Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 70, Onwards to the Feather River!

Daily mileage: 24.5
Mile 1227-1251.5

Today was a day to wander. No hurry, just slowly winding in and out of forests. Trees, and butterflies, wildflowers and even a view of what must be Lassen.

We're back to stretches where you have to go off trail for water, or carry a bit more like we chose to do. Stopped early for siesta in a little canyon with a tiny stream. The day was heating up and our siesta was back to its original purpose. Hiking in 90 degree heat, not if I can help it.
After siesta more silly switchbacks and circles and then down we went, the trail was steep but the forest was so enjoyable. Even some nice damp sections with ferns and such, very different then the drier forest surrounding it. The plan was to go to mile 1252 tonight but half a mile before that was a great bridge over the middle fork of the feather river. Unanimous decision to sleep on the bridge. And I only lost one pair of docks to the river :) darn you current, I'm just not as fast as you.

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Day 69, the Sierra Buttes

Daily mileage: 25.5
Mile: 1201.6-1227.1

Lay in my sleeping bag hiding from the cold this morning. Finally sucked it up, packed and started walking. When I thought to look at my watch it said 34 degrees, but TW said that when we first left it was 30. No wonder it felt cold! At least there was only a bit of a breeze and not full on wind like last night. Up the trail climbed, switchbacks of shale with an awesome view of the valley to enjoy.

And then it became the land of dirt roads, some old, some clearly in use, but none very trail like. Nothing like standing at a trailhead parking lot and not being able to find the trail. Yes I see the trail going southbound, I came in on it, but where is northbound? Walking in circles and calling the PCT like a lost dog while slightly crazy, is a great conversation starter with day hikers. Turns out the PCT is actually the paved road leading to the trailhead, how silly of me to expect a trail. No worries, TW had done the same but managed to make friends with a mountain biker from Truckee and got us both some hot coffee. We finally wandered off in search of some more trail like trail and found caveman and cheese whiz waiting because they thought we were lost. And so started the day of ridiculously long breaks at every pretty view. I love rounding a corner to find everyone staring off at lakes and mountains.

We were on the backside of that this morning.

We've heard a lot of hikers totally discount northern California. We hear a lot of, well now that the high sierras are over we just have to get to Canada. Umm okay, but this is pretty awesome as far as I'm concerned.

Look, you can still see where we came from this morning :)

Siesta with a view and then up and over another mountain. Still going slow, stopping at views. This section has had a very laid back feel so far. Finally after our last break I felt a little more motivated and somehow was the first to camp. Camping in the forest, with the sounds of a creek nearby. Good job Northern California.

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Day 68, Sierra City

Daily mileage: 16 ish
Mile: 1185-1201.6

Well something ate my backpack, well the shoulder strap at least. Still functional, but all chewed up. I knew I heard something last night but I couldn't find it. I've heard rodents like shoulder straps because of all the salt in your sweat, well there is now one salty rodent out there. Boo.

Today was the slowest town pace ever. I know I've mentioned how our pace can reflect certain things, like towns, water, food etc. Town days usually have a speedier pace because we are so excited, but coming off of our zero in Grass Valley and only hiking 1.5 days nobody was in any rush. It was a morning to just stop and enjoy the scenery and the mellow hiking. Forests and creeks and even a reservoir, plus the ever entertaining signs of the PCT. Its a bit of a game to guess what they say as you get near them and there have been a ton the last few days. Gotta get your extra entertainment somehow, talking to yourself only goes so far.

Getting closer to highway 49 and Sierra City we finally got a few views and a new valley.

Hit the road and had a hitch within 5 minutes. It's only 1.5 miles down the road and someone actually turned around just to give us a ride.
We stopped at the Red Moose Inn, a super friendly hiker spot where we spent our day. The town is only about a quarter of a mile long and there was wifi so it was an incredibly mellow resupply. Plus there were perfect avocados at the store, how great is that?
All the mileages disagree but we love these signs.

How can you not enjoy a resupply with mini shopping carts?

Guacamole was made, and devoured. TW even made vegan cookie dough (because Margaret of the Inn is amazing and let us use her food processor). So fantastic.

I also finally gave up on my shoes. I got replacements back at Echo but my old shoes weren't quite dead yet so I've been carrying the new ones. But the shoes finally are being tossed, a few too many holes for my taste. But hey 750 miles ain't bad.

But I did get a new hat in the hiker box to replace the one I lost in the sierras. Woohoo, the trail will provide.
We got to town by 11 but somehow the hours flew by. Burritos were made for dinner and the guys surprised me with ice cream because today was my birthday. It was pretty awesome, I can't think of someplace I would rather be on my birthday than the PCT right now.
We finally hit the road and had a sweet hitch in a flatbed truck within 5 minutes. A few thousand feet of elevation gain through forest felt like nothing. I was winding my way up, enjoying the sunset on the clouds.

I turned a corner and bam, some super cold wind was blowing my way. My time in the trees had ended and it was time for open trail, icy wind and a whole lot of shale. But it was so pretty I was still grinning. Clouds and sunsets make every day so much better. It was starting to get dark and I was wondering where the heck we would be sleeping as every turn just showed more windy exposed shale. But then I saw a flash of color and soon enough had found the guys. A bed of shale, but the curve of the mountain served as a great windbreak and we were as protected as can be.

Not quite where I slept but close enough, surprisingly comfortable and I only started to fall of the cliff once the whole night. Good job zlite.

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Day 67, Back to the trail we go

Daily mileage: 26 ish
Mile 1158.9-1185.25

Well we knew it was coming, we had to leave the vortex eventually. So we woke up and packed, ate as much fruit as we could and wandered around in circles before finally leaving. Watched the clouds grow as we neared the I-80 rest area, and when we got out were blasted by cold wind.
Yup, we're headed straight into that cloud.

Spent the morning in a foggy cloud, nice and chilly at 41 degrees with wind. But hey, we managed to be hiking by 7:45 in the morning so at least we would be able to get some decent miles in.
You could tell there were mountains and meadows, but mostly you were just traipsing through soggy trail in a giant foggy cloud bank.

The miles kept sailing by as the trail rolled on. The clouds started to break up a bit but it stayed chilly. Walking through forests and meadows with some patchy snow and definitely wandering off the trail a few times when the pine cones were particularly dense.

I had thought that the miles today might be tough, we wanted 25 miles today because we have to get to Sierra City tomorrow to pick up a box and we had a late start. But somehow I showed up to siesta and we had done 17 miles by 2 pm which is awesome. And then even better news, there had been a miscalculation and instead of 23 miles tomorrow we actually had way less. If we could do 8 tonight then town would only be 15 miles away, much nicer than 23. So we got to enjoy a full siesta with fresh veggies and hummus and then easily went another 9 before calling it a day. It barely felt like walking today, everything just flowed so well. Good times.

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Day 66, the ultimate vortex

Miles: 0 :)

We take zeros so rarely that they are that much more amazing when they happen. So we had originally planned on heading back tonight to do 6 or so miles, but let's be honest this place was too good and we aren't going to have a chance like this again, so instead of a nearo it's a zero :)

We slept on the giant wraparound porch last night and when it started to rain just scooted under the eaves. We are already getting spoiled. Eating and chatting with folks at the house had the morning speeding by. We went out grocery shopping and then Cheese Whiz, Caveman and I started what turned into an epic granola baking afternoon. Salad and homemade granola for our resupply, why yes I do love kitchens.

The day passed much too quickly. We all spent way too much time on computers but we all got to cook and bake and eat way more than we had expected. What an amazing zero. The plan is to head out early tomorrow and actually start hiking again.

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Day 65, Onwards to Rest Areas and Amazingness

Daily mileage: 12
Mile: 1147-1159

Today we had a mission. We had to be at the rest area at I-80 by 11 because Caveman's friend was going to pick us up and take us to his house in grass valley for 2 nearos. So up we climbed. We hit the ridge line near Tinkers Knob, and while it was awesome to be walking on the crest. 41 degrees with blowing wind, not quite so awesome.

And on the trail meandered. I ran into a small area of ice and after slipping around for a few minutes I gave up and just went all the way around. Ice has officially scared me and I am giving it a wide berth right now. The trail wandered on, cold as can be. More great views, and you could tell it was near ski resorts again. As I started climbing again I hit a huge area of ice masquerading as snow. There was a bootleg trail going up the side of the mountain around it, and as I stared at the steep angle on the snow I voted for the side trail. And then I cursed myself as I found myself climbing to the top of a mountain I didn't have to technically climb. Darn you giant patch of snow. But hey at the very top I got to walk by a ski tram, the joys of not following the trail. Skidded on down the mountainside worrying about how time was speeding by only to find the guys waiting at the trail. Turns out my choice wasn't too bad and crossing the ice had been super sketchy.

Looking all the way down at the icy snow I detoured around.

Down we went, through Donner Pass, doing our best to stay on time. Schedules are stressful! We hit the highway at 1100 and the rest area 3 minutes later. Not too shabby.
And then it was glorious. We got picked up and headed down to our own personal trail angels in Grass Valley. Words cannot do justice to the generosity and awesomeness that are Dean and Nicole. We got to their giant house, walked into their kitchen and pretty much just sat there stunned. Their fridge is over twice the size of normal. So good, we ate fresh cookies and a million other things and took wonderful showers. The afternoon was mostly eating, cooking and catching up on all things requiring electronics. Then a bit of resupplying and more eating. Again I can't even explain how fantastic it was. There were even unlimited kiwis and walnuts! Farmers as family just made our day even that much greater. Tomorrow we have to buckle down and actually resupply...

