Day 3: Brown Mountain & Mt. McLaughlin

PCT Mile 1763 – 1785

Miles Hiked = 22 miles

Once again I was up early, packed and on the trail by 6:15am. As typical along the PCT it was a beautiful morning with blue skies above. The first couple of miles were in the forest and then the trail cut through a large field of lava rocks.

The trail continued through the lava rock field for the next six miles. It was a well groomed smooth dirt trail and was a welcome change from the forest of the past two days.

I wondered what mountain this was that had erupted so manny years ago and created such a large lava field. I looked on my paper map and discovered it was Brown Mountain. Duh! I had camped at South Brown Mountain Shelter last night.

Soon I begin to glimpse another mountain to the north – the direction I was headed. It was Mt. McLaughlin, a very prominent volcano in southern Oregon. While the trail had passed on the west side of Brown Mountain it would pass on the east side of McLaughlin.

Mt. McLaughlin

After hiking through the Brown Mountain lava fields I reached a paved road, highway 140, that leads to Fish Lake to the west and Lake of the Woods to the east. Some of the hikers I had talked to, including Rex whom I chatted with last night at the South Brown Shelter, were headed into Fish Lake to resupply and have lunch. I continued on past the highway and shortly came to the first stream since I started hiking three days ago (55 miles). I stopped and collected water and had lunch.

Water!!!

Soon I was back on the trail and slowly started to traverse around the east side of Mt. McLaughlin. The trail was uphill for the next five miles and gained about thirteen hundred feet. As I hiked through the forest, a yellow bird swooped down and dive-bombed me before swerving away two feet in front of my knees. Then it squawked at me from a nearby branch. I must have been close to it’s nest.

Today felt warmer. I checked my thermometer.

There are a lot of downed trees along the trail. Last year, because of Covid, there wasn’t much trail maintenance. I have a feeling I’m going to be dealing with a lot of trail obstacles this year.

Obstacle Course

I passed a pretty meadows and a view of a large lake.

I had a closer view of Mt. McLaughlin.

Late in the afternoon I reached Christi’s Spring where I would camp that night.

Later that evening Rex showed up. I had chatted with him last night at South Brown Shelter. He went two miles off the PCT today to Fish Lake Resort to resupply, shower and do his laundry. He was going to spend the night there also but decided to get back on the trail and hike on to Christi’s Spring. I think I had mentioned that I was planning on camping at the spring tonight. We decided to hike together the next day.

Day 3 Recap

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Day 2: Trail Magic

PCT Mile 1743 – 1763

Miles Hiked = 20

I slept well last night in the campground at Hyatt Lake and was up at 5:15am and hiking by 6:15. In a short while I caught a glimpse of Hyatt Reservoir.

The next water source was in 8 miles at the Klum Landing Campground – another campground just off the PCT. I carried too much water yesterday so today I started with a little over one liter.

The trail this morning was through the forest

When I got to the dirt road cutoff to Klum Landing Campground I still had plenty of water so I continued down the trail. Soon the trail crossed a paved road and to my surprise there was a camper van set up within TRAIL MAGIC!!! Trouble (that’s her trail name) and her boyfriend (I think) had fresh fruit, brownies, cookies, chips and drinks. Trouble had thru-hiked the PCT in 2017.

I enjoyed a brownie, a banana and some cantaloupe. What a treat!

The boyfriend was also offering shots of whisky. It would have been rude of me to refuse his kindness. Even though it was only 9:30am, it’s five o’clock somewhere. Right?

The rest of the day was primarily a gentle walk through the woods.

Walking through the woods

After about thirteen miles, I was able to collect water from a spring. It was just a trickle, but it worked.

I also took the opportunity to have lunch – packaged salmon in a double tortilla wrap, fig newtons and Fritos. Yum.

I passed a sign.

Slowly but surely

Seven miles later I reached the South Brown Mountain Shelter where I would spend the night.

I didn’t sleep in the shelter – it’s primarily for winter use or inclement weather. But I did set up my tent nearby and enjoyed having a picnic table to eat my dinner at and chat with another hiker (Rex).

Also it was great to collect water from the nearby pump.

I also had a visitor.

Day 2 Recap:

Goodnight . Thanks for reading

Day 1: Oregon, Here I Come!

