Just Keep Swimming
I’m sorry it’s been ages since I wrote a blog post. Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail has been wonderful in pretty much every way, but it doesn’t afford many opportunities to spend time on the internet or use a computer for long enough to compose a well-thought out and well-composed blog entry.
A Thousand Miles In
I’m writing from Burney, California at mile 1,407 of the PCT. Since we skipped 407 trail miles from Kearsarge Pass to Sierra City that means I’m at a total of 1,000 trail miles under my belt. I’ll return to Sierra City and hike southbound back to Kearsarge Pass in late August or September once the snow has melted and the river crossings are more manageable. For now, I’m continuing northbound on the trail until, probably, the northern terminus of the trail in Manning Park, British Columbia. Northern California has been stellar so far and has afforded many more swimming opportunities! In 1,000 miles of this trail I’ve managed to dunk myself twelve times! For those thru-hikers, day hikers, and section-hikers out there that are looking for some advice about swimming along the PCT, here’s my list (so far).
Skinny Dipping The PCT
- Whitewater River (Mile 220.4) – Do it. This section of the PCT is so hot, and this river is the perfect temperature. You should find a spot with a nice little pool below a small waterfall that you can sit in for a minute or two. You’ll be dry in five minutes once you get out, so even if people are around and you don’t want to skinny dip you have no excuse not to hop in.
- Mission Creek (Mile 226.2) – Just because you just took a dip in a small waterfall where the PCT crosses the Whitewater River doesn’t mean you can’t cool off again in Mission Creek. I’m told the water was glorious. I passed this up for absolutely no good reason and I’m ashamed.
- Deep Creek Hot Springs (Mile 307.9) – This place is rad and it’s in the desert in Southern California and the trail goes right to it so there’s no excuse to skip it. If you come across druggies/creepy townies, just move to a different pool. The water is the perfect temperature to sit and relax as the sun sets over the canyon walls above you.
- Silverwood Lake (Mile 326.3) – Silverwood Lake is another lake in the desert that shouldn’t be there. But what the hell! Take advantage! This was my second-favorite swim spot on the PCT so far. No mucky bottom, nice beach in a little cove, and a gorgeous sunset.
- Lake Isabella (Mile 652.0) – Most PCT thru-hikers stay at the RV park in Lake Isabella for $5. It’s right down the street from the town dock and beach at Lake Isabella. The water is pristine and the temperature is perfect. This lake really shouldn’t be here in the middle of the desert, but since it is, hop in!
- South Fork of the Kern River (Mile 697.8) – This is a great spot to clean up and cool off before you saunter in to Kennedy Meadows like a boss. Don’t pass it up. Good for doing laundry and sunning yourself on a warm rock too.
- Fowler Lake (Mile 1,240.4) – The old PCT went right by Fowler Lake but now you have to take a 1/2 mile spur trail to get down there. It was worth the hike for us because we camped down there on the banks of the Lake and had a lovely campfire and plenty of privacy, but the dip was not advisable. If you want to get clean it’s better to take a bird bath in the outflow stream because this “lake” is really a lilly pond with lots of muck and small creatures.
- Middle Fork Feather River (Mile 1,247.2) – This river was raging and there was an awesome eddy on the South side, to the east of the bridge, that is beautiful and so fun. Lots of rocks to stand on and perfectly safe to jump under. Your feet may go numb if you stay in for too long and your lungs may get a bit of a shock when you first go under but then you’ll get out and sun yourself on a warm rock and you’ll feel like a million bucks.
- Bear Creek (Mile 1,250.5) – This is only three miles after the Middle Fork of the Feather River, where you already just took a nice dunk, so I can understand if you skip this one (I did). But I spotted a certain Valley Girl taking a dip in the middle of the hot afternoon anyway, and he reported that it did not disappoint.
- Chips Creek Waterfall (Mile 1,293.1) – I’m sure thru-hikers from the drought years will be peeved to hear it, but this year Chips Creek, about 8 trail miles north of Belden Town, CA is charging and there are a ton of waterfalls near the switchbacks right before the official creek crossing. If you climb down a steep, screed-up side slope on the west side of the trail near the last switchback before the rock hop crossing you’ll find a few options for waterfalls and pools that are the perfect size and depth for dunking yourself and pretending you’re in a mentos commercial.
- North Fork Feather River (Mile 1,338.2) – Well… you’ve just resupplied in Chester and you woke up late in the morning and then you had breakfast at the Kopper Kettle Cafe, so even though you’re only ten miles into your day it is HOT and you’re sweating buckets. Take a load off and jump in here. The current is swift but just stay close to shore or hold onto a log or something.
- Lower Twin Lake (Mile 1,355.1) – This has been my favorite spot to take a dunk so far. There’s snowmelt on the banks of the Lake so we thought it would be freezing, but since there’s thermal activity happening underground (this is inside Lassen Volanic National Park) the water was ace. No muck on the bottom, no need to wear shoes, and you can stay underwater for a while before you get too cold.
- Baum Lake Powerhouse (Mile 1,404.6) – Ignore the sign that’s warning you that the dam could open at any second and wash you away. Ignore the families fishing off the bridge that tell you it’s too shallow to jump. Climb up on top of that footbridge and jump off that pig! Great temperature and just enough current to make it feel like an infinity pool.
- Swimming pool at Burney Mountain Guest Ranch (Mile 1,407.2) – Perfect for inadvisable diving tricks, noodle wrestling, handstand competitions, etc. Don’t pee in the pool.
Today I’ll head into town to resupply at the Safeway and then hike eight miles out to Burney Falls State Park at Mile 1,416.5. Then I’ll take the afternoon off to swim and relax with my hiker family. Looks like we won’t reach snow again until we get to Crater Lake National Park, about 400 trail miles north of here. So hopefully we’ve got lots more big days and big swims in our future!
For photos of my journey so far check out my instagram feed at instagram.com/bee8384. Thanks for checking in.
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