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wait, who are you guys?

I spend quite a bit of time alone out here and one of the things I tend to do is write journal entries in my head as I walk. The thing is, by the time I actually sit down and type something lots of things get forgotten. You guys just get the word vomit that happens at the end of the day (or days later) when I'm tired and just want to sleep. So yeah, things tend to get forgotten. So I thought I'd take a moment to answer a question I keep getting asked.

You say we a lot, who are you hiking with again?

Well simply put its a group of 4, the cousins, caveman and myself. Between Gourmet and Clay we have officially been named the Siesta Crew. Not the most original, but I'll take it.

I first met the cousins way back near Scissors Crossing, and honestly they were super speedy and I was pretty positive I would never see them again. But our paths kept on crossing and a loose group formed. Still I don't think I really considered myself a part of their group until Moss and I hiked out with them at Idyllwild. Before that our group had been as big as 7 but that's when it really started to feel like one group, not just some folks hiking near each other. Moss ended up leaving us at Big Bear and we had P-track for a minute but lost him too. Then at the North Fork Ranger Station we first met Caveman. He had no idea what to think of our silly slap happy selves and beat a quick retreat that day. It wasn't until a giant vat of guacamole at the Saufleys that we won him over and he's been with us ever since. So that's our group. We wake up early, don't really spend much time in towns, enjoy our siestas and make a mean kale salad.

As far as individuals go:

The cousins are originally from Chicago and have been adventuring for the last 4 years in between seasonal work. No thruhikes yet but they are long distance cyclists.

They are Cheese Whiz

And Toasted Whiskers (TW).

In case you caught it their names have actually changed, they used to be grey jay and squirrel but names are changeable out here and these had better stories attached.
TW has a blog covering their adventures at:

Caveman is originally from southern California but has been living in Hawaii for the last 7 years, this is his first thruhike too but he is a crazy ultra runner and pretty amazing. He has a PCT blog on postholer, if you go to and search caveman he's the only one.

And then there is me, Focus. Caveman also keeps calling me camel because he seems so amazed at how much water I like to drink. Thats the fun with names out here, it all just depends on the day. So there you go, that's the siesta crew for now. Heading to Canada, enjoying ourselves the whole darn way.

On a side note I finally updated the dates on the care package tab. So if anyone has any desire to send me things feel free, it should be pretty accurate. I love all baked goods and pretty much anything from Trader Joes (have you had their flattened banana? So delicious), granola, trail mix, nut butters, pretty much any food will bring more joy to my life :) okay enough begging, thanks for reading my rambling thoughts today.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 64, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's a chairlift

Daily mileage: 25.5
Mile 1121.5-1147

Want to know the best way to shock yourself awake? Well I can teach you no problem. Wake up on a kind of chilly morning, start hiking and get pretty hungry. See the rest of your group on the other side of a stream getting ready for breakfast and go to join them. Now here is the tricky part, when you put your foot on that first rock make sure it is covered in grit so you slide and fall into the creek. And this is no simple foot dunking, oh no. We're talking full on soaking wet. To really add to the fun make sure you land on your knee and then your face and as you lie their like a turtle with your pack in the creek don't accept any help, because clearly that makes sense.
So yes welcome to my most graceful morning ever. I will say this is the only time on this trip I've fallen that hard and it seemed much worse than it was. Still, not really planning on repeating it. After breakfast I took things really slow favoring my bruised knee and my pride.
Made it to Barker Pass no worse for the wear and started to really enjoy my day.

Just like yesterday the miles really flowed and climbs came with no effort. Such a good hiking day. Last year I passed this junction where the Tahoe Rim Trail and the PCT split and promised that next time I saw that marker I would be on the PCT. Amazing :)

We cleared the trees and the trail actually let us walk the ridge line. Views of Tahoe, so good. This is super rare to actually be able to be on the crest, such a treat.

We took our time today, just sitting and enjoying the view. Even ran into Billy Goat, a pretty famous hiker in the small PCT world (he spends a crazy amount of time on the trail, and at keast 8000 trail miles).
As we were contouring the ridge we were noticing lots of signs and fences and we finally realized we were behind the ski resorts of North Lake Tahoe. First Alpine Meadows, then Squaw Valley. Silly but fun. Down the mountain we went, then another great siesta afternoon. Climbing through fields of Mule's Ears (a plant that is everywhere right now) and up and around we went. Even got to go right under the chairlifts. Such great views we even tacked on an extra half mile just for the view of the sunset. I love this trail.

Those are some of the many mules ear fields we saw.

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