July 17- 7 or 8 miles, camping at Disappearing Creek
Mount Shasta was a quirky, but great little town. The contrast of the new age crystal shops and Galactic Meetings of the Goddess Pele against the conservative, mountain town vibe created an interesting and entertaining environment. I was able to do my laundry, a bit of grocery shopping, use the computers at the library, and catch up with friends and family while in town. This morning I had breakfast with Pixel, Shazam and Free Refill- a German hiker I met at Drakesbad Ranch.
I had planned on taking the public bus up to the little town of Castella, but when the post master said I wouldn’t make it before she closed at 3:00, I had to quickly get ready for hitching a ride. I grabbed a paper placemat from the pizza restaurant where I had planned to eat lunch and wrote in big letters “PCT CASTELLA”. Then, with my pack on and my arms full of groceries, pizza, and a milkshake, I headed to the interstate. I figured it was important for me to have the sign to differentiate myself from the multitude of drifters in Mt. Shasta, often called Rainbow People by the locals.
I was lucky enough to be picked up by a previous PCT hiker from last season. He introduced himself with his trail name, Booty. After hiking the trail, he’d decided to return to the Shasta area and work on a horse ranch.
I collected my resupply box from the post office and learned that they’d actually been robbed a few days earlier. The crooks took a bunch of hiker boxes- I had to laugh because they must have been pretty disappointed to only score several months worth of Snickers bars and socks! The post master said they’d found my box outside the office, as though the thieves had thought to take it, but then didn’t. I’m relieved! I was also delighted to receive some real mail today! It was great getting postcards and notes from loved ones, including some artwork from my honey:
I took my box and pizza and headed to the little general store next door. It was so hot that the only thing to do was grab an iced tea and wait for it to cool off. Another hiker named Mathew was hanging around, too. I’d actually met him first at the Middle Fork Feather River, just after my leeches incident. He seemed much more sociable this time, maybe because I had more clothes on or maybe because he was bored. We both decided to head out around 5 or 6pm. Before I left, a bunch of hikers showed up and sprawled out in front of the store to wait for rides into town. Hikers are pretty good at getting as comfortable as possible pretty much ANYWHERE.
Instead of road walking two miles back along Interstate 5 to the PCT, I decided to walk along a State Park Road for several miles and then take a short side trail up to rejoin the PCT. It was a beautiful road, lined with blackberry bushes and occasional glimpses of Castle Crags through the trees.
Once I was on the trail, I hiked another four miles up the canyon behind the famous Castle Crag Mountain. I reached a campsite at an appropriately named dry creek, Disappearing Creek, just as it as getting too dark to see. Hoping to find Mathew here, I called out, but instead of Mathew’s, came the voice of Strawberry. I met Strawberry first after passing the PCT midpoint with Glitter. She’s been joined by her sister and they’re both crammed into a tiny one – person tent!
July 18th – 24.5 miles
Two hikers named Mike and Micah showed up at camp last night around 11:30pm. I’d heard of this pair, but hadn’t met them yet. Mike got really excited when he saw my foam roller hanging from my pack. He said he wished he had one because he’s been having some problems in his legs and hips. And, just like that, the roller was his! I haven’t really needed it for awhile and so I just passed it along to him.
It was a huge climb leaving Disappearing Creek in the morning. I met up with JSF at a spring. He had left Mt. Shasta earlier than me and had camped at the top of the climb last night.
JSF and I pushed on to Dead Fall Lake for the night. There are so many weekend hikers camping here because it’s only 2 two or three miles from a road. The lake is so beautiful, though, and it reminds me of Toiyabe National Forest.
July 19th- 24.5 miles, camping at Scott Mountain Summit Campground
It was a foggy morning for me mentally. I just felt tired and out of it for most of the day, maybe because the trail was really flat, maybe because of the humidity, or maybe I’m just tired. I stopped by a spring midday and made some banana oatmeal and coffee- breakfast can be served all day on the PCT!
After getting some caffeine in my system and trying to keep up with a hiker named Cliff for the afternoon, I was able to put in some good miles. When I arrived at Scott Summit, I saw that Justin had set up his tent in the middle of a bunch of manzanitas because he didn’t realize there’s actually a campground just around the corner. He was too tired to move his tent, but it seemed silly for him to stay in the bushes, so I moved it for him! The campground is small, but it has a privy! JSF and Cliff have joined us, too, for the night.
July 20th- 26 miles, camping near Carter Summit
Sorry folks, I’m too tired to write much tonight, but below are some pictures from today. The most exciting thing that happened all day was the clanking of cowbells hidden in the trees. I never did manage to get a glimpse of the cows though!
July 21st- 14 miles, staying at Alderbrook Manor
Today’s a big day for both JSF and me. He hit his 500 mile mark and I hit 1,000 miles for this section hike. I’m tired and fairly beat up, but it feels great to know I’ve just walked 1,000 miles in one go!
When I arrived at Etna Summit where the trail crosses the road, a San Francisco photographer named Ian was hanging out taking portraits of PCT hikers. He offered me some strawberries and chips and then took my picture with a really fancy, old Polaroid camera. He’s collecting all the portraits and hopes to make a project of some kind out of them eventually. You can check out his wonderful artwork at Porcupine Photography.
The folks from Alderbrook Manor came to pick me up from the trail and I’ve reserved a room in their B & B for the night. Etna is possibly my favorite town stop so far on the PCT. The town is so welcoming to hikers, it has great history, and every thing is walking/biking distance. It turns out that the Alderbrook owners, Dave and Vicky Harrison, are originally from the same area as my family and were friends with my uncle for years and years!
I’ll be hanging out in Etna for a few days while I wait for a new sleeping pad to arrive. I broke the valve on my Klimit X-Frame a couple weeks ago and have managed to still use the pad, but it’s been totally flat for several nights now and I’m tired of sleeping on the ground. I don’t mind waiting, though, because there are some gnarly thunderstorms moving through the next couple of days!
Ian’s Photography (Porcupine Photography)– Check out his beautiful portraits & blog!