Day 91: When You Put Your Food In A Bear Box You’d Think…

Started: Warner Valley Camp (1350.3)

Ended: Stealth Campsite (1372.3)

Total Miles: 22.0

We specifically camped at Warner Valley so our food was safe from Bears. You would think it would be safe in a big steel box from small critters, too. That was not the case.

We will see how amazing Tenatious Tape really is.

The first quarter of the hike was flat and green through pines. There were boardwalks. It reminded me of the Ice Age Trail.

So far the smoke from the Carr Fire has only been to our benefit. We had a long stretch through a burned out section. For miles there was only dead standing trees and a red orange sun through the smokey haze. It felt like hiking on a different world. The smoke kept the air cool.

That allowed us to hike close to 3.0 m.p.h. for most of the day. Because it was so flat, we hiked five miles from the highway we will take into Old Station for a two day resupply into Burney.

Day 90: Fun In Lassen

Started: Stover Spring Tentsite (1334.8)

Ended: Warner Valley Camp (1350.3)

Total Miles: 15.5 + 1.5 Bonus Miles

Achievements: Steamed By Terminal Geyser

Hiking with two scientists means that we are going to stop every now and again to see the sites. Lassen National Park has a number of sites off trail we wanted to see. Therefore, we decided to have a shorter day and take some time to enjoy the trail.

The other advantage is that Lassen requires that you have a bear canister to camp. I sent that home a while ago. So, we can either hike 30 miles, which I have never done, or hike to the Warner Valley Campsite which has bear boxes. We chose Warner Valley.

We have found one big advantage to all the smoke. It has dropped the temperature by 10 to 15 degrees. As I’ve discussed, we have decided that if we cannot breathe, we will move ahead. As it stands, if conditions remain the same, we will hike on and not skip.

Terminal Geyser was amazing.

So was the boiling lake.

We got to camp at 6 p.m. and made dinner. After we ate, a nearby camper made us elk burgers and offered us beer. I ended up going to bed at 10, but I had plenty of calories.

Tomorrow we position ourselves for a resupply in Old Station.

Day 89: Halfway Home

Started: Butt Mountain Tentsite (1320.7)

Ended: Stover Spring Tentsite (1334.8)

Total Miles: 14.1 + 2 Bonus Miles

Achievements: Halfway Home

I woke up a few times in the middle of the night with a strong smell of smoke. When we got up, the air was thick with smoke and there was a light covering of ash on my tent. Because I had signal, I looked up the Carr Fire. It had doubled in size from 40,000 to 88,000 acres in size while remaining only 5% contained.

The PCT Facebook groups had people requesting rides ahead. It seems that our next four resupply points are all stuck in the smoke. CNN had a story that included satellite photos of the smoke and how much it is covering. Sadly, we are at the bottom of it, and we have to walk through it.

Nap, Bubbles and I discussed it over breakfast.

We broke camp and hiked to the halfway point on the PCT. We are finally closer to Canada than Mexico. Fortunately, the rest of the hike is flat (except for the end).

We hiked to the highway and hitched. A guy in a Tesla picked us up. I couldn’t ask if we could pay for gas!

Our first stop was Chinese food. We ate, charged devices and discussed the smoke situation. As the city of Redding is on fire, some of the smoke we are breathing contains toxins from plastics and other materials. The fire also doubled in size.

So, we developed a plan. We would hike to our next resupply point in Old Station. If we feel like crap, we will jump ahead.

With that decided, we resupplied at the local grocery store for three days.

There I ran into Tribute. I met her and her mom on day two. They are from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, this was her last day on trail. Her mom left at mile 900. Tribute decided to hike on, but now that she made the halfway point, she decided to go home.

Tomorrow is tricky. Because we no longer have our bear canisters, the only campsite we can camp at is 15 miles from here. So, we are going to visit some of the sites like Terminal Geyser. That will be our last short day for a while. We can get away with a couple of short days because we really no longer zero. Our last zero day was South Lake Tahoe, and that was over 14 days ago. Our next one isn’t untill Mount Shasta, if we can get there.

We’ll see how the next couple of days goes. Tomorrow will be fun.

Day 88: The Beast Strikes Back

Started: Frog Spring (1301.1)

Ended: Butt Mountain Tentsite (1320.7)

Total Miles: 19.6 + 1 mile water hunt

I woke up relieved after our battle of the Beast of Belden. After I wrote the story I found out the smoke we are seeing is not from Yosemite, but the Carr fire north of us.

Although the fire conditions are dangerous, the trail is currently not closed, so we will continue to move ahead. I’ve read that people are skipping forward due to smoke and heat. I’m not prepared to do that. I can say that we haven’t had anyone pass us in two days.

However, the smoke really made me tired and Nap has struggled with headaches. As you saw in my sunset picture from last night, the sunset is bright red due to the smoke.

The water sources are stretched out and we had to walk off trail to two of them. It is not as hot in the higher elevations here.

I called my 13 year-old son that I was going to camp on the top of Butt Mountain. He enjoyed that. Not every kid has a dad who is brave enough to climb Butt Mountain. That is where we sleep tonight.

We positioned ourselves for a quick run into Chester for a lunch and resupply for four days to get to Burney. In the meantime, I continue to monitor conditions.

Day 87: The Beast of Belden

Started: Belden (1286.9)

Ended: Frog Spring (1301.1)

Total Miles: 14.2

Achievements: 1,300 miles.

Our intrepid adventurers’ next quest was to scale the Beast of Belden. Not for the feign of heart, this beast had fell many a hero. Smoke from the fires of Yosemite filled the air making breathing extra difficult. The weather was also not to our heroes’ advantage as the temperature jumped above 100 and the wind stood still.

Despite the odds against them, Bubbles, Nap and Young Buck were determined to conquer the beast.

However, a climb of this magnatude required a hardy breakfast. Young Buck ate three eggs, sausages, biscuits and gravy and washed it down with a vanilla milkshake and pot of coffee. This battle required serious calories.

The start of the climb was two miles away, so it required a hitch on some good person’s chariot. Bubbles the Overjoyed, who has little fear and once stared down a she-bear protecting her cub, yet is deathly afraid of spiders, took watch. However, even her natural smile and with her right thumb extended, she was unable to find a good noble to stop. As each precious minute passed, the temperature grew warmer and warmer.

As Nap returned to the inn to find a way to the Beast, Bubbles finally waved down a noble willing to help the party. Nap ran back as the rest of the party loaded their gear.

To climb the Beast of Belden requires one to climb up for 14 miles and 5000 feet. There are no short cuts. You walk right up the beast’s spine. It is sweaty and tiring hike. With the combination of heat, smoke, bugs and steepness, the going was slow.

The beast taunted the adventurers the whole way with pithy signs.

Eventually, our adventures reached near the top. They knew it for there was a sign that said 1,300 miles.

It was only moments before they reached the head. Young Buck, with his trusty hiking pole, vanquished the beast with a mighty blow.

The party decided enough was enough and made camp at the magical Frog Spring where water springs forth from the rock. They pondered why it was called Frog Spring instead of Rock Spring, for there were no frogs, but that is neither here nor there.

With their quest completed, they enjoyed dinner, watched a bright red sunset and rested for new adventures tomorrow.

Day 86: Resupply in Belden

Started: Tentsite (1276.3)

Ended: Belden (1286.9)

Total Miles: 10.6

The town of Belden (population 7) is a common resupply point. We decided to stop here and purchase food for just two days. The reason is simple. Regardless of whether we stop here or not, we have to climb 5,000 feet over 14 miles of exposed hell. The temperature is going to be in the triple digits. By carrying only two days of food, we are keeping our packs as light as possible.

Nap will also get some Chinese food in the next town Chester.

The good news is that once we are done with this beast, the trail begins to flatten and I can hit the accelerator. That is important because I’m on a deadline and the water sources are separated. The less I carry, the faster I go.

Nap and Bubbles have told me that they know it is time for me to move on. I’ve grown much stronger since I started hiking with them. They feel that they are holding me back. I said I would not do anything until after the halfway marker which is coming very soon.