PCT Mile 1718 – 1743

Miles Hiked = 23 ( I took a shortcut that saved me 2 miles)

I spent last night at Callahan’s Lodge in southern Oregon just off I-5. I had a good dinner in their restaurant and enjoyed the live entertainment – a cowboy singing cowboy songs (he was actually pretty good).

This morning I was up at 5am and out of the lodge and hiking by 6. It was a nice morning. Recently there’s been a lot of construction on the interstate so I had about a one mile road walk until I reached the trail.

I left the road and entered the forest. The trail was a smooth well-trodden dirt path. It continues north to Canada, as well as south to Mexico. Fortunately I’ve already hiked the 1717 miles north from Mexico – 935 miles remain to Canada. Every adventure begins with the first step – so here it goes – let’s see what unfolds.

Yesterday it was close to 100 degrees and, as I mentioned in the yesterday’s pre-hike post, there was a lot of smoke in the air. I was concerned that today’s hike would be hot and smoky but, to my surprise, conditions had improved. It was actually quite pleasant in the morning with a nice cool breeze from the north. The afternoon temperatures were in the low 80’s – warm but very tolerable.

I’ve always thought of Oregon as being a very green state because of all the rainfall. Therefore water should be plentiful – Wrong! Southern Oregon, at least along the PCT, is very dry and there aren’t a lot of streams or water sources for hikers. The first water source after leaving Callahan’s Lodge was 10 miles down the trail. Since I was concerned about how warm it would be I ended up carrying almost three liters of water. That’s over six pounds of water! It turned out to be more than I needed but better safe than sorry. The three liters actually lasted me all day and I didn’t need to collect anymore until I got to camp in the late afternoon.

Shortly after getting on the trail, I could see a prominent rock, called Pilot Rock, in the distance.

Pilot Rock

About five miles into the todays hike there was a side trail up to this rock.

Later in the day, I ran into a mother (Halo) and daughter (Chief) hiking the trail – they started at the Mexican border in April and have a You-Tube channel (HRC on the PCT) that I’ve been following for a couple months – it was fun running into them on my first day.

Halo & Chief

There weren’t a lot of flowers along the trail today but here’s the Flower of the Day:

Yellow Salsify

Yellow Salsify is a wildflower that’s considered an invasive weed. It’s very common along the PCT in Oregon.

Most of today’s hike was through the forest – it made for a nice first days walk.

Late in the afternoon the trail (red below) makes a big horseshoe bend in the trail. Many hikers were taking a dirt road as a short cut (yellow below) which saves about two miles of walking. I took the shortcut. PCT purists have to walk every foot of the trail. Others, like myself, want to hike a “continuous footpath” to Canada, so shortcuts or alternate routes are ok.

Shortcut

Finally I reached the campground where I would be spending the night. The campground actually had showers – what a luxury! It was a good first day.

Day 1 Recap

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Time To Hike

Today I flew to Medford, Oregon and then took an Uber to Callahan’s Lodge. This is where I ended my hike last summer. It’s only a few miles north of California. Tomorrow I resume my quest to hike 🥾🥾🥾 from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Callahan’s Lodge is just off the trail at mile marker 1718. The Canadian border is at mile 2653. So there are approximately 935 trail-miles left to reach the Northern Border. I hope to complete these remaining miles by Labor Day.

I’m very excited that my daughter Sydney, who lives in Seattle and is completing a Masters program at the University of Washington, will be joining me to hike the PCT through the state of Washington. It will be good to have four feet on this path again – what a great way to finish! Thanks Sydney!

August 2020

As I flew into Medford this afternoon, I was surprised at how smoky it was. Apparently there are already (it’s early in the season!) several fires burning in Northern California and Oregon, including a large fire near Mt. Shasta. I’ve never worried about fires before while hiking but this year fires are my biggest concern – not for my safety but because of how fires can impact the hiking experience (views, air quality, trail closures, etc).

Also this year I’ve committed to recording more video – here’s an example:

And another one:

And lastly

Donna at Mile 200 (2018)

That’s all for now folks – I’ll be back on the trail early tomorrow morning in hopes of beating the heat🌞🥵. I’ll post again as soon as I have wifi. Thanks for following.

Day 31: Bittersweet

PCT Mile 1702.6 to 1717.7

Miles Hiked = 15.1

The lightening, thunder and rain blew through last night and I was happy to see another morning with blue skies. I was hiking by 7:15am.

