June 16, 2016
(1416.93 – 1432)
After 312 zero days…the 2016 PCT season begins as I continue on my MYTH…’The Myth of Segment’…The Multi Year Through Hike…Year #3, 400 miles completed and this year’s goal is to reach an overall of 700 miles completed. With a trial that is 2,650 miles long, I am 15% complete looking to increase that to 26% this year…at the current rate, I should finish this trail in 2025… ugh.
Yesterday I had to fly to LA for a day of business meetings and got stuck at the airport due a return flight home that was delayed by 3 hours. I didn’t walk through my door until 11:00 pm, did a little more work and just forced myself to go to bed at 12:30 and finish in the morning.
My morning starts early as my alarm bleeps me awake at 4am. As the typical pre-vacation scenario of having too many last minute work tasks to complete…I write up a business proposal and email it off by 5am…my last task.
Thankfully my pack has been packed for a couple weeks in anticipation of getting back out on the trail. I do a quick pass to make sure I have everything, leave a stack of Halfmile maps on the counter with my itinerary and kiss my family goodbye. I am on the road at 5:30 and at an Amtrak station by a little after 6. I park my car and wait for my parents to pick me up and drive me to Burney.
By 6:30 we are on the road north. 10:30 we are at a Subway in Burney getting a few sandwiches; that will be my lunch and dinner for today. By 11 we are parked in a pull out off the road to Lake Britton Dam, adjacent to where I stopped last year; exactly 400 miles North of Sonora Pass. Luckily the, ‘400’ I wrote out in sticks is still on the trail…some thru hiker added their ‘1’ in front to make it 1400, but it made it easy to find the spot to continue from.
Once again, I am so thankful to my parents for all their support, I say goodbye and walk off to the west.
It had rained here this morning but by now it is a mixed overcast sky that appears to be burning off. There is only a 30% chance of rain tomorrow and 20% on Saturday, so the weather should be clearing up and the sun should shine.
I cross over the dam and start the climb out of the Pit River Canyon. The dam being the lowest point on the front end of this hike at 2705 elev., it also marks the steady climb up to the top of the ridge, which my goal today is at 5350 elev.
The landscape is the drier east side climate with mixed pine – oak savanna, yet still wet enough to be out of the sagebrush – juniper. Above the dam the trail starts climbing up to a ridge that parallels the river, oaks and manzanita predominate.
The ‘Lil Apples’ are big plump green berries that are just starting to redden; tart and dry like an unripe apple.
I pass over rock creek footbridge, where I have read that there is some good swimming holes a couple hundred feet downstream, but didn’t see any good trail leading down to them. I hiked another half mile, found a shady spot to eat my lunch. The sandwich was good, but starting to get soggy…it should be fully saturated by dinner. But, it beats rehydrating a meal. A few miles later I take a short break snack break at Upper Jake Spring where I am passed by two young guys section hiking in.
I love hiking this time of year…the wildflowers are in full display.
The indian paintbrush, star thistle, an aster, buckwheat sprinkle the side of the trail…the star thistle being abundant in places and making me thankful for wearing long pants through this section. The trail continues to climb and starts entering into a more lush landscape. The plant community is becoming much more of the Pacific Northwest palette and less of the Central California. I feel that I have finally reached Northern California…I am getting closer to Oregon…Yay!
For me, the leading plant indicator was seeing wild ginger growing abundantly along the trail. However, the False Solomon’s Seal, Campanula, Dogwood, Columbine, Bracken, Vine Maple, Thimble Berry and many more made it all come together. This prompted me to take as many pictures of plants as I can to make a side blog post just on plant material.
As the trail approaches the top of the ridge it passes under a couple large high voltage lines…constant buzz and popping of electricity made me feel uneasy. The clear cut of all foliage to make way and protect these lines is an impressive swath through a beautiful forest. I find it ironic that the only larger shrubs left standing were a few on either side of the PCT…and they were left to overgrow on to the trail. All I could speculate on was how this is some bureaucratic bs that makes the power company not cut anything under 20 feet within the trail easement and then the government that doesn’t have any funds to maintain this trail. But, that is the pessimist in me.
Shortly after the powerlines I come to a campsite with a full view towards the west. In the distance you can see Castle Crags and Mt. Shasta (obscured in clouds), Grizzly Peak and Bald Mountain. Once again I am amazed at the distance of places that I am about to hike to. Tomorrow I hope to get to the other side of Grizzly Peak and in 3 days I will end at the base of Castle Crags (31 miles as the crow flies / 65 miles by trail).
I set up my tent, sit on a rock to eat my soggy subway sandwich, I make a small fire to help dry out my damp socks from walking through the wet brush. By 8:30 I find myself waiting to watch the sun set, but know I will not get to see Mt. Shasta tonight…I hope to wake up to a great view of the mountain in the morning. I am in bed by 8:45. At 9pm raindrops start dropping on my tent. I woke up a few times through the night during some heavier downpours. The weather seemed to be working on a 2 hour wave frequency. It would dump rain then taper off to a light rain. In two hours another downpour would hit, and wake me up, then taper off to a light rain.
For additional information on this section, I found some nicely detailed maps at (http://www.sacramentovalleyhiking.org/Pacific%20Crest%20Trail/PacificCrestTrail.htm)