PCT Day 85: Side Quest #2 Climbing Mount Shasta

Today I woke up at 4:30am at base camp on the clear creek route Mount Shasta. I ate a bean and cheese burrito for breakfast and sorted through my pack in the morning twilight. I was leaving behind anything I didn’t need to get up the mountain today. I only took my backpack, trekking poles, helmet, water bottles, snacks, first aid kit, and my sleeping bag in case it was too cold on top. The group of us all started at the same time. I stopped to grab a liter of water so I had a total of three for the climb. I didn’t expect to see any water again until we got back down to the same spring.

I quickly fell behind Galleleio and Boom but stayed ahead of Diva and Midnight quite a bit. I was hiking alone in the middle of our group. The “trail” went straight up and the soil under my feet was completely loose. It was an ashy gravel. Every step I would slide backwards. It was exhausting. I couldn’t get over how steep the grade was. It made me feel like I could just slide down the mountain at any moment or tumble a bunch of rocks on top of my friends. I had to use my upper body quite a bit. Digging my trekking poles into the sandy gravel made me feel a bit more secure and probably did help me not slide as much. I caught up to Galleleio and Boom as soon as the sun was rising. It was an incredible view and the light was super cool. We all took a break together to wait for Diva and Midnight to catch up. When I realized we were only at 10k feet and still had so much longer to go, I just laughed. How on earth could it be taking this long! Oh wait, it’s the steepest thing I’ve ever hiked.

We got up and started hiking again. This time I was leading the way and it made me nervous not to have anyone ahead of me picking the route. It was hard to see which direction you should go. The “trail” was very faint and it looked like you could pretty much go anywhere. Galleleio ended up way off course. The anxiety was making my legs shake and I knew I would feel super depleted by the end of the hike. It seemed like the footing never got better. Eventually I made my way into some faint switch backs with more solid footing and it made me feel a bit secure. Looking down at how steep the grade we were climbing was made me dizzy. When I finally made it to the red UFO rock which is a landmark on the route, I sat down for a break and to calm my nerves. Everyone else eventually caught up and we all prepared for the push to the summit. The UFO rock was at 12,800 feet. Here is where we all put on our helmets because the rock fall potential was higher between the UFO rock and the summit.

The last part to the summit was the hardest part. I had to route find on bigger looser rocks and the soil felt more slippery than before. I was using my hands to hold on to some of the bigger more stable rocks. I stayed by Midnight and Diva to make me feel better. I was in front again and had to pick the way to go. I was so scared to knock rocks down on my friends below me. Eventually the really bad rocky part ended and I had to keep walking up more steep slippery sand all the way to the summit. I could see a group being guided in front of me so I decided to stick near them. Right before the summit there was a big snow field to cross but it wasn’t dangerous if I fell on it. It flattened out at the bottom. I was so proud of myself when I made it to the summit. I think Shasta is probably the single hardest and scariest thing I’ve ever done in the mountains. It was cold on top and we all hung out for a bit. The view was incredible. Nothing in the distance was remotely close to the same height as Shasta. It was cold at the top and I was shivering. I did carry my sleeping bag up but I figured we would leave as soon as I got it out. Despite not being hungry because of the altitude, I ate half of my subway sandwich I saved for the summit. After getting a picture and signing the summit log, we headed down. I couldn’t wait to be back on solid ground.

The way down went so slow. I gripped my trekking poles so tight because it felt like it would be even easier to slide on the way down than on the way up. I was really nervous but seeing the group in front of me made me feel better. After UFO rock, I missed the switch backs I took up and ended up going straight down the mountain. As I mentioned I was incredibly steep and I was constantly slipping and falling on my back because I couldn’t grip the ground. The rocks were constantly getting in my shoes and it ended up hurting my feet. It was way too steep to stop and fix anything. I could see Boom taking lots of falls in front of me and Trail Diva also falling right behind me. I was so relieved when we finally made it back down to base camp. We did it! I am still shocked that Galleleio made it up and down without poles. By the end I was incredibly dehydrated because I never felt stable enough to take a sip of water. The corners of my lips were cracked and a little bleeding. The temperature difference at camp was drastic. Down here it was hot and I was in a tank top and shorts.

We walked back down to the parking lot hoping to get a fast hitch. We ended up sitting there for almost three hours. The only two ladies that came down the mountain didn’t stop for us despite their empty vehicle. A girl named Stephanie who fights fire in Oregon gave us a ride back to town. We all crammed into a small vehicle and it was an extremely uncomfortable ride back to Shasta. Once we got there we got slushies at the gas station, returned our helmets and went out to Thai to celebrate. It was the first time I ordered my Thai food mild because my lips were so bad. I felt absolutely destroyed from Shasta. I was glad when we finally walked to the KOA in the dark to set up camp for the night. I just wanted to lay down.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird


PCT Day 84: Clear Creek Trailhead

Miles Hiked: 4.7 (zero PCT miles)

