CA PCT 2018

San Diego to Seiad Valley and back to Seiad Valley

We left San Diego on May 15th and headed north. It was like going down memory lane as we passed several locations where we had previously been walking the PCT. Vivid images came to mind as we gazed on the dry hillsides and wondered how the hikers were dealing with the heat and water.   Our destination for the night was Lone Pine where we planned to camp and get a close up view of the Sierras. When we pulled into the market at Lone Pine, the first hiker that we saw was a woman from Switzerland that we had met in early April. She and a friend had just hiked thru the snow in the southern Sierras. It did not sound like much fun. She had gotten the name Street Fighter as her hands were badly burned and she had kept them under wraps. They were headed off to find a place to rest for several days. We were headed off to find a campsite with the Sierras as a backdrop.

 Not much snow on this side of the range, but we are assured that there is plenty when one heads deep into the range.  If our plan holds we will be back to hike the Sierras early July and do not anticipate much snow at that time.

Not much snow on this side of the range, but we are assured that there is plenty when one heads deep into the range.  If our plan holds we will be back to hike the Sierras early July and do not anticipate much snow at that time.

 Looking towards Mt. Whitney. Our goal when we hike thru the sie is to summit Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48.  May 16

Looking towards Mt. Whitney. Our goal when we hike thru the sie is to summit Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48.

May 16

We leave Lone Pine in the morning and head North once again. This time stopping at some of the towns along the way.  Bishop, a small town on the way, is home to the famous Schats Bakery, which is quite full of hikers and tourists when we check it out. We notice a familiar hiker whom we have met before, almost a month earlier. It is Snowwhite.  She is hiking straight thru, no flipping for her! Her hike sounds somewhat epic, we wish her well and continue on our journey northward. The final stop for the day is at Carson City, Nevada. Donna's cousins from PA live here and we are excited to catch up on their lives. We tell them about trail angels and they are anointed into the group. They will be helping us with some of our logistics.

 Thanks Bob and Marsha!

Thanks Bob and Marsha!

May 17

After a delicious breakfast, the road beckons us once again. Since we are driving past some of the places that we will be hiking by, we have decided to drop off some of our resupply packages. The first stop is Burney Guest Ranch where the owner shows us where to put our box and tells us that only a few hikers have stopped here. It is still quite early for hikers, however the rumor mill is telling of many hikers who plan to skip the Sierras and flip to the North and then head south. Our next stop is in Castella where we give our resupply boxes to Amarettis market. Only a few boxes are on the shelves. Our final destination is Seiad Valley where we hope to begin our hike tomorrow. Seiad Valley is where we ended our hike when we did the Oregon PCT in 2014. It is quite the windy road to the town and when we finally arrive to Seiad Valley, we are greeted by closed signs in the only three buildings there, a PO, a store and a restaurant. Fortunately a man sees us and asks if there is anything that he can help with. When we say that we are looking for a place to park our car for a month, he tells us to follow him and he will introduce us to Debbie. Sure enough Debbie has a place for us to park our car.  The plan is for us to go camp at the trail head tonight and then Don will drive the car back to the storage location in the morning, hike back to the trailhead and we will begin our hike. All the details begin falling in place. On the way to the campground, the man who introduced us to Debbie drives by on his four wheeler. He stops to talk and we learn about the economy of the valley and perhaps more important that the Morels are popping up. He also mentions that we are early and that there most likely will be snow on the the North slopes. With that information in mind we head off to find the campground. A sign lying in the weeds let us know that we have arrived. There are also signs alerting us to the fact that sometime during the year hikers are on the road.

 At least there was a sign!

At least there was a sign!

 I think they mean us.

I think they mean us.

We unload the car and begin organizing our packs for the hike tomorrow.

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May 18

Up early and pack our packs, Don heads off with the car to put it in storage for the month. He returns several hours later having had to walk 6 miles on pavement. There wasn't much traffic this early in the morning.The excitement builds as we look for the trail and see the familiar sign.

 It is somewhat buried and the trail is overgrown. It doesn't appear to have had many recent hikers, if any at all. Before we start our hike we take notice of this sign.

It is somewhat buried and the trail is overgrown. It doesn't appear to have had many recent hikers, if any at all. Before we start our hike we take notice of this sign.

 This could make hiking interesting.

This could make hiking interesting.

No worries as we take the selfie to note the start of the hike.

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The trail is  overgrown and we often have to check what is beneath the plants to make sure we are on the trail.

