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Pacific Crest Trail... photos and journal

Summer of 2001...Central California...

(Page 7 of 7 pages)

From my journal (June 20, Day-56)..."After walking a half mile this morning I suddenly realized that things weren't adding up so I had to backtrack a mile to get back on the PCT which was very frustrating. Hiking through fields of yellow flowers was nice but the clouds of mosquittos were tough in addition to a mild haze of smoke from the forest fire, but I trodded onward. Near lunch time I walked for about 4 hours with only one liter of water which I used up at lunch. The guidebook mentioned a creek about half way that I never found, but thanks to one big patch of unthawed snow up on the ridge I made out OK, but I sure was dry when I reached the creek down near the reservoir. After a long rest I hiked on a few more miles through a very narrow canyon to a nice campsite high on the ridge above the trail. "

Welcome to Sierra City... heart of gold country

Main Street of Sierra City and where I spent 30 hours resting my sore shin.

From my journal (June 21, Day-57)..."Only had about 8 miles to reach my next resupply point at Sierra City, a small historic gold mining town of about 250 residents today. If I'd had to have hiked all day, then this most surely would have been a bad day for me physically. Today, like yesterday has begun a new wave of heat and that is especially so now with elevations of between 4,000 and 7,000 feet. Summer has definitely come in like a lion and it's sort of like being in the desert all over again! Where the trail crosses highway 49 I walked down to town in about 25 minutes, retreiving my drift box from the post office first and learning that my new shoes hadn't arrived here either. After getting out what I needed I shipped it on ahead to Old Station. I then crossed the street to an RV park where the manager "John" allowed me to camp for free down by the river. He was more than kind and gave me a grand tour of the area and said that I could use the parks shower.

After setting up my tarp and taking a great shower I got some lunch at a local grill, then walking out onto the street I met another hiker from the Seattle area who was doing a four week section hike to Sonora Pass with his two dogs. I mentioned camping at the RV park and after making a call to his wife he came on down and set up camp near me. One of his dogs had injured a paw coming over the Buttes so Gary was planning to layover here until it healed enough to move on and as he said, "I have to care for ten feet instead of just two like most hiker's". We had a great talk during the afternoon then later walked into town for a beer at the saloon, then a very elegant meal at the only restaurant in town. "

This is Gary from Seattle with whom I shared a campsite down by the river at the RV park in Sierra City. He had hiked the Appalachian Trail many years ago and he was now taking about a month to do a section from Old Station to Sonora Pass. We enjoyed several fine meals together and a lot of quality conversation which sure helped to lift my spirits from my shin injury and to get back on the trail.

Here are Gary's hiking companions Barney and Brindiz, but you must look closely since they blend into the natural foilage quite well. One of the dogs had injured its pad coming across the Butte's so Gary was planning to take a few days rest here for them to heal.

From my journal (June 22, Day-58)..."This was a much needed day of rest and I lounged around my tarp most of the day down by the Yuba river, once taking a refreshing dip in the cool water. About 8:00 am Gary and I walked up to Main Street for a nice breakfast, then it was back to our campsite. Later I went up to the small country grocery store and purchased enough food to get me to Belden, then got it all packed away then just rested as I wrote in my journal or studied my maps and guidebook sections. Gary and I also shared many stories and general thoughts about living an adventurous life. He had spent a lot of time in 1976 as a 19 year old hiking on the Appalachian Trail so he had a lot to share.

About 5:00 pm my sore foot was well rested so I bid my farewell to Gary having shared a most spirited campsite for the last 36 hours, then began walking up the paved highway where I'd left it the day before. My pack was so full and heavy with food and water, but it seems that I always hike my strongest when getting back on the trail. Wow, it was a long climb back up on the crest and into the Buttes. Near the end of the switchbacks I crossed a bear about 15 yards away on the trail walking straight towards me. We both froze dead in our tracks staring at the other strange creature. The bear twitched his head a couple of times trying to better understand what I was as I picked up two rocks to bang up some noise. The blonde colored black bear then turned straight down the steep mountain hobbling up quite a fast run. After 1,200 miles I'd finally seen my first bear.

The Buttes were also beautiful with their tall sharp sheared rock tops jagging into the sky as the PCT ran just below on a dug out trail. This height also really put Sierra City in perspective as the small town it was, sitting on the deep valley floor of the Yubba river surrounded by such high mountain walls. I finally camp at a jeep trail junction and couldn't believe that the mosquittos were so active at this high altitude. "

Looking back at the north side of the mighty Buttes out of Sierra City.

I forgot exactly where this bridge was located.

From my journal (June 23, Day-59)..."A full week later it appears that my leg is finally begining to heal. The swelling is down although there is still a healthy dose of tenderness still there. It's great to be back in the high country and out of the hot valley. The countryside is now mostly rolling green hills as far as the eye can see and the trail has a lot of broken shade which is nice. Today was also mostly overcast for the most part and very windy on the crest with an obvious cold front moving in. The wind was so strong and noisy at times that I had a hard time standing up straight, so it was nice to drop down into the valleys ever so often

While down at Nelson Creek I drank up with about a liter of water from a creeklet draining one huge last remaining snow bank, then fortunately I walked until 8:45 pm, never crossing another drop of water. I remained well hydrated into the night although the next morning I would be almost completely dry. I found a nice but windy spot in a saddle to camp. "

The huge trees along the PCT continued to amaze me, this one being near the Middle Fork of the Feather River.

Me on Lookout Rock at milepost 1,255.7.

The PCT as it crosses some lowland ferns south of Buck Summit.

From my journal (June 24, Day-60)..."All night the cold wind blew through the saddle... and through me! Due to a lack of flat spots to camp I ended up here shielding myself from the wind all night. My hike through the rolling green hills of central California continued, then it was a long hike down to the Middle Fork of the Feather River and across the longest equestrian bridge on the PCT. It seemed that most of the day was spent hiking down, then slowly getting out of this valley by a gradually elevated trail. The payoff was finally at Lookout Rock which offered great views. I continued hiking very late since the trail led me onto steep terrain, but I finally find a flat spot near Buck's Summit and crash there for the night. "

This unique, almost neon yellow fungus was a common beauty on the trees of central and northern California.

Coming down an almost endless chain of swithbacks into the Belden Town valley.

From my journal (June 25, Day-61)..."I woke up several times during the night and didn't see any stars, which was very unusual. About 5:30 am I heard a light pinging on my exposed sleeping bag and plastic ground cloth, but it quickly stopped. From here I hiked on with anticipation of reaching Belden and hiking down a seemingly endless maze of switchbacks into that valley. By the time I was in town the rain had reached a steady flow on this bleak and overcast day... and only the second time that I'd seen rain during my walk. I sat down on the front porch of the store sorting my leftover food then was shocked to find the stores door locked. I tried another door to the restaurant and found it opened into a dark lobby. A woman inside said they had just closed but that she'd open up for me. Although selection was thin, I abought enough groceries to get me to Old Station.

Outside I called home to have another pair of hiking shoes sent to Castella. Walking away into the rain I then heard someone call out, "Lightningbolt"!. Looking up the hill I saw that it was Jason who I hadn't seen in a couple of weeks. He and Mike were waiting out the rain inside an old abandoned laundry room where I was glad to join them for the day. That evening, along with a section hiker from New Zealand, we had a great dinner at the restaurant while exchanging many stories from the trail. At about 7:30 pm we all walked out of town into the steady rain which had overtaken the day and took the original PCT trail and not the "re-route" around the flood damaged section. Jason and Mike were ahead and I ended up camping on a small flat ledge about 50 feet below the trail and it was a sheer drop-off on the lower side! "

Looking at the Belden store from across the river.

Join me on the next page as I hike through three days of rain to Old Station then hike atop the gorgeous, yet very dry Hat Creek Rim.