As I hiked this morning, I had bittersweet feelings. I was sad that today was my last “official” day of PCT hiking this summer. But I was looking forward to seeing Donna tomorrow as well as the kids and grandkids in a few days in Bend.

My plan today was to hike to Callahan’s Lodge which is located adjacent to Interstate-5 in Southern Oregon (10 miles south of Ashland).

I was a little surprised that the visibility wasn’t better after the rain – it was actually quite hazy.

The trail passed through large mountain meadows filled with colorful wildflowers

I passed by Mount Ashland which is a popular destination for snow skiing in the winter as well as hiking and mountain biking in the summer. The large dome on the top apparently protects a radar dish that gives meteorologists weather information about the southern Oregon Siskiyou Mountains.

I took a short break, had a snack and continued hiking – there were more unique and colorful flowers

Eventually I started to have views towards the valley where Callahan’s Lodge and Interstate-5 are located. I could hear planes, trains and automobiles.

As the trail dropped down towards the paved road that goes to the Mt. Ashland Ski Area it actually crosses the driveway of two private residences. The second residence had provided a picnic table and water faucet for hikers … I took advantage.

One of the neighbors walked by and I gave him a cheerful “Hello, how are you?”. He just grunted something at me – I guess he wasn’t happy that his neighbor is a trail angel and provides a place for all us “strange hikers” to take a break.

I still had another six miles to go so didn’t stay very long. The trail paralleled the road as I continued down towards civilization.

I reached the cutoff to Callahan’s Lodge at 2pm

Ten minutes later I walked under Interstate-5 for the second time in the last month.

I checked into my room, took a quick shower and was soon was sitting in front of a burger and fries along with a local IPA.

After enjoying lunch I did laundry. Later that evening, when I returned to the restaurant for dinner, I ran into Energizer. I had met him a few days ago in Seiad Valley.

Energizer is a 57 year-old retired thirty-year career Army veteran. He is one serious hiker. He started hiking from the Mexico border in mid-May and has completed over 1700 miles of the PCT in two and a half months. That’s something like 700 miles per month! In comparison, I just hiked 500+ miles in the last month – so Energizer is really moving! We ended up having dinner together and then breakfast the next morning. Then he was back on the trail. I wished him good luck.

When I started planning this PCT section hike many months ago I considered the possibility of completing Oregon also. In June, Blake (my oldest son) and I discussed the possibility of Jillienne (my oldest grandchild) joining me for the next segment of the PCT to Crater Lake. It’s about 100 miles. It would be Jillie’s first backpacking experience. Blake and Tahnee (Blake’s wife) ended up renting a VRBO house in Bend for the week that Jillie would be hiking with me. Sydney (my daughter) decided to drive down from Seattle to join them. And, since Donna was already going to be in Oregon, she would join them in Bend also.

I decided I didn’t want to miss out on a family get-together and was also concerned that six nights and one hundred miles may be too much for Jillie’s first backpacking trip. I didn’t want it to be a negative experience. After discussing with Blake, we decided that Donna and I would join them in Bend and that Jillie and I would do a two night/thirty mile hike on the PCT in central Oregon.

There was one other consideration in my decision to not hike Oregon – Donna’s knee. She was scheduled for her knee replacement in mid-September but could schedule it sooner if I was off the trail.

So that is what happened. I spent the night at Callahan’s Lodge. Donna picked me up the next day after driving up from Central California. We would spend a few days in Ashland. Then we would drive up to Bend and meet the rest of the kids and grandkids (except Travis, who had to stay home and work).

Thanks for following – Oregon can wait until year!

Day 30: Oregon!

PCT Mile 1679.2 to 1702.6

Miles Hiked = 23.4

As I mentioned in the last post, I had a little thunder and rain late yesterday afternoon and into the early evening. It was a nice change in the weather pattern – especially since I had already set up my tent!

As I started hiking this morning, I noted that there were a few high clouds but no indication of any more rain. Yeah!

As I started hiking this morning the California-Oregon border was only a little over twelve miles away. I was excited to be “finishing” California as that was my primary goal when I started this hike in Sierra City thirty days ago. I was also looking forward to meeting Donna in Ashland in a couple days.

I enjoyed the early morning expansive views of the most Northern California countryside along the PCT. That’s fog down in the valley below.

