PCT Section/Dunsmuir to Crater Lake – Day 12

Thursday, July 28, 2021

Mile 1717 to Mile 1740

Early in the morning, I packed up and left my Callahan luxury suite. I quietly exited from the side door because the front door was locked until 7am.

Callahan’s in the early morning

I walked back on the paved road to the abandoned dirt road entry which had a sign saying, “Private Property, Do Not Enter”. I stopped for a second wondering if I’m not supposed to take it to the PCT, but I did come down on that abandoned road, so I went back up. It met up with the railroad crossing again, up a steep, but short trail then the little bit of steep dirt road, and I was back on the trail. In a short while, it was time for breakfast. I was so happy that I’d bought these at the Safeway and had carried them out today.

Delicious fruit cup
Safeway Signature yogurt parfait. And my freshly washed but rust splatter-stained pants.
A peek of scenery between the trees

Sometime in the day, I met a thru hiker named Wawa. I also met a hiker named Lobo who had thru-hiked in 2015. That year, he made it to Dunsmuir before heading home. So this year, he started from Dunsmuir and is heading to Canada. The three of us were on a stretch that didn’t have water for a long while, and it was hot.

At a certain mile, there was supposed to be water at a cow pond, so I dropped my pack, picked up my bottles, and walked in the direction of the pond. The tank toward the left that seasonally has water was empty. When I got to the pond, it was so thick with algae that my bottle filled with more algae than water. I filtered the algae water into a second bottle through a bandana, and even the bandana kept getting clogged. I kept having to use different parts of the bandana until the entire thing was covered in slime and goop, and I had no more bandana to filter with. I ended up with about half of a bottle of murky water, so I collected another bottleful of algae and filtered that into the same second bottle. Then the murky water got filtered with the Sawyer Squeeze, which still clogged the Sawyer Squeeze, but at least I had almost a liter of water.

Volcanic rock and dry meadow

A while later, I ran into Lobo again who was now walking unsteadily. I told him that I had gotten water at the algae pond, and he said he had missed it. After he left, I was worried that he looked extremely dehydrated, so I tried to catch up to him. He was sitting leaned into a tree, and I quickly asked if he needed any water. He pointed ahead and I saw that we were next to a water cache or gallon bottles! What a relief. I took only what I needed until the next source and moved on.

Hello Deer!
Dry meadow
Green forests and dry meadow

At the end of the day, I reached a large flat tent site in the forest and near an abandoned road. There was plenty of room here for lots of tents. After setting up my camp, Australaan hiker, Shit Kicker, came by and decided to stop here, too. He said that he had been up late the night before and needed to stop early. I was hoping to see Lobo to make sure he was okay, but I didn’t see him at the end of the evening. It’s nice to have company at camp at the end of the day, even if its just to sleep.

PCT Section/Dunsmuir to Crater Lake – Day 11

Mile 1710 to 1717

This morning I left the shelter quietly at 4:30am while the other three hikers were still asleep. I had only ten miles to hike this morning to Callahan’s Lodge. I walked along a hillside with lots of these yellow flowers.

Helenium or Sneezeweed in the early morning

The last mile or so before Callahan’s is on a side trail. It had a short, steep descent, then a railroad crossing, then down a short distance of abandoned road. Then suddenly, I was facing the main road near a highway on-ramp. I crossed the road, walked through an underpass, and headed down to Callahan’s. There was road construction at the highway underpass, an older woman in her sixties was directing traffic. I felt bad that she has to stand on her feet all day on the road, especially at her age. I stopped to chat with her for a bit.

Then, under a highway underpass, and arriving to this sign. I’m getting close!

Callahan’s Lodge

Down the road just a bit more, turn a corner and… Callahan’s!

Callahan’s Lodge

I arrived to the lodge and hoped I didn’t look too scrappy to be allowed inside. I pulled out my two masks from my ditty bag and put them on before going inside. Luckily, the lodge lobby was empty of guests. I was surprised that the lodge receptionist was not wearing a mask, although the reception area did have a plexiglass barrier. I booked a room that would be ready for check-in around 3pm, and asked for hiker shower and laundry access.

