PCT Nor Cal-One Week in!
One week ago I skipped up to Chester from the desert. Here are some thoughts and accounts of this section of trail so far.
We’re Not in Kansas Anymore
Going from the Desert to Northern California was a HUGE adjustment and I feel like I am on a whole different trail. Just like the desert had her own set of challenges, Northern California has hers. Our first day on trail coming out of Chester, my hiking partner and I realized we forgot bug spray. We quickly became acquainted with the hundreds of thousands of mosquitos that inhibit this section of trail. We hiked fast, itching and swatting as we went. Once at camp, we hurried to set up our tent to avoid getting eaten alive. To our relief, our camp mates were kind enough to share their bug spray.
The next day we hiked thru a 20+ mile burn scar. The charred forest, though beautiful in its own way, was also a sad reminder of the devastating Dixie fire that consumed over 960,000 acres of national park and national forest in 2021.
Hat Creek Rim
We eventually made it thru the burn scar and the trail took us up hat creek rim. Hat creek rim is infamously known as one of the longest, driest, and hottest sections of the PCT. This section ended up being one of my favorites. We climbed up the rim and had sweeping views of Lassen Peak, Mount Shasta, and the expansive green valley below. Our first night on the rim we were met with evening thundershowers and the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen on trail so far. Still flowing seasonal streams and morning fog kept us cool and hydrated. 2023 certainly has its perks!
In the coming day, we continued to climb gradually up, Mount Shasta growing ever-nearer. In Shasta National Forest, We were met with snow once again. I have learned that with snow travel, usually comes bush-whacking, route-finding, and long days with wet feet. No one was spared from the thick manzanita bushes, or slippery snowy slopes. The physical and mental exhaustion of the day left us feeling worn out and worn down. A 15 mile day took the energy of a 30 mile day. When we were finally reunited with dry trail, we practically ran the rest of the way to camp.
The next day included more scenic ridge-walking as we made our way up, over, and down into the valley to I-5. We got a ride from a trail angel named Doc who drove us into Shasta in the back of his pickup truck. Mount Shasta is a small town that sits below the towering 14,180 foot mountain. You can see the towering 14er as you walk through the streets of downtown, past the local breweries, gear stores, and surprising number of crystal shops.
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