It got more and more cold – had breakfast in tent. The trail had been smokey since days – the sky looked really hazy. We were on trail at 7am heading into more lava fields.
I loved the landscape, even though it was windy and difficult to walk. It reminded me in some regards of the Sierra – but most of it looked just alien, like from a different world.
We took a longer break with cellphone coverage at a lake – I had my coffee and booked a place in Cascade Locks, the gateway into Washington.
A highway crossing was coming – a chance for trail magic. But no luck. A bit disappointed, we took a break right next to the street and had some snacks. After a few minutes, a pickup stopped and two men got out. They wanted to know if the crossing trail was indeed the Pacific Crest Trail. We learned that they were father and a friend of a trail runner attempting an Oregon crossing on the PCT. After some chat, they offered sodas and bars which we happily accepted. The trail provides… 🙂
At the end of the lava fields, I came to a crossing of the trail. With the trail so evenly splitting, it reminded me of one of my favorite poems by Robert Frost.
Robert Frost – The Road not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
We finally got out of the lava fields and headed towards our next resupply stop, the Big Lake Youth Camp short before mile 2000.
We arrived at 5.30pm at the youth camp. Surprisingly nobody from the camp was around – they were obviously on a break. But the PCT designated hut was populated with hikers. We helped ourselves to a shower, laundry, picked up our resupply boxes and ate some dinner from the hiker box.
Around 9pm we left cleaned up and with devices charged, walked a while to a designated camping area, mile 1995.
We got up at 5.30am and continued our chat with Excel during breakfast. She would leave later since she only planned 8 miles for today. She had been off trail for some days due to the smoke and was slowly increasing miles again.
We left at 6.30am. We had amazing views on Mt. Thielsen. With the smoke and a cloudy sky, the morning sun offered some nice photo opportunities.
We took water 8 miles in at Thielsen creek 1854. It would be a long water carry, took 3.5 liters for the next 22 miles.
After the lunch break at mile 1863 at 2pm at the Maidu lake junction, we had several milestones waiting… the highpoint of the PCT in the states Oregon and Washington at about 7500 feet as well as the 3000 km marker.
Considering the overall PCT highpoint at Forester Pass in the Sierra at around 13000 feet, this is really not so much…
When you walk on the PCT and suddenly run into a group of hikers, there is either trail magic with free sodas or beer to be expected… or cellphone coverage. 🙂
Continuing on, we had an increasing humidity and even a few drops rain…
With the limited water availability today, we had to push on to the next source and camped at a water cache at dirt road at mile 1876, the crossing with Skyline trail.
Getting out of town was easier than expected. After the breakfast in the motel and some last shopping, we were just standing at the street for a couple of minutes. An older couple stopped and offered a ride to the trail head: we don’t want you to stand out here in the smoke longer than necessary.
We got on trail at 10.30am. We refreshed at a water cache right at the trail head and started hiking out from Ashland and hopefully away from the smoke.
At 7.30pm we came to our planned tentsite with water at mile 1739 – an outlet with a waterfall from a lake.
22 miles – decent for a nero – considering that we only started hiking at 10.30am.
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.
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.
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.
Woke up at 6am, anticipating a pickup together with Gusty and Crumbs by Gusty’s dad around 6.45am.
Finishing the last fruits in a quick breakfast, I was in front of the hotel in time. Got updates from Crumbs about a delay so I walked to an espresso place in Dunsmuir.
Gusty, Crumbs and I started on trail by 8am. Surprisingly quite flat in the beginning. Following Crumbs lead, we took a wrong turn and hiked up steeply a while – but another fork of the trail led us back to the PCT.
Water was an issue – water sources up to 10 miles away. The smoke from the nearby forest fires of the last days remained – not much to see from the Castle Crags Wilderness…
Later today the trail got steep again – with the smoke and burnt smell not a pleasure to climb a total of 7000 feet today.
Late lunch around 1.30pm after getting water, 15 miles done.
In the sun… Continued walking a bit for shade. Rested until 3.15pm.
Walked until 6.30pm to water and tentsite at mile 1524. 25 mile day. Satisfied considering the late start.
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’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.