Destination: Mile 1497ish
Cumulative Miles: 864 miles
We jumped the still snow covered Trinity Alps and Marble mountains. After being spoiled by the Trail Angel Extraordinaire yesterday and this morning, he returned us to the trail about 150 miles south of where we left the trail at Seiad Valley yesterday. On the hour drive south to Castle Crags State Park, we stopped in the small town of Mt. Shasta City and picked up a new fuel canister and some coffee before hitting the trail.
Jim was happy to drive us back to the trail, as he will use the opportunity to go hike to a waterfall he has been wanting to see. As an avid bird watcher, he likes to spend time outside looking for birds. Apparently, there is a bird there (the Black Swift), which nests under the waterfall. They fly straight into the waterfall and nest behind it, providing safety from predators.
Once dropped at the trail, we began a relatively easy 2300 foot climb. The forest floor was covered with lush green vegetation, and the pine trees provided us ample shade from the sun. A cool breeze blew through the trees as we climbed.
The trail would switchback up the hill between the sunnier southern aspect, and the shadier northern side. As we went back and forth, we were shaded alternately by pine trees and oak trees. The oaks left crunchy dry leaves over the rocky tread, whereas the pines left a soft needle duff over a relatively rockless soil. Halfway up the hill, we paused long enough to enjoy a fantastic view of Mt. Shasta.
At a water source, we stopped to have lunch. The hill was steep, so we had to sit down on the trail. Just as we began to eat, a trail crew on horses and mules walked up. We had to quickly pack our gear and step off trail so they could pass. They told us that there were several downed trees (which Psycho had heard about on the PCT-L). Little did he expect what was really out there.
Our pace dropped dramatically. It took us 3.5 hours to go two miles. We usually can cover that distance in less than hour (even with patchy snow). We scrambled over and under hundreds of trees. We climbed uphill and downhill to avoid impassable trees, and we had to take our packs off probable twenty times to fit through the dangerous nooks and crannies.
We were shooting for at least 13 miles today, but stopped shy of ten as we were beat, and beat up. As we arrived at camp, we cleansed our battle wounds, which left blood on the trail. At first we thought the trail declared everyone must face snow in the third month, now we feel that the trail just asks that everyone slow down for the third month.
We found a decent flat spot and set up camp and ate dinner as the sun set. A small wind blows, as we lay in our tent hoping that all unsteady trees in our area are all ready blown down. Hopefully, we are past the majority of the blowdowns, because it's never fun wishing that you were actually hiking through a clear cut. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
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