Day 102 – 7/22/15
Castle Crags State Park
Miles – 20.0
Total Miles – 1559.0 (PCT 1498.7) Yesterday must have been harder then I thought because we woke up more than a half hour late and then we were slow in getting packed up. In the last week or two, we keep getting up late. As with most mornings, today began with an up and a good sized one. It took several hours to get to the top of the ridge then we headed west and started a long down to Castle Crags. Our first sign of civilization was a train horn. A half hour later we started to hear trucks on Hwy 5. Noises coming from a town get to be real exciting for us because we are close to real food and showers. As we stopped for a snack along the trail a hiker named Ciervo stopped and talked to us before he went on his way. He is what we describe as a trail rocket because he travels so fast. He hikes thirty to thirty five miles a day. Most hikers who hike big miles usually do not even take the time to talk to us. Ciervo did and we had a fun conservation about thru hikers favorite subject: food. Soon he moved on and we hiked on over to Hwy 5. Our food box is at the gas station store next to the PO. Most hikers usually hitch a ride to Shasta City and get a hotel room. We did not because towns like that are vortexes that hikers get stuck in making leaving back to the trail hard. Also they become very expensive. We hiked along a frontage road until we came to a pedestrian tunnel going under Hwy 5. This lead straight to the Castle Crags State Park campground. We took one of the first spots we found and setup camp. Next we walked over to the store. The convent store had the usual food but they also had deli sandwiches and homemade burritos. We picked up something for lunch, even though it was after 3:00. After eating that, we then returned for pop cycles, our food box, and something for dinner. At camp we started cleaning out the packs and getting the food ready to go. As night fell we ate dinner and then headed over to the showers. The showers are coin operated, .25 for a minute. We only have two small towels so as one person took a shower the other was washing cloths in the sink. Of course the boys shower only had cold water and the girls had hot. Great. Then it was off to bed.
Day, 101 – 7/21/15
Squaw Valley Creek
Miles – 22.8
Total Miles – 1539.0 (PCT 1482.2)
Because we were camped in the middle of the trail last night, we wanted to get moving quickly in case another hiker came by. However, we did not get up that early. We just could not wake up. Around 2:00 am, a noise woke Mama Raven up. Then she woke me. As we were lying there, we heard several large animals run down the hill behind the kids tent. Since they seemed to be bouncing around, we figured they were deer. Once we made sure they were gone, we settled down. Then we kept hearing a much smaller animal. We kept looking around a outside of the tent but we could not find it. Finally we saw it. It was a mouse and it was inside our tent! Of all animals we encounter hiking, mice are the worst. They will chew through bags to get to food they smell and they keep you up all night. How do we get him out? Well, we scared him to one side of the tent and moved bags and packs. With less to hide behind, the faster he would run around. Several times he would climb up onto the mosquito netting of the tent. One of those time, Papa Raven put the cooking pot over him and slid the pot lid over the port. Papa Raven had him trapped. Papa Raven then through him across the trail and up the hill. We took a look around and found that the mouse had chewed a hole through the side of the tent, through our lunch bag, and into the bag of M&M’s. Mama Raven then crumbled up two Ritz crackers and put the crumbs outside the tent. We have found that if we feed the mice they leave us alone. Once again this worked. It took a while to fall back asleep As we lied there, we heard several mice scurrying around the tent and nibbling away on the crackers.
This day, like the last several, was the same: drop down, climb up, walk a ridge line, and repeat. The hills are covered in trees and at the lower elevations we uncounted a lot of poison oak. At times it was difficult to pass around it. When we could, we washed off our legs and arms. Today we had to get through some of the worst we have seen on the trail. At one point today, Will entertained us by somersaulting down the hillside. He was in the process of standing up from a sit down position. He was sitting in the middle of the narrow trail that was on the edge of steep hill. He used his poles to help push him up but the weight of his pack kept him rolling forwards as he somersaulted several times down the mountain side. He traveled about twenty feet. The only thing that was hurt was his pride. We all got a good laugh from the incident, including Will!
Toward the end of the day we encountered a bear. As normal, Mama Raven was up front. She heard a loud crashing of a large animal breaking tree branches as it headed down the hill. The black bear stopped at the bottom of the valley. It walked slowly up the other side while it made a soft clicking noise. Will spotted a baby bear just up the hill from the mother. Mama bear would not take her eyes off us. We watched a bit more and then we heard another cub calling. We looked and looked, but could not tell where it was coming from, then I found him. He was 50′ above us. At this point, we decided to get out of the way and let mama and cub reunite. Tonight we camped at Squaw River which is beautiful. The sky to the north was filled with huge billowing thunder clouds that kept lighting up due to the lightening storm taken place within them. It was a spectacular show! Little Crow of course thought otherwise.
Day 100 – 7/20/15
Just before Deer Creek
Miles – 24.3
Total Miles – 1516.2 (PCT 1459.8)
Today’s trail climbed up and down a ridge, working it’s way north and then west. Mt Shasta was our point of reference. As the day went on it drew closer. We had a big climb up as the day heated up. The temperature almost hit 100°. This was one of the hottest days we have had on the trail. Normally the deserts in southern California would have topped 100° but all the storms we got earlier in the trip, kept the temperature down. Now we are finally getting the hot temperatures. As the heat rose, our hiking speed slowed.
The highest point of the day coincided with a spring. We took a long break there drinking a lot of water and eating Snicker bars and jerky. On an average day, we each drink about two liters of water. On hot days like today we can drink up to three litters each. Next the trail went even farther west and then out on the face of Grizzly Peak. This jagged peak had open slopes facing south with rocky ledges protruding out. It was a nice contradiction, because most of the mountains around here are rounded and covered in trees, except where they have been clear cut. There is a lot of that up here. After crossing Grizzly Peak, we dropped down to the last water for the day, Deer Creek Spring. By this time the sun had set and the sky was turning yellowy, orange. We filled all our water bottles and since there was only room for one small tent at the spring, which was already taken by Flying Eagle, we hiked on. He felt bad for us, Our map showed that there was more camping in 2 miles. Since it was almost dark, we brought out the headlamps. We were exhausted and our feet were very sore but we had to go on. After a mile, we crossed a small stream and found a wide place in the trail that would work. One tent was setup in the trail and the other was off to one side. At this time of night, you use what ever you can find. For the past few days we have been leap frogging with Flying Eagle who is a pastor from Portland Oregon. He is on his eighth and final year of section hiking the PCT. We have been enjoying his company.
