and upbeat. We were both a bit euphoric, actually.
The two winners in the wildlife sighting were the cobra lily and the rubber boa. The cobra lily is really a pitcher plant, where bugs fly up into the hood, get confused, then are directed down into a pool of stickiness and dissolved. The rubber boa, on the other hand, was just sunning itself on the side of the trail. At first I thought it was a legless lizard, but nope, it's a rubber boa.
Towards the end of the day we ended up walking a couple of more miles than we really wanted to--I was trying to keep my miles down to 19--but Junior said he really wanted to be in Etna by Tuesday to meet his family. So we walked a little bit more, found a site, and wrote and ate and slept. A long day--I ended up walking around 24 miles, but a wonderful day too.