PCT Mileage: 1501.3

This morning I woke up early despite it being a town day. I didn’t sleep well and I was excited to go do all my town chores. I took a refreshing shower and packed up all my gear. Everyone else woke up as I was getting ready. I left the campsite to go do town chores on my own while my battery bank charged at the campground and Diva did all the laundry. First I went to the Yak Shake for a delicious Thai peanut breakfast sandwich. Next I was on a mission to go to the post office and pick up a box my sister sent me. It was a package of candy and a new hat. It was a bright blue five panel hat and I absolutely loved it. Not something I would have picked up for myself but I loved it. After the post office I was walking to the gear shop to check it out but it was closed. I ran into a guy named Queen Cheese who recognized me as Jenga’s friend. I ended up eating a second breakfast with Queen Cheese and his whole trail family at the Black Bear Cafe. I had a blackberry stuffed french toast. It was delicious. I saw they had a cinnamon roll french toast on the menu which is why I wanted to eat there in the first place. If you recall I was obsessed with a cinnamon roll french toast I had in Lincoln Montana on the CDT and I was so excited to see it on a menu again. Unfortunately they were out of Cinnamon rolls to make it but luckily I found out that it is a chain restaurant so I can try to go to another location!

After my second breakfast, I resupplied at Ray’s. I bought two pounds of bean and cheese freezer burritos! Then I went to subway to get a veggie sandwich and Rite Aid for protein powder. Finally the gear shop was open and I purchased a tank top I’m really excited to wear and picked up a water badder for Diva. Eventually I was back at the campground after a morning of walking all over town. Probably about three miles or more. I got in the pool, put together my resupply and then walked to the Indian buffet for lunch. Afterwards I walked into most of the gift shops in town buying post cards before going back to the gear shop to pick up the helmets I had reserved.

Once we all had our helmets, we got everyone who was doing Mount Shasta with us together at a milkshake place. This included Diva, Midnight, Galleleio and Boom who we met two days ago. I was anxious to start hitch hiking and get to the trailhead. The trailhead is an hour drive from town and some of it involves dirt roads. I expected it would take us multiple hitches and a few hours to get where we needed to go. We tried hitching in front of the natural grocery store unsuccessfully for a half an hour. A lot of locals were really nice and would talk to us. A girl named Nina offered to give us a ride in her van if we paid for gas. We were totally willing! We had already tried to Uber and called the local taxi service with no luck. Luckily we were all able to pile into Nina’s Van she lives in and she drove us almost all the way to the trailhead! The ride was quite bumpy when we were on the dirt road. We all have her money for gas before hiking up the road two miles to the trailhead. I hiked with Boom and we talked about lots of hiking things. We was a SOBO on the AT in 2019.

We all got to the trailhead around 7:30pm where we filled out permits and got poop bags since you can’t poop on Mount Shasta. You have to carry your poop out. It was late but I was happy to be on the trail. Feeling excited and nervous for the hike tomorrow! We hiked another 2.5 miles up to Base Camp. It was steep but the views were pretty as the sun went down. It stayed light out pretty late and I didn’t have to get out a headlamp until well after we got to camp. It also wasn’t cold outside either! What a miracle! Everyone was feeling so excited and happy to be about to climb Shasta tomorrow. It’s a side quest I had been thinking about for a little bit but I didn’t want to do it alone. I talked Trail Diva and Midnight into it and I was so thankful they wanted to do it! Trail Diva gave me the first and only hug she will probably ever give me on a trail when I’m super dirty today.

Mango lassi at the Indian buffet

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 83: Mount Shasta

Miles Hiked: 27

PCT Miles: 1501.2

This morning I woke up at dawn near the McCloud River. I packed up my things and hit the trail about the same time as everyone else. I skipped all the water sources today until Squaw Creek so I was a bit dehydrated by the time I got there. We were only 30 miles from town so we decided to hike in today instead of camping three miles out. I ran out of food in perfect timing to do such a thing so I was stoked about it. At Squaw Creek we all took a long lunch break in the cool shade. I wanted to get in but I hate getting wet sometimes.

After the break I left before everyone else soni could have a break between lunch and the road 13 miles away. I happen to like taking a lot more breaks than the rest of my group. I knew they would want to walk the 13 miles to the road without stopping and I definitely did not because my feet have been hurting. The uphill wasn’t bad and I took my break in the shade of a tree at the top. Once everyone caught up, we all hiked the last few miles into town together. On the ridge we had a great view of Castle Crag and Mt Shasta that I want to try and climb! We saw smoke coming up from the trees in the valley and later found out it was a small wildfire that was put out immediately luckily.

Once at the Road, we had to try and hitch from the I5 on ramp. It seemed impossible because hardly any cars were driving by at all. I ended up getting a different hitch than everyone else into town because Fry drove by with his cousin and didn’t have room for everyone. Once in town I got dropped off at the KOA where I got the campsite booked and set up for everyone. Some other hikers were eating hotdogs and invited me over so I had some while I waited for my friends. Afterwards I walked around town to get a milkshake right before everything closed. It was late by the time everyone else showed up because they went to Thai and it took forever.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 82: McCloud River

Miles Hiked: 30

PCT Mileage: 1471

This morning I woke up around five am to an amazing sunrise. I was still tired so I didn’t get out of my sleeping bag until after 5:30. By 6am I was packed up and hiking down the trail after Midnight. It was eight miles to the first water source. I was feeling sore today. I think it only takes one day before I’m fatigued again. Yesterday I was feeling fresh after the zero day. The eight miles went by surprisingly slow for morning miles. I thought it was going to be a long day. Luckily the terrain was forgiving. At moose creek I stopped to fill up my water, and take a break to eat food. I was glad when I saw Diva and Galleleio I wanted people to hike with me today because I didn’t feel super energized. Galleleio and I hiked the next ten miles together to the Gold Creek Water source. It was 0.2 miles off the trail and I still had a liter left so I opted to not do the extra hiking. In the meantime I ate more food and tried a “chocolate salt” flavored electrolyte packet. It was disgusting.