Strider and Rockstar
Day 99 – 7/19/15
Just before Deadman Creek
Miles – 20.3
Total Miles – 1491.9 (PCT 1436.1) We tried to sleep in but store food was calling, so we got up, packed, and headed for the store. It opened at 8:00, and we got there a little after 7:00, this gave us time to finish sorting are food box. While Mama Raven worked on that, I searched for power to recharge a few things and the kids washed socks. When the store opened, we all got egg sausage sandwiches, milk, OJ, and two apple cinnamon pastries. Everything was very good, except the pastries they were so bad we did not finish them. We chose them because they looked homemade. Thru hikers have a reputation of being able to eat anything but these were like eating cardboard. We went back and picked up different type of pastries. You never can go wrong with Hostess products. We even bought extra for the trail. Once breakfast was finished we started hiking. It was 9:30, a very late start but we did not want to miss out on breakfast. We were hoping to make 20 miles and we did, but we had to push to do it. It was a 2,000′ climb over 12 miles and took most of the day. The trail went several miles along Lake Britton before crossing its dam and heading up. There was a lot of water exiting the dam. I guess they were maintaining the river levels. The climb was not really hard but the day was hot and that slowed us down. We were much happier when the trail went up into the trees. The shade and color air make the hiking more pleasant. Upon coming to our first river crossing, we stopped to soak our hot feet in the cold water and eat a snack. Just as we were leaving, a dog (an Alaskan Malamute), showed up with no apparent owners. However he did have a name tag and telephone number. His name was Zia. With his thick fur, he headed right for the water to cool off. When done, he ran on up the trail out of our sight. As we started off, we ran into him again. He kept walking in front of us up the trail. Mama Raven and I looked at each other, wondering what to do. There was no phone number reception to call the number on Zia’s tag. Soon Zia lied in the middle of the trail in the shade. He would not take his eyes off the river below us. Mama Raven gave him her last Nutter Butter. He took it and then promptly spit it out. That was a waste of a good cookie. Next, we all looked the direction Zia was looking when we heard voices way down inside the deep river ravine we were next to. We crept as close as possible to the edge and looked over. We saw two men fishing. How they got down to where they were was a mystery to us. Anyways, we were relieved to have found Zia’s owners. As we walked up the trail, Zia kept his post in the shade waiting for her owners.
At another point this afternoon we came upon a baby bird which had fallen into the middle of the trail from its nest in a pine tree. There was not a lot we could do for it except move it to a safer location and shade it. Hopefully mama will hear its cries and feed it.
We finished the up at a spring. It was not a great spring. The pools were shallow and slow to fill, but we worked at it and filled our bottles. We did not want to camp at the spring so we hiked another 1.5 miles and found a spot of the trail.
Day 98 – 7/18/15
Miles – 23.5
Total Miles – 1471.6 (PCT 1416.6)Ann and I really enjoyed last night, Joon, not so much. We had camped on a wide open plain under a juniper tree. It was a very warm night so we opened up all the vestibules of the tents. Just about sundown, a large thunderstorm started off to the east. We could see the lightening that would make the clouds glow. While Mama Raven and I lied in the tent, we watched the lightening out both sides of the tent. However, Joon was not enjoying the weather at all. She just wanted it to stop. Finally everyone feel asleep. At 1:30 a.m., big fat rain drops started to hit the tent. Everyone woke up and we closed the vestibules. The lightening storm to the east was still going on. It must be really big to be still going after 7 hours. With every flash of lightening, Little Crow would ask if it could come over our tent. Little Crow was unable to relax because of her fear of lightening therefore Little Crow and I swapped places. I spent the rest of the night in their tent with Will and she was in our tent. Little Crow quickly settled down once she was with Mama Raven. In the morning, Mama Raven was up and out before the sun. The storm had broken and she was taking pictures. The sunrise was exceptionally beautiful. She got us all up a little early so we could see the sunrise. We got hiking before 6:30. Today, we needed to cover 23 miles to get to the store and our box at Burney Falls. The store closes at 8:00. We will be cutting it close, but I think we can make it. The trail went for several more miles before dropping down to a large lava field. I have never liked hiking in lava fields. They are very rocky and uncomfortable on the feet. We had about 5 miles of this before everything smoothed out. The temperature was 97° and we were hot! Close to mid day, we came upon a 36″ metal pipe which was feeding a hydroelectric power plant. The pipe had a hole in it and water was squiring about 6′ into the air. We had fun putting out heads in the jet of ice, cold water. After playing for quite a while with the water jet, we next hiked to a bridge over the outflow of the hydroelectric power plant. We soaked our sore feet, ate lunch and watched Will fish. Within 10 minutes of leaving the bridge, we come to a fish hatchery. This is the first location where we could get water without pumping. Several of our water bags were empty and we really needed to fill up. After filling up with water we decided to walk around the hatchery. We were there for about 20 minutes looking around. Our narrow window to make it to the Burney Falls store before it closes is getting smaller and smaller. We had about 12 miles and it was almost 3:00. We will have to hike fast to make it. Joon is the one we have to get moving. We hiked about half the distance before we stopped at one of the best caches on the whole trail, the Wild Bird Cage Cache. It has a picnic table that everybody has signed who has past by, there is coolers with sodas, fruit, and hot dogs. There was a cabinet filled with canned food, and other misc food items. Hikers could wash up in a solar shower, and recharge equipment with a solar charging station. There were games to play and lounge chairs in the shade. We stopped just long enough for some grapes, bananas, and sodas. We wished to stay longer but we could not take the time. After 3 more miles, I figured out that Mama Raven and Will could make it, so I sent them on. Little Crow might make it but that was chancy. Little Crow hiked hard and covered the all most 4 miles in 1½ hours. She and I walked up to the store at 8:02. Mama Raven and Will were just coming out. They had gotten drinks and our box. We sat down at a picnic table and Mama Raven worked on sorting while I cooked dinner. It was dark by the time we finished. Tiredly, we went back across the river to find a campsite and setup camp. The Ravens quickly fell asleep.
