Date: August 9, 2017
Miles: 8.9 miles (14.3km), from mile 1,495.8 to mile 1,504.7.
Health: Muscle on my left leg keeps cramping up. Getting new shoes and some rest today was great.
We wake up, pack our gear, and hike the short distance down to the interstate. Guthooks mentions that this can be a difficult hitch and as I reach the interstate it’s immediately clear why. We’re down on a random ramp from the highway, well outside of sight of anyone driving by. And since it’s illegal to hitchhike on an interstate, our only chance of getting a ride is if someone happens to randomly drive down this ramp and straight back up, or if someone is leaving through this ramp. But as there’s not much around here, I don't expect to see a lot of cars going up.
Sam arrives a bit later and we take turns trying to hitch but there aren’t any cars coming down or going up. After some time we finally get lucky as a driver going to the same direction picks us up. After about half an hour on the interstate she drops us off outside of the city of Mount Shasta and we walk the rest of the way to the city center.
Our well thought out plan was to hit the gear store called The Fifth Season first to get everything we needed, namely, new shoes and socks for me. Then leave our electronics there to recharge while going out to get breakfast, do resupply, eat lunch, and once done, get back to pick up our electronics and head back on the trail.
Well, our entire plan goes out the window when we find out that the opening hours on Guthooks app are wrong and The Fifth Season opens 2 hours later than stated. Bummer.
As there’s not much we can do we decide to get breakfast. We walk through the town looking for a place to eat while checking if any of the other gear stores would happen to be open by a change. No luck with the gear stores but we find a nice little bakery and head in trying to get a table as far away from others as possible as we stink to high heavens.
We eat two rounds of breakfast and the owner kindly lets us recharge our battery banks in the kitchen. While we wait for our batteries to recharge and The Fifth Season to open, I work on the blog. Getting thousands of photos from the camera to my phone, organizing them, selecting ones to use, and editing, takes a lot of time.
After loitering at the bakery for almost two hours we head back to The Fifth Season. I desperately need new shoes as I’ve had to cut holes on the sides of my current ones to fit my swollen feet. Sadly they don’t have Altra Lone Peak’s in my size. Only shoes in my size are Altra Superiors and some other brand I’ve never heard of. The Superiors have almost no cushioning so walking with them would be too hard on my knees and joints, so I end up going with the unknown brand.
The new shoes feel great in the store and walking around town and I’m really happy to have my feet in something soft and not full of holes.
We leave our electronics to recharge in the back and head out for lunch and resupply. After a quick lunch at a pizza buffet we do a really expensive resupply. Back at The Fifth Season we organize our gear, get our electronics, thank the people for their generosity, and head down the main street to get a hitch back to the trailhead.
We walk close to the highway ramp hoping to get a ride. After about an hour a homeless guy comes over and tells us that we’d have better luck down the road. Hitching out of Mount Shasta isn’t the easiest hitch we’ve done so far. Judging by our trail worn looks, and the amount of homeless people and drifters around the highway ramp, we think we have a pretty good idea why we’re not getting picked up. We try to keep our hiking poles as visible as possible but get no takers.
After a long while, a car stops and we get offered a ride to Dunsmuir. It’s still a long way from the trailhead but at least it’s in the right direction. As we’re not getting any other offers we accept the ride.
After a short ride, we get dropped off in Dunsmuir next to the highway ramp. We try to hitch but pretty soon notice there’re no cars coming or going. Actually, there’s almost no traffic at all except down on the highway. Our chances of getting a hitch from here are pretty much non-existent.
We decide to walk all the way across to the other side of the town hoping the freeway ramp there would have more traffic. It’s a few miles away but at least we get to see the town. There’s a lot of vacant houses that have seen their better days and there are not many people around.
Walking through the town it’s becoming clear by the almost non-existent traffic that we might not get a ride back to the trailhead from here. Feeling a bit desperate we stop at a Mexican restaurant to eat and to rethink our situation.
While eating we meet a nice couple and talk with them about the trail, what we’re doing and the usual stuff we get asked every time. As it’s getting late we have to leave, hoping there’s more traffic on the other side of the town. While walking down the main street the couple from the restaurant passes us by while honking and waving at us. Nice people.
After some time we see the couples car again and it’s the lady. She said she had to drop her husband at home but then wanted to give us a ride to the trailhead. We happily accept and hop in. If there ever was an example of the saying “the trail provides”, this is it.
After a very pleasant drive back to the trailhead we thank the lady for saving us and offer to pay for her gas but she doesn’t accept. We say our goodbyes and get off the pavement and back on the trail. It feels good to walk on the soft dirt again.
Almost instantly we start climbing back up but the grade is nice and easy. The new shoes feel amazing and my mood is high. We push into the early evening light with smiles on our faces and backpacks full of food. It feels so good to be back out here again!
Climbing higher we finally reach the Castle Crags and stop to admire the sight. While not as majestic as the Sierra, it’s still an amazing sight in the light of the setting sun. Our mood is high and we make good progress. At one point we meet Iced Tea, one of the Swiss guys, and talk about all the fires in Oregon. As there’s still light outside we push on.
As it gets dark we find a really nice campsite next to a little stream. As there’s no-one around, we get to choose great spots and avoid the ones covered in ants. I eat the takeaway food from the Mexican place for the second dinner and then head to sleep. I’m super excited for tomorrow. I have my motivation back and can’t wait to crush some miles with my new shoes!