We did it! Trip 24 is finished.
PCT 24 Journal
Echo Lake to Belden, Ca 192 miles
It took 12 days to get to Belden. We had a zero day in Sierra City which was wonderful and a day at the Sierra Club Claire Tappan Lodge at Donner Pass which was amazing. Rachel Ginsburg friend and trail angel extraordinaire took us to Echo Lake. It was Bittersweet to not have Bill Redman there. We’d done all but one of the sections from Campo together. He had important knee surgery and I hope to walk with him next year. Paul Freiman joined me or I him. Known to many as Capt. Bivy he had a lot of experience and a great attitude for this section.
Eight miles out late in the afternoon took us past Aloha Lake to a camp above Heather Lake that had a sweet waterfall above it. Lots of day hikers. Great views right off the bat. Saw very big earthbound bird. Paul said Turkey. I said giant Grouse. But why didn’t it fly? No pictures. A rodent chewed a hole into my food bag and had some trail mix.
The next day, a hard one, took us over Dick’s Pass and up to Richardson Lake. Ran into people running 28 miles in one day. I thought I was in shape. I was a little dehydrated because of my refusal to filter from standing water. You get goofy quickly without water. The lake water tasted fishy but it was clean. Slept for 9 hours and barely moved.
Picked up a buddy for the day, Jeff Smith. Retired professor. We walked 22 miles, his personal best, and walked right by creek because I read the handbook wrong. Still we found a creek to wash and filter from at the end of the day. Bill’s Pepsi can stove burns a long time. My Tortellini is always cooked right. Got my first blister on the PCT. Left inside heel. Fixed it with Duct Tape and triple antibiotic.
Paul is hurting today. Always takes a few days to acclimate. His pack is too heavy. Back bothering him but he troops on. Saw one of our favorite things on the trail. Lady hikers out for the day with a dog. Beauty itself. Reached Soda Springs. Quick hitch to the P.O. and a quicker one to Claire Tappan. Best deal on the PCT yet. $50.00 a person. Clean bed, shower, dinner, breakfast and a packed lunch. Human food and human contact. You have to help out here. I set the tables twice. The namesake of this Sierra Club Lodge said that outdoor people are “good sorts” and he’s right. Two of them wanted to take us back to the trailhead the next morning. Wonderful experience. I performed some magic at breakfast.
Peter took us to the trailhead. First time I’ve met a venture capitalist. Walked past Castle Peak to our packed lunch at Peter Grubb hut. Lovely location in a meadow. Must be a skier’s paradise. Ran into a forest recon crew of two. They had a notebook of all the blowdowns in that section and they were carrying a crosscut saw to do what they could on the trail. Heard it ring before we saw them. Spent the night at White Rock Creek. Maybe the prettiest campsite in recent hikes. Mosquitoes can sting through your clothes though. First time I was really affected by the little buggers. Paul’s feeling stronger.
Biggest day ever. 28 miles into Sierra City. Thought it would be shorter but kept going and going. Plenty of ups even with the notes showing down. Ran into Tammy and Asa coming down from Cascade Locks headed for Whitney. Tammy was talking about staying clean. Must be tougher on the ladies. She realized one day she stunk too. She’s from South Carolina. With her home drawl she said “Oh my God I smell like a boy!” Saw a doe, Paul saw a bear (I haven’t seen one yet on the trail) and two rattlesnakes mating. They did not want to move. Frozen in excitement. I believe the guy was thinking. “I been waiting to do this my entire snake life and I’m not going anywhere.” They finally slithered, still attached, off the trail in a rain of rocks. We were wiped out by the time we got to Highway 49. Picked up by a Forest Service Biologist on vacation. Went to the Buckhorn Restaurant and Inn. I couldn’t stop talking and Paul hardly muttered a word. Funny how we act when fatigued. I had my town ball cap from Soda Springs. We look and smell awful but I seem to think a cap makes me less objectionable.
Sierra City is the place I’d bring the family. What a sweet spot. Two blocks or so of Sierra fun. We met great people. Picked up our supplies at the P.O. and bought some groceries during the next day in town. Donated my protein bars. Never take them again. Ugh! It became obvious that the place is run by strong women. Except for Larry at the store women are in charge. Love a strong woman but not a weak man. Bartender at the Buckhorn. “I can’t get my husband to go ice fishing or snowmobiling with me. He wants to sit on his ass all day.” I’d go with her.
Hitched out of town early. Trail angel Jim Duffy gave us a ride after he took his blind dog for a walk. Hit the Sierra Buttes early. We powered up the mountain. Paul had hit his stride and zoomed ahead. A day hiker’s haven we met a man and his extended family going up for the 30th time on the far side. We road walked for the first time in memory, confusing. You have to read the handbook carefully. I love a duck on the trail. Helpful but often unnecessary. I call them “courtesy ducks.” Saw a “water duck” pointing to a spring.
Some hard climbs today in this section. Volcanic rocks everywhere. Water scarce. Put my sock on, felt something, found a 1 ¼” flying bug, lovely. On my now annual hike the body becomes a roaring furnace. A fat burning machine. I’m always refining trail food to make it as healthy as possible but it is the only time you can overwhelm calories with exercise. I lost five pounds on this trip. Paul must eat twice what I do in town. He’s amazing. Sample meal. Giant turkey sandwich. Polish Dog. Bag of chips. Pint of Ben and Jerry’s. The rest of my bag of chips. Bag of Twizzlers and 3 Dr. Peppers, not diet.
We descended into the Middle Feather River Canyon. “Delightful Spring” was a mere trickle. Saw one of the most amazing bridges on the trail. Haven’t been able to get my mind around how they haul in and build this stuff in the wilderness. I swam in a “fantastic pool” in the river. It was wonderful. I got a swim and a bath. We hiked to Bear Creek for a camp above it.
A huge climb today. In fact two. 2700 feet up to the rim and on to the alternate route through Bucks Lake. Five miles of road walking. Met Petrie with a 70 pound pack and a good attitude. Nancy Williams did Trail Angel duty for the first time this year. Haskins Store has real Turkey Sandwiches. We walked to Bucks Summit and put in another 1000 feet to get to our last camp. I lay in my Tarptent surrounded by large black ants and spiders. I’ve gotten used to them and they don’t bother me. My wife would never have anything to do with this. She might be the sane one.
The last day brought us through some sweet forest walking with the first cows in this section. 16 easy miles but a huge leg pounding descent into Belden at the end. 36 switchbacks. The hiking days never exceeded 80 degrees but it was a 100 at the end. I’m at 1289 miles from Campo. What a project. Canada or bust. Another gauntlet of giant Poison Oak. Belden Town resort is well run by Karen. Food good and beer cold. Took a shower to not offend Rachel back to the Oakland Airport.
Not as hard as the Sierra sections behind us but the most mile for me, 192. We averaged 17 miles a day in 12 days. A very nice journey.