Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Trail angels

Can't finish the blog or the hike without thanking the trail angels and people who helped me along the way.
Special thanks to my parents who not only inspired this dream long ago, but also became the best support team a hiker could ever have.
It was like having your bounce box on wheels. Their RV became recognizable to other thru hikers and would often help fellow hikers with rides at road crossings. They handled my requests to gather my gear or clothing, shipped resupply packages, did my laundry, navigated forest service roads, drove thousands of miles, set up or broke down a spare tent, got up early and stayed up late.  I really enjoyed the times when I would be meeting them at a pass and there would be a sign in the trail or my father's footprints. It was really great when he would walk up the trail to meet me with cold beer in his pack! At times, it seemed like they were having more fun than I was!

Thanks Mom and Dad! Trail names Wing and Prayer. 

Sierra City to Hwy 30

Recap - In 2012, I hiked most of the Pacific Crest Trail. There were several fires in Northern California that closed the trail. When the Chips Creek fire closed the town of Belden, the group I was hiking with made a collective decision to skip from Sierra City up to the Hwy 36 crossing near Chester. This was a 140 mile section.

Luckily, I made it through the Lassen fire just in time. I cut it very close as people who had departed Drakesbad Guest Ranch the same morning as I did were turned back by fire crews who had come in on the Twin Lakes trail. While hiking that day I could see smoke very close to the trail and an aircraft circling above. Eventually I heard chutes open and saw smoke jumpers parachuting into the fire zone. I camped at Badger Flat near the spring and had an uneasy night as smoke drifted across the meadow. When I arrived at Old Station the next day, the fire had erupted into an inferno and ash was falling from the sky.

There was another fire in Seiad Valley. The fire was burning along the PCT just north of town I really hurried to try to get through before another closure. I skipped the 8 mile road walk down to Seiad Valley store attempting to get through but the trail closed the next day. Fire officials were still permitting vehicle traffic on a long windy and steep gravel road up to Cook and Green Pass. This was another 14 miles of trail + the 8 mile road walk down Grider Creek Rd that I didn't get to complete.

Some hikers walked the road making their journey continuous. A few hikers who skipped claimed they completed the entire trail because that section of trail was closed. My goal was to - and still is - to hike every inch of the 2650 mile trail. That meant I needed to go back this year to complete the fire skipped sections.

Earlier this month I went back to hike the reopened sections of trail. I wasn't sure if I had my hiking legs but made great time. Pounded out the 140 miles in 6 1/2 days. Now I can officially say that I've hiked all 1697.5 miles of PCT in California. Oregon was completed last year with no skips. This leaves only 80 miles to go. Stay tuned as I plan to hike from Stehekin to the Canadian border later this summer and complete my goal of hiking every inch of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Climbing up to Sierra Buttes

Looking back down on the North Yuba River. PCT trail bridge is barely visible. 

 It was 105 degrees! Made the climb go very slow.

Looking back at Sierra Buttes North side.


Looking down on Oakland pond. Not much water on roue.

Gold Lake. 

PCT running the ridge

Day 2

On trail water. Just grab and go.

Middle Fork of the Feather River

Getting close to Belden Town

Looking towards Chips Creek canyon north of Belden

Dropping into Belden.

Miles of switchbacks

Heading up Chips Creek canyon

2012 fire damage

1300 mile mark - still there from 21012. Needed a little reassembly

heading towards Devil's peaks in the Siead Valley burn section