I walked the next eight miles to Deer Creek alone. It was hot but the trees provided shade. After walking through the long burn section I was so grateful for greenery and the chance of shade. I thought it was noticeably several degrees cooler when I was out of the sun. At Deer Creek I finally saw Midnight again. She had already been there for an hour. I sat in the shade at Deer Creek for an hour and a half. It was nice and cool. We were almost to camp it was eight miles all downhill. I was glad because I felt so tired. I hiked all the way to camp with both Midnight and Diva. When we got to the river I was so glad to be at camp at 6:30pm

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 81: Burney Falls

Miles Hiked: 30

PCT Mileage: 1440.6

This morning I woke up at 5am at Trevor’s House. It was the first day in so long that my body felt good when I woke up! I was still sleepy but it felt like all my major aches and pains were gone for the moment anyways. I ate an egg sandwich for breakfast with coffee and we all loaded into the car. At the trailhead we all said goodbye and thank you to Trevor. The first eight miles of the day went by so fast and easily. The trail was pretty much flat all the way to Burney Falls State Park. I listened to playlists that Diva sent me and started a new book called “The Overstory”

Burney Falls State Park was right off the PCT so we hiked off trail to go see the famous water falls. They were so pretty and totally worth the extra miles to go see! Apparently the falls start only a few feet upstream from where we could see them. All the water just comes right out of the ground. While we were there we also took a break to eat and check out the general store where I picked up a post card. Right as we were leaving we ran into Pop Rocks, Homebrew, and Downhill Daddy who had just arrived.

Back on trail it was five more miles to a planned break at Rock Creek. Two miles in we got escorted over the lake Britton Dam because they were doing some sort of construction on it. Our escort told us some information about the rivers in the area, what they were doing to the dam, and recorded where we were from. He said the most people he ever had to escort in one day is 47 people. He said he imagined that he missed some people who walk over after the construction is done for the day.

Rock Creek was nice and shady under a bridge that crossed the trail. We wanted to take a long break here to hide from the heat but it was only 13 miles into the day that we wanted to hike 30 miles on. We decided to keep going a bit farther before taking a long break so we didn’t have far to walk at the end of our day. We took our long break near a small creek. It wasn’t the best spot but it was a break and that’s all that mattered to me. We stayed there for two hours just hanging out before we pushed the last twelve miles to camp. After the creek there was water every four miles today. I was so happy about not so I didn’t have to carry a heavy pack very far. Water is heavy. The last miles to camp flew by. I hiked with the whole group and I couldn’t believe it when I checked my phone and we only had a mile left to our dinner spot and camp. For dinner I had some cheesy pizza bites and a protein shake. When we got to camp we got water from a spring down the road. The sunset with a view of Mt Shasta was incredible. I cowboy camped next to a dirt road with everyone else. The tentsite marked on our map could hardly be considered a tent site.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 80: A Zero in Fall River Mills

Miles Hiked: ZERO

PCT Mileage: 1411.3

Today was my fourth PLANNED zero of the whole PCT. A big deal for me! My other planned zeros were in Tehachapi, Kennedy Meadows, and South Lake Tahoe. My unplanned zeros were the five days I spent in Acton when I thought I possibly had a fracture. I don’t like to take an entire day off of hiking unless I absolutely need it. Rest days are super important for recovery on the trail. If my body never hurt I would probably only take one or two days off on the whole hike. Unfortunately things really hurt sometimes, especially now, and a break is important. After doing a bunch of really big mile days in a row last week I am feeling significantly more tired and achey than usual. I really wanted the day off but I didn’t want to lose my friends I worked so hard to catch up to. Luckily it is 107 degrees on the trail today and my friends hate the heat so they wanted a day off too. It worked out for everyone!

I slept in the latest I have ever slept in on this trail, 9am. Confirmation of how tired I was and how badly I needed this zero. I updated my blog first thing in the morning. I still left some stuff to work on because I am a procrastinator. I stayed in bed all morning because I did not want to move at all. Eventually I got hungry enough to get up and go eat an egg sandwich Diva made for everyone. We all spent the day relaxing around Trevor’s House and hanging out. He took us to town midday so we could go to the grocery store again to resupply and I got to exchange my holey darn tough socks for a brand new pair at the sporting goods store. Score! I use Darn Tough socks that cost $20 a pair but come with a life time warranty. I definitely take advantage of the warranty and always trade my holey socks in when I can.