I had heard so much about Callahan’s from other hikers from previous years about how there is a large lawn in front of the hotel where hikers are allowed to stay, and how the bright lights of the hotel balcony make it hard to sleep. I had imagined a huge rectangular lawn the expanse of the hotel’s width with bright stadium lights that faced it. I was puzzled that the lawn was a small oval shaped piece of garden landscaping with an artificial waterfall feature. It’s funny how things are so different in your imagination!

I jumped in the hiker shower which, it turned out, had only cold water! But I was determined to wash my hair and get scrubbed, so I gasped from the cold and washed as fast as I could. Next, I threw my clothes in the wash and put on my town clothes. When my clothes came out of the water, they smelled clean, but they looked much worse. I guess the washer was rusted. I sat down in the small lawn to sort out my pack, and a hiker came up to say hello. It was Meat Grinder, he had just arrived here, too. We decided to split a cab ride into town, but just as we made the call to the local taxi company, a trail angel pulled into the parking lot and offered us a ride.

Meat Grinder wanted to try a restaurant that he had seen in another thru hiker’s video. When we walked in and I looked at the menu, it hit me that a vegan juice bar would only have vegan food. Yep, that only just registered in my hiker brain. I still wanted to get something to eat, so I ordered a BLT bowl and a smoothie. At the juice bar, we also met thru hiker from Germany who was having a proper European breakfast complete with an espresso.

Afterwards, I headed to Safeway for a resupply. Grocery stores are always mesmerizing after having hiked for a long time. My eyes widened at the Safeway Select fruit and yogurt parfaits and bowls of fresh cut fruit. I bought one of each. After shopping, I called the locally owned taxi company for a ride back to Callahan’s. A very nice woman answered and said she was had just been gardening in her backyard, but would jump in the shower and pick me up. In a few minutes, her husband showed up in the taxi company’s van. It was short ride on the freeway to Callahan’s but I really enjoyed talking the driver. He shared a very sweet story about how he met and married his wife.

My room still wasn’t ready at 3pm and I was told it would be ready at 4pm. I waited in the lobby, eager to get to my room. Once it was ready, I had the nicest room I could ever hope for with the most comfortable bed, a jacuzzi, and even an outdoor patio with lounging seats, facing a garden and a pond.

My lovely room complete with a jacuzzi

I had a hiker dinner special of all you can eat pasta with meat sauce before retreating to my relaxing quiet cave. I had a frenzy of cancelling and rescheduling train tickets to the ride home the following week, then it was time to sleep.

PCT Section/Dunsmuir to Crater Lake – Day 10

Mile 1683 to 1707

Tuesday, July 26, 2021

Luckily, it didn’t rain much last night. There was just that short drizzle, and then must have stopped. I slept hoping that my body heat would dry my quilt. Luckily, when I woke up, my quilt was dry.

After having such a late day yesterday, I slept in today until five thirty. I packed up quickly and started hiking at six. In the morning, I saw cattle. They were wary of me and climbed uphill to watch me as I past. There was also one very sweet sow and her calf.

A sow and her calf

I passed another shelter today. This one looks very homemade and maybe falling apart. I didn’t walk up to it, but here is a photo from the trail.

Today I made it to the California-Oregon border.

I think I was trying to smile while still tired from getting here.

Sweeping views
Angelica
Sulfur buckwheat

There are more trees now that I sometimes have views only when there is a window between them.

A view between trees
Mile marker 1700

Toward the evening, three thru hikers named Gunner, Cash Money, and Ezra passed and told me that they are heading to an upcoming shelter in a few miles. They told me to meet them there. Knowing how fast they are, although I said okay, I really didn’t mean it. To my surprise, they were fast, but also took long breaks at water stops. So I passed them at a water source, then again at another break that they took again later. Of course, they always caught up and passed me. I made it to the road junction for the shelter. I didn’t really want to walk off-trail just for a shelter, but they were there, so I kind of reluctantly followed along.

