Looking down at Middle Boulder Lake.
From my journal (July 6, Day-72)..."At 5:30 am Steffan is up and gone without delay and 30 minutes later I too am walking north and I don't know when Mike got moving. It's a bit chilly this morning and just past Toad Lake a deer hops down on the trail about 10 yards ahead of me, then proceeds to walk as though I weren't even there... amazing! We almost walk together for perhaps 20 more yards then it casually hops off the trail like it was meant specifically for me to pass. It was another long and beautiful walk keeping mainly on the ridge then ending up on a tree covered ridge which was nice for shade. I finally cross highway 3 at Scott Mountain Summit in early evening, then it's an uphill climb to the Trinity Alps Wilderness where fortunately there is an unlisted spring running near the boundary sign. I make camp up on a shallow crest gap for the night where a few deer passed through just at dark. "
|Etna Pass at Etna Road. The trail crosses the road just on the other side of that 18 wheeler..|
From my journal (July 7, Day-73)..."I had sure intended to slow down some in this section but Oregon is now begining to call much too loudly. Deer are hopping all over the trail when I come to a creek at about 7:00 am and where Jason is sound asleep in his bag. I debate to myself on whether to wake him up and then I walk nearby and say, "Good morning" as his head pops up alive and alert. We enjoy some early morning laughter for about 20 minutes, then I move on up the trail and let him start packing.
Somewhere along the way I pass by a long horse train trail maintenance crew which is a nice mid morning surprise. About lunch time I'm filling up a water bag at a stream past the Sout Fork Scott River when Jason catches up to me and we both share a pleasant lunch spot. Jason then takes off only 5 minutes before me, but I never saw him again today! Late afternoon hiking in the very hot and exposed Russian Wilderness takes it's toll on my body with such a rocky trail, then thick forest growth again finally making camp for the night on a small flat knoll with Mt. Shasta glaring at me towards the east. "
These hills and valleys unfolded like dominos as far as the eye could see!
A spactacular sunrise as seen from my sleeping bag on Marble mountain.
From my journal (July 8, Day-74)..."Sunrise was absolutely fabulous this morning as I was fully exposed at first light which also made it a very hot morning for hiking right off the bat. I downed my remaining half liter of water then moved on across the crest to Etna Summit where a couple of cow trucks were cooling their brakes. The next two listed water sources were dried up so I hiked 16 hot miles to cow infested Shelly Lakes creek outlet before I had water, then sat there for almost an hour gulping it down my parched throat as fast as my little filter could process it. In early afternoon I come to a small pristine lake named Fisher Lake where I first hear Jason say, "Lightningbolt!" which got my attention. He had just had lunch and went for a nice swim which sounded so good that I also went in, which refreshed me beyond comprehension. The afternoon walk is very pleasant as the trail dips from saddle to saddle on a sometimes very forested to a fully exposed crest walk... also very pleasing for the soul. I eventually dip down to an old cabin campsite in the Marble Valley and see two bears just ahead of me on the trail. They weren't too spooked but did finally move off the trail for me thus leaving me a bit spooked since they appeared too calm by my human presence. Because it was late and I wanted to camp I find the strength to climb back up out of the valley and set up my sleeping bag near the edge of a solid marble cliff where surely no bear would dare venture onto! "
This was the last ridge walk before descending into the very humid Siead Valley.
The log bridge over Grider Creek at mile 1,650.5 and just before the road walk into Siead Valley.
From my journal (July 9, Day-75)..."Sunrise on the marble cliff was better than ever and I couldn't help but to keep observing it's progress as I dozed on and off under it's brilliant orange glow. It seemed that for the last few days the trail had been on a mostly easterly diredtion and it was nice to finally be on a more northerly trail. I met Jason early on as he was climbing back up from Bear Lake after taking the wrong trail and I was also headed that way too. He was quite frustrated but we managed somehow to find some laughter once we were back on the PCT. It's surely not well marked in some places. After a while on the ridge it was now a mostly soft and cushy downhill trail for 13.5 miles following Grider Creek to the Seiad Valley. The valley is about 1,600 feet and it is very hot and humid as I stop at every chance to rinse and wet my shirt and to drink up with plenty of water.
It's then a road walk out to a small turn around area where I once again catch up to Jason who is sitting down and leaning back exhausted from the heat on his backpack. I join him then we decide to walk together into town. Down the road just a short way I spot a small unused trail leading down to the Klamath River and tell Jason, "Let's at least check it out" for a possible crossing straight over to the town. The trail down is steeper than anticipated as my tired legs turn into a fast roll. I catch a long hemlock limb and literally find myself in a Tarzan swing long and wide as Jason laughs almost uncontrollably. Actually I'm glad that limb was there as I most assuredly would have had a great crash to the bottom of the bank! If that wasn't enough I then run into some ground bees getting stung on my wrist and my leg, so I high-tail it through the brush out onto the open gravel bar of the river.
We both find some good balance poles and Jason finds a good route across the wide river and certainly the biggest ford so far from Mexico. I almost lose it a couple of times in the strong current as the water comes half way up my shorts. Across to the other side both of us celebrate with a roar of yelling and high fives. This was the kind of adventure that really makes such a trip unique. We walked the remaining short distance to the store in the highest of spirits in quite a while and check in to the RV park next door, then walk about a half mile to have a fine dinner at the Wildwood Restaurant where Mike surprises and joins us after doing a 36 miler to catch up. This was a great evening eventhough thunder and lightning lit the night sky not too far away! "
Here we are at the RV park next to the store and where we camped for the night.
|For breakfast we found ourselves at the restaurant and home to the famous pancake challenge. If you can eat all five of Rick's pancakes then they are free. The only 2001 hiker to do it so far was Nobo..|
|Rick displays his pancakes.|
Mike was the only one to accept the challenge.
|He actually managed to eat two of them, then Jason and I shared one, then Mike packed the other two into his backpack for some good trail food..|
From my journal (July 10, Day-76)..."The threat of rain remained just that in the light of lightning and thunder, however we played it safe by setting up our tarps and tents including two section hiker's named Chris and Mike. By 8:00 am we all wandered over to the Seiad Valley Cafe for breakfast and home to the famous Pancake Challenge. Mike is the only one who accepts Rick's challenge which is to finish eating five of his huge pancakes in less than 2 hours and they are free! It was sort of funny how everyone (who didn't accept the challenge) including several local passerbys, offers advice on how to do it or grief because he isn't eating fast enough. Mike was a swell sport and handled the good natured humorous comments better than a bribed politician and eventually ginishes two of the huge cakes which was certainly more than I could ever manage! It was a great breakfast and a lot of fun, but it was finally time to move on. I paid for his pancake challenge breakfast for being such a great sport!.
At about 10:30 am I begin walking down the highway to rejoin the PCT north about a mile away under a semi-overcast sky, then as I'm climbing up the noises from the Seiad Valley gradually fade away on the 4,440 foot ascent back to the crest. From the vantage point of height it is easy to see where Jason and I had managed to cross the Klamath River and to just see how this beautiful valley haid in relation to the surrounding mountains. It's place that I could easily live if only I had time to settle down, but now it was time to move on north. Before mid afternoon I watch across the surrounding mountains as thunderstorms begin to take over, then soon I am in the middle of one! I continue to walk to stay warm and fortunately I have already passed through the very exposed part of the crest and now the trail is mainly in the trees as lightning pops all around. "