For dinner at Trevor’s Diva put together a salad and I made a sub par freezer pizza. The sunset was gorgeous.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 79: A lucky hitch

Miles Hiked: 23.8

PCT Mileage: 1411.3

This morning I slept in since we all decided to take a zero tomorrow. I wasn’t in a rush to get to town. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be over 100 degrees. Not to mention I badly need a day off. Luckily my friends hate the heat. The morning was off to a slow start. It was exposed and the air just kept getting hotter. I mostly hiked with Galleleio and Trail Diva. The first break of the day was at a water cache known as cache 22. It was a spigot that goes to a tank that someone fill with water. I venmoed a donation because it seemed like such an important water source. I listened to a lot of music today and talked to my friends to distract myself from my foot pain. We crossed the 1400 mile mark together and took another break. By lunch time at a lake, we were all extremely hot but luckily it was less than four miles to the road to town. At the lake, I got my hair wet in the water and laid down in the shade. There were massive pelicans floating around and fishing in the lake.

The last four miles to the road were miserable because it was so hot. Trail Diva and I talked to each other to distract from the discomfort. Luckily we were motivated by town and the miles flew by faster than I thought they would. We waited for Midnight and Galleleio at the road. Luckily they were right behind us and we started to hitch hike. The first car that saw us pulled over way down the road. We all walked to the truck. A man named Trevor is who picked us up and he asked us if we needed a place tonight. After some thought because his place was out of town, we said yes! We ended up going in to Burney to buy groceries before heading back to Trevor’s House in Fall River Mills. I was so excited for a full day off tomorrow and couldn’t wait to catch up on calories. I bought beer and ice cream at the grocery store and ate a salad and cinnamon twists at the pizza place. Trevor’s House was gorgeous. The inside was very spacious with an incredibly high wood ceiling and a great view of Lassen Peak out of the living room window. We each got our own bed and had the evening to relax. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were! After showering and doing laundry, Galleleio made everyone a dinner of Salmon, Asparagus, and Potatoes. It was delicious. It was fun getting to hang out with Trevor and learn all about his life. He did a similar hike to us across the UK once. He wanted to pick us up because someone did the same for him once. We are the first hikers to ever stay with him! It was late by the time we all went to bed. Approximately 10pm.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 78: Old Station

Miles Hiked: 22.2

PCT Mileage: 1387.5

This morning I slept in super late. When I hike til 11:30 at night it is so hard to get up and keep going the next day. Once again my body still feels trashed from the high mile week to catch up to my friends and I still need a break. I tell myself I can hang in there for a bit longer. It’s 7:20 when I start hiking. I am moving slow but talking to trail Diva makes the miles go by quick. 12 miles to Old Station. The forest was less burned the closer we got to town. I met some hikers from 2021 who had to skip up to here because of the fire. On the walk into town Jay Bird caught up. We took the quick way in and out via an earlier road not on the guthook map.

In old station there is a gas station, a cafe, and not much else. Apparently down the road is a post office and a small store. We heard the wait times at the restaurant were two hours. After my experience in Quincy I chose to eat at the gas station instead. I got a burrito, an ice cream sandwich, a life water, and a beer. I sat on the bench next to the building hiding in the shade and relaxing for three hours with Midnight and Diva. Galleleio was here so I got to see him again as well. He hung out with us and told me he would see me at camp tonight. I left around three with Midnight and Diva. Less than a mile back on the trail, we dropped our packs to slackpack to the “Subway Cave” it’s a lava tube that you can walk through for 0.3 miles underground. It was so much cooler in the tube and I wished we could have taken another break there despite just leaving town. I forgot my headlamp so I used my phone flashlight to look around in the dark. Soon enough we had to leave and go back out into the hot hot sun. Today was way hotter than I realized. When there wasn’t shade it felt like I could smell my skin burning. My feet hurt and I was feeling so bad. I could hardly keep up with Diva and Midnight to make it to dinner. We ate our snacks in the shade with a nice view. A lot of other people were camping there and I was jealous they were done walking for the day. Galleleio caught up to us at dinner. We all walked three more miles to camp afterwards. I was so exhausted. When we got there I didn’t even blow up my sleeping pad I was so tired. I just fell asleep on my 1/8 inch pad, arguably doing nothing for me besides keeping the dirt off. The sunset was amazing as we walked into camp. Despite feeling bad I thought it was one of my favorite nights on the trail. Midsummer. Hot. And full of the best kind of exhaustion there is. Exhaustion because I got to do what I love all day everyday.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 77: Lassen National Park

Miles Hiked: 34.3

PCT Mileage: 1365.6

This morning I woke up in Susansville. Having a bed last night was great. I quickly packed up all my things and waited on Trail Diva and Midnight to get ready to hitch hike. We stood on main street for about 20 minutes before John picked us up. We had our backpacks plus boxes of things that Midnight needed to mail home from her friends wedding she went to last week. John was one of the most interesting people who has ever picked me up. He works at the recycling center in town and told us all about how it works. He also told us all about his off the grid tiny home in a shipping container and how he and his wife built everything themselves and go on adventures all the time. He said one of the best parts is that when it’s fire season he can lock everything inside the container and leave if he needs to. This area we are in has been hit hard by fire for the last few seasons. John drove us all the way to Chester. It was totally out of his way.

