CA PCT 2018

Etna to Castella to Etna to Etna

June 20th

We spent last night at Etna City Park which caters to PCT hikers. They have showers and lockers for hikers passing thru their town. After breakfast we headed over to the Hiker Hut hoping that Dave would be able to give us a ride to Etna Summit and if we could leave our car there. Shortly after arriving at the hut, Dave drove  us back up to the mountain  and soon we were hiking the trail leading us into the Trinity Mountain Range. 

 It was a good trail leading us up in elevation

It was a good trail leading us up in elevation

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The views of the Trinity Alps were stunning as well as this colorful flower that were abundant along the trail.

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Coming towards us was Kit who we have now seen three times. We told her that we had seen Pusher and she said they are hoping to meet somewhere on the trail. She was so glad to be out of the snow.

The Trinitys are quite rocky with lots of ups and down.

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Another familiar face on the trail was Michael. This is also the third time that we have seen him. He has gained some of the weight that he lost going thru the sierras and looks like he also caught up on some sleep. He had more stories to tell of other hikers that we had met.

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This trail today has taken us over several passes. In the distance we can see the results of a major fire that burned here last year.

 Check out the trail heading down the mountain.

Check out the trail heading down the mountain.

Hard to believe that it has been a month since we were hiking here. The snow is gone and the wildflowers abound.

Miles hiked 14

June 21

We were up at 6 and on the trail shortly afterwards. A unique flower greeted us this morning.

 There beauty is much appreciated.

There beauty is much appreciated.

We get views of the Alps, and meet hikers that we have meant before as well as new hikers.Sharing stories is smooch a part of the trail.

 Glad the snow is on top of the mountain and not on the trail.

Glad the snow is on top of the mountain and not on the trail.

A rocky section of the trail makes us marvel at the work that has gone into the making of this trail.

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Occasionally there is a large tree that has fallen across the trail. Fortunately this is rare.

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The day continues with more awesome views.

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Mt. Shasta

We are loving the variety of this section of trail.

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It has been a mostly sunny hiking day and we are glad to find a place for our tent tonight. We have pitched our tent every night and glad that the bugs can’t get thru the netting tonight. Overall the insects have been at a minimum so far.

Miles hiked 21

June 22

Todays hike began with another new flower gracing the trail. First there was one white tuft and then they were on both sides of the trail.

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Several lakes are in the view point today along with our Mountain friend MT. Shasta.

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 Never tire of this mountain,

Never tire of this mountain,

It was a make time on the trail today, however Don’s feet and body were not in sync. Our pace slowed and we decided to make camp early.

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Our umbrellas were put in use today.

After a light dinner, Don headed off to the tent while I enjoyed the field of Shooting stars surrounding our camp.

 Shooting star

Shooting star

A small clear creek added to the peacefulness of the evening.

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Even with making camp early tonight we still managed to hike over 20 miles. We also visited with Uphill, a man we have met twice before.

Miles hiked 21

June 23

Don woke up feeling much better and ready to start hiking. The trail continued to be a cruise and well maintained.

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 We often make a comment about thanking the trail builders.

We often make a comment about thanking the trail builders.

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This morning as we were hiking we met Ridge Route and Short Cut hiking in the opposite direction. They are an older couple from San Diego that we have met several times. They have skipped the Sierras as well due to snow. Stopping at a spring alongside the trail we meet Golden. As we continue our conversation we determine that Golden and Donna worked at a state park in PA the same year. Our paths crossed there as well. As we are enjoying the water from the spring, a group of local hikers stop by to also get some water. They often hike this trail just to fill their water bottles from this spring. One of the hikers tells us of a campsite near a lake that he recommends. The next stretch is 10 miles between water sources so we are glad that we got this advice. During this hike as we are thinking about how we are going to get back to our car we realize that Ryan will be heading to Oregon and perhaps going by the town that we will end this section of trail. When we get cell service on a ridge we make a connection with Ryan. It looks feasible for this to happen. We hike to the lake that was recommended and have dinner there. The campsite on the lake is taken so we decide to hike another 4 miles to a campsite with a view. We are not disappointed.

 The setting sun shines on Castle Crags.

The setting sun shines on Castle Crags.

 We are thankful for long days!

We are thankful for long days!

The evening has gusty winds, but we are able to reinforce our tent with rocks over the stakes and feel confident that we can withstand the gusts. Before we head to bed we take in the views, In one direction is MT.Shasta.

 The other direction is the Castle Crags.

The other direction is the Castle Crags.

