Day 104: Graceful hiking…

August 4, 2014
24 miles
1487 miles total

Another cloudy morning. But the weather stayed cool. The miles seemed to have melted away in the morning. I did however have a close encounter with a bear. I didn’t actually see it, but as I came to a switchback I heard rustling of trees, grunting, and the sound of a large animal. I yelled “hey bear” in as manly of a voice as I could muster. It continued to move along the ridge. I stood at my location for a good five minutes deciding if it was good to go. Eventually I seemed like it was high enough on the ridge for me to go. I tapped my poles together and went for it. All was well… I continued to hike.

image

We saw these huge plants near a creek. Arctic suggested that Emmit get a closer look. Can you spot him?

image

Today I had two epic falls. The first as I was looking at a huge tree across the trail figuring on how to maneuver around it. The second as I was heading down to lunch. Both I found myself suddenly on the ground. I got a few lacerations on both knees. After cleaning out and bandaging up two of the worst cuts. I was good to go. My poor knees. I really must have been overdue for a fall. Especially with two in one day. Crazy.

Finally I made camp around 7:30. Arctic beat me here as it was mostly uphill. It’s nice to be done. I am sore, two vitamin I before be should do the trick.

Tonight my last night on this trail(for this year)… I feel mixed feelings about tomorrow. I have had such a wonderful experience on this trail, but at the same time I am ready to be done.

Advertisements

Day 103:

August 3, 2014
24 miles
1463 miles total

The smoke was heavy this morning. Everything was covered in a thin dusting of ash. Remnants and reminders of a forest that once stood tall and healthy. Now all that is left is ash and the burned out carcasses of former life.

I’ve never been this close to fire. Sure I have seen fires in news stories or read about them in the paper. But to actually see how fast and destructive they can be is a whole new thing. Actually being able to smell and taste the smoke, seeing new plumes and the huge mushroom cloud grow is a crazy experience. It is a good reminder that mother nature is in charge. The only thing that continues is change. These cycles and processes are forever in motion.

image

With that we set out around 8 today. As we walked ash littered the trail and continued to fall as flurries throughout the morning.

Another exciting sight on the trail. More bear prints. When I stopped for second breakfast someone left a note on the dirt. Needless to say I ate quickly and continued on. But they were pretty cool to see.

image

The rest of the day went without much else happening. We had a great lookout where we think we could see the outline of Mt. Shasta. But the smoke obscured it. We ate lunch near a spring, the cold water cooled us as it was another warm day.

image

The last several miles flew by. Tonight we are camped on an old logging road near a creek. The .2 of a mile trek was well worth it for delicious creek water. Hopefully no logging trucks decide to drive down here. It doesn’t look like there has been anyone in a vehicle for a while. Others have definitely camped here too.

It’s crazy to think this adventure is nearly over. My body is starting to hurt in places it has never hurt before. My feet have this random shooting pain, and my calves feel as though I just started hiking. I think my body knows we are in the home stretch, it is ready to relax and heal. Only a few more days, and it will be time for a rest.

We can do it!

Day 102: Burney Falls and Beyond

August 2, 2014
16 miles today
1439.3

The sky was dropping ash and the night seemed to have lasted longer. Overnight the fires continued to burn. It seems as though they continued to grow. Hopefully people stay safe, both the firefighters and the locals.

image

We had to wait for the general store to open to get our resupply boxes. Just as Yogi said in her guide book they said they hadn’t seen our boxes. But I knew via my tracking number it was there. We ended up with so much extra food since we skipped ahead two days. If I would have known the hiker box here was so good I wouldn’t have sent any food ahead. But instead we added to it for future hikers. (You have to ask for it as they keep it in the back.)

After sorting food for the next section we found outlets to charge our electronics. As things charged, we got Torrey to play some cribbage with us. It was a delightful way to spend the morning, but we knew we needed to get some miles in.

We left Burney Falls State Park around 11. It was getting hot but the grade was gentle.

image

The hiking was good, but hot. I saw some black bear prints along the trail. It was the first time I have ever seen such a sight. It was pretty neat! We pushed on to a bridge to get some shade at for our lunch break. The water felt good, and was pretty delicious to drink.

After lunch we began our climb. There were some pretty epic views of the fire. It is such a crazy thing! All because of a lighting strike, thousands of acres are burning.

image

We hiked on until it got dark. We didn’t do a huge day, but it was nice. Our sunset was enhanced by the fire. Even the moon is a crazy shade of orange tonight.

image

image

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” -The Lorax

Day 101: Fire on the mountain

August 1, 2014
20 hiking miles

We got up early and it was cold. Like Sierra cold. I found it hard to get out of my toasty sleeping bag. Our plan was a HUGE day. We were on trail around 7. The terrain was smooth and mostly downhill.

image

We rocked our first 15 miles by lunch. But as we sat down next to the river to eat we discussed the smoke we saw from the trail. It looked like there were two small fires burning nearby.

image

(Old fire damage and new fire in the distance.)
After lunch we planned to rock 4 more miles to reach Old Station. There we planned to take a siesta to let the temperature drop. Then we were going to night hike as long as we could, to get through the Hat Creek Rim area. (30 mile waterless stretch with very little shade.) As we arrived in Old Station we noticed that the smoke was getting more intense. We decided to check out the PCTA website to figure out if the fire was affecting the trail. We had gotten mixed information from the locals. The website informed us that while the trail was not officially closed yet the fire was moving fast and it was recommend to not hike there.

image

(Those are Smoke Clouds)

Not wanting to mess with a fast moving fire we decided to hitch around to Burney. I am glad we did, as we were waiting for a ride the smoke clouds intensified. By the time we hitched from Burney to the state park later on, the road we got a ride in on was closed. Fire is not something to mess with, especially in a dry area filled with fuel ready to burn.

image

So while we missed a good 50 miles of trail today, we still had a big day. I am glad we made the decision to skip the danger zone. I am happy to be out of the way, safe and in a nice state park.

Tomorrow back to the trail.

Onward.