PCT Journal, Chapter 4

Mr Roboto comments: This is the unedited journal of my 2005 thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. After making the difficult decision to skip 180 miles of Sierra snow to stay on schedule; Chapter Four describes the grueling push (700 miles in 28 days) from Sierra City to Willamette Pass.

6/24 What a difference a day makes. Got up normal time, shower, breakfast. Pack up, check out, wait at general store for bus. $17 ride to Reno, leave at 9 am.  Smooth, two plus hour ride to Reno airport drop off. Start walking toward I-80 through town. Mexican food for lunch. Several miles to I-80 on ramp.

Ten minute wait for ride from strange man in beat up jeep. Barely coherent, rambling talk about his disability. A little freaky. He drops me off at remote exit but immediately get another ride from young man in pickup. Dropped off at exit for hwy 89. Ten minutes later picked up by nice couple headed to Lassen NP. Offered me a muffin, let me out at hwy 49. Fifteen minute wait for an older man headed to Sierra City to work on a masonic lodge. Reno to Sierra City with four hitches in less than 3 hours.

Sierra City – neat little town, post office, general store. Friendly people. Ran into “Saltlick”:  hiker who won ‘Most Useless Gear’  contest at the kick off.  He had interesting stories about his wildlife encounters: i.e., an eagle who swooped down and took his hat off his head! We swap stories over good dinner in the garden patio.

I walk up the road to trailhead to camp. Finally found the mosquitoes. It was a warm night at 4,500 ft. Still should be some snow ahead but hopefully not as bad as Sierras.

6/25 24 miles today. Camped near Gibralter Rock on only flat spot – the trail.

Day started well, clear trail in morning. Hikers & bikers out playing. Cool day, light wind, high clouds. Hit snow in the afternoon, same old hide & seek with the trail. Very frustrating but tomorrow will be at lower elevation.

6/26 Finally bust out a big mile day – 33 miles in 12 hours.

Some snowfields in the morning, then clear trail rest of the day. Mostly shady forest hiking (not too scenic) then downhill to Feather River. Near river I tripped & fell, scraped knee & elbow. Fatigue. At Bear Creek bridge met “Freehill” – section hiker from San Antonio. He gave me some chai seeds to try in my water bottle.

6/27 Today was a good day’s hike. 25 miles in 11 hrs to Clear Creek.

Mostly sunny, breezy & cool. High clouds to east  south. Started with a big 7 mile, 2,700 ft climb to Lookout Rock. Near the top saw Freehill in his camp. Long shaded traverse to Buck’s Summit. Another climb to Spanish Peak at 6,500 ft. Snow patches, nice views along ridges then began descent. Beldon tomorrow.

6/28 Productive day. Quick 9 mile downhill walk to Beldon Town Resort. Everything was closed. Stored my pack under a tarp and walked mile to post office. P.O. was a small house that smelled of incense. Many strange knicknacks: stuffed rattlesnake, animal bones – but nice lady. Sit in shade and sort out box.

Nice P.O. lady calls a friend Brenda who picks me up, gets my pack and takes me to her house. After shower, Brenda tells me about good food & laundry available at Caribou Cafe quarter-mile down the road. Big burger, fries, milkshake, laundry, phone call. Back at Braatens Trail Haven take a power nap, clean gear, eat cookies. Back to Caribou for cold drinks.

Back at Braatens, their trail register has a note to me from Greyhound! Their scale says 168 lbs. Brenda gives me ride back to trail. Lots of poison oak, trail very brushy & overgrown. Hike 6 miles to Myrtle Flat to camp. Mosquito motivation to set up tent fast.

6/29 Early start by 5:20. Long day of hiking: 32 miles in 15 hrs. Southbound hiker offered me food and recommended visiting Drakesbad in Lassen NP. I can probably make it tomorrow.

6/30 Another early start – 5:30.

At  Soldier Spring met K, Billy & dog who are friends with Greyhound. Steady pace in the morning but got tired by afternoon. Made it to Drakesbad resort after 4 pm. Soak in hot springs pool (awesome), talk with some hikers I had camped with at kick off & Saufleys. They flip-flopped and are now southbound. Great dinner & beers with them under the trees near dining room.

I say goodbye and leave after 8 pm to get a few miles closer to my resupply in Old Station. Easy trail, lots of mosquitoes.

7/1 Bright & early again this morning. 23 miles to Old Station.

Flat, downhill trail all the way. Firecrew on controlled burn had the trail closed for 2 miles. Gibson gave me personal escort through the burn area. Tired legs take me to Old Station P.O. Finally mailed home ice axe, crampons, fleece, walking stick.

Trail Angel Georgi walks in and offers me their place to stay. They have a beautiful log home with a treehouse for hikers. Shower, laundry, internet, food, hot tub – incredible! Husband Dennis has great stories about his days as a roadie for the stones.

7/2 Great breakfast: french toast, eggs, bacon. These nice people drop me off at the store, get cold drinks. On the trail at 10:15, easy pace, lots of breaks, pretty flowers. Nap in the shade before exposed Hat Creek Rim. One rattlesnake, 14 hang gliders. Stop at Cache 22 (water cache) to camp. 21 miles, go for Burney Falls tomorrow.

