Days 110, 111 – Nero and Zero day in Ashland

Aug 8. and 9.

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With just 6 miles left and leaving at 6am, made it to the highway before 8am. Crumbs and I were walking together to the the highway and met another hiker from Switzerland who had already called a trail angel for a ride. We were lucky – with basically no waiting time, we got into Ashland!

I went to the motel where Cactass and Tinkle were sharing a room with three other hikers. My early arrival was a surprise and being reunited was really nice! But it also meant good bye again soon after! Cactass is attending some weddings in September and for that, she decided to skip forward a couple of days to Crater lake.

With Cactass gone, we spent the rest of town time shopping for food, eating and resting. I used the life long Darn Tough socks warranty the first time and exchanged a pair with holes with a new one in the Mountain Provisions shop in Ashland.

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It was also time for my forth pair of shoes:

  • First was Salomon X Ultra Mid, 0-700 miles
  • Second Lowa Camino Leather for the Sierras, 700-1100 miles
  • Third Salomon X Ultra 1100-1700
  • Fourth Salomon X Ultra 1700-?

The smoke situation from the forest fires is quite bad, especially around Ashland.

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You see many people with filter masks on their faces on the streets – we will check out a local hardware store before hitting the trail later.

Day 107 – From tentsite to Seiad Valley, mile 1653

Aug 5.

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Got up 5.30am, on trail after mini breakfast in tent at 6.15am.

Water stop at Paradise Lake. Heard first barking from wild dogs, followed by howling… Guess I heard the first time wolves!

Stop at 10am with 10 miles, a break for the feet with some stretching. A curious squirrel sits on a close tree and starts whistling… Also never heard a squirrel before.

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Walked into a group of 4 deer – one of them was small with cute spots on its fur. Finally saw a baby deer! A day of animal encounters it seems…

Lunch 1.15pm at mile 1641 at Grider creek – only 12 miles more for the afternoon.

The last miles into Seiad Valley turned into a long roadwalk. But here were were so many bushes with blackberries and some variant of raspberries…

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Seiad Valley is a very small community. But the general store was open until 8pm, so I had no trouble getting resupply for the remaining 2-3 days to Ashland. The Seiad Cafe next to it had already closed in the afternoon, so I ate for dinner what I had bought in the shop. I pitched my tent in the RV park on the other side of the store. Shower, bucket laundry, charging phone and powerbank… falling asleep around 9pm.

Another 30 miles day.

Day 105 – From tentsite to Etna, Nero day

Aug 3.

Mount Shasta

The last night had been comfortably cool again for sleeping. Had trouble to get up at 5.15am when my alarm went off. Stayed in the tent another 15min. But the thought of getting into town (equals food, shower, laundry) after just 13 miles motivated me enough to be on trail by 6am. Breakfast only on the go today.

After some uphill, the trail led rather even through the Russian Wilderness with its rocks and burnt trees – a nice change of the view I had the last days.

I was coming to the road leading to Etna around 11.45am. With three other hikers waiting there already for a hitch, I expected a longer waiting time. But lucky us – an SUV coming up from Etna turned around and a nice lady from the Etna motel took all of us into town.

My breakfast in town – with a huge cinnamon roll 🤣😂

After breakfast, I did grocery shopping in the Dollar General and pitched my tent in the city park. They offer showers and restrooms for hikers. A good place to finish my town day – doing nothing.

Day 97 – From forest road 22 to Burney Falls NP campground, mile 1417

July 26.

Got up 6.20am. Slowly getting there… Few other hikers were active. Broke down my tent, had a coffee and a poptart for breakfast. Starting walking 6.10am – an early start for me, nice. My plans for today were ideally 25 miles again, that would take me to the Burney Falls campground. It has shower and laundry facilities – I am just not too sure how good the store is for the resupply.

Shortly after leaving the tentsite, I saw a skunk crossing the trail in front of me! First time I saw a skunk on trail! I made some noise and kept distance… You don’t want to mess with one of these – also considering that I have basically no clothes to change…

Smokey air all morning, as it turned out the whole day. The sun appeared in a deep red on the horizon.

Passed the 1400 miles marker.

