Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Day 14 - Sierra City

I'm going to preface this post saying it is going to be light on trail imagery. My big brick died last night and my phone only had 68% charge when I went to bed last night. I wasn't sure how long it would last, and I wanted to be able to send off my whereabouts tonight so I kept it off for the bulk of the day. I needn't have worried, as you will see. 

Today began like most days out here. Broke camp and started walking, this time about 6:45. I knew there wouldn't be really steep climbs today and most of the day this was true. I spent the first hour or so walking along the tops of the mountains out here, meandering really. Kinda nice. 

Early on I passed really large Gold Lake, where there be 🛶. After that was 🦌 Lake, where I saw folks just up from me waiting for the eclipse, or so I thought. I went over to chat and met a NOBO named Glass Half Full and a nice young woman named Clara, who was slicing up 🍉 and giving it out to us hikers. This was my first chance at trail magic this time around and it was sweet. I sat there for about 45 minutes till the clouds started to come in and I realized I didn't want to get caught in rain so I left with some fruit unconsumed.  It was getting to be eclipse time anyway and I had my piece of paper with a hole in it, just in case. 

Walk, walk, walk and finally the clouds dissipated and the odd light was upon me. I took a selfie with the light from the sun. 

And another of the light by itself. It was cool. 

It was brief though and soon I was rounding some hills and saw the rocks of the Sierra Buttes. I am sad to say I have no images I can share here, cause I took none. I was getting close to the 7 mile mark when I met a couple named Jeff, Yolanda, their son Levi and their wonder dog Quinn, as in the mighty...

We yacked it up for a bit and I went on to a spot named Packer Lake Summit, which is the trailhead for this section of trail. I stopped for lunch, it being then 11am, and I started thinking just how cool it would be to get a ride to Sierra City. The original plan for the day was to go only 3 more miles, where there was water. I would have gotten there so early in the day, having finished 10 easy miles, and then what would I have done? (Here come the rationalizations.) Given the terrain past the water source, I would have needed to walk almost the whole way to Hwy 49 to find trees to hang in for the night. That would have made a 14 or 15 mile day, which was more than I wanted to do. Or just go the 3 miles and do the rest tomorrow. Or, maybe my new best friends would like to take me to Sierra City, where they are staying for two weeks?

I was debating back and forth about what I should do, walk on or wait and see.... While I was dithering, my new friends came back and Jeff said "I know you are hiking the trail but if you want we could take you to town." What was I to do? Sometimes the pull towards comfort is more than I can resist. My pack was in the back of their vehicle before anyone noticed and off to town we went. BTW, the Buttes are stunning. At least from a car. 

These lovely folks dropped me at the Sierra Country Store and invited me to dinner, as no restaurants were open on Monday. 

I went in to check and see if my boxes were there (food and poncho) then I was off to find a place to stay. River Haven is a nice home and Susan, the owner, rents rooms and tents to hikers and other travelers. 

A shower and laundry washing got me cleaned up and presentable again. At 6pm I walked to the cabin Jeff, Yolanda and Levi are staying at and had great summer BBQ food. Grilled veggies, chicken, sausages and corn on the cob. Yum, yum, yum. I am sorry I forgot to get a photo of these wonderful folks. Maybe when I head back out of town I can remember to stop and get evidence of their awesomeness.  Tomorrow is a day of rest. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Day 13 - Mile 1212

I woke up this morning feeling down. A crisis of confidence I guess one could say. I didn't feel like getting up, I was dreading the altitude gain of today and was feeling stupid about my water purification snafu. My slow pace has guaranteed I won't be able to do the whole planned route, which is also disappointing. Plus, it's much harder to carry more days of food than fewer days of food. The whole thing compounds itself. More days = more food carried = more water carried between sources = more weight to carry. You get the difficulty. I started thinking about the next section which I had planned for 3.2 days at 13 miles a day. Now that is a reasonable amount of food to carry. 

But since I'm still 2.5 days out from Sierra City there was no time to mope. I left camp at 7am, having prepared my breakfast drink, which I drink on the go. A couple miles out I stopped by a spring that was bright with greenery and tasty water. 

This was the last water for a bit and the start of a 1,000' climb in the space of 2 miles. I decided to try a new strategy on the climbs so I got out my little MP3 player and plugged myself in. 

On the third song, something by Jim Croce I believe, I started to cry. The harder I walked the harder I cried, until I got near the top. Grief had overwhelmed me and I simply had to let it go. Grief about what? The election last November, my Mothers death 12 days later, sadness to know I live in a country that would elect a person of so little character, with no beliefs other than to do or say anything to get what he wants. A vindictive, crass, liar with no  moral ground. And yet, a fair portion of the voting public, not the majority but enough, decided to pick an individual with no history of doing anything for anyone, other than himself or his family. And now we are a laughing stock, world wide. So yes, I have a deep well of grief that creeps out from time to time. I guess you could say it was energizing though because I got to the top pretty quickly.  

