Wednesday, July 27, 2016

July 21 to July 29 - Ashland, OR to Near Bend, OR

Day 68 - July 21 - end at mile 1725.6. mailed ups. walked thru neighborhoods and parks to outfitter. got new socks. had lunch at brewery with hikers last call and other guy fire protection engineer. walked back to hi way ride with rain to trail. 9 quiet miles to water. Found a sad cathole when looking for a rock to stake out tent... ew.

Day 69 - July 22 - end at mile 1760.8. clouds overnight meant a wet tent. left and walked thru cloud for first time on this trail. cleared up and I saw clouds below. easy terrain through forest. saw American dipper at lunch. later heard olive sided flycatcher. saw bear near road. saw a no pipeline banner. ended at shelter. wood fire stove inside with some section hikers. camping next to shelter.

Day 70 - July 23 - end at mile 1796.2. The day started off cool and flat through old growth White Pine Forest. After a few hours I started noticing  lot of blow downs. Then the day went on through this flat forest with constant blow downs. Thankfully none of them were that hard to get over, under, or around, nor did they slow me too much, but it'll be a big task to clear them all out. I saw a few Gray Jays. I got water in the late afternoon and there was a bazillion mosquitos at the source. Unfortunately this became the norm for the rest of the day. The infamous Oregon mosquitos are here. For hours I had a constant swarm of them following me. Running didn't help because more would be at the end of the run. I only have shorts right now and no bug spray so I probably got bit over a hundred times on my legs dispite constantly wiping them free of mosquitos. I did a nice ridge walk in the evening and saw three or four Black-backed Woodpeckers making a lot of noise. I found a place to camp just before dark and rushed to set up my tent while getting eaten alive. As I type this in my tent there is the hum of a hundred mosquitos outside my bug netting. I don't want to go out to brush my teeth.

Day 71 - July 24 - end at mile 1836.7. Broke camp at 6 as quickly as I could to escape the mosquitos. For about 5 miles they continued to be biting me constantly. Eventually I got away. Maybe it was the heat of the day that made them retreat? It would be about 20 miles to get to Crater Lake National Park where I had a food maildrop waiting for me. I had spartan rations to get me that far but made it work and I had a store to look forward to. I misread the water report and found myself in a 17 mile stretch with only a half liter. There was a questional bushwack to a pond but that was far off trail. Thankfully I found a small pond just 100 ft from trail. The tadpoles scurried as I collected the yellow water. I heard once that stagnant pond water is actual very clean because it gets so much UV exposure. Not sure if frogs affect that situation. Anyways go to the camp store and got my box, snacks, and and a few cold drinks. Also picked up some DEET-free essential oil-based mosquito repellant creme for my legs which now look horrible from all the bites. The rest of the day I walked along the rim of Crater Lake. This was really beautiful aside from the road in parallel to the trail and the hundreds of tourists. Thankfully most of the trail, I was alone as most people stayed closed to their cars. This section reminded me of the High Sierra. I saw many deer and marmot before dropping back into the forest to camp. The mosquitos returned half a mile before camp to repeat the horror of last night. Now trapped in my tent with chocolate covered teeth, I do not wish to venture out to brush again.

Day 72 - July 25 - end at mile 1869.6. Escaped camp as quickly as I could after waking up. Today's hike was wooded and flat with many blow downs to climb over. I hiked up to the highest elevation remaining on the PCT which was about 7500ft and walked over a bit of snow. I looked up at the jagged mountain above and got water from its melting glacier. I started to feel very tired in the afternoon and made slow progress. The mosquitos returned after their lunch break. I found a campspot on a ridge and it's moderately windy. The bugs are still flying but not as many tonight. Gonna get a little extra sleep tonight.

Day 73 - July 26 - end at mile 1903.7.
Mosquitos six hours. Summit lake swim. Woman gave me headnet... made my day. Climb to Diamond Peak.. snow and marmots. Descent to Shelter Cove. Hiker's aunts hook up with beer and fire. Met Sprout and Kibs.

Day 74 - July 27 - end at mile 1932.8. Had a real nice latte for breakfast at the shelter cove resort. Hiked with Sprout and Kibs today. Went to a lake for lunch to swim. Was a nice trail crew there relaxing after a morning of work. In the afternoon passed thru a really cool burn on a mountain high up. All the trees were gray and stripped of bark. After the burn the worst mosquitos ever. Camping with Sprout and Kibs now and there are a bazillion mosquitos outside. It's horrible.

Day 75 - July 28 - end at mile 1961.5. Mosquitoes all morning. Elk Lake for lunch: craft beer, good hummus plate, and yummy fries. Swim and cleanup in lake. Fun afternoon hike. Three Sisters forest is pretty with views after days of dense conifers. Camp by pond with Kibs and Sprout.