Around 1pm came into Burney Mt Guest Ranch. A great place with friendly people. There were not many hikers around, it was easy to take a quick shower and do laundry. Their little store was well stocked with fair prices to resupply until Mt Shasta. Chatted with Crumbs and Gusty.

Left at 4pm – that was really effective.

Arrived Burney Falls around 7.30pm. Quick stop at the shop that closes at 8pm: chocolate, soft drinks, beer and chips.

Sitting with a bunch of other hikers including Flower/Colin and Nightwalker until 8.30pm – too tired then, went to the designated hiker area and pitched my tent. In tent by 9pm.

Long day, but really effective. 26 miles. And resupply done.

Day 89 – From Tentsite via Belden to Chester, mile 1329

July 18.

Started hiking at 6.15am.

Beautiful views in the morning light helped to push forward…

We covered the remaining about 13 miles to Belden quickly, came to a train crossing at Belden at 11am. As several times before, the PCT crosses the rails. There are not barriers or underpass – you just cross. In our case, there was a typical very long freight train parked on the rails.

We waited maybe 20 minutes for the train to move, killing the time eating wild raspberries.

Three other hikers didn’t have the patience and climbed over the train to the other side. We hesitated quite a while – but at the end did the same thing, carefully checking the other rails on more trains. On the other side, we hitched to an RV park Caribou Crossings where we had a resupply package waiting. Finally the opportunity for a shower, laundry and a burger!

I decided to give my body a rest and have time to get over the flu with fever that I had been fighting with for the last three days on trails. Belden not being a real town, I intended to hitchhike into the next town Chester, basically skipping 2,5 days ahead. The girls Cactass and Tinkle would continue hiking and arrive in Chester later.

It took three hitchhikes to get me to Chester. All of the rides were with really nice people.

First ride was pickup of a middle aged couple. They stopped and apologized that they want to take me, but have no space in the cabin. I volunteered to ride in the open back, thankful for the ride. They gave me nectarines, cookies – after dropping me at the Y towards Quincy/Chester, we had a nice chat about hiking. At that highway crossing, I ran into Sea Bass, another German hiker who I had hiked with several times before.

Second ride was a 40ton semi, what a cool experience.

The driver was a guy with a similar beard like me, we had a really nice chat on the road.

He dropped me at Canyondam where I got my third hitch from an older guy. We was just getting out of a semi and offered me a ride in his SUV to Chester. It turns out he was a retiree riding the semi with his son. We spoke about finding priorities in life. Having lost his wife recently and suffered several heart attacks, he was proud to have taken the right decisions just recently to get his health in order. I told him my story about quitting my job to be able to hike the PCT. Even just chatting for 20min, we got along really well. He encouraged me and congratulated me for my courageous decision – saying that there is no other place I should be but on the trail right now. Wow.

Found a cheap motel in Chester. Bought food, cold&flu medicine… Got to bed early. Hope I will recover soon.

Day 85 – From Sierra City to tentsite, mile 1203

July 14.

Slept until 7.30am, it was a hot night. Sierra City is located on a much lower altitude than the trail – that made the heat even worse.

Tinkle and I had resupply packages waiting for us in the post office – Cactass had a care package from a friend waiting as well. Since the post office only opens from 10.30am to 12.30pm, we had a lazy morning with breakfast in town.

Tinkle also got a package from her family full of Swiss chocolate!

Tinkle’s chocolate package has a long story. She had expected it first in Kennedy Meadows at mile 700. It didn’t arrive in time and the tracking later and attempts to forward never worked. I had given up the hope for that chocolate already… Maybe there never was chocolate? 😂 Today proved me wrong. Thank you for sharing!

The heat got worse during the day and after we had resupply completed from the packages and the general store, we still hung out in the shade before facing the 2500 feet ascend out of town.

When we got to the trail head, another hiker had his parents offering trail magic with sodas and fruits.

You never pass on trail magic…

We were finally on trail at 3pm. The ascend was not so steep after all. We covered the 5 miles to the 1200 miles marker quickly.

We found a tentsite soon after and camped with just 8 miles done on today’s nero. But tomorrow will be a full 25 miles day again.