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The weather forecast for tomorrows is for one of high temps. Knowing that, we plan to have a pre dawn start and hopefully get some early morning miles in before the heat of the day. We are also hoping that the plan to meet Ryan will be successful.

June 24

Miles hiked 24

The wind blew with some intensity last night , but the stakes all held! We were up before sun rise and headed down the trail.

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With temperatures predicted to be around 100 degrees today we want to get the exposed section of this trail done as quickly as possible. A factor in our favor is that we are going mostly down hill today.

 The sun rises over the Castle Crags.

The sun rises over the Castle Crags.

Soon we are hiking into an area with little shade on the trail. So glad that we started early this morning. As we approached more towards the bottom of the hike we see Pusher. He has just started the accent and the sweat is pouring off of him. It is going to be hot today!

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Finally we reach the shade and take a break by a small stream. Water is so refreshing, a butterfly lands on Don’s knee.

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 This area has such a different contrast than what we hiked thru this morning.

This area has such a different contrast than what we hiked thru this morning.

If it all works out, we will be at the location in Castella where Ryan plans to meet us this evening. We arrive to the market around 3 and are able to find some shade. Don heads over to the market to buy some drinks. A lot of drinks, we are amazed at how much we can drink, We meet several hikers going north and are glad that we took this section south bound. Ryan texts us and plans to be there a little after 8. We don’t mind the wait and enjoy just relaxing in the shade and drinking fluid. Then we see our trail angel Ryan and happily get into the van to head to Etna, where we plan to hike the section that we had turned around due to snow. We arrive to the city park after dark, set up camp and fall quickly asleep. Thankful that our rendezvous with Ryan was successful.

Miles hiked 17

June 25

Etna does a fantastic job of being welcoming to hikers. The city park has a shower, clean restrooms and a shaded picnic area for camping. When we woke up there set the van with trail angel Ryan getting ready to go kiteboarding.

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 Another day of being thankful for getting to our destination with ease!

Another day of being thankful for getting to our destination with ease!

Ryan drops us off at Hiker Hut where our Car is parked and heads north to the wind. We pick up the car and make arrangements for Dave to take us to the trailhead later in the day. Meanwhile we head back to the park to clean our gear, repack our food for the next section and do laundry. We also enjoy eating at Dotties. A local restaurant that has organic beef, organic salads and great milkshakes. We have no problem finishing a large meal. Afternoon finds us back at Hiker Hut saying good by to Dave and Vicky.

 It has been a pleasure to meet them.

It has been a pleasure to meet them.

We get in Dave’s truck and back up the mountain we go to Etna summit. If all goes as planned we will be back here in 3 days after a 50 mile hike to complete the last section of trail that we missed in May. Dave drops us off and we head down the trail.

 Or I should say up the trail!

Or I should say up the trail!

We begin our climb up into the Marble Mountains. The views are quite scenic!

 This should be an enjoyable hike

This should be an enjoyable hike

Then however, we are saddened as we begin to see the results of last years fire. Large stands of trees are burned.

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Camping may be challenging tonight. Our options are to camp in a burned out area or hike another 5 mikes. Since we got a late start we begin looking for a marked camp in the burned area. It is not scenic, but will do. The quietness of the forest is eerie. We are glad that here is no wind so the danger of trees falling is minimal. We are careful not to touch the sooty area around us. We have been told of this fire but the realities are now made real. Lots of activities got done today so we quickly fall asleep.

Miles hiked 4

June 26

This is the first time in our CA section hike that we are surrounded by burnt trees. As we look out of our tent in the morning there is a feeling of sadness seeing a lack of green.

 This fire occurred last summer.

This fire occurred last summer.

Not wanting to linger in the area, we eat a quick breakfast of cold cereal and start hiking. Movement far below us catches our eye.

 it is a large black bear that fortunately has no interest in us.

it is a large black bear that fortunately has no interest in us.

Several grouse are hanging out near the trail as well.

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We can see why the Marbles are noted for their beauty.

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There is a lot of variety in this short section of trail that we are hiking and since we are doing a round trip we will get views going in both directions.

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On the map we notice that there is a lake and decide to have lunch there.

 With fish rising and the sun shining, it is a good destination for lunch.

With fish rising and the sun shining, it is a good destination for lunch.

We are tempted to linger here, but the trail calls us once again.

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 We are hiking up in elevation and getting great views of the valleys.

We are hiking up in elevation and getting great views of the valleys.

 Once again we see Mt Shasta in the distance.

Once again we see Mt Shasta in the distance.