Day 76 - July 29 - end at mile 1992.6. Today was my favorite hike in Oregon so far. We hiked up to a volcano and walked on lava rocks. There was lots of shiny obsidian nearby. In the Mt. Washington forest there was more lava rocks and then a huge burn. Although there was lots of sun and hot weather today, it was really pretty and there was no bugs. Camping on the beach of Big Lake tonight with my new friends and a bunch of other hikers. The summer camp here fed us dinner and it was really good soup.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

July 13 to July 20 - Castella, CA to Ashland, OR

Day 60 - July 13 - end at mile 1517.4 -Today was a good day. I got up early to hike the remaining miles to Castella. I only had a single tortilla to eat but I drank a lot of water to fill me up and I was motivated by the store ahead. After descending for a couple hours, I reached the road a brief roadway brought me to the market and post office. I had two hours to spend until the post office opened so I bought a big convenience store breakfast and lunch and ate them one after another out front in the shade. At 11 I picked up my mail drop which contained 3 days of awesome food selected by Greta and my smaller backpack, 30 degree sleeping bag, and a different rain coat. It probably hasnt gone below mid 40s since I left the Sierras and I expect to finish in Washington before it gets very cold. I swapped out my gear and now have an appropriately sized small backpack for the little amount of stuff I have. I mailed home my bulkier stuff along with some cast offs from a selfgiven pack shakedown and then headed back to trail after enjoying a Coke. Twenty miles uphill to camp and it was a real sweatfest. Got up to the 90's today. Saw a nice view of both Mt Shasta and the Castle Crags together and took a photo. I think the traprock tower in CT that I saw on the New England Trail was called Castle Craig? Funny coincidence but they're very different things. Better view here than that misty day this Spring.

Day 61 - July 14 - end at 1557.7. Today was one of those days where I didn't feel motivated but there was nothing to do but walk. There was minimal shade and the trail was monotonous. I almost stepped on a green rattlesnake. Saw a bunch of deer resting, laying down on the trail in the shade. This looked good except for all the bugs going after them. Hiked about 40 miles today and still managed to take a bunch of "no motivation" breaks. New pack feels good. It's light enough now that the waist strap doesn't do anything but stabilize... could possibly remove it but it's nice for the occasional run. Tomorrow we enter Trinity Alps Wilderness which is supposed to be nice. I'll position myself by end of day to Nero the following day in Etna. Looking forward to getting my new shoes there as the ones I got in mammoth are already ripping and never fit well to begin with. Going back to my favorite shoes. Best part of the day was these amazing rehydrated beans with broccoli, corn, and hotsauce that Greta sent me. Eating my third helping now...

Day 62 - July 15 - end at 1591.5. The morning went by quickly. There was a decent amount of shade and the trail was more interesting and scenic. I knew I didn't need to rush today so I took lots of short breaks throughout the day. The afternoon dragged on as it was hot and sunny. I'm sick of the sun more than anything else. California has the worst weather.  Two months out here without a single cloudy day. Saw a bear in the afternoon which was pretty cool. I first saw a black rock and was like... that rock looks like a bear... oh it is a bear! It was on a steep slope and as soon as it saw me it turned around and hauled aas down the slope at super fast speed... kicking up a giant dust cloud. An impressive feat. This bear seemed pretty big, glad it ran away. Camping next to a cool mountain lake. Fish keep coming to the surface to eat insects with a little splashing sound.

Day 63 - July 16 - end at mile 1597.2. Left camp early to hike two hours down to the road. Here I hitched a ride into Etna with a local named Allen and his dog in an old, cool Volvo sedan. Had to wait a bit for any cars to come by but this first one picked me up. Took a nearo rest day. Etna is a small town but had what I needed. After espresso at the town coffee shop, I did my groceries and checked in at Hiker Hut at Alderbrook Manor hostel. Had a nice day. Ate and drank and sat a lot.

Day 64 - July 17 - end at mile  1626.5 - Left town in the morning with the first car going by. This guy lived in town and was bringing up two other hikers who he let stay at his place last night. Today's hike was nice. Scenic and never got too hot with decent shade. Saw another big black bear this morning on the trail. I raised my arms and yelled and it turned and bolted off. Lots of deer too. Today had parts that reminded me of the Sierras. Jagged rocks and lakes. Even a tiny bit of snow. Far out to the west, beyond the mountains, I can see a blanket of clouds low, way under my elevation. I assume this is the coastal "marine layer" that was so common at the southern terminus. If that was not there I wonder if it would be possible to see the ocean? At dusk I heard two hermit thrushes singing in duet. The same song but one was offset by about a second. It was beautiful music.

Day 65 - July 18 - end at mile 1660.1. Got up at 5:15 which was a first in a while. Was happy I did because it was a beautiful sunrise and I hiked for hours before it warmed up and got sunny. By that point, I was well into a 24 mile descent into Seiad Valley and was shaded by trees. The descent went by quickly and then was followed by what has been the longest road walk on the official route so far at about 7 miles. Only about 2 miles or less of this had any traffic though. There were lots of blackberries alongside the roads ripe for the picking. At the town's store I picked up a bit of food to get me to Ashland and hung out for a bit with other hikers. Took off around 6 to climb the steepest climb on the PCT, 4500ft in 8 miles. The weather was cool and the sun was down and since this is the PCT the trail wasn't that steep, nor where there any obstacles in the trail. So I went up a full speed and was rewarded with a beautiful red cloud sunset, a full moon, and an awesome campspot just off the ridge top overlooking the valley below and surrounding mountains.

