Progressive Patterns

PCT: Big Bend ̶̶ May 26, 2018

Day 1

Sabbath. Hi 70. 4 miles to 1502. Elev 2800.

Rhonda and I walked together for a mile or so, then we kissed goodbye at about 5p. I shared camp with mosquitos near a little waterfall.

Castle Crags in the late afternoon

Day 2

Sunday. Lo 50. Hi 75. 27 miles to 1529. Elev 7240.

I woke up to a breakfast without peanut butter. (Shame on you, Enoch Sir Peanut Butter.) I had forgotten my main food item along with my trekking poles, but at least I remembered the poles about 10 minutes from home.

The day started with a 3000 foot climb up to a ridge. From there the map proved true. It was mostly ridge walking almost to Seiad Valley. I love ridge walking!! The terrain reminded me of the heights of Jackson Gap in Oregon mixed with the steep northern part of Washington.

My sore leg prevented me from making my goal of Deadfall Lakes, but at Porcupine Lake it was nice to run into a troop of Boy Scouts prepping for a big trip in New Mexico. My tent was just 50 feet from them, but they proved to be quiet and I slept well.

A different part of Castle Crags in the morning

Rocky trail is quite common between Dunsmuir and Seaid Valley

Purple flowers (I don't know flowers like I know birds!)

The trail does a lot of winding around valleys and cirques

Of course, Shasta peeks through every so often

Day 3

Monday. Lo 35. Hi 70. 27 miles to 1556. Elev 6200.

It was still early morning, but I had to stop and take in the incredible beauty of Deadfall Lakes! It would have made night hiking (which I hate) worth it. The lake was nestled at the foot of bluffs and edged with grass. It was like a park! It was also popular because it was only about 2 miles from the paved Parks Road.

After an early lunch I ran into Colty and Banana Man. They were a couple from Prince George in British Columbia. They were thru hiking with Seadog. They had made it over Forrester Pass in the high Sierra (where Colty's fiancee had to take a break because of frostbite) then exited at Kearsarge, then flipped north. They were planning on flopping back south when the snow cleared.

I woke up on the shore of Porcupine Lake

I should have made a panorama to capture the amazing Deadfall Lakes area

The clear water of Deadfall Lake

Bull Lake with Mount Shasta in the background

Day 4

Tuesday. Lo 50. Hi 70. 27 miles to 1583. Hi 70. Elev 6900.

The tent fills from gray to golden yellow.

Gradually, quietly, the transformation takes place.

Night is ended, put gently behind.

Dawn has arrived. It is time to hike.

An hour of walking downhill brought me to hwy 3, the road to Etna to which many hikers hitch to resupply. I wandered around the campground there looking for my friends from yesterday, but finally decided they had caught a late night hitch. Before leaving, I ran into Dan. He was retired and parked in an RV giving trail magic to hikers. I gratefully accepted a Coke to wash down my breakfast. He told me was parked here because this is where he ended his PCT hike in 2015 and where he restarted in 2016.

At Mosquito Creek

As the water rushes and tumbles

as it gurgles and bubbles down the mountain

and through the creek bed

joining the birds in song

and adding to the windy pines

so let my soul be a channel

gushing with Your love

and speeding to Your service.

After looping around in a mostly westerly direction, the trail now made its final big bend to the north, paralleling Etna Valley. Looking to the west, where there was hardly a trace of civilization all the way to the ocean, I made the observation that if the mountains there were people most of them would be lonely. I saw no roads, no trails, not even a deer path to bring some foraging animal to their summits. All day I did not even see another hiker. Maybe I was sympathizing with these solitary peaks?

After that interesting experience I had my scariest experience ever on the PCT. Did I come face to face with a bear? a mountain lion? a rattlesnake? Nope. A dog. From out of a thicket of low, busy trees, a black dog the size of a small bear came charging at me at the top of his lungs. I instantly stopped and held out my poles, bracing them against my waist. I yelled at it to leave as it snarled 15 feet from me. Then the owner came out and started yelling at me! He said I was scaring it.

Excuse me?! I was standing still and not even lunging, and I certainly didn't start the confrontation. I tell him to call off the dog, but he argues with me instead! He turns and leaves and thankfully the dog goes after him. More hicks like him could give northern California a sterling reputation. Not!

I camped on a snowbound road at the edge of a meadow. Mountain chickadees put me to sleep on a very calm night.

It is not hard to start hiking on mornings like these!

Nearing the end of heading west

The wilderness of the coastal ranges

Day 5

Wednesday. Lo 35. Hi 60. 25 miles to 1608 mi. Elev 6200.

Passed through the Russian Wilderness on trails hewn from the mountain sides. This is where I saw an almost black panther (puma, mountain lion, cougar, catamount). It was walking towards me about 100 feet away when we both looked up at the same time. Within three seconds he turned and ran out of sight. I chased after him but all I got for my trouble was a hurt foot. I made notes right away and identified it when I got home. It was not a jet black panther, but a very dark gray with a brownish tinge.

I met only one hiker today.

Incredible (but hard on the feet) trail through the Russian Wilderness!

Ran into a bit of snow today

Day 6

Thursday. Lo 35. Hi 40. 13 miles to 1621. Elev 5700.

Today was a low mileage day because of lots of deep snow that required me to practically mountaineer my way around and above Martin Lake. I also had to stop and soak my injured foot.

The day drew to a close with a strong cold wind driving sleet on me. Coming down into the calm quiet Marble Valley was a relief. Two older campers, Don and Lori, saw me setting up my tent and invited me to their fire. I dried out my clothes and enjoyed their pleasant company.

Morning near Shelly Lake

Just the beginning of a long stretch of steep snow

Weather rolling in from the west

My dear deer friend at Marble Valley cabin

Day 7

Friday. Lo 30. Hi 70. 26 miles to 1647. Elev 1700.

The day after a storm is almost always brilliant and clear and fresh. Today was no disappointment! It was probably my favorite day with lots of gorgeous scenery in the Marble Mountains.

The snow was frozen solid and made for easy walking beneath the marble peaks

Living succulent green everywhere!

Paradise Lake

Easy walking for miles!

Big views for miles!

Lunchtime in the Marble Mountain Wilderness with fighting chipmunks

Day 8

Sabbath. Lo 60. Hi 80. 11 miles to 1658. Elev 1700.

Had to cut my trip short at Seiad Valley because of logistics with my wife's schedule and snow blocking her way past Mt. Ashland. At least for the longest road walk on the PCT, it is a beautiful valley.

Seiad Valley

It was only 8 days and 160 miles, but I am thankful and looking forward to more!