Day 108: Above Summit Lake (Mile 1624.5)-Grider Creek (Mile 1650); 25.5 miles
The Marble Mountain Wilderness featured hillsides of wildflower-filled meadows topped by peaks of jagged rock.
We certainly didn’t object to a morning jaunt through that! Neither did the local cows, which at one point blocked the trail. We clacked our trekking poles together and hollered at the cows. They reluctantly lumbered off the trail and up the hill, cowbells clanking madly.
Day 104: Deadfall Lake (Mile 1542.5)-Above Scott Mountain Campground (Mile 1567.5); 25 miles
After saying our goodbyes to friends and family, we hit the trail. We soon came upon a hillside covered in dark purple flowers. A large flock of hummingbirds was enjoying the flowers’ nectar and chasing each other through the blossoms. When they needed a rest, they would perch on the flower stalks, which didn’t even bow under their weight.
We paused to watch for a few minutes. We had never seen so many hummingbirds in one place before, and they were beautifully playful.
After a mix of forest and open vista walking, we reached a spring, where we cooked lunch with the clear, cold water. Parmesan pasta was on the menu, but with an awesome twist: North Star’s aunt Jan forages for mushrooms, and had sent us dried morels. We rehydrated those and added them to the pasta. The flavor was wonderful.
After lunch we walked along a curving ridge, and eventually almost circled back on ourselves! This part of the PCT wandered all over the place, including, for some portions, to the south. It felt as if California didn’t want to let us cross into Oregon.
Still, we made good progress, and were rewarded with a very sweet sunset in the forest.
Hello! I’m Becky, Chri- er, Shutterbug’s sister and special guest blogger. North Star and Shutterbug were generous enough to slow down their breakneck hiking pace for a bit so that North Star’s friend Karin and I could join them on the trail and get a little taste of their ongoing adventure. I suggested I might write a post about it, and they were game, so here it is.
Half of Day 101: Castella (Mile 1506.5)-Tributary to Sulphur Creek (Mile 1512.5); 6 miles
Karin and I chose to meet Shutterbug and North Star at Castle Crags State Park. We woke up early and drove to the trail head, waiting just a few minutes before our intrepid hikers emerged from the wilderness right on schedule. They were a bit skinnier and dirtier than I’d remembered them, but as cheerful and energetic as always. It was great to see them again! Not so great to smell them. (Just kidding! They smelled fine.)
Thankfully most of the areas we have walked through on the Pacific Crest Trail are undisturbed and in their natural state. Recently, however, we have travelled through a great deal of national forest land, which the US government has dubbed “the land of many uses”. In addition to hiking, these uses include include logging and mining.
It was shocking for us to walk through dense forest one moment and into an almost clear cut section the next. Seeing destroyed forest was incredibly depressing, and North Star started to tear up. In addition to the cut trees, almost all the vegetation had been ripped up by heavy machinery. It would take hundreds of years for the forest to fully reestablish itself. The land was devastated.
To our relief, the trail continued on to steeper slopes which had never been logged. The mature trees there were magnificent.
Day 94: Drakesbad Guest Ranch (Mile 1353.5)-Badger Mountain (Mile 1371); 17.5 miles
After a hearty breakfast at the Drakesbad Guest Ranch, we set out northward on the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail was mostly flat and the weather pleasant, with a few puffy clouds forming over Lower Twin Lake.
We walked through a spacious pine forest. Wildflowers and small clusters of grass grew where gaps in the tree canopy allowed light to reach the ground.
Day 90: Belden (Mile 1289)-Myrtle Flat (Mile 1296); 7 miles
We spent the first half of the day in the tiny town of Belden, which is tucked into a narrow canyon next to the Feather River.
At the Belden trail angels’ cabin, which is appropriately named Little Haven, we took care of all the small tasks that had been piling up.
Soon, though, it was time to hit the trail again. We walked uphill out of the valley for a few miles. The climb was mostly forested, although some areas were burned and exposed. Even late in the day, the climb was hot.
Our lightweight packs greatly assist us in walking 20 miles per day on the Pacific Crest Trail. In this post, amidst our normal daily highlights, we also describe some of the gear that helps us travel light.
Day 85: Zero in Sierra City
Shutterbug picked up his new shoes in Sierra City. We have been wearing running shoes for our entire PCT hike. When your pack is light, running or trail running shoes have several advantages over traditional hiking boots: 1) running shoes are very light, often half the weight of hiking boots 2) running shoes are more breathable and less sweaty in the heat 3) running shoes dry out more quickly if you have to ford a creek, and 4) many people already own running shoes so no new purchase is necessary. We have been very happy with our running shoes on this trip, with only two blisters each in over 1200 miles.
Day 79: Echo Lake (Mile 1094.5)-Heather Lake (Mile 1102.5); 8 miles
Leaving the comforts of Echo Lake, we headed off into the Desolation Wilderness, where we walked past all sorts of lakes, big and small.
Unfortunately Shutterbug developed bad stomach issues, making frequent breaks a necessity. We weren’t sure of the cause, perhaps overeating in town. His discomfort was bad enough that we opted to stop and set up camp early. Though we hadn’t covered as many miles as we’d hoped, modifying our plan was the best thing to do.
Day 80: Heather Lake (Mile 1102.5)-Barker Creek (Mile 1125); 22.5 miles
After a good night’s sleep, Shutterbug’s stomach was feeling good enough to hike, though not perfect. We continued on and were both excited by the many beautiful lakes we passed, some teeming with fish.