 The flowers are out of control as the variety amazes us.  We stop many times to snap photos and admire their beauty.

The flowers are out of control as the variety amazes us.  We stop many times to snap photos and admire their beauty.

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Unlike the desert, water at the beginning of this hike is not lacking. The sound of flowing water is music to our ears.

 We appreciate the several bridges that span the creek as we head up the valley.

We appreciate the several bridges that span the creek as we head up the valley.

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Eventually the bridges stop and we have to do a water crossing.

 We put our water shoes to good use.

We put our water shoes to good use.

An interesting lizard stopped to investigate us. They seem to be quite plentiful in all the different environments of CA.

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Even a snail shared the trail.

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Water at the beginning of the trail was quite plentiful, but when the time came for wanting to camp, it seemed to be lacking. We had enough for dinner so we stopped, made dinner and then decided we would hike till we found a water source. Our map app gave us confidence that water should be found in the next several miles.  We saw a sign that advised us that we were entering the Marble Mountain Wilderness area. Don's brother worked here in the 80's and spoke highly of the area.

 Shortly after the sign the first morel of the day was spotted.

Shortly after the sign the first morel of the day was spotted.

 The dilemma began! We really did not have a way to cook the morels and therefore could not justify picking them. So it was a photo we took and smiles on our faces that we left the mushrooms alone. As we climbed higher and began to wonder if water was going to appear, we heard the faint sound of water running. Soon we were setting up our tent and filling our water bottles. Our new motto for the trip is "Find the Good." We may have to remind ourselves of that occasionally.  It was a good day and we are happy to be back on the trail.  miles hiked Donna 17 Don 23(6 miles of road walking)

The dilemma began! We really did not have a way to cook the morels and therefore could not justify picking them. So it was a photo we took and smiles on our faces that we left the mushrooms alone. As we climbed higher and began to wonder if water was going to appear, we heard the faint sound of water running. Soon we were setting up our tent and filling our water bottles. Our new motto for the trip is "Find the Good." We may have to remind ourselves of that occasionally.  It was a good day and we are happy to be back on the trail.

miles hiked Donna 17 Don 23(6 miles of road walking)

May 19

As the vistas opened up, the mountains made their appearance. 

 And so did more flowers. We may call our hike the wildflower tour! It seemed like we had enjoyed the flowers in the desert and now we were enjoying them in their prime in the mountains.

And so did more flowers. We may call our hike the wildflower tour! It seemed like we had enjoyed the flowers in the desert and now we were enjoying them in their prime in the mountains.

 Shooting Stars

Shooting Stars

 Larkspur

Larkspur

We hadn't had to hike thru any snow yet, but as we looked ahead this was about to change.

 At first it was just lingering snow patches in the forest.

At first it was just lingering snow patches in the forest.

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Fresh bear tracks kept our senses alert

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Flowers were interspersed between the snow fields. They were ready to push thru the earth as soon as the snow had melted.

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At first we were walking on relatively flat ground on top of the snow. This,however, was about to change. We still had hopes that we would be able to progress forward.

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This was especially true when the trail was completely lacking of any snow!

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 We continue on and then the snow completely covers the trail.

We continue on and then the snow completely covers the trail.

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 A snow bridge over a stream collapses and Don thankfully is able to get out before getting wet. We lose the trail and then find it after quite a search. The slopes are getting steeper and we have to be diligent of foot placement.  We kick steps to the top of the ridge and find it free of snow. There is the trail, but as we look ahead the cliffs are snow covered and the trail buried.  It is time to have a serious conversation of how we want to go forward. That is if we want to go forward. We know what is involved retracing our steps. The unknown lies ahead and from what we see, it could be challenging.   

A snow bridge over a stream collapses and Don thankfully is able to get out before getting wet. We lose the trail and then find it after quite a search. The slopes are getting steeper and we have to be diligent of foot placement.  We kick steps to the top of the ridge and find it free of snow. There is the trail, but as we look ahead the cliffs are snow covered and the trail buried.  It is time to have a serious conversation of how we want to go forward. That is if we want to go forward. We know what is involved retracing our steps. The unknown lies ahead and from what we see, it could be challenging.

 

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 Not shown in this photo is the run out. If one slips, one would find themselves in a free fall over a cliff. Deciding that this is one risk we are not willing to take, we decide to eat dinner and hike back 5 miles to Paradise Lake. The snow has softened quite a bit in the late afternoon and we are able to slide down some of the slopes. This day has not gone as planned, but we are thankful that we have a mostly downhill hike out.