We got dropped off at the post office right when it opened. I picked up a box of food that my mom sent me. It included my shoes, socks, and insoles. I was excited for this box. After we did all the things we needed to do at the post office. We started to hitch back to the trail from Chester. It was 9:45am when a fire lawyer picked us up and dropped us back off in the burn scar of a trail we have been walking through. How fitting. Today we wanted to hike 30 miles despite the late start. We ended up having to hike more because there is a camping restriction in Lassen National Park. You must have a bear can to camp there so we had to walk 34 miles to the parks northern border to legally camp. A lot of PCT hikers have reported bear activity in the park. I find it funny that everyone ends up camping directly outside an arbitrary border. As if the bears don’t cross the national park boundary. I also wondered how on earth any animal could live in the area. Almost everything was charred black. As far as I could see there couldn’t be anything to eat there! I did find my first Morel Mushroom ever today. I was so excited about it. I have been hunting for them for a long long time. Unfortunately it was way past it’s prime and I don’t have a stove to cook it. Out of precaution I decided not to eat it because I did not want an upset stomach. Apparently the mushrooms thrive in burn areas. Despite being burned so bad, lassen seemed like a cool national park. In the distance we could see the 10k foot Lassen peak that blew up in 1915. It is a volcano. The park also had a few thermal features.

I had a ton of fun hiking with Midnight and Trail Diva. We stopped and took breaks together. My feet hurt because I normally take way more breaks but I wanted to keep up with them. At the end of the day I was so tired when we were hiking in the dark. It was 11:30 pm when we got to camp. I laid down my sleeping pad and passed out. It was a cold night despite it being a pretty hot day.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 76: Halfway There

Miles Hiked: 25.9

PCT Mileage: 1331.3

Last night some kids came to the park in the middle of the night and started blasting music. I was so annoyed but somehow I was so sedated that I was able to fall back asleep. We packed up our things in the dark and drove Midnight to the trailhead at the road that goes into Chester. Then Diva and I drove up the mountain back to Cold Spring where we finished yesterday. We would hike in the opposite direction as Midnight and swap keys in the middle. We got to our starting point at 6:30am where Pop Rocks, Tiger Lily, and Downhill Daddy were waiting for us so they could put their gear in the car and slack pack too. I was happy to be hiking with a crowd and that I didn’t have to carry my pack today. I was still feeling really bad from all the big miles last week. I really need a day off.

The trail continued to go through the very badly burnt area from the Dixie Fire that happened last year. Once again I was walking in peoples dust clouds. Today I got even dirtier. I mostly hiked with Diva as everyone else got way ahead when I went to the bathroom. We all met up at the Halfway Point around noon. It was shocking to see that little post marking a big milestone. It felt like a reality check. Halfway from Mexico. Halfway to Canada. To walk all the miles I just walked all over again. I felt sad because it marked the start of the last half of a trail before I finish this massive goal I’ve been working on for the past four years. Trail Diva and I both had an Orange Crush to celebrate. We all pushed on the last eight miles downhill to the car together. It was 4pm when we got to the road and Midnight picked us up with perfect timing. We went to the Pine Shack again Because I was thinking about having another jumbo banana milkshake all day today. It was delicious.

After we got food, Diva, Midnight and I drove to Susansville and got a hotel. The hotels were way cheaper here and we had to return their rental car. No more slack packing! Also no more complicated logistics. At the hotel I stayed up late hanging out with them and doing camp chores. I was so happy for a shower and laundry. I have gotten incredibly dirty over the last few days!

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 75: Frog Mountain

Miles Hiked: 18.7

PCT Mileage: 1307.9

This morning I woke up feeling so exhausted and sore. Diva let me know when she was about 30 minutes away from being ready for the day so I could pack up my stuff and hike with her. It was 6am when we left camp and walked through the tiny “town” of Belden where everything was still closed. Essentially it was just a little lodge with a bar and a campground. We crossed the Feather River on a bridge before heading up the long climb. From the bridge, it was a 5,700 foot climb over 13.7 miles. I was so glad to be hiking with Diva. I’m so tired of being alone right now. I was also just feeling so exhausted I really needed another person to motivate me today. Luckily we got to leave all of our gear minus packs, snacks, and some water at our camp. Diva’s hiking partner Midnight was going to pick it up for us and meet us at mile 25. That way I could get some rest and miles in at the same time. She was coming back from a wedding she took time off trail for and had a rental car for an extra two days.

The climb was very long but never steep. Luckily it was over cast because it would have been roasting hot otherwise. The crispy burned trees offered us no protection from the intensity of the sun. The soil was so loose and mostly ashes. Diva’s shoes would kick up clouds of dust with every step and I walked in this cloud all day today. I didn’t care. I was so happy to have a friend and too tired to make myself hike those miles by myself. We took two breaks on the way up because I like to take as many breaks as I can. Especially today. Finally we reached the top where I sat in the sun near Rascal and Sherpa who were playing cards. For lunch I made chocolate pudding and had some pepperoni.

I was so tired from the climb but we pushed on to finish our day. The forest stayed crispy and black the whole way. Right when Diva and I were taking our packs off for another break, Midnight came running down the trail. She was picking us up early! Basically it was way easier for her to navigate the back country roads to Cold Spring rather than Humboldt Road where we originally planned on hiking to six more miles north. I was so happy the day of hiking I was over soon than I thought it would be. I was feeling wrecked. We put our packs back on and walked another half mile to the car while Midnight went on a trail run. Diva pulled out a banana and Gatorade for me which I enjoyed so much while I laughed at how dirty I was. Midnight was also slack packing our friends so we dropped their packs off before going to the town of Chester.

