Thursday, August 30, 2012

2012 Pacific Crest Trail: Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie Pass

A couple days after getting home from finishing up Oregon, I packed the stuff up again, picked up a friend, and our wives dropped us off at Stevens Pass for a southbound journey to Snoqualmie Pass.  We planned on taking 5 days for the 74 mile trip, a leisurely 15 miles per day average.  The forecast ws for clear weather, with the possible exception of day 5, so we left most of the inclement weather gear in the car and hit the trail.

Day 1

The first day was pretty much a roller coaster journey through some pretty country.  The trail starts off with a 1000 rise to a ridge south of the pass, snaking its way under the ski lifts, and then back down under more lifts and a set of power lines, crossing a couple of roads along the way.  Within about 5 miles all of that is left behind and the trail begins to wind its way past a number of beautiful lakes.  We passed by Lake Susan Jane, Josephine Lake in a bowl just below us, Mig Lake, Hope Lake and Trap Lake, also in a bowl below.  These lakes were all inviting and the first 4 had their share of folks either camped on the shore or visiting them.

The final climb of the day was into Trap Pass, up above the beautiful lake with the same name.  From there the trail descended rapidly down to an intersection with the Surprise Lake trail, which continued to drop rapidly until it hit the lake.  This was our destination for the night, and it was well named.  We knew nothing about this lake other than its location on the map 13 miles from the trail head.  What we were to discover was that the lake was accessible from another trail head only 4-5 miles from Highway 2, and that it was apparently a pretty popular lake.  As we walked along the east side of the lake we found that it was crowded with people, including one party on the other side who had a big fire going, in spite of the no fires sign, that was spewing smoke over the south end of the lake.  This group also started to party loudly at dusk; not very good neighbors for a lake full of campers.  We were indeed surprised, but not in a good way.

We ended up hanging our hammocks in the trees a 100 yards up from the lake, over some fairly rough ground.  But that is an advantage of having a hammock.  Since I am not sleeping on the ground, I don't really care all that much if it is level and cleared.  I can swing over rocks, branches and uneven terrain just as easy as I can over a level tent site.

Apart from the disappointment over the crowd at Surprise Lake, the day had been pleasant, the mountain and lake views very nice and the flowers were bright and colorful.
At the Stevens Pass trail head, ready to head out.

View south from the first ridge.

Josephine Lake

One of many colorful meadows along the way.

The view south during the climb up to Trap Pass.

There was a lot of Paintbrush growing along the trail.

Don't know what these 'teeth' are called, but the area is full of similar spires.

Looking down into Trap Lake

Day 2

We decided on day 2 to head for Deep Lake, about 17 miles down the trail.  We started with a 1400 foot climb over Pieper Pass, a 2000 foot drop down to near Hyas Lake, a 1800 foot climb to Cathedral Rock, and finally a 1200 foot drop down to the lake.  Under many conditions this would have made for a grueling day, but the beauty of the country more than made up for it.

On the climb up to Pieper Pass we could see Glacier Lake, just a mile up from Surprise Lake, and likely a better spot to have stopped the first night.  We also were able to view Glacier Peak for a while, rising up above the surrounding peaks.  On the other side of the pass we found a rock slide with a view of points south and dropped the packs to snack and stare at the ridge, and more distant mountains, to the south of us. I don't know all of the peaks we were looking at, but the view did include the glaciers on Mount Daniel.  It was pretty impressive and made the climb worthwhile.

The trail dropped down past the Deception Lakes, rose slightly over Deception Pass and then down some more to the flat lands around Hyas Lake.  Near the bottom we passed over what the maps and signs called a dangerous ford.  I have no doubt that earlier in the season this ford would be very treacherous, on a mild late August day I barely got one foot wet making the crossing.

After the ford we made the long steady climb up to Cathedral Pass, passing underneath Cathedral Rock.  I am sure that this massive 'rock' would have a commanding view of the surrounding area, and I have no doubt that there is some kind of way trail to the top, but we did not see it, nor feel any inclination to attempt to scramble to its top.

Shortly after making it through the pass we started to catch glimpses of Deep Lake far down below us.  The trail quickly dropped down to the lake and we found a nice spot where two hammocks could hang.  As an added bonus the spot had a large rock that extended out into the lake.  This large flat rock become our home for the evening as we cleaned up, ate and sat admiring the views.  Deep Lake was easily out best camp of the trip, spoiled only by a few pesky mosquitoes.

At the end of the day we both felt like this had been some of the prettiest country we had ever seen.  There had been a lot of ups and downs, but it had truly been worth it.  Little did we know that the best was yet to come.
Glacier Lake with Glacier Peak in the background.

A lovely patch of Lupine along the trail on the ascent to Pieper Pass.

A glacier on Mt. Hinman

There was still quite a bit of Columbine blooming in places.

This was the 'dangerous ford' near Hyas Lake.  The barely submerged rocks provided a convenient way across.

Cathedral Rock from the pass below.

Looking down at Deep Lake.  The camps are along the far side of the lake.

Hanging at Deep Lake

Day 3

We had decided to push on to the Lemah Meadows area, about 22 miles away, on this third day, leaving us with a couple of relatively shorter days at the end.  To get there we had to drop another 1400 feet to the Waptus River, climb about 2600 foot to the top of the Escondido Ridge and then drop back down about 2400 foot to Lemah Meadows.

The drop down to the Waptus River was a fairly pleasant walk, although a bit long.  We stopped at the river crossing for a bite and then headed up to the ridge.  This climb was long, and a bit warm in the mid morning. But the worst part of this stretch of trail was the brush.  We had had some brushy trails earlier, but on this ascent there were places were the young trees growing out into the trail threatened to push us off the trail and down the hill.  Pushing through the brush while trying to maintain balance and headway was not a lot of fun.

Eventually the trail hit the ridge top and followed it for about three miles.  The views from atop the ridge were spectacular, especially the last mile before beginning the descent.  We found a big rock to sit on for lunch and stared out at the mountains around us until we had to go on.  And it was not long after that we rounded the final bend and found ourselves facing Chimney Rock and Summit Chief Mountain across the valley.  While they may not be the biggest mountains in the area, they were pretty up close and personal and quite impressive.

There was only a single water source up on the ridge, a little creek flowing out of some small tarns and snow melt and then falling down to Escondido Lake.  The stream braided across a flat spot and was filled with frogs, with mosquitoes swarming the area.  We tanked up there, opting to filter out whatever the frogs had left behind, and headed on to a windier and dryer place for lunch.

The trail descended through alternately burned and forested areas, becoming steadily more covered the further down we went.  This side of the ridge did not have nearly the issue with brush and was a pleasant walk.  Our map showed two campgrounds on creeks about half a mile apart.  The first spot looked good but did not have ready access to water so we went on to the second.  Here the bridge across the creek was out, leaving either a ford or a log crossing to get to the other side.  People passing through told us the the near side camp site was much better than on the other side so we opted not to cross until morning.

Unfortunately the camp site on our side only had a single tree, and it takes at least three to hang two hammocks.  So I ended up following game trails in the area until I found a spot were we could hang for the night.  We went back out to the creek side camp to eat, clean up and get water and then retreated back to the hammocks for the night.

Every day seems to just get better.  The Alpine Lakes Wilderness we are traveling through is quite a wonderful place.  The only fly in the ointment at this time was my lower back which had decided to start acting up.  Carrying the pack was no issue.  Bending over was.
A colorful meadow just below Deep Lake.

Waptus Lake

Looking north from the Escondido Ridge

The Escondido Lake

Looking south from the Escondido Ridge

A wildflower patch atop the ridge.

Chimney Rock

Yet another lovely trail side patch of flowers.

A panoramic view to the west from the south end of the Escondido Ridge.

Day 4

We had planned on heading for Ridge Lake today, but a north bound hiker had told us last night that the lake was posted for no camping.  So with that uncertainty hanging over us we again left early in order to have time for whatever might come.

The trail starts off pretty mellow, passing through a small recently partially burned area, probably from the fire 3 years ago.  After a couple of miles the trail started up.  And up and up.  The trail quickly gained 2000 feet in a couple of miles, and 74 switchbacks (yes, I counted them). On the way up the trail crossed a bridge over the Delate Creek, just below a pretty waterfall, and gave a quick look at the eastern of the Spectacle Lakes.

As the trail came out on top, the views of the Spectacle Lakes with, I believe, Chimney Rock in the background were stunning.  I followed one way trail a bit to a bluff overlooking the lakes and decided that was a place I wanted to return to and spend some time.

The trail dropped into the vicinity of Parks Lakes and then rose up and over the Chikamin Ridge and into the Gold Creek drainage.  On the way up to the ridge was a sign warning pack trains that there were no pull outs for the next 4 miles, making me wonder how you go about backing up a pack train if two of them were to meet.  It was also hard to imagine a 4 mile stretch of trail without any wide spots, although the reason for the warning soon became clear.

The hike around the Gold Creek drainage is about 6-7 mile long and sticks fairly high to the ridge top, moving up and down to avoid shear bluffs.  Much of the trail is on talus, or scree, which makes for slow walking.  But it is truly an amazing walk.  You can see the trail clinging to the hill sides as much as three miles away, on the far side of the bowl.  And it is clear that this is not a place where two pack trains would want to meet, or even two horses.  In places it would not be fun to even meet another hiker.  But it was truly magical.  Seems like all the way around I would walk a few steps and then look up and gawk a bit as the view would change.  The views of Joe Lake across the bowl were pretty appealing as well.

The trail hits a couple of passes along the northern edge of the traverse but the clouds that had started coming in obscured the views to the north and west.  As the trail moves west it skirts high above Joe Lake and Alaska Lake, although there was no obvious sign of a trail down to them.  Both lakes looked like gems set into their deep bowls, and I was thankful for a digital camera so I didn't have to worry about how many pictures I was taking.

Near the end of the traverse around the larger Gold Creek valley the trail passed between Gravel and Ridge Lakes.  Contrary to what we had been told there appeared to be no restrictions on camping here.  But because of the changing weather and my increasingly sore back we decided to go on past the lakes and out to Snoqualmie Pass that afternoon.

So on we went, past the Catwalk, a trail blasted out of the cliff side and ridge top, and finally passed to the outside of the valley.  From here the trail continued to traverse the outside wall of the drainage before starting to drop down to Snoqualmie Pass and the long trip home.

This was very much a magical trip that just seemed to get better each day.  While this trail is easily doable in 4 days by a strong hiker, there are so many viewpoints to sit and gawk at and lakes to visit that it could also take a week or longer.  I have previously traveled the PCT through all of Oregon and from Rainy Pass north, and nothing I had seen earlier comes close to the awesomeness of this stretch, although the area around Harts Pass comes close.
A waterfall along on the Delate Creek during the ascent to the Chickamin Ridge.

The ruggedness of these mountains never ceased to amaze me.

Looking back at Spectacle Lakes

The Four Brothers

Looking across the Gold Creek drainage toward Joe Lake.

The view to the north through a pass in the Chikamin Ridge.  The clouds were coming.

Looking back east along the Chickamin Ridge.  The trail comes in over the low pass to the right and then traverses left across the upper face of the ridge.

Alaska Lake

Ridge Lake.  

The Kendall Katwalk, a trail blasted out of the shear cliff and ridge top.

A panoramic view east from just south of Joe Lake.

People

Since I had traveled southbound through much of Oregon earlier in the month I was expecting to encounter a few of the same hikers again, and was not disappointed.  Along the way I again met Scott, Stride, Iron, Hawkeye, Clay, Birdie, Calf and Moonshine.  I also encountered the 7 year old Barracuda and his mother Sparrow.  Barracuda is attempting to become the youngest PCT thru hiker and appears to be well on his way to accomplishing that feat.

Overall we encountered close to 100 people on the trail or in camp.  And, apart from a few day hikers near the trail ends and around Surprise Lake, they were all friendly and a pleasure to talk with along the way.  This appears to be a popular trail and is not one to take if you are looking for solitude.  But if you don't mind a few others sharing your joy at discovering this magical place, then by all means take the 4 days, up to however much food you can carry, and go explore.

Friday, August 24, 2012

2012 Pacific Crest Trail: Crater Lake to Seiad Valley

This is part two of my recent PCT trip through the southern 2/3's or Oregon.  This post follows the 8 days in the middle third as well as a zero day at Crater Lake.

Because of the warmth of the earlier portion of the trip, and the upcoming forecast, I decided to leave the down coat and possum down socks behind.  I had also been having a bit of soreness in my right arch so I decided to change shoes at this point, a change which didn't work out too well.  Otherwise I stayed with the same gear set that had been serving me well so far.

Day 9

The second half of this trip started at Mazama Village, heading back to the trail, across the highway and to points south.  The initial plan had been to hike 20 miles south to the first water on the trail at Honeymoon Creek and stop for the night.  But the trail was generally level and mostly viewless and as I got closer to the creek I started toying with the idea of going on over Devil's Peak before quitting for the night.  This meant that there would be a dry camp but for some reason that didn't seem so bad on this first day out again.

The sky was mostly smokey all day long, and even when the view did open up some I could not see very far.  A number of northbound hikers asked about where the fire was; and as far as they, or I, could tell it was not too close by since none of us had seen any evidence other than some pervasive smoke in the air.  I did have some periodic cell reception and contacted Sue, who assured me that there was no fire nearby.

I did go through a second burned area midway through the day, but it only lasted a couple of miles.  Neither of this years burned areas came close to the 20 miles of devastation from last year.

The trail was pretty crowded today, with 46 hikers and 4 horses with riders.  The gals on the horses were getting their first exposure to the PCT and thru-hikers and were pretty amazed by what they had seen and heard.  The last person I met was a newly retired 65 year old school teacher from Florida who was taking 6 weeks to hike through Oregon.  She was just poking along having a good time.

The folks today ran the spectrum of friendliness.  Some seemed quite willing to stand and talk for a bit; others were friendly in passing; and some would not even acknowledge my greeting and just blew past as if I didn't exist.  Not sure I understand the latter, but to each their own.

Once I hit Honeymoon Creek I knew I was not going to stay there.  It was only 3PM, the spot was not all that great, and the water was barely moving.  So I loaded up with 5 quarts of water, enough to finish the day, have some for camp, and then get the first 10 miles in the morning, and then headed up Devil's Peak.  Overall this was only a 1500 foot climb but was a bit steep and switchbacked up over scree fields.  The trail then traversed along a ridge for a while, peaked again and then dropped a bit.

Since I was going stoveless I decided to stop around 5:30 and start hydrating my burrito mix and again about 6 to eat it before proceeding on down the trail.   This was a first for me.  Always before I have waited until I was in camp to have dinner.  But it did work well and allowed me to put in some additional miles.

At some point I realized I was closing in on my first 30 mile day so started to push a bit.  Unfortunately sunset caught up with me just before I hit that mark and I had to start looking for a pair of suitable trees to hang from.  I did not want to do that in the dark.  So at 29.5 miles I found my trees and got the hammock hung just before I had to pull out the headlamp to finish.  I also risked, for the very first time, going without a tarp over the hammock.  It was cool seeing stars during the night and a satellite passing overhead.

I felt good about the day and the mileage; especially that I could have continued for quite a bit yet if darkness had not descended; over 13.5 hours walking.  The only issue was the right quad had started to act up again over the last 10 miles.
Not sure what this rodent is, but he raced away from the trail and posed on a log about 10 feet away.  About a foot long.

This burned area was midway between Crater Lake and Devils Peak.

Much of the trail around Devils Peak was along old talus fields, many of them with flowers taking hold, Pasque Flowers in this case.

Looks like it could be used for a wash basin.

Not very good at identifying rocks, but this looks like the stacks of stepping stones at the local home improvement store.

Sunset from the hammock a few miles south of Devils Peak.

Day 10

Since I only had 20 miles left until I met Sue, I decided to sleep in and did not get up until 6, hitting the trail about 7.  The trail tended downhill most of the day with a small climb in the middle over a shoulder of Mt McLoughlin, dropping over 1500 foot during the course of the day.

The day started off good but after a few hours it started to get really hot.  The heat, and likely yesterdays exertion, really took a toll and I felt like death warmed over before I hit the trail head for the day.  It didn't help that I lose my appetite when it gets warm, so I was not eating as much as I should have.

Along the way I passed by Christie's Spring and made the 100 yard excursion to take a look at it.  It had good water flowing from it, but I foolishly decided not to tank up while I was there.  I still had a quart and a half of water and only 10 miles to go.  But drinking a quart of cold water then would likely have helped a lot over the next few hours.

I finally made it to the trail head, beating Sue by a few minutes.  We headed off to the trailer she had rented for a few days at the Howard Prairie Resort, had a cold shower and chilled for a while.  It was nice to not have to be walking any longer in that heat.

I did end up with a blister on my left heel today, my first blister in years.  I had worn these shoes earlier in the year without any problem so don't know what caused this.  I guess its back to the original shoes for the remainder of the hike.

Day 11

Our initial plan on leaving home was to slack pack (carry only a day pack) through this next section.  Because of the large number of roads it seemed like a way to minimize the effort through this 53 mike stretch.  I could hike15 to 20 miles a day, with Sue getting in some miles each day, and then go back to the trailer for a shower and dinner.

After doing the previous 50 mile section in two days, it seemed overkill to spend three days on this section, especially with such a light pack.  So I decided that I would attempt this stretch in two days as well, starting with a 30 mile stretch.  Unfortunately I did not reckon with the heat.  10 miles into the day I was already wrung out so I called Sue and arranged for a pickup after 20 miles.  That allowed me to slow the pace and enjoy the scenery more.

This whole section was relatively level and lower than most of the rest of the trail.  As a result there were few open vistas.  But it more than made up for that with the diversity of flowers and the amount of wildlife.  I am used to seeing a chipmunk and squirrel or two during the course of a day.  Through this area I was seeing dozens of both.

I was also noticing more pine trees, including one (a Sugar Pine?) that had cones as long as my size 14 shoe.  I carried one for a while, intending to bring it out with me, but eventually gave up on it because it was so sticky and I ended up having to walk farther than expected.

The first few miles south of highway 140 went through a lot of small lava fields.  But the trail crews here had done a wonderful job of producing a trail through the jumble of rocks.  It was much easier to walk on than the fields around McKenzie Pass.

The Wilderness Press book that I was using for a guide did not care for this section of the trail at all, and encouraged alternative routes.  But I thought, once I slowed down enough to enjoy it, that it was really a very pretty area and would encourage others to ignore the advice of the trail guide.

Sue and I miscommunicated on the days pickup point so I ended up walking an extra 3 miles before we met up, but still had plenty of time to get back and cleaned up in time for dinner. While I was disappointed to not get my 30 mile day, it was a good walk.  The quad continues to give me so grief, and the blister (drained and bandaged) was tender, but all in all I still felt pretty good.
The trail constructed through the rock fields on this section of the trail was wonderful.

Looking north at Mt McLoughlin.

These flowers appear to be especially attractive to butterflies.

The trail through this section is filled with these little flower gardens.

Biggest pine cone I can remember ever seeing.  For reference, that is a size 14 shoe next to it.

Day 12

This day was down scaled to a 13 miler followed by a trip into Ashland and Medford.  It started early and proceeded south through terrain very similar to the previous day.  The quad and blister, with a moleskin doughnut around it, were still irritants, so I kept the pace nice and easy.

There have been quite a few thru-hikers and long section hikers come through in the past couple of days.  I would guess that I am in the middle of the pack now.  Also saw my first lizard on the trail today along with several game birds.  The small rodents, birds and grasshoppers continue in great abundance.

I had one rather unsettling experience today.  I had come to a trail junction and followed the signed PCT route.  A couple miles into it, it just seemed like something wasn't right so I pulled out the phone and fired up Backcountry Navigator to check on my position.  According to it I was nowhere near the trail, although was going in the right general direction.  So I proceeded along and kept getting closer and closer until eventually I hit the 'correct' trail again, although the signage when I joined back up indicated I had been on the real PCT. Apparently the halfmile maps on the phone took the alternate route instead of the official trail.

One of the thru-hikers I met today asked about a spigot that was supposed to be on the trail.  I hadn't noticed it and she thought she should have passed it a mile ago.  We went on and about a mile later I found a hose across the trail attached to a spigot.  Seemed kind of hard to miss; not sure what she was looking for.

Overall a good walk today apart from the quad and blister.  Nice and easy and done before noon.  I enjoyed the varied landscapes, flowers and wildlife.  Back to the trailer for a shower and an afternoon in town.
This looks like sage brush, and there was a lot of it in the drier areas.  It was covered in small yellow flowers.

Even the dry rocky patches are filled with flowers.

Just an old snag, but I thought it had character.

In places the trail was cracked and as hard as a rock.

My very first lizard on the PCT.  There would be several more the next day.

This meadow of yellow flowers was pretty common as the trail approached Highway 66.   On closer look you would find that each blossom is has a circle of thorns just below it, and has a very tough stem.  

Day 13

Today was mostly a repeat of yesterday.  The trip was longer, at 17 miles, but still with a pretty gentle trail and great variety of plant and animal life along the way, and lots of lizards.  Some north bound hikers told me of a rattlesnake sighting just a few minutes ahead, but it was gone by the time I got there.  But for a while, every grasshopper that took flight, and there were a bunch of them, caught my attention.  I have yet to hear a rattlesnake do its thing, so the flights of grasshoppers, and their 'rattling' always got my attention.

Over the last few miles of the trail today I met quite a few hikers coming out of Callahan's.  Seems like breakfast had finished up and they had launched out for the day fairly close together.  Either Callahan's serves a mighty big breakfast, or there are some real plus size guys starting up the trail in Oregon.  Can't imagine that some of them were actually thru-hikers.

Today was the last of the 'easy' days.  The blister is better but the quad still is tight.  So I have decided to take an unscheduled day off to let it rest better before heading out again.  There are also several fires burning near the trail up ahead so I will need to decide what to do about that.  I really don't want to end up having to take a big detour.
A view of My Ashland from the north.  The white spot on top turned out to be an observatory.

Just another in an endless succession of little meadows.

Don't know what these are, but the came in a variety of shades between yellow to dark orange.  Looked like they would make great dried flowers, and were in great profusion.

The paintbrush came in a variety of shades and was also pretty common.

Pilot Rock.  Once you knew what it was, it was visible for quite some distance.

Day 14

Felt better after the day off so headed up into the Siskiyou's for the final 3 day section.  Sue and I had identified several escape routes should fire interfere and I felt comfortable that there would be no need for any kind of excessive detour.

I started from I5 right at 6 and headed up.  There was an initial 2700 foot climb over the first 10 miles.  It was generally not too steep but was steadily up.  Along the way I passed Mt Ashland and was pretty impressed by the meadows surrounding it.  I must say they were the best I had seen in Oregon over the past two years.  They seemed a bit past their prime but were still wonderful.  I would have liked to have seen them a couple weeks earlier.

Much of today was spent up high and the views were great.  It never ceases to amaze me how fast mountains seem to go by as you walk along all day.  It somehow makes the day go by faster as well.  I am also amazed at the diversity of flowers.  There are some that are everywhere.  But I saw several today that I did not remember seeing anywhere else; and they were only in very limited locations.

Passing through one of the meadows near the end of the day I felt a sharp pain on a finger and looked down to see a bumble bee sitting on the joint of my right ring finger.  Apparently I had gotten too close to a flower he was on and took offense.  I shook him off and had a painful joint for 20 minutes.  But fortunately that was all it amounted to.  I had visions of swelling up over it, which I have done once before.

Still lots of thru-hikers coming through today.  The fires ahead seem not to be a hindrance to them yet.  After I had camp set up I had my first encounter with a southbound thru-hiker.  He decided to stay with me that night and we ended up traveling together the rest of the way into Seiad Valley.

In camp that night we had a doe with twin fawns circle around us.  It was really fun watching the fawns checking us out.  They were like little springs bouncing around.

Our campsite had a couple of small pads that were useful for those who just curl up on a flat spot, but not particularly useful for a hammock.  So I ended up off the trail a bit further.  Found the right trees, kicked aside a few dead branches and setup.  I debated about deploying the tarp; the sky was clear but the weather forecast called for a chance of rain.  So I compromised and stung the tarp but left it in its snakeskins.  About 1 in the morning I was awaken by the other guy in camp with the news that it was raining.  There were only a few drops falling but I got up quickly and staked out the tarp and then helped the other guy deploy his new poncho, which he had never setup, over his sleeping bag; a very interesting operation.  Had a bit of rain during the night but not all that much.
Part of the PCT up Mt Ashland was shared by a Nordic ski route.  And high up in a tree was a left over ski.  Hopefully it was not a crash that put it up there.

Yet another little patch of color along the way.

The Mt Ashland observatory dome peeking over the hillside.

Where the springs were still active, and Mt Ashland had a lot of them, the meadows were still pretty lush.

In many places it was like walking through a botanical garden.  Sometimes the flowers soared over my head and I almost had to push my way through the jungle.

A trail angel near Grouse Gap provided cool soda, water and some chairs for a quick break.

One of the springs I stopped at had a lush meadow with the flowers in the lower left.  This was the only place I recall seeing these little white balls.

It was fun watching these two little fawns bounce around camp.

Day 15

Got a notice from Sue this morning that one of the fires had spread and the trail was now closed at the end.  The trail closure required a 12 mile road walk, but was actually shorter and required less climbing that the trail would have, so it looked like it would work out well.

Today was another beautiful day on the trail; lots of vistas and flowers and surprising little smoke from the fires to the south of us until near the end of the day.  I chased Red Cedar, my south bound friend, all day.  He was expecting a package at Seiad Valley and would have to wait for the post office on Monday, so he was in no hurry.

Midway through the morning we hit the California border, took a bunch of pictures and signed the trail register.  It was a pretty cool feeling, knowing that I had completed one of the three states along the trail.

Although the trail through California was very similar we did find three differences.  We quickly found that there was some active logging going on in the neighborhood of the trail; hunting season for archery had opened that morning (lots of hunters setup in camps), and the sound of cowbells was a frequent accompaniment as we hiked.

We had initially planned on staying a Beardog Spring for the night.  But when we got there at 3PM we found no good place to camp.  The water was good so we had lunch, drank our fill of semi cold water, and set out for Cook and Green Pass, 5 miles further on.  This is were the detour started and we understood that there was someone there passing out cold drinks to hikers.

We got in around 5, after about 27 miles, had some cold water and Gatorade while setting up and then visited with the forest service folks who were there, or who passed through.  While today was longer than originally intended, it was one of my better days on the trail.  Very little issue with the quad, or anything else for that matter.  Turned in at dusk and slept the night away.
The California/Oregon border

This little butterfly, and his siblings and cousins were everywhere.

It's a bit hazy, but Mt Shasta is in the distance to the right.

This was as close to any of the fires as I got.  

Day 16

Up early and hit the road down into town by 5:50; tear down only took 35 minutes this morning.  It was still a bit dark but since we were walking a road there didn't seem much chance of getting lost.  Half an hour from camp we ran across a hiker sleeping on the shoulder of the road.

The road was in good shape, 7 mikes of dirt followed by 5 miles of pavement.  There were a lot of blackberries along the last few miles and we spent more than a few minutes stuffing our faces.

After right at 4 hours we hit the end of the road and had a 5 minutes walk up the highway to the general store/post office/cafe.  Sue arrived a few seconds after we did.  Shared a few drinks (chocolate milk and tea), said good-bye, jumped into the car, and headed back north.  Overall this had been a very good trip and I am looking forward to a section here in Washington this month as well as tackling a big chunk of California next year.
At lease one star, or planet, was still out when the road walk started on the last day.

A simple, but beautiful, little flower that was common along the road down.

Red Cedar, my traveling companion for the last two days.  He left the Canadian border on June 27th and is heading for Mexico.  I wish him well.