Day 75 – 25.05.18
It’s moving day! The boys hired the van and we hauled 11 people’s belongings and selves into the back. I said goodbye to Ray and Kyle, then took off with Gandalf, Four Eyes and our 8 new friends.
The first stop was Vons Supermarket to shop for resupplies. Four Eyes and I had already done this, so we went in and bought pastries, then sat outside in the car park gutter and ate them all. We should have stopped there, but since the apple fritters were so good we went back and got more for the ride.
We all jumped in the Hiker Van and made our way to the next stop, Mammoth Lakes Post Office. We all needed to ship off our no longer required bear canisters, ice axes and microspikes to the end of the Sierras where we’ll need them again. I also had new shoes and a parcel from Mum to pick up. Sadly my shoes weren’t there since this post office doesn’t hold hiker packages for more than two weeks (would have been good to know), but luckily Mums box of Tim Tams and chocolate was still there. A little taste of home to share in the van and have on trail.
Hitting the road again we drove for a few hours jamming out to DJ Rivers playlists while making ourselves sick on pastries, learning about each other and telling stories through giggle fits. Eventually Dunks put on his “let’s sing” playlist and we belted out backstreet boys and the likes all the way to Dunsmuir.
We had planned on camping the night at a property listed on Guthook, but it was raining when we arrived so we quickly changed our minds to sharing two motel rooms. Our room had a king bed so three of us managed to fit (and the little one said roll over) with two others on their mats on the floor. It was an amazingly great nights sleep considering.
Day 76 – 26.05.18 19 Miles / 31km
Walking the half mile to the cafe from the motel we had a group breakfast while Hollywood returned the van. Four Eyes made friends with someone who hiked in 2016 so organised a lift for half of us to the trail once we were ready. While waiting outside another car pulled up also offering us a lift so we easily we got 10 people on the trail without so much as sticking our thumbs out. It’s great to be again reaping the benefits of early for the season before locals are sick of hikers.
It felt like a whole new Trail we were dropped to. We were surrounded by lush dense forest in a tunnel of green and flowers. Four Eyes was beside herself with so many new plants to identify and potentially foreign.
Reaching a viewpoint we see Mt Shasta in the distance, covered in snow. Aside from being impressive, we celebrate that the only snow in sight is off the trail. I ate more pastries for lunch (what took over me at the bakery?) and then get a short tummy ache as it digested.
In high spirits Four Eyes and I keep ourselves entertained all day by creating Trail Life FM. We gave each other radio segments, created jingles, made up callers, sung songs and even included ads. After deciding there were too many ads we changed it to the Trail Life podcast and continued with our segments. This kept us entertained for the best part of the day.
Meeting many day hikers we stop to chat and answer questions. One Hiker asked “Did you have good weather?” And was immediately laughed at by the six of us who were there.
Setting up camp I realised I gave my liner to Ray thinking it was his on the line next to his sleeping bag at the hostel. Annoyed at myself I’ll have to now ask him to post it to me. Luckily the nights here are the warmest we’ve had, so I’ll sleep fine without it, but I like to be prepared for a cold night if it happens.
Regretting all the pastries I’d eaten over the last two days I turned to my fresh food for dinner. I’d packed out carrots and an orange so munched on that while everyone else cooked.
Day 77 27.05.18 18 Miles / 29 km
The group pulls ahead as we walk slower than usual when learning Gandalf is having a bad day. We all have them, it’s part of life. He has trouble sleeping on trail so is overtired, and was also trying to clean up his already healthy diet so was crashing hard from sugar. Four Eyes did a great job of identifying the factors so we fed him lollies through the day and gave him his own radio segment. His mood improved as much as it could for a hard day on trail.
Now that poodle dog bush is no longer a threat we were met with a section of trail overcome by poison oak. Four Eyes is highly allergic and she suspects I’d be reactive to it after seeing a rash I got up my leg in a previous section. Four Eyes puts on her thermals to cover all her skin and we ninja our way down the trail. The process is slow but successful. Stopping at a stream for a long lunch we meet Hot Lips (she wears lipstick) and Caveman. They started the PCT last year and are finishing it this year. Hot Lips shares her dish liquid with us to wash our legs lifting any potential poison oak resin from our skin. I rinse my legs (with a water bottle away from the stream) just in case. I then change into pants.
After our hour lunch break we keep moving, spotting deer on the trail ahead of us. Further up the trail we walk along an exposed ridgeline in the sun cooking poor Four Eyes in thermals and me in tights. I walk past two snakes who were disturbed from sun baking and shout ahead to the others “That one was brown, it’d kill you if we were at home”.
Coming across the bridge to the McCloud River we all immediately agree to take another break by the water. It’s simply perfect. The sun was warm, the water was icy and we lazed around for hours.