As I hiked on towards Oregon, it occurred to me that the landscape was slowly changing – more open meadows, fewer rugged mountain peaks, less elevation change along the trail and possibly even more colorful wildflowers.

Four miles into my hike this morning I stopped and collected some water at the Alex Hole Spring – it was about 75 yards down from the trail.

Spring Water is the Best!

I continued hiking and enjoyed more colorful flowers along the trail.

I passed by a large campsite that was near a dirt road – possible a hunter’s campsite – and then immediately passed by an outdoor “open-air” toilet right alongside the PCT. I didn’t partake.

Mid-morning I took a break and had a snack

And then continued on towards Oregon

At noon I passed by a large meadow called Donomore Meadows – there were a few cows grazing in the distance.

A few minutes later I passed by an old abandoned cabin – I didn’t go investigate even though I was aware that some hikers spend the night in the cabin.

I arrived at the border a little after 12:30pm

There was an official PCT trail register which I signed. I noted that Daisy and Igur had signed the register earlier this morning and that a Lindsay Ulrich had started a FKT (Fastest Known Time) attempt on the Oregon PCT at 6am.

And then I took a few selfies

I’m slowly but surely getting closer to Canada

I stopped and had lunch about 100 yards into Oregon. And then continued hiking.

Later in the afternoon I stopped and collected more water at Sheep Camp Spring – possibly my favorite spring of the entire trail.

I passed by more grazing cows

Late in the afternoon I heard thunder again in the distance … and then started to see flashes of lightening. If you count the seconds from the flash to the thunder and then divide by five, you can estimate how far away the lightening is. For example, a 15 second delay would mean that the lightening is about three miles away. It started to rain and I took cover in a grove of trees when the lightening got closer than one mile.

After twenty minutes, the rain died down and the lightening passed by so I continued down the trail. About forty-five minutes later the rain picked up again and I once again took cover.

Eventually it died down and I was able to continue hiking. It was after 7pm when I made camp and climbed into the dry confines of my tent for the night.

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PS: It turns out that Lindsey Urlich did set a new FKT for a supported female runner – her time was 9 days, 13 hours, 39 minutes and 20 seconds. The Oregon PCT is 453 miles long.

Day 28: Seiad Valley

PCT Miles: 1649.5 to 1656.4

Miles Hiked = 6.9

Today’s hike into Seiad Valley was along a road. It was a dirt road at first.

After a couple miles it became paved

After a couple miles the road reached the Klamath River and followed along the river for another couple miles.

There were wild blackberries along the road

I reached Highway 96 and a sign directed me to the left towards Seiad Valley – more road walking – luckily there was very little traffic on an early Saturday morning.

I walked across the Klamath River Bridge that leads into Seiad Valley

I wouldn’t call Seiad Valley a town – maybe a community of 350 people.

It consists of a post office, country store and cafe – all in the same building.

Seiad Valley

It was 9am when I arrived. The post office is only open from 12-1:30 on Saturdays so I had a little bit of a wait. Luckily the cafe was open so I ordered breakfast.

There was a picnic table in the shade for hikers to hang out at. I made a friend as I waited for the post office to open.

After I picked up my resupply box I walked another half mile down the road to the Wildflower Tavern and Lodge. The owner’s name is Rachel and she is super hiker friendly – she allows hikers to camp on her property, do laundry, take a shower and she cooks dinner every night! All for $35. Plus she has tap beer!

There was a group of other hikers hanging out at Wildwood. Most of them, except Energizer, had been there for the past day. The group included Daisy, Boston and Layla. it was good to see them again and catch up on their hike. This is when I learned that Daisy and Boston had hitched into Etna, skipped some trail miles and leap-frogged ahead of me.

Energizer, me, Boonie, Mario, Igur, Kegger, Boston, Layla, Daisy & Beeps

My original plan was to spend the afternoon in Seiad Valley and get back on the trail late in the afternoon. There is a BIG climb out of the valley and I thought I should put a dent in it today. But it was in the upper 90’s … another beer sounded good … and there was dinner tonight!!! Plans change. So I decided to spend the night and get back on the trail EARLY the following morning.

