July 21, 2018 – Mile 1501 – Castella, CA
Here we are in Castella, CA, and we’re re-evaluating our options.
The weather has been really hot, even in the mountains. Our first day on the trail after our nice zero day at Burney Mt Guest Ranch found us setting up camp in a very dark patch of shady forest. I should have known it wouldn’t be perfect since the area around our tent was just dirt and dead wood. But, it was out of the sun. Nevertheless, the temperature in our tent was near 85, even in the shade. We would make the best of it. At least we had a new replacement tent supplied by REI. The zippers came apart on “Copper Spur 1.0”, mostly because of an abundance of dirt, grime, and dryness. Hopefully, “CS 2.0” would not fail us. The bugs are getting bad.
For example, when we set up a night camp on the Hat Creek Rim, Mike got a half dozen nasty bites from unknown assailants mostly due to the partially open zippers. Clothes get changed, skin gets exposed, bugs take advantage of the availability. These bites were the kind that blister, swell, itch, and weep. Not fun. Especially, the ones on the fingers and hands.
Anyway, Kosk Divide Camp was dark, dirty, hot, and buggy. Every camp we set up now provides a variety of mosquitoes, flies, spiders, moths, and bees. You can imagine how important those new zippers are now!
And if it’s not the bugs, it’s the heat. Afternoon temperatures are now into the mid nineties in the shade. We expected as much in the desert, but here? No. We have taken to rising at 4:00am, leaving at 5:30, hiking until 12:30 or 1:00, setting up camp, then trying to stay cool. We’ve been more or less successful, but not very comfortable. Our distances are 5-6 miles less than our target for the day. We’re getting further behind.
Yet, we are adapting to the circumstances. Drinking lots of water, slowing down a bit, planning the steep ascents for the early morning hours, leaving early, and finding shade and water before it gets too hot.
Mike’s face is adapting too. It’s all too common to see scraggly beards on the trail. Mike tried to shave off a two-week beard unsuccessfully. Disposable razors are no match to his wiry face. So, the plan is to leave it and let it grow. If it becomes too much of an issue, we will take more aggressive actions to tame “the wild thing”.
Anyway, we’re moving up to Crater Lake to increase our chances for cooler weather and clearer skies. Hopefully, we will finish Oregon by mid- August and Washington in mid-September, just to return to California to finish off the rest of the PCT.