7/3 Ugh, what a day – sooo tired! 25 hot, boring miles to Burney Falls SP.

Falls suck and concession stand sucks worse. Body is weak and dehydrated. Called Sue – I was whinny, she was trying to be upbeat. Soaked feet in creek, stealth camped in the park near trail. Southbounders say lots of poison oak ahead. Chili cheese dog dinner & bugs make it hard to sleep.

7/4 Better day of hiking. Shaded forest, mostly uphill. Saw skunk and small fawn in morning, big black bear in evening. 29 miles, camp at Moosehead Creek Headwaters. Ate 2 dinners, flies were a problem. First view of Mt Shasta.

7/5 Bear in camp last night. I scared it off when I woke up from a dream.

Long, hot day started with more climbing. Irritating snow drifts across trail, then hot, exposed climb to Grizzly Peak. Chat with 2 female southbounders. PCTA field rep with high school trail crew. Shady descent, cool creek soak. Poison oak at McCloud River. Hot, steep climb with no good place to camp. Finally pick a crappy, non level spot with poison oak & mosquitoes for company. I am sweaty & smelly. Hope to get a shower tomorrow at Castle Crags. 28 miles.

7/6 More poison oak everywhere! I thought it was only 21 miles to C.C. State Park but I misread guidebook. Info about P.O. was wrong also. Maintained a fast shuffle down miles of switchbacks to get to the P.O. just before 5. They closed at 4:30! Drank six cold 12 oz liquids in an hour. As I walked to entrance to Castle Crags park, Ranger picks me up & takes me to PCT hiker’s free campsite.

After shower saw “Rhino”, female hiker who saw Greyhound yesterday. He went home for 3 weeks and just started back on the trail today. Rhino returned from the store with ice cream. Ranger says it is 94 degrees.

7/7 Sleep in, break camp, breakfast at store. Get box at post office. Gatorade leaked over everything. Back at PCT camp spent an hour washing off food packages. Hit trail at 10:45. Steady climbing, already warm. Took lots of breaks. Headache. Stop at 10 miles to camp at N Fk Castle Creek. Nap. Clothes are sticky, water bottle is foul, heat is oppressive.

7/8 A pleasant, beautiful day of hiking. Cooler today with breeze & clouds. 4,000 ft of climbing on great trail: No brush, No poison oak, very little snow or bugs. Nicest day of hiking in a long time.

Made it to nice Upper Deadfall Lake by 5, had dinner. Thought about moving on but it was a great camping spot. Looks like it may rain tonight. 25 easy miles. Discovered a tear across sole of right shoe. Duct tape. Will call Sue asap to send shoes to Seiad Valley P.O.

7/9 Very productive day of hiking. 34 miles. Windy last night but no rain. Overcast today, a few sprinkles this evening.

Got to hwy 3 mountain pass 90 minutes  sooner than I thought. Saw a sign to come down road half mile for food & drinks. Trail Angels had property they were building a cabin on & were planning a hiker hostel. Coors light and sandwich wraps. Very chatty couple. Got a ride back to trail while slamming Coors. Feeling energized, hike another 10 miles (til 8 pm). Scenic views from camp, nice sunset.

7/10 Some rain overnight, clear by morning.

Mild day of hiking. Scenic. Tiring climbs up & down. Saw small bear, fishermen. Getting homesick, wondering how many days until Willamette Pass (Eugene). Stop 5 miles before Etna summit where I will hitch to town, resupply, call Sue.

7/11 Clear, warm morning. On trail at 5:45, at Etna Summit at 7:45.

Little traffic on road. One hour 45 min wait for ride. Nice lady took me to Bob’s Ranch House for breakfast. Walked to RV park to do laundry. Friendly town. Walked to Alderbrook B&B aka Hiker’s Hut. Shower, have beers with owner.

Walked into town for ice cream at old drugstore soda shop. Trailhead Cafe was closed, Etna brewery was closed! Went to Ray’s market for beer & supplies. Back to Hiker’s Hut where I met “T-bot” & “Bloody Stick”. Bloody Stick is a year round trail bum with lots of stories.

Walked to Bob’s Ranch House for dinner. Call Sue. Back to B&B for fresh Rhubarb pie. In the hut, Bloody Stick tells stories late into the night. Crash on upper bunk bed.

7/12 Bob’s Ranch House for breakfast. Got a ride back to the trail, met section hiker “Hoov”.

Later stopped to talk to 2 trail workers. Got high with them and they gave me a joint. Ultimate Trail Magic! Buzzed hiking until sunset. Camp on ridge near Shackelford Creek trail junction. 19 mellow miles. Had to use the headnet for the mosquitoes while cooking dinner.

7/13 “First I boost, then I jet” song lyrics stuck in my head. This will be my motto to get me to Eugene. Trail traverses ridges with great views, beautiful flowers. Smoke joint sparingly, try to make it last. Lunch at Paradise Lake. Mellow cruise, drop elevation to Grider Camp where work crews & rangers are staying. 25 miles.

