Much has happened since our last post. We’ve been out of service range for almost a week. Battery power has been in short supply for our phones. We’ve protected our reserve to make sure we have navigation tools; especially locations and distances to water sources.
Since our last post we have covered 123 miles on foot, hiking every day. Our longest day was 21 miles. Our shortest day was today, 12.6 miles, but included the most difficult section on this trip so far. I’ll explain later.
6/14 Monday. Mile 1519 to Mile 1537.
Packed up in the rain and hiked the first two hours getting drenched. Wet and windy ridge. Very gentle ups and downs. Open slopes changed to much like our Northwest. Sun came out later. Some nice lakes. Topped off water bottles in springs we passed. Saw slope full of strange flowers or plants. Sort of shaped like pitcher plants. Greenish-yellow. Temperature was about 45 in morning maybe 60 in afternoon. Arrived Deadfall Lakes 3:30 pm. 18 mi in 7.5 hours. Set up camp near lower lake. Wind blowing hard at upper lake. Cheddar broccoli with meatballs for dinner. Rained all through dinner but has now calmed and quit. Did outrace a thunderstorm coming behind us in our last hour of travel.
6/15 Tuesday. Mile 1537 to Mile 1556.
19.1 miles on the trail today. Lots of ridge traversing. Met 3 men out for a day hike from somewhere around here. One said his Facebook site is Zandona Outdoors. Another confirmed the insect-eating Pitcher Plant. Might check him out. Good camp at Masterson Meadow with water from a spring. Also saw young couple on trail. Camp was very quiet. 36 in the morning.
6/16 Wednesday. Mile 1556 to Mile 1577.
21 mile day with ~ 3000’ of gain. Nice views of Mt Shasta and the Trinity Alps. Found good water 2.5 miles away and carried extra bags here. Saw 2 PCT’ers – Nugget and Twister. Also large group of college age. Chicken and potatoes for dinner.
6/17 Thursday. Mile 1577 to Mile 1594.
Started at 6:50. 18 miles. 3500’. Biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Talked to ranger at Carter Summit. Got fire permit required in CA. Long hot 750’ climb after 8 miles. Made it to Payne’s Lake. Pretty wasted after climbing in hot, direct sunlight. Arrived camp at 4:30. Freeze-dried chili mac for dinner.
6/18 Friday. Mile 1594 to Mile 1613.
Left Payne’s Lake camp at 7am. (Mile 1594). 6 miles to Etna Hwy Summit. Lots of hot traversing through burns.
At one point, had an encounter with a 5-foot rattlesnake! One step on the trail and – chkachkachkachkachka! Whoa! Stopped me in my tracks! About 10 feet in front of me was a very beautiful snake. It took no time in slithering between rocks and disappearing. This meeting turned out just the way it was supposed to. I was warned. I gave time and space. We went our separate ways.
Arrived Kidder Creek tributary camp (mile 1613) at 5:40 pm. Created a 1600 marker on the trail and took selfie. Decided to add another day between here and Seiad Valley taking 3 days to cover the 42 miles instead of 2 days.
6/19 Elaine’s Birthday Saturday. Mile 1613 to Mile 1629.
Slept in a little and left at 8am. Traversed through two beautiful rocky basins. Trail was rough and up and down for almost the whole day. Bees bothered us at both the Marble Valley cabin and our Paradise Lake camp. Don’t know what kind of bees they are but they are super-attracted to anything that has our sweat in it. We had to hide out in our tent since there are hundreds. Had camp set up before they invaded our campsite. Pretty hot but some breeze.
6/20 Father’s Day Sunday. Mile 1629 to Mile 1642.
12 miles to Cold Creek Camp. Descending off the crest toward Seiad Valley. Thought we’d beat the bees up but they became worse than ever as we packed up. Elaine was stung once on the shoulder. Got under the collar of her shirt. Sure enough. I pulled the whole stinger from her skin. Scurried out of that camp and had pleasant going along the crest. Stopped by Buckhorn Spring for some nice cold fresh water. Said hello to another PCTer as he got water too.
As we descended toward our camp, the brush became heavy and we lost the trail in a burn area. Tons of blow-down too. Even using our navigation map we couldn’t find the trail. The terrain was steep and uneven. We heard the hiker that was behind us in the brush too. He asked us if we were on the trail. We weren’t! It took us an hour and a half of severe brush-crashing with the three of us trying to find evidence of the trail. Took a break in the middle of the bushes with some shade with our new acquaintance and found he was from Lithuania. (How weird is that?). He got to the US through Mexico. Extremely hot, fatiguing, and frustrating. Elaine’s excellent navigation reasoning finally helped us find the trail. This was our most difficult challenge as yet.
Found a nice campsite next to a cool steam and have been hanging out regaining our energy. We’re excited to get some in-town food tomorrow. We discussed and have decided this is the most trail days we’ve ever done consecutively. We even had rest days on Denali!