August 1, 2015
Almost 2 weeks have passed since I jumped off trail. Last weekend my family and a friend’s family hiked into Yosemite’s Chilnualna Falls as our third annual backpacking trip. Each year we make our kids pack a few miles into a wilderness for a few nights of nature play. I will post more about this trip, other trips and intend to create a blog post about ‘Hiking with Kids’ too.
Early Saturday morning I drive over to my parent’s house to have them take me back to the trail head at A Tree Spring. I had a big work deadline due on Friday and all the graphic files were too large to email to the client. I ended up staying up all night reformatting the files to a reduced size that could be emailed, frustrating for sure. Needless to say, I was tired and skeptical about how effective I would be hiking on no sleep.
I have probably said this before, but it is worth saying again. My parents are very supportive and helpful in my quest to complete the PCT. I grew up in the outdoors, thanks to them, and it was in 1977 that my Dad exposed me to the PCT in the Three Sisters Wilderness. We have talked about doing sections of the trail together in the past. In fact if it wasn’t for my father wanting to do Sonora to Ebbetts pass last year, I wouldn’t be doing this at all. Unfortunately, he had some health issues come up last year and decided it was best not to try a 30 mile hike. So, he now gets to experience the trail vicariously through me.
We get to A Tree Spring around noon. I say my goodbyes and hope to see my family and possibly them in a little over a week at Burney Falls.
I decided to buy a new pair of shoes for this section. The last pair has a few hundred miles on them and I would hate to have them die before the next 200 miles are complete. I am never a fan of taking a new pair of shoes on an extended hike without breaking them in on a couple short hikes close to home. But, this my third pair of New Balance MT1210’s and feel comfortable about hitting the trail with a new pair.
Out of A Tree the trail gentle climbs through a forested section of trail. A bout a mile into the hike I meet this older man laying horizontal in the trail. He is hacking it up pretty bad and something seemed amiss with his breathing. He was SOBO-ing it from Belden to Sierra City. I stayed with him for about a half hour making sure he was alright. He didn’t want any help and was confident he would make it Sierra City by tomorrow. I reluctantly parted and continued Northbound. Not much I can do if the person doesn’t want help. I just hope everything turned out ok. He informed me that there was a couple hiking in front of me, but could say how far ahead. At least it was good to know if I had some people in front of me or not. With the two week break, I am firmly in the tail end of the main pack again this year, so I am not expecting to see as many people as I was hiking with a couple weeks ago.
The trail is definitely transitioning out of the Sierra and descending to lower elevations. It heads in a more westerly direction than north and is gradually descending into the Feather River watershed. By the end of the day the elevation change wasn’t anything significant as this portion was pretty much following a series of ridge lines. It is mostly eroded volcanic rock formations and primarily forested making any distant views few and far between.
Around 7pm I reach the trail spur to Alder Spring – which is about a 5-10 minute walk to the north to get water. I dropped my pack and met the young Canadian couple that had been hiking in front of me all afternoon. By 7:45 I had 5L of water and proceeded to make a couple more miles before setting up camp. I found a campsite at Chimney Rock just after sunset and set up in the dark.
At about 1am I was awakened by the sound of thunder and raindrops hitting my tent. I jumped out to stake out the sides of the tent to insure the rain wasn’t coming in the bottom vents. I stayed awake for a good hour watching the lightning flashes and fell back to sleep. I slept really well that night – probably because I was sleep deprived from the night before. Overall, I impressed myself by making 20 miles on no sleep and only a half day of hiking. I managed to make it 6 miles farther than my pre-planned goal.