As hard as the climb was, I turned right around and walked most of that elevation back down. I met a guy who looked a bit confused and was looking at his map. Trying to gage the coming climb as it turns out. His name is Where'd I Put It? (I guess he loses stuff) and he was having a hard time. Yesterday he had taken a face plant and he thought he might have broken his nose. He did look pretty bruised up. But he said as hard a day as he had yesterday, today he could re-invent himself. A good attitude which I will try to remember to apply to myself and situation. 

Finally I got to the next water source, The A-Tree Spring. It was cold, clear and welcomed. 

I ate my lunch there and chatted with a guy who is hiking the state of  California. He could be my age, or thereabouts, and his name is Chair Man. Something about a stool he carries. 

Lunch done I started walking again, up. To regain some of the elevation I just lost. It started looking pretty cloudy, in the direction I was headed. 

I started hearing thunder, which I hate, especially when the trail I'm on is exposed and I'm the only thing tall around. As you can see from the image. I scurried through the open area and gained trees where there were campsites. I only had 1.5 miles to the next spring so I didn't want to stop but I saw a flash of lightening and heard a BOOM right afterwards. I turned back under the trees and put up my tarp, placing myself under it. 

After about an hour the clouds moved off to the east and the thunder got less loud, so I decided to break down my emergency bivouac and carry on. And carry on I did. 

I stopped Little Jamison Spring and picked up 4 liters of water. Yes, almost 10 pounds. But there is a long stretch between water sources tomorrow so I watered up. I walked on a bit more, uphill if course, until I found a spot for the night. I hear cow bells in the distance😬. I hope they are friendly.  What with this and that, I walked 12 miles today. I'm getting there. 

Day 12 - Bear Trap Creek

I listened to some podcasts last night which were informational and entertaining. The name of the podcast is SYSK, aka Stuff You Should Know. I listened to one on stuttering where they presented historical ideas as well as the current scientific understanding, which is not very full. Then I finished one I started earlier on Bioarchaeology. All quite interesting. I must say though I am jonesing for another Harry Potter book so I'll download one when I get internet service in Sierra City. 

Also last night there were sunset clouds that I captured from inside my hammock. The netting gave it an interesting quality. 

All that was yesterday but my day today began at 6:30 when I began walking. I had an immediate 500' climb which is tough on a breakfasted stomach. I had to stop a lot and I was wondering why it's so hard for me to do these climbs - very discouraging for sure. 
I eventually did get up into some pretty areas and the smell of skunk cabbage was so powerful. Lower down it is turning yellow but higher up it is still green with a few flowers. 

At 7:30 I came to a clear area where I tried, yet again, to send off the last two days of blog posts. Voila! They sent so I am now caught up and feel better about my communications. I called Angela and chatted with her for a bit which was nice. I checked in with the latest news and found that Steve Bannon was fired, which cheered me up immensely. I'm always happier when there are fewer Nazi sympathizers in the White House. Then I watched ants eating aphids on plant leaves. 

After an hour break I took off again and for some reason I started to feel the groove. I made great time and by 10:30 I was hungry again and pulled off to have lunch and rest for a bit. That long rest seemed to work for me yesterday so I reasoned maybe it would work today. I needed to go 5 more miles to get to water and I was hoping to do a couple miles more after that.   

There was some climbing up to pass one water source at Whiskey Spring, which I didn't take as I felt I had enough water. 

More climbing to pass Duck Soup Pond. This is a car camping place but the pond looked awfully murky. Glad I didn't need to get water there. 

Can you see the funky water? I guess ducks like it. 
More climbing till I reached the highest point I've been so far, Bunker Hill Ridge at 6,997'. It was spectacular. But what goes up must, well you know. Down into a canyon where it started getting hot again. Wild flowers, which have been lean the last day or two, were still going strong down in this protected area. 

I was hopeful I would have more energy this afternoon but it wasn't to be. One reason is the heat. Another is that I'm not eating enough. I know, hard to imagine for me. 

Let me back up. Day 5 of this trip found me walking into Belden with half my food uneaten. It's common for lots of folks to take a while for "hiker hunger" to set in. It usually takes me a couple of weeks to be able to eat much during the day. When I opened my food resupply in Belden, in furnace heat and facing that 7 mile climb up out of there, I looked at all that food and said "Nope, not going in my food bag." I donated lots of stuff to the hiker box. Jerky, nuts, fruit, all got left behind. This has been fine, till yesterday, and for sure today. I'm more hungry than I have food to eat. I mean I have food but not snacky stuff to munch on between meals. Grazing as it were. So I think today, after getting back on the trail around noon, I just didn't have the get up and go I think I should have, and I was hungry. It's not gonna kill me but I think it is a factor with my energy level. 