Day 97 – 7/17/15
Far end of the Hat Creek Rim
Miles – 19.3
Total Miles – 1448.1 (PCT 1393.3)
It is hard to get up at 5:00 in the morning, but that is what we had to do so we could get to the trail sometime near 7:00. After a breakfast of yogurt and apple turnovers, Dave and Marji took us back to the trail. This is their third day in a row of going to Old Station because of us. A little more than an hour later, we were saying good bye to our friends. The Ravens are going to fondly remember our short trip to Redding with the Thomsens. We are glad our unexpected day to Reddings occurred. Thanks Dave and Marji!
After saying good bye, we hit the trail. Our first stop was Subway Cave. This is the last place to get water before the rim. We made sure all our bottles were full and Mama Raven and I took an extra 4L each. That adds about ten pounds to our pack weight.
Mama Raven has always said it would be her worst nightmare to get locked into a pit toilet. With that in mind, there were two pit toilets at the picnic area where we got water. One of the doors had a sign that said handle broken, do not use. The other one had no toilet paper. Mama Raven peeked into the one with the broken handle to see if it had any paper, and it did. She went in to get paper for the other toilet. Well, the door shut behind her and she was locked inside of a pit toilet. Little Crow, Will, and I were across the parking lot, some distance away, and did not hear her pounding on the door or yelling for us to let her out. Pit toilets are pretty well sound proof we discovered. Mama Raven noticed a small vent at the bottom of a wall and yelled out as loud as she could, hoping we would hear her and we did. The Ravens had a good laugh over this one. After the pit toilet incident, we decided to take the time to walk through the lava tube. We have done this before and Will and Little Crow really wanted to walk through the underground tube again. It was really cold down there and pitch black. Our head lamps came in handy here. Finally after are sight seeing, we hefted our packs on our backs and hiked across the valley to the rim. The weight of extra water was very heavy and it slowed us down. On the way up, we saw two thru hikers coming the wrong direction. It was Gemstone and Fancy headed back to Old Station to pick up a pair of shoes they had ordered for overnight delivery. They told us that just an hour ago, Captain Crunch had left cache 22 and there was water there. That meant that we could dump our extra water. Cache 22 was about 15 miles away and it cut the dry section in half. So we lightened or load and hiked on. Our backs and legs were very relieved by the weight loss.
The Hat Creek Rim had burnt several times in the past leaving the trail exposed. Most of the trees were gone. However, the area is covered with baby trees. In twenty to thirty years, future PCT hikers will enjoy a shaded Hat Creek Rim, unless it burns again. There is not a lot to say about Hat Creek Rim. You are just walking across an old lava flow for miles and miles. The views are beautiful! We could see Mt. Lassen to the south and Mt. Shasta to the north and large open vistas in all the other directions.
We made it to cache 22 around dinner time. We had a quick bite to eat and got a few more miles in. The sunset was beautiful with orange clouds surrounding the sun and a big thunderstorm to the east. The big, billowy, clouds kept lightening up as the storm raged. We could hear the constant soft, rumble of the thunder in the distance. We camped under a big juniper tree in a larger open plain. It feels like we are in the Serengeti in Africa but instead of lions, giraffes, and elephants, we are surrounded by cows. Both Mama Raven and Will say this is their favorite camp site on the entire PCT.
Day 96 – 7/16/15
Miles – 3.6
Total Miles – 1428.8 (PCT 1374.0)
The plan was simple: pack up, hike about 4 miles to JJs Cafe for breakfast, at 10:00, hitchhike to the PO for our box and then hitchhike back, do our box, hike out around 1 or 2, and try to get partway across the Hat Creek Rim. We slept in because we had the time. As we were finishing packing, GG showed up. She told us that just 10 minutes toward town, we could get showers for $3.00 at the RV park. Well we changed our plan and added showers before doing anything else. We walked over and found that the RV park office does not open until 8:00, we had a 45 minute wait. As we were standing there trying to decide what to do a thru hiker named Lord Vader asked us if we were The Ravens? We said yes. He told us the that an old teacher of ours was here at Old Station yesterday looking for us. From our blog we knew that this had to be Dave and Marji Thomsen. Dave was a woodworking teacher we had at Palomar College. We were excited and sad all at once. We had missed them by one day. Lord Vader also let us use the shower in his hotel room. He was hiking out and was done with the room. He gave us his hotel room key and up the trail he went. Quickly, we took showers and got to use the luxury item of towels, something thru hikers do not have. After the showers, we hiked the 4 miles over to JJs, but our planned breakfast had now turned into a lunch. It was already 11:00 and the PO was now open back up the road. I quickly emptied a backpack and headed for the road to try hitchhiking. I started to hitch but there were very few cars going in my direction. I did not have any luck. I ended up walking the three miles to the post office. Meanwhile as I walked, Dave and Marji had come back to Hat Creek to look for us and found Mama Raven and the kids back at J.J.’s. Soon Dave came to the post office to bring me back (he also picked up and drove five other hikers to JJ’s).
Dave and Marji invited us to their house in Redding for the night and will drive us back up here first thing in the morning. A swimming pool, laundry, showers, and a home cooked meal and good friends. . . we could not pass that up. We have not seen the Thomsen’s in over twelve years. Once at their house we did a lot of catching up with every bodies livers over the years. It was well over 100° outside and the kids wanted to go for a swim. We all got bathing suits on and headed for the pool. Yes, even Mama Raven got in. The water was very warm and we talked and played in the pool for several hours. When we got out, I went back to working on our food box, Mama Raven finished the laundry, and the kids just played. Marji made a delicious “Mexican Mountain” that The Ravens devoured!
Dave and Marji had been telling us about a glass bridge over the Sacramento River that had a huge curved arm that made a giant sun dial, so around 9:30p.m. after it had cooled down a bit, we drove over to see it. It is really amazing. The curved arm went up about 150′ and held the cables which support the bridge. The bridge is a wide foot bridge with thick glass panels you walk on. There are lights below the bridge that light up the glass panels. It was beautiful. The thing that got Mama Raven’s attention were all the spiders. Thousands of them, under the bridge. The spiders and their massive web was as amazing as the bridge.
This whole day was completely unexpected. We are so thankful that this day happened the way it did. Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is far more than just the physical act of hiking. A major component is the human element. Getting back together with Dave and Marji was very special. It was a reunion of old family members.
It’s great when plans do not work out!
