PCT: Shasta to Etna

How would I describe this section between the lovely towns of Shasta and Etna? Brutally hot, impossibly green, endless water, and curious animals. It’s been full of the usual literal and figurative ups and downs, and it’s been stunningly beautiful.

Day 79: Shasta to Cursed Campsite

We took the bus back to trail, which took the scenic route through the tiny towns of McCloud, Dunsmuir, and Castella.

As soon as we started hiking we had a 1k ft climb to connect back to trail. This began the never ending stream of sweat that would persist until we got to the next town.

We had another very long climb before camp (2k + ft) but occasional views of Castle Crags were welcome. We even saw a rattlesnake because apparently they are following us to Canada.

These azelias smelled insane! I thought I was deplaning at the Kauai airport and smelling the island flowers.

I do not know what my phone was doing when I took that screenshot. Sugar ghost.

Day 80: Cursed Campsite to Deadfall Lake

You may wonder why the previous night’s campsite was dubbed “cursed”. It’s because at dark, a hiker ran into our secluded site, set up a tent so close to us that their stakes were under our tent flies, and then proceeded to smoke all night long and into the morning. The smoke was pouring into my tent and I woke up with a lovely headache for a long day of climbing. Beware of this hiker!

Although we didn’t have any long climbs, there was lots of up and down along ridge lines. The temperatures were continuing to climb with the heatwave.

We continued to see Shasta throughout the day. Its such a dominating presence in this area.

Sometimes a rock or tree provides the perfect seat and you are OBLIGED to sit.

This is the teeniest pine cone I have ever seen.

As we neared the highest point of the day, we started seeing snow patches.  Thankfully, they were easy to cross and not long at all.

We crossed a saddle and the other side of the range was gorgeous.  Dramatic clouds in the afternoon made it even more stunning.

We eventually made it to Deadfall lake, our last destination for the day. A real lake!! After so long in the desert, this was luxury.

Day 81: Deadfall Lake to Campsite

So. Much. Climbing. And the temperatures were soaring despite our high elevation. But at least it was gorgeous!

We basically spent the day hopping shade spots, taking a long lunch nap under trees. Whatever it takes!

These plants looked like aliens rising out of the bushes.

This deer was just walking the trail in front of us and turned into the bushes when we got close.

When we got to camp, my feet were aching and I needed a break before setting up camp so I laid on my Tyvek with my feet in the air and stared at the branches.


Day 82: Campsite to Campsite

If it fits, I sits. Thank you to the trail maintenance person who sawed a seat into this blowdown!

This day was more hot climbing and views. We passed several lakes far below.

The highlight of the few snow patches that we had to cross was frogs! Hopping on snow!

Day 83: Campsite to Paynes Lake

More climbing and heat and views! The sky was so blue and the trees were vivid.

Later in the day we started going in and out of burn areas. The relief of live trees with solid shade is intense.

We camped at yet another lake! It was the last campsite before the highway into Etna, so there were a lot of people camped there. I slept like a rock.

At lunch, I noticed that my insulin pump was peeling off a bit. It was also pretty bloody. My blood sugar climbed to 457 during the lunch break despite me bolusing, so I went ahead and changed the pump. Sure enough, it was leaking a bit. Pretty soon my sugar started coming down.

Day 84: Paynes Lake to Etna

We awoke to smoke rolling into the lake basin.

As we climbed, the smoke got increasingly worse and our throats started to hurt. We had no idea how close the fire was but it sure made us hustle to get to town.

A trail angel named Dusty gave us and two other hikers a ride down the mountain into Etna. Time to do town chores and have a night in a bed!

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Comments 4

  • Vrooom : Jul 18th

    Man I hate when the quick sets from my pump leak. You almost feel like your punished even doing the right thing. Keep it up, your photos are fantastic.

  • Rammy : Jul 18th

    Your pictures are beautiful makes you wish you were there.

  • Alan mathews : Jul 19th

    Beautiful sky out there,nice forest thanks for sharing.

  • Amanda : Jul 25th

    Omg prettiest pictures yet!! Stay hydrated! ❤️


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