This is a long winded way of saying I did 10.5 miles and no more. However I passed, or rather he passed me, a young man named Gadget who is trying to do a 44 mile day today. He didn't tell me as he was moving too fast to chat but his buddy did and well, wow. I'd be happy to get 13 miles in. 

So I got to this spot around 3:15 and went first to the creek to gather water. I usually try to go upstream from the crossing to gather it from the cleanest place, which had me in the bushes upstream. I got my 3 liters and walked back to my pack to start the purification process. I use Aqua Mira drops and I've had great success with this method. 

However, this afternoon, for some unknown reason, part A of the duo treatment is empty. I still have plenty of part B but both have to be used to be effective. So, from now until I get out and buy something else, I have to depend on my knowledge and wits. Springs only, no open water sources if I can manage it. Well damn. 

I did get to eat a favorite dinner tonight. Turkey Stroganoff. Yummmmm. 

Well, that was my day. I'm settled in and inside my hammock, tired and sleepy from my good dinner. I'm gonna try to stay awake till dark. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Day 11 - Alder Spring Junction, 6016'

When the alarm went off this morning I was tired from not sleeping well. I had a headache and I could hear the mosquitoes whining just on the other side of my hammock netting. This called for a strategy that required being more awake so I let the snoozer go off a couple of times before I got up to face the day. 

Last night it had taken forever before it cooled off enough to even pull my down quilt out of my pack and bring it into the hammock. Of course it's just guessing but I'd say it was around the mid 60's, temperature wise when I woke up. Yikes! Time to gain some altitude!

I started walking at 6:45 but I was slow and lethargic most of the morning. After 2.5 miles I needed to water up so I got 2 liters of water at Fowler Creek, requiring a 500' steep downhill detour. 

I have these handy devices that make it possible to hold the bottles and still use my sticks, since these off trail sources are often quite a downhill trek. I normally don't use too many gadgets but these are worth their .7 ounces. 

I continued to drag and finally at around noon I gave up the ghost and pulled off the side of the trail and hung my hammock for a small nap. I set my alarm for two and I think I snoozed a bit. It was quite the right thing to do. 

 When I got back on the trail I had to go five miles to reach water and tonight's camp. The heat was quite draining and an umbrella is just the thing for hot sun. 

For some unknown reason this afternoon I experienced gastro intestinal shenanigans and I had to stop twice to dig cat holes. Not fun, especially when one is lacking in toilet paper😬. (You'll be pleased there are no images.)

Even with that I managed the 5 miles here in pretty good time. First things first, I had to take the long walk to Alder Spring to get 4 liters of water. Steep but I met another hiker there, a southbounder! Or SOBO in hiker speak. Her trail name is Pooh Bear and she is probably in her 50's. She has completed the AT and is now working on the PCT. She hopes to get to Campo this season, beating the snow in the Sierra. Lofty goals but if one can do the AT then the PCT should be a cinch. 

Sorry the blogs haven't been coming through. I try numerous times each day but there isn't enough of what is necessary out there in cyber land to send them along. They will go through sometime. Patience grasshopper. 

10.5 miles today. Off to sleepy land. 

Day 10 - Partway up the hill from the Feather River

It never really cooled off last night so I knew I was in for a hot one today. Accordingly I only ignored my alarm one time and was packed and walking by 6:15am. My focus was to get to the Feather River before it got too hot and I managed to get there about 11:30 (8.5 miles) but I didn't beat the heat. 

First thing I did was to find the campsites, then get to the river from there. Fortunately the river isn't at a dangerous stage so getting to it was easy. Did I get in?

Ahhhhhhh. After getting out, I wet my shirt and gathered water for tonight. I could stay here of course, and that would make tomorrow's climb less difficult in the cool morning. But I'm gonna go part way to the next water source this afternoon and then call it a day. It might be cooler 1,400 feet higher. Plus, the oak gnats are swarming and there are mosquitoes down here by the water. I got my first 2 bites this morning☹️. 

I'm not complaining really. I've been blessed with relatively bug-less days but I fear I'm due for some temperament testing. 

The bridge over the river is the largest equestrian bridge on the PCT. When it was built they had to bring the actual bridge back in here via helicopter. Imagine how big a bird you'd have to use to bring in a bridge this size.  

It would have been fun to stay here with friends for a couple of days. There are deep pools for swimming and even some small rapids. 

Finally about 1:30 I braced myself and started the climb out of the canyon. All I'll say about it is that the hike up was challenging. I didn't lose temps, in fact it's now 4:45pm and I think it's still in the high eighties. I don't have a thermometer but I'm judging by the feel of the heat on my skin. At first the trail was shady and protected from the full on summer sun. Then it rounded a corner and was south facing for the last 1.5 miles. I was sweating buckets. 

