Saturday, July 26, 2008

Only 7.7 Miles Till More Food

After eating breakfast this morning, packing up, checking out, then
stopping at McDonald's so Steve could have a second breakfast (he
really wanted 2 sausage mcmuffins for $3.33), we stood on the side of
the road and hoped our hitching luck would continue. After about 3
minutes, who should pull up but a couple we had met while having
breakfast at JJ's. We told you only good things come from there!

They took their granddaughter to JJ's for breakfast for her birthday
(she is one of 13!!), and we started talking to them about the hike
and they told us he is the pastor of a church in Burney. So they were
driving out of town to visit a church member in the hospital when they
saw us on the side of the road and recognized us, so they pulled over.

We hiked the 7.7 miles to Burney Falls State Park, and stopped at the
general store for lunch - hot dogs, cottage cheese and fritos, ice
cold soda, and as you can see, ice cream. Are you getting tired of
pictures of us and food yet?

We're waiting out the heat and then we are on our own for food for the
rest of this stretch. No more resorts or restaurants till Mt. Shasta.
What will we do?!

Dirty Sock Water

In case you didn't believe me that the trail is dirty, this is a
picture of the water while rinsing my socks before washing. This is
after about 11 rinses!

Fri., July 25 - 17.5 Miles by 1 pm!

After hiking into the night, it was hard to get up by 5 am, but after
a few re-sets of the alarm, we were up and moving by 5:45.

It was town day, and thoughts of showers, laundry, and cold sodas can
really get our legs moving. By 9:30 we had gone 8.5 miles so we were
thinking we could make it into town by lunch.

About 4 miles outside of town we hit a PG&E power generation station
that sits next to a river. Well, the PCT runs over their bridge and
picks up on the other side if the river. The problem - they had closed
the bridge to all traffic, including foot. We looked at the river with
plans to just walk through it, but it was 10 feet deep! We walked
around for a bit - back and forth on the dead-end road we were on and
around the PG&E building, trying to find another way across the water.
We considered just jumping over the fence blocking the bridge, but it
looked damaged in the middle and we didn't want it to collapse on us.
After much inspecting of the map, LandShark decided if we climbed over
the giant water pipe alongside the plant that feeds into the fish
hatchery close by, and then bushwack a quarter mile, we should run
into a road that would connect us to the other side of the river. Good
thing he is so good with maps! We climbed the pipe, walked through
brush and trees and sure enough found a road that lead us straight to
the trail.

Even with our slight hold-up at the bridge, we made it to the highway
that leads into Burney by 1 pm. We had heard this is a hard hitch
since everyone is speeding by at 65 mph. We set up on the side of the
road with a turn-out (to make it easier for someone to pull over) and
I sat down to make a sign. As I finished the "7" for 7 miles, a car
pulled up and offered us a ride. We had a ride within 12 minutes of
getting to the freeway. This is the second time we have gotten a ride
while a sign was being made - I guess that's the trick!

Per Erik's request, we are currently at 3,110 elevation. Because of
this, it is actually quite hot most of the time. The morning we woke
up at Drakesbad, we were at 5,000 in a valley and the cold air settles
at night, so it was rather chilly. In this next stretch, we will go up
to 6,000 again but then slowly drop back down to 2,300, climb back up
to 4,600 and then drop again to 2,100 where we will cross I-5 and stay
in Mt. Shasta for a night.

Thurs., July 24 - Into Old Station and Night Hiking

After Old Station, the trail gives us 30 miles with no water - we feel
like we've warped back to Southern California! Because of this, we
planned to go into town, eat two meals, hang out for the day, and then
start around 4 pm and hike into the night.

We had heard there was a good diner and a gas station convenience
store on the outskirts of town, so we bypassed the "real downtown" and
hiked 5 miles straight on to Hwy 44, where we got off and took a short
1/2 mile detour to JJ's Diner on Hwy 89.

When I heard the name, I was expecting a hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon
type place. Well nothing of the sort... this place is great!
Everything is homemade - from the biscuits and breads to the French
fries and hamburger buns. Plus they have pastries, cookies and breads
for sale. Even the hamburger patties come from locally raised beef.

We got there at 10:30 and ordered breakfast. Steve's new favorite
trail breakfast is generally called something like country benedict -
it consists of biscuits, eggs, sausage, and potatoes all covered in
gravy. This plate came out and the waitress said it's a 5 pound meal
(ridiculous!). I tried to take a picture, but the shadows were bad.
And in case you were wondering, he did eat the whole thing.

After breakfast we found some picnic benches in the shade behind the
gas station, camped out there for the day and read. For lunch we went
back to JJ's and had a wonderful lunch as well. In case you are ever
driving North on Hwy 89 toward Mt. Shasta, do yourself a favor and
stop at JJ's for a meal, or at least to pick up one of their homemade
breads or pastries. Really excellent!

We went back to the shade for a while, loaded up on all the water we
would need for our 30 mile stretch, and hit the road at 4. This
section of trail isn't all that exciting - it's fairly flat and due to
a fire in the 80's, there are not too many trees providing shade. And
even at 4, it was hot.