Not shown in this photo is the run out. If one slips, one would find themselves in a free fall over a cliff. Deciding that this is one risk we are not willing to take, we decide to eat dinner and hike back 5 miles to Paradise Lake. The snow has softened quite a bit in the late afternoon and we are able to slide down some of the slopes. This day has not gone as planned, but we are thankful that we have a mostly downhill hike out.

 Flowers are again everywhere!

Flowers are again everywhere!

 Find a place to set up the tent on snow free ground and are ready for a good night sleep.

Find a place to set up the tent on snow free ground and are ready for a good night sleep.

Miles hiked 20

May 20

We slept in, waiting for the sun to warm the air. When we did get up Paradise Lake was a photo to behold!

 We felt good about our decision to return to Seiad Valley. It was time to retrace our steps and head back. The snow had melted from yesterday and in a lot of places our foot prints were gone. 

We felt good about our decision to return to Seiad Valley. It was time to retrace our steps and head back. The snow had melted from yesterday and in a lot of places our foot prints were gone. 

 Some of the plants even seemed to have grown overnight!

Some of the plants even seemed to have grown overnight!

 False Hellebore, a plant toxic to humans and animals

False Hellebore, a plant toxic to humans and animals

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 Trillium

Trillium

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And then came a very exciting moment! Morels were popping up along the trail! The question was no longer should we pick them, but how many can we take safely back to the car.

 Everywhere we looked, morels could be spotted!

Everywhere we looked, morels could be spotted!

 And soon we had the pot filled with very fresh morels.

And soon we had the pot filled with very fresh morels.

 It was easy to find the good in today!

It was easy to find the good in today!

I even started drying some when we reached our camp for the night.

 The last couple of days, Donna has had a tooth beginning to hurt. We most likely will need to see a dentist when we get to Etna. Meanwhile though we are camped near a beautiful stream and have visions of frying up morels tomorrow.   

The last couple of days, Donna has had a tooth beginning to hurt. We most likely will need to see a dentist when we get to Etna. Meanwhile though we are camped near a beautiful stream and have visions of frying up morels tomorrow.

 

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Miles hiked 15

May 21,22,23

We arrived back to the trailhead that we had started on the 18th. Of course we saw more flowers that were worthy of a photo.

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 Dogwood

Dogwood

We felt a selfie of our defeat was appropriate, but in reality we were super psyched to go buy a fry pan and eat morels, and then there was the dentist..... 

 Don started the 6.2 mile walk back to get our car. He was hoping for a ride, but alas it was totally walking. Soon though he was back and we were driving to Etna. Arriving in Etna, we found the Hiker Hut to fit our needs. A trip to the grocery store for a fry pan, butter and flour was productive. Soon the smell of morels cooking filled the air. 

Don started the 6.2 mile walk back to get our car. He was hoping for a ride, but alas it was totally walking. Soon though he was back and we were driving to Etna. Arriving in Etna, we found the Hiker Hut to fit our needs. A trip to the grocery store for a fry pan, butter and flour was productive. Soon the smell of morels cooking filled the air. 

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We made ourselves at home in the Hiker Hut and felt grateful that no one else showed up while we were here.

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 Lots of international hikers have stayed here and sent flags from their country.

Lots of international hikers have stayed here and sent flags from their country.

Donna was able to get a dentist appointment for the 22nd. It was determined that she probably would need a root canal done, but would need a specialist to do it. Most likely it would be at least a week or two before she could be seen.  Before I left the office  the receptionist said I don't believe it but there was a cancellation today and the specialist can see you at 2 in Medford. So off we went and she found herself getting another tooth exam.  This time though the specialist said that the roots were not visible and the course of action would be just to pull the tooth. His advise was to take Advil for pain and pull it when I got back to Portland. For what ever reason the pain has subsided so we bought more Advil and will continue with our hiking plan. If the tooth gives her more problems we will be looking for a dentist to extract it. On the 23 we took a rest and recovery day as well as a planning day.  Looks like we will drive to Dunsmuir, park our car there and once again start heading South. We will return to the Marbles and Trinities after we finish the hike to Sonora Pass. While Donna took the day easy on the 23rd, Don helped Dave, our host do some work around the property. Dave took him on a tour of the surrounding area. In the afternoon, the rains came pouring down. It was quite nice being in the hut and feeling quite cozy.