Date: August 6, 2017
Miles: 27.6 miles (44.4km), from mile 1,413 to mile 1,440.6.
Health: Bottoms of my feet are tired. Need new shoes as all the rocks poke through.
We wake up early and get on the trail in good time. After hiking for only few miles we run into an empty campground with picnic tables and pit toilets. While it’s still early we decide to eat breakfast here as sitting by a table is a real luxury on the trail. Funny how you miss even the smallest things, like sitting by a table, after sitting in the dirt for so long.
While Sam is eating I take advantage of the pit toilets. Using a smelly and hot outhouse beats digging holes in the woods any day.
On the way out we hike past a sign that says Canada is only 1,232 miles (1,983km) from here. That seems so far and so close at the same time. Our discussion turns to how, every day, we’re closer to Canada than Mexico and how it’s actually starting to feel like we might reach the northern terminus.
Canada has always been this really far away pipe dream that we haven’t even dared to dream of. Our goals have been much smaller, like getting to the first trail town, hiking the first 100 miles, getting to Kennedy Meadows and through the desert, getting through Sierra alive, and so on. But now that we’re closer to Canada than the Mexican border, I feel like we’re starting to see a glimmer of light at the end of this really long and hot tunnel.
We still have a long way to go but our goals are definitely moving. Next one is to reach the California – Oregon border. After that we have two more states to go and they’re both way shorter than California.
Not only have our goals changed, so has the the trail and everything around us. Looking back at the first day on trail feels like it was so long ago. So much has happened during the past 98 days. Not only is every single day like a long mini adventure, but you also feel like different sections are their own little adventures. For every section you have to adjust how you hike and change your strategy accordingly.
In the desert I would meet so many new hikers each day and every town we visited was full of friends and familiar faces. It was like one big social hike. Then we hit Sierra with all the snow and that big bubble of hikers pretty much vanished. Through Sierra I mainly saw the same few hikers every day.
Now in Northern California, on most days, it’s just the two of us. Hikers are fewer in numbers as many have either quit or skipped ahead and we are also dispersed on a larger area. And as everyone’s maintaining the same pace, it’s really hard to catch up to anyone else.
The highlight of our hike today is Burney Falls. We reach the falls early in the afternoon and oh boy are they pretty! The falls are a bit unique as the water actually comes from the underground springs under and above the falls and seeps through the rock to form a waterfall. At 129 feet (39m) high the falls are spectacular sight.
I was planning on swimming at the falls but the sight is much more touristy than I anticipated. Also, as we drop down to the bottom of the falls, the air gets so cold that jumping into the ice cold spring water is the last thing on my mind. It’s still nice to cover from the unbearable heat that we have to spend the rest of the day in.
We take few photos and wonder around with the other tourists and then head back up to the small store at the tourist center. I buy some ice-cream, chips, and ice cold soda. While I chuck these down, Sam works on his backpack. His load lifters are coming apart, again, and he needs to sew them together. Something that happens at least once a week.
After wasting few hours resting we head back towards the PCT and continue hiking. After some time I catch up to Sam while he’s eating berries along the trail. He points out that blackberries are in season. As I’ve never tasted blackberries, I collect a fistful and eat them all. Delicious. Our progress slows down to a crawl as we stop at every spot to eat the berries as they hang right along the trail.
We stop for a quick lunch under a bridge and cool our feet in the ice cold stream. As we’re heading out we hear what sounds like thunder not far from us. The sky is grey and we watch the thunderstorm pass by not far away. We also get rained on a little which we happily enjoy as it cools us down a bit.
As we walk on and the clouds let go, we can see Mount Shasta in the distance. The massive snow capped mountain stands alone majestically. We’re going to be seeing Mt Shasta for the next couple of weeks as the trail goes around it for the next couple hundred miles.
The weather is cloudy for the rest of the day, which suits me just fine. Anything to get away from the burning sun.
For the last part of the day we try to find a suitable spot for camping but as we’re on a ridgeline, there aren’t many options. We end up walking late into the night, hoping to find a single spot which the Guthooks says should fit one person. It’s so dark that we can’t find the spot even with our headlights at full power and end up walking to an abandoned forrest road and set up camp there. Not the most scenic camping spot but since it’s pitch black, it doesn’t matter.