Wild flowers are again coloring the trail.

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 We stop and check out one that is new to us.

We stop and check out one that is new to us.

We never tire of seeing the lakes below us.

 Perhaps someday we will return to just hang out.

Perhaps someday we will return to just hang out.

Today though we must hike on, we meet Truckee who is a teacher out for a week and Wanderer a 75 year old man who is celebrating his 75th year by planning on hiking for 1000 miles. The deer in this area have a reputation of being quite curious. They do not seem to mind us getting close to them.

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When we finally reach our destination, we are greeted by a doe that just wants to hang out near the tent. We have been warned that deer have been known to take trekking poles so everything goes in our tent tonight. She is joined by several other deer and we can hear them walking around our tent before we go to sleep.

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Miles hiked 20

June 27

Today we hope to see the terrain that we had opted out of and turned around the middle of May. We start out early and see a doe and her new born fawn. The trail takes us up and around the mountain that had been covered in snow. For the most part the trail is clear

 The sun’s rays have done a good job of melting the snow.

The sun’s rays have done a good job of melting the snow.

There are some snow patches which gives an indication of how deep the snow was over a month ago.

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In places the trail is still covered.

 Southern exposures are completely bare

Southern exposures are completely bare

While northern exposures still have remaining snow patchers.

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We take note of the cliff that made our decision of turning around easy. The trail is carved in the rock right above a cliff. When we were here in May it was impossible to figure our the exact location of the trail. if we had slipped we would have been in free fall.

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We feel good about our earlier decision and turn around to head back to Etna summit. We should be back to where we were dropped off in a day and a half. We hike back to where we camped and see the doe and fawn again. A colorful toad hops across the trail in front of us.

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 Swift

Swift

The first PCT hiker that we see today is Swift. This is the third time we have seen him and he laughs as he wonders how we are hiking this trail. We explain what we are doing and assure him that we should not pass paths again, As usual it is fun to hear stories of the other hikers. Taking a break for lunch, Wanderer approaches. We talk some more with him and find how about his blog and the book he has written.

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Wanderer is 75 and has made hiking a career. We hope our paths cross again.

We retrace our steps and enjoy the view going in the opposite direction.

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 More colorful flowers makes us pause.

More colorful flowers makes us pause.

Then we walk thru the burnt out forest where not a green color is spotted. The fire was so hot going thru this section that the soil was sterilized. It will take a while for growth to return here.

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Coming toward us is Shortcut and Ridge Route. The older couple from San Diego that we have met several times before. They are as well, flipping certain sections due to snow.

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Then right before setting up camp here comes Pusher.

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We were glad to hear that he had finally met back up with Kit. She ,however, had to return to France so he was hoping to connect up with other hikers to head north to Canada. We wished him well knowing that we would not see him again. Found a scenic campsite overlooking a valley. Tomorrow we will try our luck at hitchhiking back to Etna to get our car and begin our drive south towards the Sierras.

Miles hiked 20

June 28

We get on the trail early today, knowing that we hope to hitch a road that does not get much traffic. Some hikers have waited several hours before getting a ride. The trail greets us with great views. We start out with hiking thru partially burned forests, but eventually get past these areas.

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 We have always enjoyed hiking in opposite directions as the views are so different.

We have always enjoyed hiking in opposite directions as the views are so different.

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 Returning to the Marbles to do more of a saunter is appealing.

Returning to the Marbles to do more of a saunter is appealing.

At the trail register someone has left a painted rock for the hikers to read,

 We like the message.

We like the message.

After a several hour hike we reach the road and notice the lack of traffic.

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Don settles in for a long wait!

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Fortunately for us, a local is on her way to work and picks us up. The wait was only minutes. Don scurries to get out of his comfortable wait awhile seat. We enjoy the conversation with her as she gives her opinion on the fires and the local economy. She drops us off to our car and we head to City Park to take showers, clean our gear and do laundry.

 Etna City Parkl

Etna City Parkl

Don decides that his shoes need to be retired, We are hoping that we can find a similar pair before starting our trek in the Sierras.

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We decide to try out two of the restaurants that have become highly recommended. For lunch we ate at Patstreak and for desert we checked out Denny’s. we were not disappointed with either. Before heading out of town, we drove by a local campground where Wanderer and his wife Peggy had planned to camp. She is driving a support vehicle meeting him at trailheads. After a short conversation we started heading towards the Sierras. It was a good day for getting lots of errands done and we are excited to hike the remaining miles of the CA PCT!

Miles hiked 8