PCT Mile 1623.8 to 1649.5
Miles Hiked = 25.7
Yesterday I left Etna early in the morning and hiked all day and didn’t see another PCT hiker. That’s happened once or twice this year. It never happened in the last two years. There are significantly less hikers (probably 80% less) on the trail this year, largely because the Pacific Creat Trail Association (PCTA) recommended in March that long distance hikers avoid the trail this year due to the risk of Covid-19.
As usual I was up and hiking before 7am.
My plan was to hike close to twenty-five miles today so that I would have a short walk into Seiad Valley tomorrow morning to pick up my next resupply at the post office.
It was another beautiful morning in Northern California and I enjoyed my walk through mountainside meadows filled with the colorful wildflowers that I’ve become accustomed to seeing.
The trailed bounced around between 6000 and 7000 feet for the first ten miles. The final fifteen miles of today’s hike would be all downhill. I would end my day at about 1600 feet in elevation – the lowest I’ve been on the trail this year.
Mid-morning I passed by Paradise Lake with the 7405 high Kings Castle looking down on it from the ridge above.
I passed by more colorful flowers under the jagged peaks of the Marble Mountain Wilderness.
I passed through another burn zone – this one called the 2014 Happy Camp Complex Burn Zone.
Later in the morning a chicken-sized game bird crossed the trail in front of me. I had seen another of these birds a few weeks ago. After doing a little research I believe this bird is called a Sooty Grouse which is native in the Sierra Nevada and Cascades
I passed a lot of these fuzzy blooms today
I stopped and had lunch under this large three-trunked tree that was next to Buckhorn Spring
The afternoon was spent going downhill – Seiad Valley is down there somewhere.
It wasn’t long before I was back in the forest
There has been very little trail maintenance this year due to the pandemic – the forest service and the PCTA cancelled sending out volunteer trail maintenance crews. As a result, as I got lower in the valley the trail was overgrown with bushes.
Sometimes I had to “bushwhack” through fifty yards or more of overgrown bushes. There also was poison oak along the trail but I didn’t worry about it since I had on long pants and I didn’t have a choice other than to forge forward through the overgrown bushes.
The last five to six miles followed along the Gilder Creek – I crossed over four footbridges.
Finally at 7pm, after I crossed the last footbridge, I reached Gilder Creek Campground. It had been a long day with a lot of bushwhacking over the last few miles. I was ready to set up camp and have a delicious freeze-dried dinner. And a few sips of JD.
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