When I got to the shelter, it was nothing like I had imagined. I was expecting a medium-sized cabin like I’d seen many times on trail, but this was a large stone, two-walled shelter with a roof. It had a large circular fire place in the middle and a picnic table placed at one end. It was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. I’d been worried about having to be in an indoor space with other hikers, but luckily, this shelter had only two adjacent walls and was completely open on two sides.

Gunner and Cash Money were a married couple who had previously done the Appalachian Trail. They commented that the PCT needs more shelters. I suspect that we don’t have a need for shelters on the west coast because we don’t get much rain. Ezra was Russian and from the Bay Area. He was very into being ultralight, to the point that he was calculating the least amount of food to bring with each town resupply. He misjudged his food needs and was near completely out of food, so I gave him two packs of corn nuts, two tuna packets, and shared half of my ramen with him.

I set my alarm for an early start for tomorrow, I was looking forward to getting to town tomorrow. Only 10 miles tomorrow to Callahan’s and Ashland!

PCT Section/Dunsmuir to Crater Lake – Day 9

Mile 1660.6 – Mile 1683.0

Monday, July 26, 2021

Left camp this morning at 4:30am. Met Crusher and one other hiker, whose name I’ve unfortunately forgotten. Both hikers sped past me in the early morning.

Sunrise on the Pacific Crest Trail

I can tell that I’m getting closer to Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. There are denser stands of trees here and very different conifers compared to Southern, Central, and lower Northern California.

I learned that there are black raspberries. I believe these might be some.

I saw more fire weed in burn areas.

I had to push at the very end of the day as I was already exhausted, but still needed to get to a spot where I could camp. I kept looking along the trail for possible stealth camps, but I now knew that those wide spaces with soft mounds of dirt were going to be large ant colonies. There was nothing good to camp on, so I kept hiking.

Thru hikers passed me quickly in the evening as the sun was setting. They are so fast, even at the end of the day. At 8:30 pm, I came to a dirt road along the trail and decided this was as far as I was going, I was beat. I set up camp next to a tree, made dinner, cleaned up, took a camp bath, and lay down. As I was going about my chores, a truck slowly drove by. I froze in place and hoped that they wouldn’t notice me and cause any trouble. They continued past me and turned down the road. Most likely, the driver might be a local cattle rancher. Just as I laid down, it started to sprinkle a few heavy drops. It seemed to stop, but then it started again. I thought about pitching the tarp, but I was really just too tired to do anything. I went to sleep hoping that it wouldn’t rain too much.

PCT Section/Dunsmuir to Crater Lake – Day 8

Mile 1641.7 – 1655.9, 1655.9 – 1660.6

Sunday, July 24, 2021

In the morning, I packed up my campsite by the river which, despite the low elevation, had been surprisingly very cool. I had a good night’s sleep at the cool creek side. The trail becomes road for the last few miles to Seiad Valley. There are blackberries everywhere along this road making me wander from berries to berries, but it’s also getting hotter by the minute.

A truck drives up and slows down, and the woman in the passenger seat says hello. She says that she camped with me a few days ago at a large campsite before Etna. It’s my nice campsite neighbor, the one that is an RN for a Covid ICU! She looks so different now in the truck with her hair flowing and looking relaxed. Her husband is driving, and it looks like her granddaughter is seated in the back. I have my nose plugged with strips of bandana for the ongoing dry sinuses and nose bleeds, so I’m a little self conscious at how I must look, but the little girl still cheerfully yells out a hello. My friend the RN says that she’s driving to the trailhead to pick her car up, and if I am still here, she will offer me a ride.

I get up from my spot on the road shoulder under some tree shade and start on my walk again toward Seiad Valley. To the left is the wide river, the one that Guthook notes warn hikers not to attempt to cross. I don’t think I’d ever want to cross it, it looks so wide and deep. I keep chugging along on the road walk, aiming for little achievable goals like, just walk to the bend in the road here, to the junction over there, to that shady spot there. Finally, I reach the main highway where a motorcyclist greets me. He seems me looking at the highway signage and getting out my phone, and he points to the left and with a smile, tell me, “town is that way”. I thank him and make a left and start walking the highway next to cars flying by. The highway crosses a bridge, then there’s more walking again. The scenery becomes dry grassy flat meadows with cattle and barns. There is a sign claiming the State of Jefferson, which puts me a little on edge. In case this town is hostile like the other State of Jefferson town in far Northern California, I tell myself that I’ll be in and out as soon as I can.

Finally, I get to the Seiad Valley Store and Cafe, a long wooden building without windows. I see a hiker’s pack outside, so I set mine next to it and hope that no one will drive by and steal it. I kind of want to carry it inside, but I leave it outside against the building wall. Inside, it’s that comforting feeling of a general store and of civilization! After looking at the shelves of ramen, mac and cheese, and other camp foods, I spot a homemade energy bar that weighs like a brick, but looks delicious. It says it has dates, nuts, seeds, dried cherries, chocolate chips! I hold one in my hand and consider how heavy it is, but it looks so tasty that I grab two. Then I spot an Icee machine and fill a cup with cherry and lemonade slush. It’s one-quarter gone with the first sip before I place it down at the cash register. I can’t wait to inhale the rest of the cup.

Seiad Valley Store and Cafe (It was too hot to take a photo, so this is copied from the internet. photo credit to Jan G. on TripAdvisor)

Outside, its withering hot, and there is a seating area under a white tent with long plastic tables and chairs. There are hikers here, and among them, I find Gadget and Hobbs! I also meet a man named Tigger who looks around 45-50. Gadget, being the always informative, shows me on his phone that there is a forest road alternate that will shave off several miles and also has less climbing. It also has shade and water sources. “Shorter, less climbing, and with water and shade? I’m sold!” I tell him, although I also want to see the trail.

While we are outside at the tables, a car parks with a man in his sixties and an Asian woman also around her sixties or early seventies. The woman has a British accent, so I ask if she is from the U.K., and she tells me that she was born and raised in Kolkutta, India. The man is her brother-in-law, also from Kolkutta. With her is her teenage granddaughter who wears a mask and is sweet and polite. The brother-in-law lives in Oregon, and the woman and her granddaughter are visiting from D.C. Today, they are sightseeing and driving the road all the way to the ocean!

About an hour after arriving in Seiad Valley, it is time to get moving again. Its only 1:30pm and temperatures are still in the high nineties, but I trained in the Mojave for this hike, so the heat doesn’t bother me and I’m ready to start walking. Soon after leaving Seiad Valley, the trail immediately heads straight up, up, up. There are no breaks of flat. It climbs, turns a corner, and still climbs. On the first 4 miles of climbing, I see only one sloped spot under low shrub where hikers probably often take a break. For the next four hours, the entire climb up is sun exposed.

At 6:30 pm I arrived at a spot that is noted to have two tent spaces, but both spaces are next to a dead tree. I walk uphill and find another area, just slightly sloped. I look at Guthook and the next site will be in one mile, but will climb another 1,000 feet.

I’m now at mile 1660.6 and at 3,776 feet. From here, I calculate that I have only 57.1 miles left to Ashland.

A while later, a man in his sixties or so comes to camp. Just as he starts to unpack, he realizes that he’s forgotten his electronics at the Seiad Valley RV campground. There is a lot of angry and tired cursing. He will need to go back down to Seiad Valley in the morning and redo the horrible climb that we just did.

PCT Section/Dunsmuir to Crater Lake – Day 7

Mile 1618.5 to Mile 1641.7

Saturday, July 23, 2021

I forgot to mention that its been a little smoky on trail from the wildfire south of where I am. The smoke hasn’t been too bad though, at least not compared to the last time I hiked through wildfire smoke in Washington in 2017. Early morning, I took a photo of the sun seen through the smoke.

Sun through wildfire smoke

I met Meat Grinder just an hour or so after starting this morning. He had camped just ahead of me. I also met Shit Kicker today. He is from western Australia and a very fast hiker. We saw him for about a second before he disappeared ahead.

I love that in the early mornings, I get to see wildlife. Today I got a photo of a deer. Usually, they are gone by the time my phone is ready for a photo.

Early morning deer

Late morning, Meat Grinder and I reached a rustic cabin on trail. I didn’t have the extra walking energy to go up to the entrance of the cabin, so this photo is taken right from the trail.

Cabin on trail

After a while, I had to tell Meat Grinder to walk ahead of me. Being four months into their thru hike, the thru hikers are much more conditioned than I am at only my seventh day on trail.

Late morning, it started to heat up again as I got to an sun exposed but very pretty section of the trail.

The hills are alive.
So pretty.
Hello flower.
sulfur buckwheat
More pretty views
This lake reminded me of Washington

The trail descended toward the end of the day and it got hotter as I got lower. There were lots of thimble berries and blackberries. Also when I was higher up, I walked through forests of huckleberries. It was hard not to slow down with so many berries to enjoy.

thimbleberry

I also saw a rabbit in the late afternoon. I took this photo from far away, and then I had to zoom in to see the rabbit. Rabbits are so hard to capture on camera.

Rabbit on trail

At the end of the day, I reached a campsite near a large creek. I am just before my next town stop, Seiad Valley. There was another hiker camped just before the larger campsite, but I figured we could each have our privacy, so I continued to the next campsite at the end of a dirt road.

It had been so hot today that although it was now cooler, I made myself go down to the creek and lie flat in the water until I was completely soaked and feeling cooler. Of course, as soon as I got back to camp, the temperatures cooled and I was shivering from being cold. I changed into my sleeping clothes and hung everything to dry on nearby tree branches. I hoped it wouldn’t be too warm tonight since I was lower in elevation.

PCT Section/Dunsmuir to Crater Lake – Day 6

Mile 1600 – 1618.5

Friday, July 23, 2021

Yesterday afternoon, I had arranged a ride with Sole Saver for 8am, but in the evening, Gadget and Pop Up arrived at the motel and offered a ride for 7am. It’s always hot in trail towns because they are lower in elevation, so its best to leave as early as you can. At seven, Pop Up, Gadget, Hobbs, and I headed back to the trail. Pop Up injured her knee on the descent into Belden, so she has been off trail since then. She joined us for the first part of the trail up to the 1,600 mile marker. We all took photos at the mile marker, and Pop Up turned back to the trailhead.

Sometime in the morning today, I met a young Japanese hiker named Gazelle from Kaga, Japan. Japan isn’t an easy society for being able to take vacations, much less a long thru hike, so I asked Gazelle how he was able to take several months off. He said that in his teens, he started working for a construction company building houses, and he now owns his own small construction company. He is also an incredibly fast hiker and said he would be making into the next town, Seiad Valley, the next day. I also met Meat Grinder who turned fifty this year. He is married to a Puerto Rican and has two boys. Liz is also Puerto Rican, so we talked about Puerto Rico and about his family. His younger son has been his fire watch and navigator, and has been keeping him updated on the changing fire closures. In the last morning, Meat Grinder and I arrived at a lake just next to the trail. The water was warm enough to swim in, and the shore was perfect to getting in. I swam along the perimeter staying close to the edge where the water would be warmest. It got shockingly cold as soon as the water got a little deeper!

I remember seeing these berries in Washington and Oregon when I thru hiked four years ago. I just learned that they are called Twinberries. They are red and look juicy and sweet, so I’ve tried them before to see if they were. They are awfully bitter. Luckily, they are not poisonous, at least not in small amounts.

Twinberry

This afternoon, I saw horses. The horses in the front were getting hungry and kept stopping to eat grasses and plants. The owner said that she let them walk ahead because they wanted to be up front, but now they are stopping to eat and were getting nowhere. She told the horses that she was moving back to the front and passed them as they continued to munch on mints and leaves.