The trail finally crossed an old dirt road that doesn't look like it's been used much recently. In theory it's a trailhead access for the river. In practice it is, shall we say, lightly used. I have found myself a couple of trees and hung my hammock. I don't even know if I will be using any kind of sleeping cover tonight. It's still so hot.

I did manage to hike 11+ miles today. I'm good with that. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Day 9 - Mile 1256.1

We had another great breakfast at the Haskins Valley Inn and slowly got ready to take our leave. Dixie and Ken are great hosts and I recommend their establishment 100%. Good beds, great breakfast and a jacuzzi tub in every room. Yahoo!

I packed up my stuff and as I had so much in my food bag, I put some stuff normally inside my pack in outside pouches. Angela drove me back to the spot I left off the trail and we said good bye again. I hate that part☹️

At 9:10am off I went, headed south. My legs felt rested and I made good time, stopping for a pee break about an hour into the day. I looked in my toilet bag and saw, much to my chagrin, no toilet paper in the bag. It had been there when I arrived in Bucks Lake so I can only assume it somehow got kicked under a bed or other hidden place. Well damn. Fortunately I also carry wet wipes with me so I'm not totally without resources but I won't be using the wet wipes for nightly clean up as planned. 

I was puzzling this dilemma when I swung my pack on and kept on walking. I stopped to eat something about 4.5 miles into the morning, it being about 11am. When I took my pack off I realized something else was missing. I had placed my poncho in the side pocket this morning and it wasn't tightly contained. It looks like I wasn't paying attention when I put my pack back on before and my poncho bag fell out. Well, there goes the rain gear. Damn, double damn. Two things missing in one morning. 

There is some good news here. I carry an umbrella for sun protection and light rain so I can manage in rain short of a downpour. Secondly I had checked the five day forecast the other day and it appeared to be no rain in the near future. And thirdly I texted my land mate from home and she will send my ZPack raincoat to Sierra City so I can pick it up when I get there.  Let's hope for no torrential rain storms in the next week. 

As you can imagine I was a bit distracted there for the first couple of hours, until I got the problem sorted out, so my picture taking was a bit limited. However I did get a shot of little Big Creek. Strange name for a trickle. 

There were signs telling me about the area. 

Some Bucks Lake trail angels put out an unusual resource for passing hikers. 

I stopped at a beautiful spring to get tonight's water. 

Took a look at Lookout Rock

Laughed at the funny things hikers do on the trail

And found myself a nice hang for the night. 

I hiked just a few tenths of a mile under 10 miles today. I got to this place plenty early, and could have gone a couple of miles further but the next spot that looked like it wasn't trail with steep sides wasn't for another 5 miles. I decided not to push it that far and parked myself here. Tomorrow I'll get an earlier start so I'm not hiking in the heat and I'll see how far I get. I cross the Middle Fork Feather River tomorrow, on a bridge. Might be an opportunity to get cooled off in the river!

Late evening text update*** Turns out my poncho popped out of my pack in Angela's car. She'll send it to me at my next stop. Yahoo!!! I love my poncho❤️

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Day 8 - Haskins Valley Inn, Bucks Lake

There is nothing like being lazy on a day off. I rolled out of bed and into the dining room here at the Inn and was greeted by Dixie, supreme chef and chief gardener here. This is what I was presented with. 

Plus the small pastries I sampled before I pushed away from the table. What a way to start the day. By contrast this is what I started the day with yesterday. 

Uh huh. I rest my case. 

We chatted for a long time about pets we've had who have passed on, previous hikers and seasons, their home near the Superstition Mountains in Arizona and the birds/chipmunks who eat Dixie's garden plants here in Bucks Lake. Then I went off to have another soak in the tub and a lay down. Bliss. 

Around 11:30 I got a text from Angela, who is driving down from Oregon/Washington and she wondered if I'd like some company tonight. WOW! Yes, yes, yes said I and so it's a done deal. She'll arrive sometime around 5pm today. So excited.

In the meantime walked to Bucks Lake Lodge, ready to eat a burger and salad. I was planning on a solo salad but they only have dinner salads. I think they're meat and potatoes types around here. So am I of course, I just have to fight the tendency. 

I wiled away the day, buying a few more food items, getting my maps in order and trying to make sure I didn't lose anything necessary for my trail existence. Finally about 5:30 Angela arrived and after a bit we went to Lakeshore restaurant for that salad I wanted earlier in the day. It was yummy but, amazingly, no photographs of the meal. I was too busy eating it. 

So fun to have Angela join me, if only for a bit. More tomorrow as I take off again for points south.