With my rest time, I started to work on the end game. Washington will require resupply boxes sent from home. There are no grocery stores. First, I needed to figure out how may days between stops. Then I will need to write detailed instructions on how to assemble them.

Getting through Washington without a delay is going to be a challenge, but with my family’s support, it is going to go well.

Day 84: Even 18 Miles Can Be a Day Off

Started: Alder Spring (1236.9)

Ended: Tentsite (1254.7)

Total Miles: 17.8

It was a most excellent day. I slept very well. We woke up and had a single plan. Hike as quickly as possible to the middle fork of the Feather River and relax. So, we hiked down the 13 miles.

There I ate a quick lunch and jumped in. It has been a long time since I spent two hours in the water exploring, diving off rocks, and just being a kid again.

It was strange swimming in my underwear with a bunch of strangers, but I’m reasonably thin now.

Unfortunately I could not stay there. The trail will not hike itself. Fortunately, most of the work was done. Five miles to a spring, a campsite and some well deserved rest.

Day 85: Cruising Without Pain

Started: Tentsite (1254.7)

Ended: Tentsite (1276.3)

Total Miles: 21.6

It was a fairly boring day to be quite honest. After all the adventure I have had, a day of just hiking miles is kind of refreshing. There were no mountain passes. There were no animal encounters. No gear broke. The only real exciting news is that my left ankle was pain free. I didn’t wear the brace, nor did I take Vitamin-I.

There were some nice views and I had enough bandwidth to start uploading pictures so that I can finally upload these blog posts, but that will not happen until tomorrow.

Tomorrow we will stop in Belden and the Caribou Crossroads Store for a resupply and a milkshake. Maybe laundry and a shower, but it has been such a long time since I had those, I feel I no longer need it.

Day 83: Hot and Filthy

Started: Tentsite (1216.0)

Ended: Tentsite (1236.9)

Total Miles: 20.9

Sleeping in consisted of getting up at the regular time. Despite some mosquitoes, I cowboy camped for the first time in a long time. I slept like a rock, I was so tired.

Today was hot and everything is dusty. Our water source is a trickle, 800 yards away. As it a steep climb down to the water, I brought up seven liters.

Not much to say about today. Compared to other action packed days, we hiked until we reached water and camping after 20 miles.

Day 82: 1,200 Miles and No Sleep

Started: Sierra City (1195.4)

Ended: Tentsite (1216.0)

Total Miles: 20.6 + 2.6 New Trail Miles

Achievements: 1,200 Miles

Getting out of Sierra City is no small task. There are two major climbs. The first is a seven mile, 3,000 foot exposed hike. The second was four miles and some hight I don’t remember. I don’t know why I bother looking at the elevation chart anymore. Whatever is in front of me, I’m going to climb it.

I’ll even do that if I only had four hours of sleep like I did last night.

I looked up the Hauser Creek climb we did on Day 2. That was a terrible 1,100 foot climb over three miles, and it almost killed us. We camped at the base so we could tackle it in the morning. We ran out of water when we reached the top.

So, it is safe to say that I’m a bit stronger now.

We started the day with a relaxing breakfast at a local coffee shop. I was leaving with Nap and Bubbles again. Joining us we’re Diesel Dan and Collin. We got to the trailhead at 7:30.

I bounded up the climb. I calculated that we did over 2 MPH which for me is amazing. About three quarters of the way up, we reached the 1,200 mile mark. That was our only stop.

Today is the day that we hiked the new section of the PCT. It is a bit of an administrative nightmare. Neither the paper maps or the phone app that I almost exclusively use has this new trail on it. So, for the purpose of this hike, I’m ignoring those miles and will tack them on at the end.

We ran into some day hikers who had a ton of questions. They hiked with us for about four miles. In the parking lot, we ran into some trail magic, beer and watermelon. Yes, when you thru-hike, those two go together.

We decided to make a strong push at the end and did 23.2 miles for the day. That was awesome when you consider we had two big climbs and a late start.

Our campsite has a icy cold spring. Springs are my new pleasure. I drank four liters!

We’re going to sleep as we did not get enough sleep last night.