Marji, Dave, and The Ravens
Day 95 – 7/15/15
Near the Old Station PO
More – 23.2
Total Miles – 1425.2 (PCT 1370.9)
Of lately, we have been getting up late and today was the worst. We hiked out an hour later than normal. The first thing we had to do was to hike up 1000′ up over a ridge. Then we worked our way up and over to Lower Twin Lake. The are quite a few lakes in Lassen Park, but we only go by three; Swan, Lower Twin, and Soap Lakes. We took a break at Lower Twin Lake. It is the biggest of the three and is the one we get the closest to. All the lakes we saw were low water levels due to the four year drought. Lower Twin Lake was 50′ to 100′ below normal. We walked down to the water edge and soaked our feet. The water was not cold. It would have been nice to swim in it if we could have found a deep part. Upon leaving, the terrain was very easy to walk. For many miles the land was level. In 2012 the Reader fire burned most of this area. All around us were dead, charred trees. There were a lot of flowering plants but very few new trees. The trail we hiked on looked like an old road with two ruts. However, it was not made by cars, it was originally made by wagons. For miles we walked on the wagon path that settlers took to cross northern California. This part of the PCT was once part of the historic Oregon Trail. Finally in the last afternoon we hiked out of Lassen National Park and back into a mix of national forest and private land. As we headed down toward Old Station, we hiked through a penny pine plantation. It went on for over a mile, row upon row of pine trees, we past. The Reading fire also burned here, but very few trees were killed. The plantation had spaced the trees unnaturally, evenly apart and there was not a lot of understory. As the sun dropped below the ridge, we reached the bottom of the valley where Old Station is. This valley is covered with old lava fields and pine trees. Several times we climb up 100′ to 150′ ridges of lava. We are now camped just outside the south end of Old Station. Tomorrow we will head up to the store and one of us will hitch back to the PO, when it opens at 11:00, and return with our food box. We will sort out food, go over to the Subway Cave which is a natural landmark around here, and then continue our hike up to the dreaded Hat Creek Rim. The Hat Creek Rim is a 30 mile waterless stretch of land which is nearly level. We will be carrying a lot of extra water. The one thing in our favor is that it is suppose to be a cool day. The normal 100° temperatures would make crossing it much worse. There is very little shade on the rim because most of the trees have burned in numerous fires of the past.
Day 94 – 7/14/15
Warner Valley Campground
Miles – 22.5
Total Miles – 1402.0 (PCT 1347.7)
Either we slept really well or we were really tired because again no one wanted to get up in the morning. It was later than normal when we left camp. Our bodies are worn out after three solid months of hiking hard and are simply tired. Feet and leg joints hurt. The bottom of our feet when resting at night throb and pulsate due to the constant pounding they take during the day. We get up in the morning with what is called hikers gimp. All the muscles of the legs tighten up while we sleep and when the morning comes when we try to walk, the lower extremities just do not work. Humorous, we all walk like we are ninety years old in the morning. Papa Raven and I have lost a good bit of weight. Little Crow and Will have too, but for some reason not as much as their parents have which is good because they did not have any to loose. However when Little Crow bends over her spine and ribs stand out. The food we receive in our food drops is no longer appealing. In fact there are a couple of dinners I (Mama Raven) will not even eat. Going without is more palatable! I never thought I would get to the point that a Snicker bar would be repulsive to consume. Waking up every morning has become difficult knowing we have to walk again till dark. The trail no longer is a physical challenge but it is now mental. We push on, and luckily today, the trail was not a hard. There were small ups and downs with lots of flat hiking in between. In this area we have seen a lot of logging. We have travelled through very old logged areas, as well as newly logged ones. We have seen the worst, were the land is clear cut and other areas were the land has been thinned, leaving a number of trees still untouched. Some logging companies manage their properties by leaving a variety of sized trees and cleaning the understory. This minimizes the damage fires can cause. At the end of the day went into Lassen National Park. Since they do not allow logging, they have to manage the forest differently. They pull all the died wood into piles about 10′ across. They wait for a cool moist day, and they then burn the piles. We past many burned circles in the park.
We had a bit of trail magic today. First was at the road into Chester. Pippers mom picks up hikers and takes them into Chester, but she also maintains a water cash, had a bunch of coolers filed with all types of sodas. We partook of both. Later, just after crossing a dirt road, we came upon a cooler with ice cold soft drinks. Again we did not pass the trail magic up.
We had a bit of a problem with our food drop in Old Station. We will get there late tomorrow long after the 3:00 closing hour of the post office. Thus, we have to wait until Thursday to get our box and the PO does not open until 11:00. We hate losing a day like this, but it can not be helped. Since we have taken so many days off lately, most of our fellow hikers that we know are way in front of us. We miss them but we have had an opportunity to meet new ones: Leanderthal, Mr. Fixit, Cuban B, Dingo and Cosmic Bubble, Frosty, Flying Eagle, Jorge, and Captain Crunch and his gang.
Dingo and Cosmic Bubble
Day 93 – 7/13/15
Miles – 24.3
Total Mile 1379.5 (PCT 1325.6)
We got a late start this morning. Everyone slept in and no one wanted to get moving. When we did start hiking, we all were sluggish and moving slowly. Too many town days off does that to hikers. Luckily, the hiking today was not really hard. There were small ups and downs but nothing big. After several miles we run into a group of hikers packing up and who did we see none other then GG. The last we saw her was at Lake Aloha near Echo Lake, three towns ago. She is hiking with a friend of hers who will be getting off tomorrow at Chester. As the morning went on, we moved to the top of a ridge and had a great view of Mt. Lassen. We will hike into the park tomorrow and go out the other side one day later. It is not a big park. As the afternoon went on, we climbed up Butt Mountain and then contoured around it. Late in the day, on the far side of the mountain, we came upon the marker for the middle on the PCT. We are now more then half done and it took 3 months and one day. This is an exciting point for thru hikers to reach. Our pace is picking up so we will do the second half faster than the first. After leaving the marker, our task was to finish heading around the mountain and down. The hill side was very steep and we had to walk more then 5 miles before we could find a camp site. It was well after dark when we found a flat place to camp down off the trail. It required a lot of clearing, but we were too tired to keep looking for a better spot. It was our home for the night.