With some distance to make up we hike into the evening, stopping for dinner with Hot Lips and Caveman and then carrying on. Gandalf wasn’t feeling the long day but it was our job to coax him along for another 3 miles to camp, particularly since he’d packed so little food. Annoyingly he perked up after dinner and Four Eyes and I struggled the 5km (3 mile) uphill climb instead.
Day 78 28.05.18 16.5 Miles / 26.8km
Four Eyes woke up early (as usual) to do her morning a poop, while four deer watched. She then observed the deer sniff Gandalf’s stuff while he cowboy camped, and step over him as he slept unaware. This is exactly why I sleep in a tent.
After climbing a few miles for the morning we finally get to a clearing at the peak with phone service for the first time in a few days. I’ve realised it’s the Memorial Day long weekend so my shoes couldn’t be shipped to my next town, so was desperately trying to get an email out with a new address for Chester which I arrive at in 5 days. Hang in there old shoes, only 200km (120miles) to go.
Having the best day I blast music, thinking of family back home and how grateful I am to be on the trail. Feeling the urge to look around I find Mt Shasta peeking between the trees on the horizon. There is no place I would rather be right now.
I meet the others to camp at Mooshead Creek where Four Eyes builds a fire. She become very protective over the fire, not letting Gandalf add fuel, and seemingly training it to smoke him wherever he sat.
My hiker hunger finally kicked out of no where and I ended up making two dinners. Through the days in this leg I’m eating more snacks than usual and tonight I thought simply wouldn’t survive without an extra packet of ramen after my rice sides. I’m going to have to shop bigger at my next resupply.
Day 79 29.05.18 19 Miles / 31km
My alarm went off at 5am hoping to get some blogging done, but there was no way I was waking up for that. Instead I gave myself a sleep in snoozing until 6am. In the half asleep daze I remember thinking to myself “pretend it’s 8am, this ones for you”.
Having gone off coffee I only carry one packet now. Waking up craving a coffee I decide today was the day to use it. I ended up so chipper I nearly skipped the first 5 Miles, full of chatter and energy.
We stopped at the half way point of our long day for a 2hr break. We are celebrating the Four Eyes way of hiking which usually involves a decent break for a nap or quite time to relax. Our sore feet appreciate it. After lunch I’m still hungry so have another packet of ramen after my wraps. All I can think about is burgers, chocolate and ice cream. I hope this hunger wave is temporary.
Getting reception I see a reply from Salomon confirming my new shoes will be the next town, Chester, waiting for me. I’m extatic! My feet have grown (yes that’s a thing for thru hikers) so after 725km (450miles) in these shoes of being battered through desert, snow and forests the top is torn, my pinky toe is poking out and the heels are rubbing. Impressively the sole doesn’t look a day old.
Out of nowhere up the trail I hear a “yoohoo” and out pop the Frenchies. They also skipped ahead and are walking North so we crossed paths and gave each other some insights on the trail ahead. It was amazing to see them.
Once at camp we rush to set up tents as mozzies swarm us, and once inside a make cold mashed potato to avoid being outside to cook with them. It’s bland at first but I’m loving it by the end. That’s how bad the hunger is.
Day 80 30.05.18 18 Miles / 29km
Me: “How’d you sleep last night Gandalf?”
Me: “I know, I heard you toss and turn all night”
Getting up early we were on the trail by 6:30am, smashing out the first half of the day and reaching Burney Falls by 10:30am. I got a little loopy singing loudly to myself and spending far too long being entertained by dandelions.
Fuelled by the thoughts of ice cream and chocolate we were devastated to arrive in the park to learn there was a power outage so the store was shut. Four Eyes arrived just in time to get her resupply package before the power died, and also made friends with the ladies in the information centre. When I arrived they were so excited to see young women out here doing the trail that they shared with us the watermelon and mango from their own lunch. Fresh fruit is so so amazing. So is the kindness of strangers.
After a while a of sulking the power came back on, so we immediately head to the store for an oreo and brownie sunday, some chocolate and a packet of Doritos. I overate (as usual) and puffed and groaned as we walked to see Burney Falls. The falls were spectacular, the sound of huge volumes of water moving rapidly was impressive and the colours in the water were gorgeous.
Bumping into Steph and some fellow PCT hikers we learn that they hiked from the Ranch ahead and had a lift back. We throw our bags in the car so we can slack pack and enjoy an easy 15km (9 miles) back to the ranch where our gear is. The day is so enjoyable. I share the song I made up that morning, and together we sing, laugh and break often while walking to camp.
Once arrived we set up our tents at the Burney Falls Guest Ranch. There is a resupply store to save a trip to town, and meals, camping showers and laundry are covered for $25. It’s a great deal and a huge time saver. Tomorrow we carry on through more easy sections of this gorgeous section of the PCT.
I hiked this same section in 2015 a few weeks prior to the JMT, except northbound. It sounds like you camped at the same sites that I camped. It brought back memories. I hope you continue to enjoy your hike south.