In Chester I got a jumbo banana milkshake from Pine Shack. Then we camped at the town park. I went to be extremely early because I felt so bad. I was just glad to be laying down at the end of the day.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 74: Quincy and Belden

Miles Hiked: 22.8

PCT Mileage: 1286.6

This morning I willed myself awake at 4:45am. It was the perfect temperature outside and I had no problem getting out of my sleeping bag and doing all my chores as I packed up in fifteen minutes and hit the trail by 5am. The miles flew by so fast because I was on my way to town. It was definitely way darker than any other morning so far and I was sad about it. The forest was a little creepy in the dusk light and I kept looking for bears. I was happy when the sun finally came up. The forest was so beautiful with green moss on the trees and ferns all along the sides of the trail. It was partially burned but not bad at all. There was still soil rather than ashes under my feet. I got to the road at 6:30am. It was quiet. The first car that went by at 6:45 passed me. Another car came at 7am and I got to ride in a truck with two other hikers named “Lost” and “Daydreamer” who showed up at the perfect time. I was glad for the early morning hitch because it didn’t seem like many cars would drive down the road and I know a lot of other people wanted to get to town today too.

Our hitch dropped us off on Main street and we walked to the first and only place that was open for breakfast “Quincy Provisions”. I got a bear claw and a cinnamon frappe. I charged my things while I waited for the post office to open so I could go get my box from my friend Sophie. I was so excited for this resupply. At 8:30 they told me to come back in two hours because my box has arrived but the mail hadn’t been sorted. Great! Now I have time to kill in town so I got breakfast with Pop Rocks and Tiger Lily who I last saw in South Lake Tahoe. I finally caught back up to them again after hiking many long days. We ended up having to take our breakfast to go because it took so long and they needed to check out of their hotel on time. I was offered a shower before they left so of course I took it. The last section has made me so dirty I was feeling desperate for anything to make me feel clean. I did feel so much better afterwards and they gave me two beers to take on trail since they had so much left over from 4th of July party.

After all this I went back to the post office and found out my box wasn’t actually there. Frustrated that I wasted so much time in town, I had the box bounced to mt Shasta so I can pick it up in another town in five days. I really didn’t want to miss this one but I didn’t have time to wait around because I had been working so hard to catch up to Trail Diva who is waiting for me 19 miles away in Belden tonight. After not getting my food at the post office I ran back to Pop Rocks hotel and got free food from a girl named “graceful” who asked if any of us needed anything earlier because she had too much. I took everything she wanted to get rid of and was so glad I still didn’t have to spend money on a resupply. Food is expensive on trail when you eat twice as much as normal! Finally I walked to the pharmacy to pick up an ankle brace I feel that I can’t afford to hike without and then to the toy store where they give all the PCT hikers a free cone. After all this I felt like I could finally hitch out of town at 1:30pm.

I walked to the end of town where the road I needed to get back to trail was. Subway was right there so I stopped in to get a fresh veggie sandwich for later today. Within 10 minutes I was picked up by a nice local man who lives up the hill and occasionally goes out of his way to drive hikers up to the trail. I have certainly been bold and lucky when it comes to hitching by myself lately. I have been hiking alone for so long it feels like. It is certainly lonely. At 2:15 I was back on the trail feeling rushed to get to Belden. The trail was so stunning to me as I put in my best effort to hike uphill as fast as I could. My pack felt light and I was so glad I dropped my base weight so much in the last month by sending items home. There were flowers, meadows, and views everywhere I looked. Eventually my strong energy I started out with tanked and I had to take a break. I sat down to have one of the white claws from Pop Rocks trail family and my foot long veggie delight sandwich. I gave another hiker named Wednesday the other beer as he passed by and we chatted for a bit before I had to push on to get to Belden. 12 more miles and it was 4pm.

I hiked by a guy named Nate and we shared a few miles together. It was the first time I have hiked with someone in seven days. Wow I have been lonely. I was so thankful for his company. He was trying to push to town too and the miles just went by so fast. Eventually we lost each other as he stopped to eat a cliff bar and then I realized I had lost my wallet by the time he caught back up. Seven miles from Belden where I had been pushing so hard to get too. I started to panic. Without my ID I couldn’t even pick up a box at the post office. I texted my friends and turned back up the trail in a frenzy. I scanned left to right. Everytitme I passed a tent I woke up the hikers to ask if they had seen a wallet. No luck. Then I ran into Tuzi. I could tell immediately. He found it! I was so Lucky because he found it way off the trail in an area I had accidentally walked off trail Because the burned soil erroded it so I couldn’t see it. I gave him a hug. I love the way you meet people out on the trail. Just yesterday I started the day by smoking a joint with a random stranger at mile two because I found his bag of weed he had lost the night before and was turned back to get it. Now it was my turn to lose a wallet. I hiked with Tuzi all the way to camp. More friends! He actually hiked the PCT last year and is hiking for a while again.