Day 92 – 7/12/15
By a dirt road in the middle of nowhere
Miles – 17.0
Total Miles – 1355.2 (PCT 1301.3) We got up early. We were on the road by 7:45. One thing we noticed was the North Fork of the Feather river was muddy. It had not been like that when we drove down. It had been blue. Mom got us to Belden by 9:00 and we unloaded our gear from the car. I talked with a hiker named Captain Crunch and found out that they have had a lot of rain for the past two days. Mama Raven and I looked at each other thinking the same thing, we got lucky and missed some nasty weather by going to Paradise! We put on are packs and said our good bye to mom. To get out of Belden, there is 14 miles of up which will not be fun and it wasn’t. It took most of the day. The trail went up a side valley staying on a hill above the Chip River. The first 6 miles was all in the open due to a fire the killed all the trees. In less than one hour we encountered four rattlesnakes sunning themselves in the middle of the trail. After the six miles, we were thankfully back in a thick forest. Every mile or so, a stream would cross the trail. By late afternoon we topped out and were able to look north. The mountains are much flatter and the going should be easier. Mama Raven’s new shoes are working well. I had to cut some small expansion slits in them to allow for swelling. Nonetheless Mama Raven is happy with her shoes.
Day 89, 90, and 91 – 7/9, 7/10, and 7/11
Miles – 5.9
Total Miles – 1338.2 (PCT 1284.3)
Marley and Little Crow
The sky was cloudy when we woke and the air was the coldest we have felt in weeks. We quickly packed and started down the mountain. We had less then 6 miles and we wanted to get down by 9:00 when my mom was going to pick us up at Belden. As we dropped, we went from pine to oak. Soon we were encountering poison oak and we had to watch our step. Finally we reached the bottom, crossed a set of railroad tracks and hiked a road to the Belden Resort. Mom was sitting in her car in a parking lot. We took several minutes to go into the resort and get some drinks and chips. Will and Little Crow also got some Hostess fruit pies. Inside the resort there were several hikers having breakfast. We said our good byes, with us taking two zeros there is a good chance we will not see them again. Supertramp stopped by to meet my Mom and say goodbye. Mom drove us down to Gene’s daughter house, Keira, in Paradise. Paradise is a small town east of Chico. We will be staying here for the next few days. The first task to accomplish were baths for everyone and then laundry. In the afternoon I worked on the packs and Mama Raven worked on the blog. The kids explored and played with Keira’s dogs: Jacob, Ben, Marley and Wren. Also, there was Ivy the cat and Starbucks the miniature pony. Keira is a veterinarian so she has a collection of animals.
Today we worked on finishing the packs and running some errands in Chico. We had to go by a outfitters store for a new 2L water bag and some plastic cups so the kids have something to drink hot chocolate in. Then we went to Walmart for Epson salts. (Mama Raven has an infected blister on one of her toes). We also got some miscellaneous food for the trail. Next came Trader Joes for more food. A while back, Overy Easy and Sumnyside Up gave us a package of Trader Joes dried tangerines that were amazingly delicious so we did not want to miss out on the opportunity to get some since there was a Trader Joes in town. While mom and I were at Trader Joes, Mama Raven and Will saw a Panda Express and stopped in for a snack of Walnut Shrimp which the two have been dreaming about for hundreds of miles on the trail. Our last stop was at Leslie’s Pool Supply for a vinyl pool patch kit to patch some holes in our water bottles.
Originally we intended on heading back to the trail first thing in the morning, but last night we realized that we still had too much still to do: sewing needed to be done on backpacks, holes in the tents needed to be mended, more soaking of Mama Raven’s feet was needed and there were some issues about our house that have come up that need to be taken care of. Thus we decided to leave around 3:00 so we can hike a few miles up the big climb out of Belden. Also that would give time to have lunch at KFC, another food craving of Will and Mama Raven. After our amazing lunch with Keira at KFC, Mama Raven finished the packs while I worked on the computer. By 2:00 everything was ready and we were relaxing. Mama Raven was talking with Keira about shoes and Keira was telling her about a very good running shoe store in Chico. We called them about wide women’s shoes and they said they had some. The shoes we got Mama Raven in South Lake Tahoe are wide enough, but they are way too long and that gave caused her to get new blisters. Off to Chico we went. The shoe store just happens to be in the same building as the sporting goods store we went to yesterday. Anyways, after spending a lot of time trying on different shoes we left with a new pair of Brooks. They are in Mama Raven’s size and wide enough, we hope. We will not know for sure until Mama Raven hikes with her pack on and her feet swell up like they usually do at the end of a day of hiking. By the time we got back to Paradise, it was almost 5:00, too late to drive up to Belden and get some hiking in. Therefore, we decided to stay another night and leave first thing in the morning. We did not expect to take three days off. Nonetheless, the Ravens had a excellent time in Paradise: Will and Little Crow got to play with all the animals. Little Crow got to watch lots of I Love Lucy, Mama Raven explored Keiras art shop, we had lots of home cooked meals, satisfied food dreams at Panda Express and KFC, lots of gear got repaired, healed a nasty blister on Mama Raven’ s foot, and most important, we relaxed. Thank you Grammie Emily, Gene and Keira for a great time in Paradise!