7/14 Hoov came in late to camp, woke me out of a dead sleep. In the morning, 12 mile walk to Seiad Valley. Last six and half are on road. 10 am P.O., shower at RV park (nasty!). New shoes, clean clothes, cafe for lunch. Good burgers, fries & milkshake. Here comes Hoov.

Store next door for energy drinks. Sit in shade and mentally prepare for long, hot climb ahead. Slow pace & last of the herbal enhancement helps ease the pain. Rattlesnake #7 was guarding Lookout Spring. Stop at alpine meadow. 22 PCT miles, last ten climbing.

7/15 Terrible night’s sleep because of pesky deer. Was drying salt stained clothes outside of tent. Heard deer moving around tent, shooed them away several times then fell asleep. Woke up to missing clothes and pack that had been dragged by shoulder strap. Saw they had licked spot where I peed.

Hot day of hiking, hard to get going. Ran into “Biodiversity Man” with his bevy of ladies. Two guys carrying bamboo fighting sticks headed south. Very sleepy in afternoon. Dozed off while walking, stumbled, fell off trail! Reach Oregon border at 7 pm. 28 miles, camp near west ridge of Observation Peak.

7/16 Another long, hot day. Thirty miles, cowboy camp near Pilot Rock.

Back on familiar territory. This part of trail is course for Siskiyou Out Back ultramarathon I did in training. Lots of people on trail near Mt Ashland. Feet are getting blisters from new shoes. Hope sore feet survive another 180 miles (six days?). Body & clothes really stink!

7/17 Another long, hot day. Thirty miles, camp north of Keno Access Rd.

On trail by 5 am. Got to Route 66 by 10:30, hitched to Green Springs Inn got great breakfast (recommended by hiker yesterday). Largest cinnamon bun I’ve ever seen, great coffee. Funky, bohemian vibe with reggae music & waitress with nose rings. Hitched in back of truck with two young dudes with marijuana plant in backseat.

Full belly, hot afternoon, took a siesta. Got up & cranked out miles til 8 pm. One skunk. Clothes reek.

7/18 A long, hot, disappointing day. Only 26 miles, camp past Mt McLoughlin trail.

Easy trail this morning, made ten miles by 10 am. Excellent water from hand pump well at Brown Shelter. Hike mostly in shade, got tired before hwy 140. Feet are hamburger, toes are painful. Stop for water at sediment filled creek (tough on filter). Devastating four mile climb to McLoughlin trail. Realized I can’t do 30s everyday.

This evening “Buckeye” came by camp headed south. He was part of big group that flip-flopped to Canada because of snow in Sierra.

7/19 Mr Roboto is back. 32 miles, camp north of Jack Springs.

Springs were a a waste of energy, hiked steep, downhill side trail to find mud pools. Fast miles in morning, feet & legs feel surprisingly good. Saw “Wild Hare” & “Dick Tracy” who I hiked with on day one (more flip-floppers).

Few creeks or water sources. Dry camp, can’t wash up or brush teeth. On 12 miles to Mazama Village in Crater Lake NP. Mosquitoes are bad here. Terrible dinner wearing rain gear, headnet, sweating. I gagged on all my food today. No BM today, digestive system is shutting down.

7/20 An uncomfortable day with a happy ending. Legs tired from yesterday. Irritating roller coaster trail. More Sobo hikers today (Twisted Sister, Tomato). Nasty 3 mile round trip to Mazama Village on crappy, steep side trail.

Made a big mistake chugging oj and eating ice cream sandwich. Terrible stomach ache for hours. Had to hang around M.V. all afternoon. Did laundry, shower, call Sue, chat with tourists. At 3 pm, started long climb to Rim Village.

Trying to hike was torture. Green & yellow BM. At Rim Village, restaurant was closed for remodeling, settled for polish sausage at food truck. Loaded up with 4 liters of water – heavy pack! Full stomach, bad gas.

Luckily, evening hike on Crater Lake rim was stunning. Tourists asking questions. Ended the day with most beautiful campsite of entire trip. Stealth camped on north rim of crater. Sunset, alpine glow on peaks with large full moon rising on opposite rim. 22 PCT miles with 3 mile side trip. 74 miles to Willamette Pass!

7/21 Three months on the trail. Good day of hiking, 31 miles. Camp north of Maiden Lake trail junction. Beautiful sunrise at Crater Lake, easy trail all day. High clouds, light rain, cool temps. Camped with southbounders I first met near Big Bear.

7/22 Foggy morning, sunny by evening. On trail by 5:40, leaving Sobos in their tents.

Legs very tired, hemorroid acting up. Saw two elk in morning, one had blackface, tall antlers. Ran into two of Dave Horton’s support crew at Summit Lake. They called me over and offered brownies, soda, watermelon. Talked to Dave about his record attempt.

Boosted by sugar, did more miles to Diamond Peak. About 30 miles today, 13 to Willamette Pass.

7/23 A chilly, clear morning. Dave Horton jogged by camp on his way to a 50 mile day. Effortless hiking to W. Pass by 10:15. Excited call to Sue, clean up in restroom, double lunch at outdoor grill. Watch mountain bikers, wait in shade. Sue arrives, hallelujah!

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