Wednesday, August 7, 2013

California finished!

I have to make this quick since the library computer only has 10 minutes remaining!

The hiking out of Burney was some of the easiest of the trail so far - smooth, soft tread with small well graded hills and generally shaded.  A nice change of pace from the volcanic hat creek rim.  I lost my hiking partners Derrick and Michelle (Oatmeal and Dandy Greens) since I had to wait for shoes in Burney, so it was odd being alone again.  I only saw a handful of other hikers on the trail too, must be in a gap between crowds or something.

At Dunsmuir I had to wait until Monday morning to pick up my umbrella and a care package from my old friend Kastle at the PO.  To kill time I wandered around town and heard I could camp down by the river.  On the way down a drunk shirtless man with a dog started yelling for my attention.  That sort of thing seems a bit odd so I just walked faster and started a conversation with a guy, Mike, working on his log splitter in front of his house.  I told Mike about the man and when he saw the drunk guy he said "Oh that's just Ben.  He's harmless".  Apparently the town drunk wanted to hang out.  I slept in Mikes yard that night between freight trains that rolled by and saw my first bear up close that wanted some garbage.  Some yelling and clapping got him to leave pretty fast.  Mike drove me to the PO and trail the next morning. The best part was picking two quarts of wild blackberries in his yard and hiking out with some.

After I-5 the geology went back to craggy mountains with over 6,000 feet of climbing the first 25 mile day out.  Smoke from a giant wildfire in Oregon rolled in as I climbed away from the highway and obscured all the views. I booked it to Etna, another hilly 75 miles in two and a half more days.

Etna was a great little town that I wanted to spend more time in but a wildfire started by an arsonist on the opposite side of the PCT was getting out of control.  Rather than risk getting stuck behind a trail closure I pushed out of town first thing the next morning and made the 55 miles to Seid Valley in two days.  Blackberries along the trail made progress slow...

Of course getting into town means a giant descent and this one had a particularly large ascent out with some added climbs - 7,500 feet in just 24 miles!  I was beat at the end of the day, did another 26 hilly miles and then 13 more into town.

Times up! See you next time!

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