Day 88 – 7/8/15
Exposed camp above Belden
Miles – 17.4
Total Miles – 1332.3 (PCT 1278.4)
As the day dawned, we watched the sun come up through the trees while we lied on the deck in our sleeping bags. and finally it shined on us, 13 hikers were sleeping out on the deck, each on a thick foam mattress. By 7:00 breakfast was made and everyone started to get up. The smell of breakfast could not be ignored. Pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, sliced preaches, coffee, hot chocolate and juice was our breakfast. Will said it was hand downs, the best breakfast we have had on the trail! After we finished eating, we reassembled our backpacks and got a ride back to the trailhead. We were hiking by 9:00. We have 23 miles to go to get to Belden, but leaving this late we would get in after dark, so we are planning to stop at a camp just above the big down before Belden. This mean we only have to cover 17 miles today. That should be no problem. The trail started in thick trees and soon moved into the open. After several miles, we came upon Over Easy. We have not hiked with Over Easy in a long time. It was good to catch up. He will be going on to Belden today and then out tomorrow, so we will not see him again for a while. The day started out sunny, but as it progressed, the clouds moved in and thunderstorms started. By early afternoon we had them behind us and in front of us. Then the thing Little Crow dreaded the most, one thunderstorm settled over us. It let loose with a lot of noise for about an hour, but it just lightly sprinkled. Little Crow was not happy about this, but she handled it really well. We did stop at the first hint of rain and repack the packs for rain. Mama Raven discovered her water bottle had been leaking and our sleeping bag was wet. For several hours we were lucky, avoiding the rain, and then our luck ran out. We found a large tree and sat there eating while it rained. For the most part, we stayed dry. Finally we were getting cold and we put on our long sleeve shirts, rain coats, and rain skirts. With our umbrellas up and rain gear on, into the rain we went. After a half hour or so the rain stopped. We hiked on as the clouds started to break up. Shortly there was some sun, so we pulled the wet sleeping bag out and tried to dry it. The sun did not last long, but we get most of it dry or at least it was not super wet any more. With just our warm clothes on we hiked the last section for today. The clouds continued to thicken as we grew closer to the drop into Belden. We past some very exposed campsites, with three tents setup and then came to a site tucked into a stand of trees where we pitched camp. The clouds are thick and the wind is blowing, but we are some what protected by a few trees. We can see clouds being blown over the ridge we bypassed. I’m glad we did not camp there.
Cardboard, Supertramp, Bling, and StarFish
Trail Angel and Brutus
Skua and Wiki
Day 87 – 7/7/15
Somewhere near Bucks Lake
Miles – 19.0
Total Miles – 1314.9 (PCT 1261.0)
Ann once again insisted we be the first up because we are camped with the same group of hikers. We were the first to be packed up and out of camp. Mama Raven was much happier this morning. The trail was 5 miles of down. We dropped about 1,000′ down to the Middle Fork of the Feather River. Way above the river, was a long steel bridge, but crossing it would have to wait. A stop at the swimming hole below the bridge came first. We rock scrambled down to the waters edge and dropped our packs. A number of other hikers were all ready there. We all went swimming, yes even Mama Raven. It is the best swimming spot on the entire PCT. Will and Little Crow climbed out on some rocks and were trying to push each other in. Finally Will got in and Little Crow quickly followed. Will was trying to keep his hair dry so I jumped in and pulled him under. As this was going on, Mama Raven was slowly working her way into the water. It took a while but she finally got all the way in. After I floated around the rocks in the current, Will and Little Crow had to do the same thing, over and over. Before we got out, Will and Little Crow swam across the main pool and then back again. We all had a great time.
When we left the river, we started a long hard up, 3,000′ in 9 miles. This happens a lot in northern California. There are a lot of wide flat mountains with deep river valleys. We stopped at the first stream we came to because we were very low on water. We quickly filtered 9.5L of water. This is the first water we have filtered since Tyndell Creek (below forester Pass) in the Sierras. We have been relying on spring water which we do not have to filter. Some hikers filter spring water, but we do not. The up took most of the day to climb. We were lucky because clouds moved in and kept us cool. Finally, late in the day, we topped out on top and picked up our pace. Around dinner time we came upon a paved road. The group of hikers we have been with are splitting up a bit, some are going to Bucks Lake to eat and others are going to Quincy. Our objective was to stay on the trail to reach Belden as soon as possible. Our idea was to hike on and not get side tracked from our goal. That almost worked. As we got to the road, we saw a SUV picking up 3 of the hikers we have been hiking with. The gentlemen driving the SUV saw us and offered us some trail magic we could not refuse: dinner, showers, laundry, porch to sleep on, breakfast and a ride back to the trail. With only 23 miles to get to Belden, we decided to go to his place. On the trail it is important to be flexible, and this was one of those times. We have all gotten a shower and had dinner; hamburgers, salad, rice and beef stroganoff. It was excellent! Wiki, Starfish, Cardboard, Supertramp, Wendy Bird, Lord Logan, Critter, Skua and Little Crow’s new best friend, Sweetums were all there. It was a big slumber party with some very special Trail Angels.
Day 86 – 7/6/15
Miles – 25.1
Total Miles – 1295.9 (PCT 1242.0)
Mama Raven insisted we wake up early. She did not want the fast hikers to beat us out of camp first (that is Mama Raven’s competitve side). Thus, once we started moving, everyone else did too. Three other hikers were on the trail before us and Mama Raven did not like that. The first part of the day was taken up with climbing up to the top of a low mountain, traversing around it and then dropping into a valley. The rest of the day was hiking along a ridge line and slowly working our way down it.
All the mountains here are covered in trees so it is sometimes hard to see what is coming up. Then all of a sudden, you come upon a volcanic area, and the trees disappear, and you will be able to see for miles. Throughout the day, we met the new hikers we are with right now: Sunshine, Skua, Sweetums, Topachia, Supertramp, Wiki, Cardboard, Starfish and Wendy Bird. These are the people who hiked early out of Sierra City and caught up with us. We probably will not be with them very long because they are so much faster than we are. These hikers do a lot of running of the trail. Most of them will be heading down to a restaurant at Bucks Lake. We will not. We need to meet mom in 3 days. However, at the rate we are going right now, we might make it in two.
Day 85 – 7/5/15
Miles – 21.4
Total Miles – 1270.8 (PCT 1217.2)
We wanted to get an early start because we needed to climb Sierra Butte first thing in the morning. It is about 3,500′ climb in 9 miles and most of the climb is very exposed with no trees for shade. We got up only 30 minutes earlier than normal. We were hoping for an hour, but all that Fourth of July celebrating we did kept us in bed longer this morning (just kidding). The sky was clear, unlike yesterday, which was overcast all day. We headed up switchback after switchback, all tucked up in trees. Finally after a few hours, we broke out of the trees and headed across the face of Sierra Butte. It took several more hours to make our way to the far west side of the mountain, where we finally crossed over and the hiking became must easier. In fact, the rest of the day was easy hiking. We would work our way up onto a ridge and follow it down until we hit a saddle then we would start the process over again. None of the climbs were very big, only 300′ to 400′. We got many views of lakes down below us but the trail stayed up high and did not go to any of them. It was a warm day, and all the lakes below us tortured us by not being able to take a swim in any of them.