I absolutely flew down the long long descent into Belden. I was literally jogging down the trail with my pack on. Tuzi and his whole trail family were doing the same behind me. I thought we were all crazy and wondered how no one tripped or stopped because their knees hurt. It felt great to be worked hard and tired in the early July heat. The whole hillside we ran down was charred to a crisp. The soil under my feet completely black. Suddenly I was at the river and road where the town of Belden was and I scanned the side of the trail for Diva’s green nemk tent. I found it! I was so thankful I had found my wallet, made a new friend, and hiked a total of 162 miles in five days to catch my friend. My feet hurt. I plopped down next to her tent and we caught up on life for an hour while the sun went down and I took care of my feet and camp chores. Finally. I can rest.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 72: Sierra Buttes

Miles Hiked: 31.3

PCT Mileage: 1226.6

Today it was cold in the morning and it was so hard to get out of my sleeping bag. I was hoping to wake up early for another ambitious day but I was so tired. I didn’t walk out of camp until 6am. A late start for the miles I was hoping to do. I’ve found that I can hike two very long days back to back but on the third day I need a rest. I hiked 70.4 miles over the last two days.

The day started by crossing the highway and immediately going uphill for seven miles. It was a 3k climb all at once and was the first time we’ve had a climb this big in a while. The trail was perfectly graded and I cruised up it despite the fact I was sore and feeling tired. I counted 32 switch backs up the steep part in the trees. After that the trail opened up to an incredible view of a deep valley where Sierra City is located. Although it was so rocky it reminded me of Pennsylvania. At the top I took a break and made the Waldorf Salad backpacker meal that was given to me yesterday at trail magic. It was delicious and the nutritional facts were unbelievable. It was made by outdoor herbivore. No need for a stove to make it either. I’d like to try and replicate it myself.

After my morning break, I picked up some water before heading on to an alternate that was the old PCT. It would make my day three miles shorter with less elevation gain. Something I really needed today. It went along a trail calls the gold valley rim. It was gorgeous and I saw yellow lupines here for the first time. I’ve absolutely loved all the incredible fields of flowers lately. I think I’m slowly falling in love with Northern California. It might be my favorite part of the trail so far. Back on the PCT I took another break. I was so tired. I ate some food and got some energy to hike another five miles. I was feeling lonely from hiking alone for so long the last few days. I wanted anything or anyone to distract me from hiking today.

I made it five miles at a time today. Honestly I still made amazing time for the miles I did. I finished 28.9 miles at 5:45 with tons of long breaks today. Ultimately I just felt overall tired and needed to end the day earlier than usual so I can rest more tonight and feel great tomorrow. The day ended on a downhill through a forest with a soft forest floor underneath my feet. Very forgiving. I camped with Lava Girl, Shark Boy, Rabbit, and Director. It was nice to camp with others for the first time in forever! I really enjoyed talking to Shark Boy and Lava Girl for a while. I had all my camp chores done early and enjoyed just being at camp. It was light outside until after 9pm. I hope I can hike a nice long day tomorrow! There are not many of these beautiful long days with perfect weather left and I want to enjoy them to the fullest.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 71: Trail Magic Galore

Miles Hiked: 38.8

PCT Mileage: 1195.3

This morning I had an alarm set since I knew I wanted to hike a big day and would be tired from the night before. When it went off at 4:45 I could hardly move so I laid back down for 15 more minutes. At 5am I packed up and made a Nutella and English muffin sandwich for breakfast. The sky was getting Brighter by the minute and I hiked out of camp at 5:45. Last night I camped 0.5 miles south of interstate 80. The trail goes through a tunnel underneath it but apparently it is flooded with shin deep water. Not wanting to get my feet wet at 5am this morning, I opted for a road walk that let me cross the highway under a bridge about a half mile off the trail. Im not sure why the trail just wasn’t routed this way to begin with. As I walked by the highway on ramp, I kicked a box of beer in doubt of there being anything in it. Surprise! I scored my first fresh beer off the side of the road in my entire hiking career. I wished for this to happen everyday on the CDT road walks. It did happen once but the beer seemed to be ages old so I couldn’t drink it. Although it wasn’t even six am I cracked open the beer to drink it anyways. I walked the road until it connected back to the PCT at Castle Pass. It was a dirt road and approximately the same distance as the trail was.

Once I was back on trail the entire day was so easy. I purposely planned to do a big day today because the elevation profile looked so easy. There was hardly any climbing today. If I had to guess, any climbs I did do were less than 300ft per mile, and the average grade for the day was 100ft/mile both up and downhill. The perfect grade to put on cruise control and hike a long day. I took my first break at mile 10 to eat second breakfast and filter water. I had a bean and cheese burrito, some Nutella, and coconut almond date rolls. I passed a lot of tents in the first few miles of the day. I always pass so many people when they are sleeping.

The day was absolutely stunning as I walked through hillsides of yellow Mules Ears Flowers and Purple Lupines. At mile 15 it was 10:30am and I received some awesome trail magic from Allan aka “Limit Situation Trail Magic”. He had chairs set up next to a creek with a massive cooler of cold drinks and sweet treats he and his helped baked themselves. I was so happy to sit down for a rest. My drink of choice was a home brewed kombucha that was delicious! Allan says he has brewing it for 11 years which makes sense why it was so good. He does this trail magic 3-4 days a week for a month every year. He usually coordinates with “Chipmunk” who I received trail magic from about a week ago at Ebbetts Pass. Allan had a Darn Tough sock exchange at the trial magic which I thought was the coolest thing. Darn Tough is a brand of socks that a lot of thru hikers including myself wear because of their life time warranty. When you mail them your hokey socks they will send you a brand new pair back for free! Unfortunately I just mailed my socks to Darn Tough last week so I wasn’t in need of the exchange today but there have been so many times I needed a sock exchange! I hung out at the trail magic for about 40 minutes getting to know Allan and the two other hikers that showed up, before I left I got a hug and an awesome tie dye bandana that I plan on carrying to Canada. I also got to take a backpacker meal that was donated. I told Allan about how I was trying to make it to town tonight but I’m on a mission to catch up to my friends. I didn’t want to go to town but I had to because I needed food. The backpacker meal and an extra Ziploc of treats made it so that I could skip town and not stress about timing the miles so much!