Day 66 - July 19 - end at mile 1697 - Left camp before 6. The sun was not yet over the mountains. I wanted to do as many miles as I could today because tomorrow I'm going into Ashland and want to get there early. The day went by nicely. This area is very scenic. Many wildflowers are blooming so it's very colorful. Didn't get hot today either which was nice and there were lots of fluffy clouds in the sky. At 5pm, I entered into Oregon. After two months, I'm finally in the second state. California was pretty but I'm happy to now be on the Oregon trail.

Day 67 - July 20 - end at mile 1715.2. Got moving this morning and didn't stop until I reached the highway. I had reserved a room in Ashland, which my aunt Meg generously paid for to support my hike, and I wanted to get there ASAP to start relaxing and work on putting together food mail drops for the rest of Oregon. The hike was scenic and mostly downhill. At one point there was about a dozen American Kestrels on this meadowy slope flying about and hunting. This was very cool. I got to the road around noon and one of the first cars picked me up to take me to my hotel. The driver was a nice local named Cody and his young son who told us about his funny  dreams. After checking in, I went across the street to eat 4 taco bell burritos and foodshop. The grocery store here had a lot of good food that I like and low prices. I'm going to eat great in Oregon. Now I need to box it up and mail out four packages. Chores easily consume rest days but it's nice to take a break and tomorrow I'll go downtown for new socks and to experience culture before heading  back to the trail.

Monday, July 11, 2016

July 9 to July 12 - Old Station, CA to near Castella

Day 56 - July 9 - end at 1392.5 - No bears came last night... at least none that I know of ;). I had a leisurely walk into Old Station this morning where I got a veggie burger, fries, and salad at JJ's cafe to go with my coffee and beer. After eating junk food for several days straight this really hit the spot. Before leaving town I stopped at the gas station to grab a days worth of food for the short upcoming 30 mile section. Just outside of town I detoured to visit the Subway Cave, a really cool cave/tunnel formed by lava flow when Lasses Peak erupted in 1915. Turns out that scary looking mountain that I first saw yesterday was this volcano and the reason for the national park. My afternoon hike was part of Hat Creek Rim which is a 30 mile dry section reminiscent of the desert in SoCal. I cammeled up and brought 5 liters but thankfully it wasn't hot. There were lots of clouds in the sky and a wind going. I almost stepped on a rattlesnake and then another snake 5 minutes later. This scared the heck out of me and I started watching the trail more closely. It started to rain and I got wet for the first time ever on this trail. I found a small shelter at a water cache trail magic stop where I enjoyed a quick meal, then  I hiked for about 3 mIles in the rain and when there was a break and I saw a campsite I took it, despite it being a little bit earlier than I normally camp. I'm glad I took the spot though as the rain has continued off and on and I'm dry inside my tent and about to go to bed early. I forgot what rain like this was like. Common Nighthawks are calling and booming outside in the dusk.

Day 57 - July 10 - end at mile 1419.5. Today was a really good day. I walked in the morning about 15 miles to the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch. The sun rose up as I walked and drived me out good. I passed a lake that had American White Pelicans! A really cool life bird for me. At the ranch I was able to do a bunch of chores, relax, and eat. The folks there were real nice got cleaned up good. I really liked this place a lot. Probably my favorite stop so far. My shirt hasn't been so white since Day 1! Leaving with 3 new days of food, I only went about a mile before coming to trail magic! A picnic table with food and drinks. Real nice. I signed the table as this was the custom here. I noticed this bird again that I saw earlier in the day but couldn't identify. Now I knew.. Lewis's Woodpecker!! Lifer! Then in the evening I came to Burney Falls where Black Swifts nest behind the falling water. Lifer #3 in one day! Now I'm camping up on a hill and I smell strong of laundry detergent in my tent. It's a good scent.

Day 58 - July 11 - end at mile 1456.0. Today was a pretty good day though nothing really happened and the trail was kinda boring. The highlight of the day was beautiful vistas of Mt. Shasta which stands alone, is huge, and is snow covered reminding me of Mt. Fuji in Japan. Met some new people today who I hiked with a little bit. We separated in the evening as I prepped dinner but I think they're only camping about a half mile back. Ate good food today. Two fancy Backpacker's Pantry meals: Louisiana red beans and rice, and spicy salsa... yum.

Day 59 - July 12 - end at mile 1491.1 -today was another quiet day with not much exciting features on the trail. Winding up and down and around the pine forest mountains all day long. Not really any views though one of Shasta near the end. Some cool rivers with footbridges to pass. Cleaned up a bit in one. I've run out of food which is a bummer and tomorrow need to do 10 miles into Castella. But there I will be picking up a mail drop with food and a smaller pack and sleeping bag. There's a convenience store there too so my goal is to leave down very, very full.