Horses on the Pacific Crest Trail

I stopped a little early today at a campsite that overlooks the valley below, just before a trail junction. Big Heart passed me again as I was set up and resting. The younger hikers always start later and pass me in the evening. They are doing longer mileage days, so eventually, I won’t see them or I will see them again in town.

Campsite just east of 1618.5

PCT Section/Dunsmuir to Crater Lake – Day 5

Mile 1587 to Mile 1600

I woke at my usual 4 am and tried not to wake the other hikers who were still asleep. I packed up as quietly as I could and headed out of camp at 4:30 am.

I had only 13 miles to the road for Etna, and I thought it would take me ten hours, so I was estimating that, at latest, I would be at the road by 2:30 pm. I was hoping to run into Triple Threat, but knowing that he starts hiking later in the morning than I do, I knew that he would be somewhere just behind me. I let him know yesterday that if I reached the road before he did, and I would wait for him so that he could ride into Etna with me. I had been texting Sole Saver, a trail angel in Etna, and had a ride arranged with her for the late afternoon. It’s been tricky to communicate, though, because sometimes I have cell service, and sometimes I don’t.

The morning went quickly, of course, since I was eager to get to town. I reached the trailhead and highway much earlier than expected, around 10:30am. There was one other hiker arriving to the road at the same time who was also looking around. There was no cell service at the road, so I had no way of texting Sole Saver to let her know that I had arrived four hours earlier than my pick up time. The other hiker looked down the highway, looked around again, and then started walking the road to Etna. There seemed that no cars were likely to come, so I followed him and started the ten-mile walk into town.

Luckily, shortly after starting the road walk, a truck drove past, then came back. One hiker was already sitting inside the truck and I climbed into the passenger seat. I was prepared with my double mask of cloth and KN-95. I work in the clinic, so we are constantly updated on the current environment and are highly aware of the Covid Delta surge. To my alarm, the driver and passenger weren’t wearing masks of any kind, not even cloth or bandana. The A/C was on, so there was some air circulation, but this experience made me wary of the culture among thru hikers as well as residents of these small towns.

The driver turned out to be a woman originally from Monrovia, a suburb of Los Angeles, who now lived in Etna. She had met her husband, a hay farmer, so she moved to this farming and ranching town. The driver also worked at the Etna Motel, and she had driven to the trailhead to see if any hikers needed rides. I also learned that Sole Saver hadn’t been feeling well that morning, so our driver had offered to give rides in her place.

We arrived at Etna Motel and I met the new owner of motel. He was a very nice and courteous man, and his motel was very hiker-friendly. As we checked into our rooms, he told us that when they bought the motel, they had no idea that they were taking over a hiker motel. The previous owners showed them the hiker boxes, told them about laundry service and rides to the trailhead, and they had no idea what that all was.

First things first, as soon a I got into my room, I unpacked, sent my dirty, smelly clothes to the wash, and took a much needed shower. Ahh, the luxuries of town. Showers and laundry are my favorite town luxuries. I hoped that Triple Threat would find a ride into town and hoped that he would be coming to the Etna Motel. Since he was on a tight budget, I planned to offer him half of my room since it had two queen beds.

The motel didn’t have a public laundry room for guests, but Sole Saver offered laundry service for just $5. I felt really bad to be giving her my horribly smelly clothes, especially my filthy socks, but she said she didn’t mind. Sorry Sole Saver! Sole Saver seemed really laid back and easy-going, like someone I would be friends with in LA. I wondered if she was also from a big city and had moved to the town of Etna.

After washing my hair three times and scrubbing from head to toe, then chatting with Liz to let her know I had arrived to town, I headed to Ray’s Market, the small grocery store across the street. Once in Ray’s, the first aisle I walked into had frozen food – pot pies, burritos, pizzas, so many foods that I suddenly realized I wanted to eat. I stood in front of the freezer aisle for a good five minutes, unable to decide on which foods I wanted to buy. I settled on a chicken pot pie and a wet burrito, then continued through the rest of the aisles for resupply foods.