Not too long into our trip, we ran into cows. We've been in areas
where there might be cows but we've never actually run into them, so
this was quite exciting. Luckily these cows were easy to scare and
they would run off the trail away from us. We continued to see cows as
we would go - sometimes they would scare us as they would pop out of
the bushes and run away. Well after a while it got dark and we would
walk down the trail (trying not to trip on the rocks that were the
same color as the dirt) with Steve yelling "COWS" every once in a
while so they would know we were coming. Since it was dark, we were
waking them up as we walked by, but all we could see of them with our
lights was their glowing eyes from the bushes as they would walk a few
steps and then look at us. It was kind of creepy to just see floating
eyes but no body. After a while we scared another animal - we could
tell it wasn't cows because their eyes were smaller and closer
together, but again we couldn't see the bodies. There were 3 of them
just standing there looking at us, and when it's pitch black, it kind
of gives you the heeby-jeebies. We decided they were deer, not coyotes
or werewolves and kept going. We made it 17 miles from the hwy and
cowboy camped (no tent) at 11 pm. I always think that night hiking is
a good idea because of the nice cool weather, but I forget I'm a
chicken!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wed., July 23 - Drakesbad to Outside Old Station

We had such a lovely time at dinner at Drakesbad, we decided to stay
for breakfast. Here is LandShark, Accent (she's from Quebec), and
RidgeWalker at our table; Mr. Clean and Rafiki also joined us later.
Breakfast was just as good, with scrambled eggs, potatoes, and then a
whole buffet of breads, bagels, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, and lots of
fresh fruit. We ate to our hearts content.

At 9:30 we hit the trail, with plans to come within a few miles of Old
Station, so we could eat at JJ's Diner tomorrow. At this point you
might be starting to see why this could be the best section ever :)

The trail itself is getting easier as we go, with milder climbs and
longer flat stretches. Basically it was a day of 22 uneventful miles

At 8:00, we set up camp on several inches of pine needles and said
goodnight.

Tues., July 22 - Chester to Drakesbad

Chester to Burney - best 80 mile section of trail ever? This section
was hot, fairly exposed, had little water, and was super dirty (dry,
loose dirt that floats up everytime you take a step). But could it
still be the best section ever? It's possible.

We said goodbye to Babs and Harry and started hiking around 10:30 am.
We had heard about Drakesbad, a resort in Lassen National Park, and
wanted to make it the 18 miles in order to get there for dinner. Well,
we had heard good things, but we had no idea. This place is wonderful.

We hauled all day, took a short lunch and arrived at 5:55. Perfect
timing, since dinner started at 6:00 (they have seating times for
breakfast, lunch and dinner). But as soon as we arrived, the owners
asked us if we had laundry to do or if we would like to take a shower
- FOR FREE! We had just done laundry and it had only been one day
since a shower. Even after 18 miles, we weren't feeling we really
needed a shower (you can tell how dirty we are when we get into town
and actually do need a shower). But we soon asked ourselves, why would
you turn down a free shower?!?

We had a great dinner of salad, bread, shrimp, eggplant parmesan (we
shared the entrées), polenta, and the most wonderful fresh berry
pastry with whipped cream. The best part - hikers eat for half off, so
all this was only $10.

After dinner we went to take showers and then soaked our feet in the
hot spring swimming pool. Oh, I didn't mention the hot spring pool?
Yeah, it was awesome. Here you can see Steve relaxing by the pool.
Maybe you can see the steam coming off of it if you look close enough.

It was a heavenly evening to say the least. If only every day of
hiking could end like this!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Much Fun with Babs and Harrry

While we had never met Cam's grandparents before, we had a wonderful
time with them last night. They kept us in stitches the whole time,
and shared some great stories about Cam. :) We thoroughly appreciate
their kind hospitality... and we already miss Duffy, their spazzy Shih
tzu!

Monday, July 21, 2008

180 Miles in 3 Days!

With the help of a car and a bus!

If you haven't heard, California is on fire. And while hikers are
quite spectacular, we still cannot hike through fire. So we are
jumping from Sierra City to Chester.

Just so you don't miss anything, here's an update of the past few
days...

On Saturday, Tony and Laura treated us to brunch before dropping us
off at the trail at 3:30. We were sad to say goodbye, but also a bit
anxious to start cranking out some miles after so much time off with
friends and family. We were able to get 12 miles done by 8 pm and
camped on a saddle with Germanator (a fun-loving, hilarious guy from
Germany).

The next day we did 23 miles and camped with several other PCT'ers at
a car-camping campsite just outside of Sierra City. Here we met, among
others, Chuck Norris (striking resemblance) and Tigger, a lovely
couple from Florida who took some time off the trail to chauffeur
hikers around the fire. They pile hikers into the back of their seat-
less minivan (as many as 8 hikers with backpacks at a time) and drive
them from the trail to town. They are true angels!

This morning 13 of us went into town for breakfast. Then Accent,
Ridgewalker, and the two if us got a ride to Quincey from Angie, who
was visiting her mom in Sierra City, waiting for her friend, Ricola,
to get in. She was lovely.

After a trip to Safeway for a re-supply, tacos at Taco Bell, and ice
cream at Rite Aid, we boarded the bus to Chester, where we will be
hosted by Cammy's grandparents, who have a cabin up there. We are
surrounded by love.

Here you can see the two of us in the bus, as well as Don't Panic
behind us. There are 9 hikers on this bus and I feel bad for the
regulars - it smells... just a little bit :)