The trail crossed by many dirt roads. Off and on all day, we would hear motorcycles and ATV’s driving around. At one point, two motorcycles came down the PCT. This is illegal. Nothing with wheels is allowed on the trail. Mama Raven quickly pulled out her camera and took pictures as they rode by. She said she wanted to stand her ground by staying in the trail and making them go around her. However she got scared of them driving right toward her and therefore she moved out of their way. She was mad at herself for not making a stand.
Since I could not contact Kim, Danny, or mom yesterday, I tried 4 or 5 times as we gained altitude and crossed Sierra Butte. Still no connection. As we hiked north, I tried again when we got to high exposed locations. Finally about 13 miles from Sierra City, I could make a call. I left a message with Kim and then tried to call mom. Then I found that I had a message from mom. Since they had not heard from us, they were reviving their plans to come to Sierra City on Sunday to find us. I received the message 5 hours after they were supposed to get there and I was miles away. Sometimes things just don’t work out.
We stopped short today because the next 4 miles were on a steep hill side with very little chance to camp. There were 9 other hikers there so it was crowded. “A” Tree is just the intersection of two dirt roads, the trail, and a spring. It is my understanding, that many years ago there was a tree in the shape of an A, hence the name, but it is long gone now. Milkshake and Sticky Buns played some games with Will and Little Crow while we set up camp. The other hikers we have never seen before. All we know about them is that they are very fast hikers!
Day 84 – 7/4/15
Not far from Hwy 49
Miles – 8.2
Total Miles – 1249.4 (PCT 1195.8)
Our tents were wet when we got up due to condensation. Since we were in a very deep valley we would not get sun any time soon, so we packed it all wet and headed for town where we would dry our gear. We only had a few miles to go to get to Sierra City. We quickly reached the trail junction to the Wild Plum Campground. By this time, Logan was hiking with us and all five of us headed for the campground. We were hoping to find Sunny Side Up there. She was going to try and get a camp site for Over Easy. As we were walking through the campground, we stopped by a bathroom and Logan went on, but not very far. When we walked on, we found Logan at a campsite. A family of two boys and their parents called us over too. They had been hoping to see some thru-hikers. They were the Peachy family from San Francisco. Little Crow, Will, and Mama Raven grew very fond of their little black pug, named Pixie. They made us PJ sandwiches. Also, they gave us yogurt and cereal. Next they offered to drive us into town. All five of us eagerly said yes. We loaded everything into the back of their car and off we went with Pixie in Will and Little Crow’s lap. It was a short drive of three miles. Thru-hilkers are some of the laziest people you will meet. They do not want to walk any more than they have too. We said goodbye to the Peachys and headed to the store where our re-supply box was. We are lucky we sent our box to the store and not the post office because this is Saturday, July Fourth. The next time the post office will be open is Monday morning at 10:00am.
We sat down at the store and waited for 10:00 for it to open. Our box was inside, which is a good thing. Four other hikers have missing boxes and most have to wait until Monday for the PO to open to see if that is where their boxes are. I found power on the deck of the store and started to charge everything. When the store opened, we got drinks and our box and then headed across the street to a park, to sort it. I tried to call Kim to tell her we were here. My mom is in Reno and she would like to come and see us. The only problem is that there is no cell service. I asked around and no one has cell service. So I wrote an email and went to the store to send it. I got a connection but no data was going out. I checked with someone else who was trying the same thing and he was not having any success either. I asked in the store about the internet and found that a recent fire to the west destroyed ATT’s fiber optic lines and there was no internet. A short time later, while talking to C.C., I found out that she tried to use the land line and it would not call out. This town was totally cut off. There was no way to contact Kim, Danny, or mom. Our other problem was where to stay. All the hotels in Sierra City and the surrounding towns are all booked for the Fourth of July. The campground and RV park were filled. The last resort was the church that allows hikers to stay in their tents behind it, except for Sunday. It had row after row of tents, upwards of 20. Nobody wanted to go anywhere for the holiday. Some people hitchhiked to Truckee to see fireworks on Lake Tahoe. Therefore, our only real chose was to hike out of town.
As we did our box we were able to do a load of laundry at the RV park. We dried out tents and sleeping bags. Around 2:00, we went to have hamburgers. The store makes ½ pound and 1 pound hamburger called the Gut Burger. Will and Little Crow got the ½ pound and and Mama Raven and I split a 1 pound burger. We also got milkshakes. An hour later, we went back for ice cream, three different flavors of Ben and Jerry’s. Finally we were ready to head back to the trail. While we were waiting for our burgers, Sunny Side Up showed to wait for Overeasy to arrive. She offered to drive us back to the trail head. Again, we eagerly said yes to the ride offer and we all piled into her car and in a very short time, we were back at the campground. Sunny Side Up offered to call Kim when she got a connection tomorrow so I gave her the number and a message. I hope they get it. We said our good byes and hit the trail. We hiked our way back to the PCT and then went on to its junction with Hwy 49. The trail at this point goes right up the side of Sierra Butte with very few places to camp. We went up for about .5 miles and found a level place. We were uncertain if we kept going we would not find a place to camp on the steep hill sides. . . and this is where we are on Fourth of July 2015, on the side of a mountain just above the highway.
Lord Logan and his breakfast
Day 83 – 7/3/15
First crossing of Milton Creek
Miles – 26.0
Total Miles – 1241.2 (PCT 1190.7)
It rained at least four times during the night. None of them were hard. The tents were pitched under some large trees and they protected us from getting wet. About the time we were going to get the kids up. We heard a loud, cracking, and crashing of trees. A tree fell somewhere not to far from us. It woke up Little Crow, Mama Raven and I, but Will slept right through it. We were rattled a bit by it. After we got out of the tent, we looked around for it, but there were too many other fallen trees and we could not tell which one had fallen. As we hiked out of Paradise Valley, we could see many clouds that could turn into thunderheads. We had packed for rain and we were not disappointed. As the morning went on, we hiked over ridges and into valleys. The clouds continued to build and the sky became dark grey. The first thunderstorm started during our second break. Of course, Little Crow did not like the idea of hiking toward it which was the way we had to go. As we hiked up a ridge, we saw that it was miles away and it should break up by the time we neared it, and it did. Little Crow could relax! We got rained on as we hiked across another ridge. This went on for about 15 minutes. Over the rest of the afternoon there were three more thunderstorms. Despite the gloomy weather, the views from all the ridges were stunning with all the different shades of grey clouds. Each thunderstorm that came close by, made a lot of noise and broke up before we got there to the relief of Little Crow and disappointment of Will. By mid afternoon, almost all the clouds were gone. We hiked on to the far end of Jackson Meadows Reservoir and we had an early dinner. At that point we had hiked 20 miles and we knew we might break the kids longest record day of 24 miles. We passed by a pretty meadow were right in the middle of it, sound asleep, in his sleeping bag, and wearing dark sunglasses on was Lord Logan. It was a very peaceful sight. Mama Raven regrets not getting a photo of him. Anyways, the trail past along hill tops and then dropped into a deep canyon. At this point we were committed to go all the way to the bottom and then down stream to get to the first place to camp. We did this and still had enough daylight to pitch the tents. When all was done, we hiked 26 miles, a new record for Will and Little Crow! Tomorrow we head into Sierra City for the Fourth of July.