I was so rejuvenated after the trail magic. The little bit of climbing I did afterwards flew by and before I knew it I was back on a ridge surrounded by yellow and purple flowers everywhere. I took a break after five miles. 20 miles in for the day at 1pm I was feeling a little tired and my feet hurt. I took a 10 minute break to stretch and rub out my feet. These short breaks help me so much. I felt so much better when I started hiking again. I flew down the mountain through the forest to my next break spot in 7 more miles. To my surprise there was more trail magic! A PCT hiker from 2021 named “The Dawg” was there with his girlfriend. He handed me a beer and snacks including a chocolate muffin, Doritos, and welch’s gummies. I was so glad for all the food and that I definitely have enough to make it to Quincy and skip Sierra City. I hung out there with them for over an hour with six other hikers including Holey Soul and Matador who I met at Chipmunks trail magic. I’m so glad both of the trail magics happened at a perfect break spot for me. I couldn’t believe I got it twice in one day.

After the second trail magic, I had 12 miles left to my end goal for the day. The first 7 miles flew by then my feet started to hurt again so I took a break to stretch and rub them out. The last five miles to camp felt slow. Overall the day was so easy for how far I hiked. I got some awesome breaks with trail magic which made it even easier. I cowboy camped next to the highway that goes into Sierra City. The bugs were bad again and I’m so glad I have a head net now. The trail always provides. Tomorrow my day will start with a big climb!

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

PCT Day 70: Donner Pass

Miles Hiked: 31.6

PCT Mileage: 1156.5

This morning I woke up to my alarm buzzing on my wrist. It was 5:30am and I was laying on the floor of a motel 6 in South Lake Tahoe. I quietly packed up my things in the dark and slipped out the door. Trail Diva and her boyfriend picked me up at 6am. We stopped by McDonald’s so I could get an iced coffee and then drove 45 minutes to the Barker Pass PCT/TRT Trailhead where I started hiking at 7am. I was so thankful for the ride to exactly where I needed to go. It was nice to stay in town last night and get to hangout with Josh aka “Long Story” and meet Diva’s boyfriend. I really needed the extra rest.

The first six miles of my day were repeated PCT miles that were all uphill. It kinda sucked to have to rehike all those miles but I’m really thankful I had the opportunity to do the Tahoe Rim Trail. I hardly remember the trail I was on only a few days ago. When I got to the TRT Junction six miles in, I sat down for a short ten minute break. Afterwards I hiked along a gorgeous Ridgeline for the rest of the day, occasionally dropping a thousand feet into a valley and then going right back up again. The trail meandered along the Ridgeline of several ski resorts including Palisades and Alpine Meadows. I walked around a few ski lifts and thought about the last three winters I worked in Telluride. Apparently the Tahoe area has more ski resorts in a concentrated area than anywhere else in America. I believe it Because I got to see so many of them on the TRT. It’s something like 22 individual resorts.

Sometimes the trail went through fields of miles ears and lupine all in bloom. It looked like a sea of purple and yellow. I was sad I didn’t get to see many flowers in the Sierra but this made up for it! I hardly saw any other hikers on trail today. After being on my own separate adventure for so long I’m not sure where anyone I know is at. I am planning on hiking some long miles the next five days to catch up to Diva on the trail so I can hike with her. She is taking six zeros with her boyfriend Kurt while her hiking partner “Midnight” goes to a wedding. It’s more miles than I’ve ever hiked but the 30s are coming pretty easy these days. I’m excited to see how it goes although I have some moments of doubt. The only people I met today were Sea Biscuit, Galileo, and Sing Song.

At 28 miles into the day I reached Donner Pass where Donner Ski Ranch is located. The restaurant 0.2 miles off the trail gives hikers a free 40oz beer since it’s located on historic route 40. There were several hikers there when I arrived but the only person I recognized was “Ranger” who was shocked to see me. I ordered the Thai Special and some sweet potato fries. The 40z of malt liquor store wasn’t as terrible as I expected but I still only drank about 12oz before giving the rest to the other hikers. I hiked out around 7pm. I’ve been trying to hike into the evening as much as possible to take advantage of the long days. It makes it so easy to do big miles while still taking lots of breaks. I only ended up hiking out 3 miles before setting up a solo cowboy camp on top of a granite rock above the trail and close to interstate 80. I was planning on Crossing the highway tonight but decided against it. I thought my camping spot would be better for sleeping alone. Unfortunately I was closer to the rest area than I realized and a car was playing loud music into the evening. Mosquitos attacked me as I wrote this blog post but luckily I had a big net someone gave to me on the TRT. My first time using one on this trail and I’m glad I had it!

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird