Destination: Burney Falls State Park
Cumulative Miles: 937.5
It's sad to say, but Section "O" of the PCT will probably go down as one of our least favorite. It is not that it was not a pretty section, because it was fairly beautiful. It is the fact that we hit it at the wrong time. Snow, bugs, downed trees, and copious amounts of overgrowth lent the trail to trying miles.
We met some people from the forest service who were cutting downed trees. They said that the two of them can usually clear the trees over Girard Ridge in two days time. This year, it has taken six people more than five days to clear half the downed trees. As our arrival in this leg was prior to their completed work, we had to scramble over, under, and around several hundred trees.
Added to the trees, was the heavy snow fall this season. We had several miles of navigation and snow walking, complete with the first serious mosquito hatch of the season. A slow moving hiker is an easy target for blood sucking fiends. As such, our tired legs and feet are riddled with red welts from voraciously hungry bugs. We know the snow we dealt with is nothing compared to our friends in the Sierras, but is tiring to say the least.
Recent emails from fellow hikers have enlightened us to the woes of the Sierras. Calorie (the 16 year old hiker) fell while glissading and had to be helicoptered off the mountain. Another hiker, 10 Spot, fell in Tyndall Creek and lost his backpack, forcing a 30 mile walk over two Sierra Passes relatively free of gear. Uncle Tom and General Lee climbed up a treacherous pass, only to find that they summited at the wrong point.
Read about Uncle Tom's (and our old crew MeGaTex's) harrowing adventures on trailjournals.com (search Uncle Tom).
As a result of the brutality of this leg, Apricots and Psycho beat feet down trail this morning to Burney Falls State Park. It was one of those days where the scenery was nice, but we were too dedicated to moving to slow down and take pictures. As we descended out of the bugs and pine trees, we were dropped into a valley overrun with oak trees.
Four hours into the hike, we walked across the dam which backs up water to fill Lake Britton. A construction crew was doing repairs to the dam, probably routine, but perhaps a result of the excessive precipitation the area received this winter and spring. The crew offered us ice cold water, which we gladly took to help fight off the heat.
A couple miles later, we were relaxing at the state park, eating ice cream and drinking a beer. Oddly enough, the restorative nature of a town stop actually motivated Psycho to want to hike a little more this evening, and start the next leg of our journey. We, however, need to head into the town of Burney to handle some loose ends resulting in our flip-flopping of the trail.
While resting, Colter (another thru-hiker) walked up. We shared our stories of peril and triumph, and our distaste for bugs and fallen trees, before heading to the road to catch a ride to Burney. A car pulling out of the park offered us a ride to town.
While Apricots cleans her shoes in the bathroom, visions of all you can eat BBQ ribs dance through Psycho's head. Shortly we will go satiate our hungry bellies.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile