CA PCT 2018

Sierra City to South Lake Tahoe

June 12

We got up around 6 and packed up our packs. After breakfast with Out of the Blue we plan to start the trek to South Lake Tahoe. Out of the Blue is not sure when his package will arrive so we will stay in touch, but it is not looking likely that we will see each other on this hike. Returning to the church after breakfast, only Norway is still here. The rest of the crew has started down the trail. We had to walk the two miles back to the trail head and did not hold out much hope for a hitch, but stuck the thumb out anyway. A small truck pulled up with an older women, who lives here in the summer.  She said I saw you walking by and wanted to give you a ride of which we were thankful. Once back on the trail we enjoyed seeing numerous streams with bridges.

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Yesterday we had lost a lot of elevation, today we are going to gain it back. Fortunately it was gradual for the most part. Flowers are always an enjoyable part of the hike.

 We love how this flower adapts, when there is no vegetation around it. It grows close to the ground, however when it is in a more bushy area, the stem can be quite long.

We love how this flower adapts, when there is no vegetation around it. It grows close to the ground, however when it is in a more bushy area, the stem can be quite long.

We meet a younger hiker who is resting along side of the trail. His shoes are off and his feet look sore. He made it thru the Sierras, and also said that here was quite a bit of snow afterwards as well. It is melting fast, but we will most likely encounter snowy conditions. That is food for thought, but today we have miles to cover. He also says that we are almost to the top of the climb! That statement was accurate as we have some great views.

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During a break, it was fun to look up at the branches of a large tree. The sky was so blue today with not a cloud in the sky.

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We heard a wood pecker and were fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of it.

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Once again after gaining lots of elevation today, we headed back down to a beautiful flowing spring. We found a flat spot made for our tent and after a hot meal crawled into our sleeping bags. Tomorrow we are planning for a longer hiking day.

Miles hiked 10

June 13

We were on the trail by 6 even though we could've spent the day at this campsite.. It is hard to take days off between towns as we need to average just under 20 miles to make sure we have the right amount of food. We had been told by a hiker yesterday that we will probably be seeing a lot of NOBO hikers today. We had seen the front runners before Belden. They were around ten in number. Now the herd as hiker terminology is known will be passing. The first hiker that we saw in the morning was Thom from Germany.

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We had met him briefly at Hiker Heaven. He had ended up going thru the Sierras with another hiker that we had met and I had named called Red Flower, also from Germany. We exchanged details about the town and trails that we will both encounter. Wishing him safe travels we continue on.

Sunlight hits this plant that gets its nourishment from the roots of other plants.

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This plant growing alongside the trail is known as a wild Onion

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The views today did not disappoint. We did notice snow on the mountainsides, and wondered about the future conditions. 

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We started hitting patches of snow, but nothing to be concerned about other than getting wet feet. Hikers that we met going north were glad to hear that their encounters with snow were coming to an end, at least for the hike thru the rest of CA.  Not so for us, nothing sounded too difficult, but a fair bit of snow. We met two hikers from the Czech Republic that we had met in April. They were using bamboo trekking poles that they had gotten in Japan.

 They had skipped some of the Sierras due to having to go so slowly thru the snow. 

They had skipped some of the Sierras due to having to go so slowly thru the snow. 

Another hiker that came towards us was Pusher. He had just gotten back on the trail at South Lake Tahoe. In the Sierras he had injured his ankle and had gone back to Germany to recover. 

It was cheaper to do that than stay in the states. He was trying to catch up to Kit who he had hiked with until his injury. We passed on the information that we had seen Kit several days ago. Not sure if he will catch up to her, but with a name like Pusher he just might. True to form the trail takes us back down again, past a really neat looking tree.

 Trees and flowers are always enjoyable! We often reach out to touch the bark of the ancient trees, wondering what stories they would share with us.

Trees and flowers are always enjoyable! We often reach out to touch the bark of the ancient trees, wondering what stories they would share with us.

As we continue down the trail, streams are filled to their banks due to the melting snow. We are glad that there is a bridge over this one.

 As we get closer though we see that there is a guard!

As we get closer though we see that there is a guard!

 The marmot seemed friendly enough and we were able to pass with no confrontation.

The marmot seemed friendly enough and we were able to pass with no confrontation.

Upon reaching the other side we were able to find a spot that the snow had recently melted. It was damp, but would definitely work. Looks like we may be hiking thru some snow tomorrow. We were in our tents when we heard a man's voice asking if he could chat with us. His name was Broken Arrow and he wanted to tell us his story. He had two, one involved going thru a section of the Sierras and the other one was about a book that he was writing. The sierras sounded quite epic. He had gotten lost and fallen into a stream when crossing a snow bridge. Eventually he was able to make his way to a road. The other story was about a book he was writing about a man who was hunting wolves in the 1800's. This man's diary had been found in the walls of an old house. Broken Arrow wanted to experience some of the challenges that this hunter perhaps had faced in the wilderness. He thought that by hiking he would have more experience in telling the hunter's story. Broken Arrow's pack was obvious very heavy. Perhaps he was relating to the size of the pack that the wolf hunter carried. We watched him slowly walk off, glad our packs were a lot lighter. Today was the most hikers that we have seen. Glad that we are not going to be in Sierra City when they all show up.

Miles hiked 21

June 14

It was a chilly morning as we ate a hot breakfast enjoying the beautiful sunrise. Today found us hiking in and out of snow patches. There had been enough hikers ahead of us that we were able to follow the footprints. Some of the trails were like a stream as the snow was melting.

 Looks like it will be another day of wet feet.

Looks like it will be another day of wet feet.

Early on we crossed paths with Murillo who we had met early. He was all smiles as he told us about his journey thru the Sierras. He also told us that we should plan on lots of snow near Sonora Pass.

 Murillo

Murillo

Once we got out of the forests and headed up toward ridges we were walking on snow free trails.

 Guess this is how the Pacific Crest gets its name

Guess this is how the Pacific Crest gets its name

One goes up, one goes down. After hiking up and over Castle Pass we headed down to interstate 80. The trail goes right by a rest area so thought it appropriate to take a break and even get some ice cream at a vending machine. We were also able to check out our email before heading off to walk under the highway and head up to Donner Pass.  More beautiful flowers graced the trail.

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It was the weekend so there were a lot of folks out for day hikes, enjoying the trails near the pass. One hiker warned us of a steep snowfield that they had turned back from. We have our micro spikes if needed. It was a beautiful trail with lots of ridge walking.

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 We pass below a ski resort.

We pass below a ski resort.

 Looks like there is still quite a bit of snow up high.

Looks like there is still quite a bit of snow up high.

We came to the snow slope that we had been told about. Fortunately it was later in the afternoon and the snow was soft enough for us to kick steps. On the other side of the snow we met some Boy Scouts, one of whom had taken a fall down the slope but was not injured. The wind is picking up and camping is looking bleak. We are hiking on an exposed ridge and will need to keep walking until we can find some protection.

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After several hours of hiking on the ridge, we are glad to see some trees that we hope will have a flat area for a tent and give us some wind protection. When we get to the trees, there is indeed a place for us. Some trees give a wind break and we are able to pitch the tent. We anchor it well and after dinner crawl into our sleeping bags listening to the wind howl thru the mountains. If it stays this windy we may have to stay here longer. We didn't see many PCT hikers today. Guess the front pack of the herd has moved thru.

Miles hiked 18

June 15

The wind blew all night, but all of our anchors held. We decided that leaving before first light would be a mistake. We packed our packs as much as possible inside the tent then ventured outside to make a decision of go or stay.  It sounded worse than it felt so we took down the tent and prepared to leave.

 

 The sun rises over our campsite.

The sun rises over our campsite.

 We head down the trail, glad that the wind has quieted down.

We head down the trail, glad that the wind has quieted down.

Again there was a lot of ridge walking today.

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Looking at our maps, we knew that we would be hiking up two ski runs. We started running into snow as we approached Squaw Valley. At least the area was closed, some of the earlier hikers had skiers using the runs as they were hiking them.

 There were many foot prints so we tried to follow the ones that looked used the most. We even pulled out the micro spikes for one rather steep hill. They worked great.

There were many foot prints so we tried to follow the ones that looked used the most. We even pulled out the micro spikes for one rather steep hill. They worked great.

 By using micro spikes we went straight up the slopes.

By using micro spikes we went straight up the slopes.

Down below was the parking lot for Squaw Valley.

 This place will be a beehive of activity come winter, now it is quite peaceful with just an occasional hiker.

This place will be a beehive of activity come winter, now it is quite peaceful with just an occasional hiker.

By mid afternoon the wind had returned and we found ourselves walking quickly on the exposed ridges.

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Eventually we lost some elevation and got some relief from the wind. The trail took us thru some interesting volcanic formations. We sure love the variety of this trail.

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Todays trail was quite varied with windy ridges, lots of snow, and volcanic formations. We even hiked with Lickety Split for a short while. A man we had met at Burney Falls State Park. Love how paths cross out here. The end of the day found us going down gradual switch backs and then back up to find a water source. It was a good day!

Miles hiked 20

June 16

It was an early departure today. We had climbed most of the elevation last night so the morning was a cruise on the ridges.

 We had followed a heavily used trail, but quickly found that it went to a view point. Glad that it was a short detour..

We had followed a heavily used trail, but quickly found that it went to a view point. Glad that it was a short detour..

For  the hike today the PCT overlaps the Tahoe Rim trail which goes around Lake Tahoe. Several times during the day we catch views of the lake.

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During a break Don catches a glimpse of a colorful song bird in a tree.

 Western Tanager It was a first for both of us to see this bird.

Western Tanager It was a first for both of us to see this bird.

Mid morning found us greeting Street fighter. This is the third time that we have seen her on the trail. She did most of the Sierras but then the rivers were flooding and she chose to skip about 70 miles.

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We are hiking in a region with lots of lakes. We can understand why this area is well known. We meet three hikers who are doing a section hike. They are friends from college and try to do a hike each year. One of them has quit their job and is going to continue on to hike the PCT. It is fun to share stories.

 This would be a good place to return someday.

This would be a good place to return someday.

The trail changes between dirt and quite rocky.

 The rocky trail

The rocky trail

We knew that we would have to do a river crossing today. In previous weeks it had been quite a bit higher. There is still snow melting, but it was just shin deep. We had brought along wet shoes for such occasions and were glad that we did. The sun was still out so decided to have dinner on the other side of the stream and enjoy the lakeside view.

 Not deep, just cold

Not deep, just cold

As we eat dinner, we check out the pass that we will be going over tomorrow.

 We will be in snow tomorrow!

We will be in snow tomorrow!

It is just late afternoon and we discuss the possibility of doing it today.  It seems that using better judgement would have us going tomorrow. So it looks like we will have a leisurely evening. We hike another mile to a campsite next to the lake.

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Miles hiked 20

June 17

Today we head over Dick's Pass which is around 9000 feet. There has been afternoon build up so the plan was to get up early and get over the pass early. Early means getting up in the dark and heading out with headlamps. We knew there was going to be snow so the trade off is icy conditions when one hikes early. Hikers have told us that one should follow the foot steps and all will be good. As we make our way around the lake the sun rises.

 Definitely some weather in the area.

Definitely some weather in the area.

 Glad we are getting an early start.

Glad we are getting an early start.

We start running into snow in about a mile.

 There isn't just one set of footprints, but many. We choose ones that seem to take us in the direction we want to go. The snow is hard but we are able to get to the top without putting on our microspikes. It is not as steep as the ski slopes we had gone up earlier.

There isn't just one set of footprints, but many. We choose ones that seem to take us in the direction we want to go. The snow is hard but we are able to get to the top without putting on our microspikes. It is not as steep as the ski slopes we had gone up earlier.

 When we get closer to the top the trail becomes quite obvious.

When we get closer to the top the trail becomes quite obvious.

 This is the most snow we have had to hike thru and we know that as soon as we head down we will be out of the snow. The decision to not go thru the sierras May has been as good one for us.

This is the most snow we have had to hike thru and we know that as soon as we head down we will be out of the snow. The decision to not go thru the sierras May has been as good one for us.

 We made it to the top!

We made it to the top!

Perhaps if the weather looked good we could have taken this side trail to the top of this peak but today it is in our best interest to head down to the valley.

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There is very little sign of snow on this side so down we go.

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We pass by two giant junipers by the trail.

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This stream crossing has well placed rocks.

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The trail takes us by many lakes.

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And the twisted bark of the Lodgepole Pine

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It is a 360 degree view day. 

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 Aloha lake 

Aloha lake 

The weather is deteriorating and the wind is quite cold coming off of the lake. It would be nice to stop for a lunch break here, but decide to continue onward. This lake is a half day hike from a trailhead. We will be back!

The trail takes us  along the rocky shore of the lake. We are glad for the stone markers.

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 The storm moves in and we move down.

The storm moves in and we move down.

Our destination for the night is the town of South Lake Tahoe. One can see the rain falling around us, we are fortunate to just get some sprinkles. It looks like hikers going over the pass now are in for some inclement weather. The trail becomes quite rocky and our pace slows as to avoid turned ankles. It is the weekend and as we approach Echo Lake we pass many day hikers. There is a boat ferry on the lake so one can even get closer to Aloha Lake with out doing parts of the rocky trail. Eventually we approach  the resort of Echo Lake. Several hikers are there waiting for the storm to pass. We take advantage of the small store and treat ourselves to ice cream and a scone. Next  stop is the road leading to South Lake Tahoe where we hope a vehicle will take us to town. It is a short wait and soon we are in town determining our night's lodging. We check out a motel that has been recommended on a App and soon are showering and removing the week's accumulated dirt. Laundry is on the agenda for the evening. As well as formulating a plan for the next section. One of the NOBO hikers that we met gave us a heads up that there is still a lot of snow on Sonora Pass and he found it to be quite difficult. Our original plan had been to hike another 74 miles to Sonora Pass and get off there. Now we are looking at different options and when I find a cheap rental car to get back to Dunsmuir we opt for that option. We will hike the next section to Sonora Pass when we hike north thru the Sierras. If all goes as planned our final hike of CA PCT will end once again at South Lake Tahoe.

Hiked 20 miles

June 18

It feels good to sleep in a bed and we have a leisurely morning. We clean the rest of our gear, get our resupply box from the PO. and enjoy a day of non hiking.It is a full zero day!

June 19

Take the bus to Stateline where we get our rental car. The bus is only a dollar since we are senior citizens! Decide to have breakfast at a casino before returning to the hotel to get our gear, Leave South Lake Tahoe and head to Dunsmuir where our car is parked. Take a short detour to check out a view of the section of trail that we just hiked. Pick up our car and drive the rental car to Redding Ca. On the way the car gives us the reading of 99 degrees for the outside temp. No fires are burning yet which we are thankful. Make it to Etna and head to the City Park where we spend the night camping. It has been a month since we were last here and the snow is mostly gone in the mountains. Tomorrow we will try to find a ride to Etna Summit and start a 100 mile hike to Dunsmuir and then flip back to Etna and hike the section that we had to turn back when we got into snow. It is a flip and flop hike!

Miles hiked 0