I returned to the motel and lounged in my luxurious room. A shower, a bed, air conditioning, carpet, what more does a hiker need? I called my friend Georgia, a hiker I became friends with in 2017 during the PCT thru hike. She now lived in Montana, and she was getting ready for a section hike of Washington starting the next week. It was so fun to talk to her, catching up and talking about the trail. We hadn’t been able to match our hiking plan this year, so we made plans to hike together the following year.

A few hours later, who could it be but Triple Threat walking into the motel. It turned out, or he reminded me, that for this town stop, his step mom had paid for his motel room so he had his own room. After a while, figuring he’s probably had enough time to take a shower, I knocked on his door to offer him the frozen wet burrito. I had to laugh when he opened the door still in his dirty, smelly hiker clothes. “You haven’t take a shower yet?” I asked incredulously. “I did!” he said, beaming, “I just put my dirty clothes back on, but see,” he said showing me his washed hair, “I’m clean!”

Triple Threat invited me to walk over to the local brewery with him, but being that I was only on my fifth day of hiking, my feet were so swollen that I could hardly walk. I really wanted to enjoy the town day, but my feet felt like puffy knobs and I also wanted to take a nap. I had to decline the invitation. Triple Threat left for the brewery still happily grinning after his nice, clean shower while wearing his sweaty and dirty clothes. I laid in bed staying off of my feet, I didn’t even have the energy to watch television, so I just quietly enjoyed the indoor calm.

Unfortunately, I took zero photos today, so I had to pull one photo of Etna Motel from a different source, below.

Etna Motel (Photo from VisitScottsValley.org)

PCT Section/Dunsmuir to Crater Lake – Day 4

Mile 1564 to Mile 1587

Wednesday, July 20, 2021

I woke up from my poorly chosen dirt road campsite on an ant colony and in the way of cattle trying to get home. Poor cattle, they didn’t get home last night, I suppose.

Just up the trail, I saw a hiker who slept on the ridge who was just waking up. He had passed me late at night last night, and I guess he camped just after he passed me.

Sunrise on the Pacific Crest Trail

The first time I’d seen fireweed was in Washington when I was hiking southbound in 2017. It was mid September and there was a field of tall, pink-purple flowers with and seed heads softly floating in the air. In the cold, foggy, early fall, it looked magical. I came across a slope of burned trees today where fireweed has grown in.

Fireweed

In the afternoon as I was sitting and massaging my achy feet, Triple Threat caught up to me. He said that he was planning to head to the large campsite coming up in a few miles. In the early evening, I found him with his tent set up just before the intended campsite. He was there looking happily camped with his usual big smile. He explained that he had stopped early because there was a Tramily intending to camp at the large campsite. Tramily is short for Trail Family, and in some cases, the group can end up being like a social clique. He wanted to give them their space, so he decided to camp earlier. I looked around for a spot near him, but there really wasn’t much space. It would have been nice to camp with him, but I didn’t want to impact an area that wasn’t a campsite, so I decided to keep going.

I reached the large campsite with still plenty to daylight, and chose a spot away from the group. A woman in her sixties was camped by herself on the other end of the area, she smiled and let me know to take any open spot. As I was setting up and starting to boil water for dinner, she came by to keep me company and to chat. It turned out that she was a section hiker and worked as an ICU nurse. I told her what I did for work since we were both in health care. She shared with me that she cares for patients with Covid-19 in the ICU, and that if people saw just how bad it gets, they would probably be willing to get the vaccine. Because the patients are completely isolated in ICU, and not even their own families see their worsening condition, she said that it’s hard for people to see just how grave it gets. The trail family that had just been talking badly about the healthcare system quieted down. I really liked her, she was calm and thoughtful. Tomorrow, she was planning to hike to just 11 miles before Etna and had a resupply at the road, so she wouldn’t be heading into town. I really enjoyed talking with her and hoped to see her down the trail.

PCT Section/Dunsmuir to Crater Lake – Day 3

Mile 1540 – Mile 1564

Tuesday, July 19, 2021

I started my day at 5 am from the stealth camp just past Parks Creek Summit Trailhead. Before sunrise, I saw a large toad just next to the trail. I don’t get to see toads in Southern California, so it’s always a treat when I see one on the northern sections of the PCT. I tried to get a good photos, but it kept leaping away from me each time I got closer. It’s funny to me how slow they are, I always expect them to be a little faster, but they leap very slowly.

Large toad

Shortly after my toad spotting, it was time for sunrise.

Sunrise on the Pacific Crest Trail

As I was filling water bottles at a spring, I met two hikers in their fifties, Gramps and Slow n’ Steady. They were old college friends who have been section hiking the PCT for many years. This year, they would be completing their entire PCT hike! Slow n/ Steady’s wife has been driving them to trailheads each morning. At the end of each day, she meets them at another road and whisks them away to the comforts of a motel. They have been doing about 20 miles per day, which is a very good pace. I hoped to see them again and congratulated them on their PCT hike completion.

My biggest event today was at a season spring at mile 1554.1. I stepped on a sleeping snake! I was crossing small seasonal stream where the trail was wet and shaded and partly hidden by leafy plants. I stepped on what I thought was either a round, wet rock or tree stump. As soon as I placed my foot, the rock/tree stump started to wriggle out from under me. I jumped away as quickly as I could, hopping around in alarm while letting out a muffled squeal that sounded like a cat being strangled. The snake slithered away in a hurry and took cover under a shrub. I carefully looked at it from a few feet away. It was a dark colored snake with two horizontal, quarter inch white stripes at its tail, the stipes were about one and a half inches apart. It had a rounded body and a round head. I talked to the snake and apologized for stepping on it and really hoped I hadn’t injured it.

Later in the day, a hiker I met yesterday, Triple Threat, caught up to me. Triple Threat is from South Dakota and recently moved to Sacramento and had been working as a sous chef. I was sitting on the trailside with my shoes off, giving my swollen and sore feet a break. He told me that he planned to have dinner at the next road crossing before continuing onto camp. I walked a few more miles to the paved road and found him sitting in the shade, making a ramen concoction. Triple Threat carries summer sausage with him on the trail because it doesn’t require refrigeration. He cut a few cubes of sausage and added it to his ramen. Summer sausage reminds me of growing up in the Midwest, its not something we see much of in California. It was nice to meet another Midwesterner on the trail.

After the break at the road, I continued just to the next campsite. It was still early, and by the time I set up camp, made and ate dinner, did a camp wipe-down bath with a bandana and some water, it was still only 6:30pm. A girl named Big Heart stopped at my campsite to say hello. She was from Portland, but now lived in Colorado. After a short chat, she got back up and continued on. It was so early and I really had nothing else I needed to do, so I felt I was missing good hiking hours. After some back and forth in my head, I finally packed up again and started hiking up the trail. I knew that I wouldn’t make the four miles to the next campground, but luckily, there were other campsites along a dirt road. At 8:40pm, I finally ended the day at a paved road at mile 1564.

I set up in a dirt area near the road and heard the clanging of cattle bells nearby. As I lay down, it seemed that there were ants crawling on my legs, even after I’d brushed them off. I realized I was lying on an ant hill. In fact, the entire area was one big ant colony. I hoped that once the temperature cooled down, the ants would go home.

The entire time that I set up camp, ate, dinner, and got ready for bed, the cattle bells had been sounding really close. It sounded like the cattle were walking in one direction, then stopping, then running back. After a while of listening to the frenzied cattle, I sat up to try to see if the herd was nearby. I got up to have one last pee break before I fell asleep. When I stood straight up, I heard the cattle bolt and run far away, so fast that after a few seconds, I could no longer hear their bells. They may have thought that I was a bear in the way of their evening route to where they sleep at night. I felt bad that I had gotten in the way of cattle getting to their evening destination. With ants still crawling on m legs, I went to sleep.