Day 82 – 7/2/15
Paradise Lake Trail
Miles – 19.8
Total Miles – 1215.2 (PCT 1164.7)
We woke up our normal time and packed up. The hike to the top of Tinkers Knob was not long or hard. We quickly reached its shoulder and were rewarded with beautiful views of Lake Tahoe. Looking north we could see the country we will be hiking into. It is much flatter with very few high mountains. We walked down ridges and through Sugar Bowl ski resort before we came to Hwy 40, the old highway over Donner Pass. Many times we were stopped by people out on day hikes who were absolutely amazed Will and Little Crow are hiking the whole PCT. Twice in this area, two separate families have asked if the kids could have their pictures taken along with their families. We saw no harm, so we said yes. Next came 3.5 miles of small climbs and drops crossing over to Hwy 80. A lot of this section was in the sun and it became very hot. We past by a large youth group that was learning how to rock climb on the rock cliffs. All and all we did not like this stretch. We past under Hwy 80 and took what was suppose to be a short side trail to the highway’s rest stop where there was water to fill our bottles, tables, and flush toilets. . . a real luxurious item! Etch-a-sketch and DNA were all ready there so we sat with them in the shade. Soon we saw Flaco. Last we heard he had been hiking with Over Easy. We quickly ran over to him to find out about our old friends, the Eggs. It turned out both, Over Easy and Sunny Side Up, were here! Several minutes later we were all reunited. Sunny Side Up is off the trail as we mentioned in an earlier blog but we did not know exactly why. Sadly she has a stress fracture in the leg bone above her ankle. We talked for a little while catching up. Over Easy was taking today off in Truckee with Sunny Side Up. They offered to get us some drinks but we told them that is unnecessary. Soon they left to Truckee. We had our snack and were cleaning out the trash from our packs when Over Easy and Sunny Side Up drove up with an assortment of sodas and Gatorade. We excepted them eagerly. At home we do not drink sodas, but out here on the trail, they are worth their weight in gold! Again, we said good bye and thank you to the Eggs with lots of sadness. Our favorite hiking duo was no more. Later, as we washed out our socks, a man named Dave asked if we were The Ravens. He knew about us from the PCT Journals. He came up from Reno to offer trail magic to the hikers. He gave drinks to all the hikers. Others had arrived since we got to the rest stop. Then, as we are getting ready to leave, he brings out a stove and starts to cook hot dogs. Well, we can not miss out on hot dogs so we stayed a little longer. Some of the other hikers that were there were Wendy Bird, Milkshake and Stickybunz, and Gene the Machine. We stayed a lot longer than we should have, but it was a good stop and well worth the time. We hiked away from the Hwy rest stop and climbed to the top of Castle Pass, and then down to Peter Grub Hut. It is one of the few shelter’s on the whole PCT. We stopped to look inside and found Lord Logan. The last time we saw him was in the hut on Muir Pass in the Sierras. It was good to see him. The hut was very roomy and warm however we did not stay long. We still want to make a 20 mile day, so off we went. The trail climbs up a ridge and into Paradise Valley. As we came to the top the hill, a thunderstorm started to rumble. It was directly over us and then the dark clouds let go of the water they were holding. Not hard at first, but enough to have us take out our umbrellas. Then it really started to rain hard. We were up on a exposed hillside and we quickly hiked down so we could find a thickit of trees. We saw flashes of lightening right above us. Little Crow became scared. Adventually, we came upon a dry area under some trees and we stopped to repack the packs for rain. By this time, the thunderstorm ended but another one started off to the north. We hiked to the bottom of Paradise Valley and found a dry place to camp. We are hoping the clouds break up tonight. We do not want rain tomorrow, but it is sprinkling right now.
Day 81 – 7/1/15
Part of the way up Tinkers Knob
Miles – 23.0
Total Miles – 1195.4 (PCT 1144.9)
We had a good start this morning. The first thing we did was to hike up Barker Pass. It was not a hard pass and we reached the top quickly. Aquanaut and Little Bear were there along with a few other hikers. From the pass we hiked along volcanic ridges until we came to Alpine Meadows ski resort. The ridges are covered with fields of mules ear, lupin, paintbrush, penny royal, phlox, buckwheat, and many others. The flowers have been amazing! We also had several good views of Lake Tahoe. We past along to backside of the ski runs before heading down into a valley. In the afternoon we hiked around Squaw Peak, home of Squaw Valley Ski Resort where the winter Olympics were held in the 1960’s. Next, we made the biggest climb of the day, up over one of its ridges. The trail then dropped down below the lifts and crossed several runs. Finally we made it to the far side of Squaw Valley. At this point we ate dinner (bean and rice burritos) and then continued on toward Tinkers Knob. As the sun was getting low we climbed up Tinkers Knob. We keep looking for a camp site but we were not having much luck. We keep pushing on in the hopes of finding something, but to no avail. Finally, with barely any light left, we found something we could make work. It was a beautiful night with a full moon. The kids were clearing a spot when they uncovered an ant nest, so they tried another spot. I cleared our location and when Mama Raven shined a light on it we find many large black ants crawling all over the ground. We moved to a second spot and it was just as bad. Our tents are beginning to show signs of wear and tear with holes in a number of places. Ants seem to know exactly were they are and join us while we sleep. The location where we finally set up the tent does not have any ants but it is on a big slope. Oh well, slope is better than ants.
Aquanaut, Cavalier, and Little Bear
DinoDNA and Etch-a-sketch