Most of the other hikers, except Energizer who arrived this morning also, were headed back out on the trail at 5pm this afternoon. The rumor was that the trail to the north out of Seiad Valley was more overgrown than the one entering the valley from the south (the one I had hiked down yesterday). There were reports that the poison oak was particularly heavy and that there were a lot of ticks. So most of “kids” were taking a ten mile alternate route up a dirt road up to a junction with the PCT. Only Mario, from Switzerland, was going to take official trail. I hadn’t even considered taking an alternate route – something to think about.

Rachel has one “glamping” tent on her property – it costs an extra $25.

It has a bed inside, low-voltage lighting and outlets to charge a phone and battery pack.

So I decided to “glamp” tonight. My excuse was that I could keep my backpack packed, not have to take down my tent in the morning and thereby get an earlier start. Convinced?

By the way, dinner was great!

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Day 24: Into Etna

PCT Mile 1586.1 to 1599.7

Miles Hiked = 13.6

At 5:25am the lightening sky outside my tent had me stirring

I was packed and on the trail by 6:15. As I left camp, Layla was packing up also – I told her “see you on the trail”

The trail immediately exited the forest where I had camped and began to cut across a rocky and exposed mountainside with a steep drop off on my left.

It was another beautiful morning and I enjoyed the early morning views into the shadowed valley below.

As I hiked on I could see the trail cutting across the next hillside. It became evident that there had been a fire in this area sometime in the past – my NatGeo PCT map indicated there was a fire here in 2014 called the Whites Fire.

Can you find the trail?

I passed by some pretty orange flowers

After two hours of hiking I took a break and enjoyed the views looking back at where I had come from this morning.

Layla passed by and then I continued through the burn zone.

Later in the morning the trail crossed over a ridge and I suddenly had views to the southeast.

Farmland in the distance
Mt Shasta

A few days ago I made a reservation for tonight and tomorrow at Motel Etna. Etna is known as one of the most hiker-friendly towns along the entire PCT. I was looking forward to my visit. When I had cell service I sent a text to Derek and Shannon, the managers of the motel, inquiring about a ride from the trail into town (8 miles). They were happy to come and pick me up. Awesome!

I continued hiking and ran into Layla once again. She was also headed into Etna so I told her that I had arranged for a ride into town and that she was welcome to join me.

It was 11:10am and I needed to be at the road by 12:30pm. It was three miles away but it was all downhill. As I descended I thought I could see the road in the distance.

I reached the road at 12:20 – Layla was already there. There was a marker for PCT mile 1600 but we were actually only at 1599.7. Oh well – close enough!

Shanon picked us up right at 12:30. She had a cute little 4-month old puppy.

It wasn’t long until I was enjoying a hamburger with a strawberry milkshake!

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Day 22: Shadow Chasing

PCT Mile 1544.2 to 1566.1

Miles Hiked = 21.9

As I started hiking this morning the trail was still headed in a westward direction so I found myself chasing my shadow once again.

I passed by Bull Lake – it looked like a good place to make camp, but, alas, it was only 8am so onward I went.

I passed by another old PCT sign – I was headed toward Highway 3 where the trail would cross it.

I ran into Daisy again. She was a little emotional this morning. Apparently she had previously been hiking with a young man named Boston. Daisy was now ahead of Boston but she had heard from another hiker that Boston was looking for her and was worried about her. I came to find out later that Daisy and Boston knew each other from before the trail. I chalked it up to “young love”. A little trail drama to keep life interesting!

I continued hiking and left Daisy to figure out her life. Soon I could see the trail traversing across the next hill towards another saddle.

See the trail?

I took a selfie – I’m getting scroungier by the day and each day I get stinkier!

I liked how these pine cones hung from the tree – I imagined they were pineapples and wondered how I could pluck them down – am I hallucinating or just wishful thinking?

The trail continued on with majestic views for miles and miles.

I passed more wildflowers along the trail.

Finally I reached Highway 3

There was a plaque at the highway – I guess this used to be a stage coach route 150 years ago.

There was an old campground nearby by so I stopped and had lunch and used the privy.

And then off I continued into the Trinity Alps Wilderness.

It was an uphill climb and I wasn’t moving very fast.

Late in the afternoon I found a camp close to a stream.

By the way, my tent is made out of ultralight Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF). It is made by a small company in Florida. It weighs 15 ounces and I use one trekking pole to keep it upright. Nine stakes are also used to “stake it out”. DCF is not only lightweight but waterproof and has a high tensile strength so it’s strong and does not tear or rip easily.

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