Wednesday, July 31, 2013

PCT 2013: The Hat Creek Rim

For as long as I have been preparing for the PCT this year, I have been hearing about the Hat Creek Rim; and seldom has it been encouraging.  Many areas are discussed as beautiful, scenic or boring.  But the "Rim" is challenging, hot and dry.  So a part of me has been dreading this section for several months now, and even more so as I have traveled through hot and dry sections of the trail.  And even once I started to hike, and especially as I got closer to the Rim, north bound hikers, if they mentioned the Rim, did so in terms that suggested it was something to survive rather than to enjoy.  Even the day I left Burney Falls to head for the Rim, I encountered an older couple that described the Rim as the worst spot on the trail.

From what I have been able to read, the Rim was formed a million or so years ago along a fault line.  Rather than having the two sides of the fault slide horizontally, or pull apart / subduct, the two parts slide vertically.  The westerly side of the fault dropped down as much as 1000 feet in places for at least the 20 miles that the trail follows, and apparently several miles beyond.  The result is about what you would expect to see on a cartoon or disaster movie where suddenly the ground breaks in half and one side is thrust up into the air, leaving a shear vertical cliff.  The difference here is that one side fell rather than being thrust up; there is a million years of rubble at the base of the cliff, raising up nearly half the distance of the drop area; and the fault line is somewhat jagged and stepped in places.  The whole thing is pretty tough to describe, but is pretty cool to see.

The big challenge with the Rim is that the ground is so porus that any surface water just seeps through; down to a creek that flows some 1000 feet below the surface.  The Rim is dry!  But not as dry as one might think.  There are at least two ponds on top that are close to the northern portion of the trail, one of which you pass within 50 feet of.  But these ponds are in cattle country and look like something you would use only if you could boil, filter and chemically treat; and then only as a last resort.  The area is fairly heavily vegetated, which suggests that there is at least a limited amount of moisture available to maintain the growth of drought resistant plants, and animals.  The one thing missing when I went though was much in the way of flying bugs, which were only rarely encountered.  While the country was pretty alien to a western Washington mossy-back, it was beautiful in its own way.

According to the guidebook there is a 30 mile stretch along there trail where there are no natural water sources.  And that is true.  At the north end of this stretch are the lakes and streams around the Crystal Lake Fish Hatchery.  And at the south end is Old Station and the Subway Cave.  In order to make it through this stretch you need to either carry 30 miles worth of water, depend on water caches, or have someone periodically meet you with water.

There were a surprising number of water caches along this stretch. My favorite was actually between the hatchery and Burney Falls.  The Wild Bird Cache included a picnic table and several comfortable cloth foldup chairs, a large well stocked cooler, water, a trash can, and a camera and trail register where you could take your own picture and leave a note.  This one was easily the best cache I have seen so far.  Second to it, and arguably much more needed, was the 22 Cache.  This one was actually mid way along the ridge and also included water, a cooler of drinks, chairs, a trash bag and a register.  And it included a three sided shelter composed of dry brush stacked up to provide some shade.  I didn't count the water jugs piled up there, but it was literally a large pile of clear gallon jugs.  In addition, I encountered 4 other smaller caches of 4 to 20 gallons of water, some dry and some stocked.

My strategy was to take it slow, meet up with Mrs Eeyore a couple of times to get more water and rest, and just make the best of this difficult stretch.  I left Highway 299 near Burney Falls about 7 AM and headed south, meeting lots of thru's along the way.  I paused briefly to visit with folks at the Wild Bird Cache and then went on.  I was surprised when I came to the fish hatchery area.  I had not expected to find so much water in the area.  But since I had plenty of water, and Mrs Eeyore was waiting ahead, I went on.  I got up to the Cassel Road sometime after 2 and we drove back to the picnic tables at the hatchery for lunch and drinks and then back to Burney for a milkshake.  And, yes, I know that I am spoiled.

I left the car again about 4:45 and headed south again, planning on putting in a few more hours before calling it a night.  About 4 hours later I found myself at road 22 in near dark conditions and setup for the night, actually sleeping on the ground because I had been assured there were not enough trees to hang from; which was almost true.  The trip along the northern half of the rim had been one of my favorite places this year.  Yes, it was dry and hot, but no drier or hotter than other stretches in the Marbles or Trinities further north.  The scenery and views were breath taking, the sun setting over the western horizon was glorious, and I was able to tackle it refreshed and fueled with a milk shake.  It was kind of a magical time for me, when all of my fears for this section of the trail vanished into joy.

The trail south initially follows the edge fairly closely but eventually heads away from it to go around a couple of large canyons.  I was hurrying along this stretch, trying to get back to the rim before sunset, when this large black figure moved out into the trail in front of me.  In all my years of hiking, large black figures only mean one thing, a bear.  But now it means one of two things, with cows being added to that short list.  Old Bossy was apparently as startled to see me as I was to see her.  She quickly trotted up the trail a piece and then off the trail where she turned and watched me go by.  I encountered several of her sisters in the next few minutes and, fortunately, their reactions were all the same.  They would look hard at me for a moment, and just when I was sure they would charge, they would turn tail and run away.

At one point Gussy and Bessie were walking the trail ahead of me, and after a few minutes I realized I was gaining on them.  I was trying to figure out how to get around them (tap them on the shoulder with a trekking pole and ask permission to come around), when Gussy heard my poles clicking behind her, looked back and then charged past Bessie.  So Bessie looked back to see what all the excitement was about and saw a large predator with hamburger on his breath and also charged off trail and into a small gossip group (is 6 a herd) who all became equally excited and started dashing around.  I almost fell onto the trail laughing to think that I was responsible for a mini stampede.  I'll never watch a cattle drive in a movie the same way again.

Until the moon came up, the stars were amazing.  I have seldom seen the night sky so lit up.  And that was good because I didn't sleep well.  Shifting from a hammock to the ground was not a pleasant experience.  I know I will have to overcome that if I am going to be able to finish this trail, but this first night was not a good start.

I was up and walking as soon as it was light enough to see the trail.  A mile or so south of road 22 the trees quit, pretty suddenly.  Still lots of brush, but hardly any trees; apparently there was a fire here in the not too distant past.  A few miles further south the trail intersects a small dirt road where I met Mrs Eeyore for breakfast and then went on following the trail as it generally followed the edge of the rim around the encroaching canyons.

By early afternoon I was approaching the end of the rim trail and passing through an area that had burned and been replanted.  I am uncertain of the logic of some of the plantings though.  The newly planted trees were in the middle of a cleared circle, and sometimes that circle encompassed the trail itself.  I saw quite a number of seedings that were literally planted right at the edge of the trail.  As those Ponderosa Pines grow they will force the trail to shift to one side or the other.

All in all this was a very enjoyable stretch of trail and is one to actually look forward to, so long as one is prepared for the conditions.  It helps to have your own personal support team to help, but it is quite possible to have a successful and enjoyable trek along the Rim without that support, so long as you are prepared for what is coming.

Only 1417 miles to go, plus a few in Washington.

Chainsaw practice?

The Wild Bird Cache between Burney Falls and the Crystal Lake fish hatchery.  A very nice setup.

Just south of the hatchery is what appears to be the power station for a dam.  There is a big stream flowing by with a nice bridge over it.  And at least one pelican has taken up residence.

The cones under this Ponderosa Pine dwarfed my size 15 shoes.

An interesting trail register just north of the Cassel road.

Rigged for sun, or rain.  The loops on my ULA pack have come in very handy.  Eeyore gets the one on my left shoulder, and the umbrella gets the other three.  Bounces around a bit. But it is nice not having to hold the umbrella.

Mt Lassen to the south.  Will be there soon.

It is hard to get good pictures of the rim, but this one is towards the north end and looking south.

A tree at the edge of the rim with the setting sun behind it.

The shadows are growing long toward the end of the day.  My legs are not really this long.

Old Bossy giving me the evil eye, after she has run away from me.

The rest of the herd stampeding away from a hungry carnivore.

Plenty of water up on the Rim.  At least if you have had all your shots and boil, filter and treat the water first.

Sunset over the Hat Creek Rim.

The sun is gone, leaving the mountain blowing smoke rings.

Cache 22 is just a few yards south of where the trail crosses road 22.  This is the primary cache used by Rim hikers.  A number of us spent the night just north of here on any flat spot we could find.  Fortunately I was the first one in, just before total darkness descended.. 

Sunrise the next morning.

This wind farm is visible when descending toward Rock Creek above Burney Falls, as well as a few locations along the Rim.

I love these pale thistles with red flowers.  They really stand out from the rest of the foliage. 

Another picture of the south end of the Rim.  This is taken from the upper level and shows a lower level that is pretty common at the south end.

Some of the old snags in the area are so interesting.  I would guess that landscapers would give a pretty penny for some of these old dead trees.

One last shot of the Rim, looking north from the south end of the trail.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

PCT 2013: from Castle Crags to Burney Falls

After spending a day and a half in Mt Shasta City, the time came to set out on the trail again.  Mrs Eeyore dropped me off at the trailhead about 6:30 and off I went, under I-5, across the Sacramento River, down a couple of short roads and finally onto the trail.  The trail south climbs over a couple of hills before climbing onto the top of a very large bowl, traversing over half way around the bowl, and then dropping down to Burney Falls.

All in all this was not a very scenic route, and the first day was the worst.  The route was up and down all day, only briefly breaking out of the trees.  In the 24 miles I covered the first day there were only 4 on-trail water sources, including a nice large creek where I was able to take a leisurely lunch and soak my feet.  This stretch also had a lot of poison oak anytime the trail dropped below about 3800 foot, in places pretty thick.  It was seldom very tall but it liked to hide unseen beneath harmless plants.  I got into some poison oak last year, and while it was not bad, it did cause a rash covering both legs, and I did not want to repeat that experience this year if possible.  As a result, moving through the low lying brushy sections was sometimes pretty slow.

Towards the end of the first day I hit Trough Creek, where I had originally planned to stop for the night.  Because it was a bit early, there was not a good place to hang nearby, and the profusion of poison oak in the area, I decided to push on for a few miles.  I ended up along a long abandoned logging road that the trail used for a while.  The road was lined with trees on both sides and I found a good place to hang just  before the end of that stretch and setup camp for the night.

I see two to three dozen hikers a day, almost all heading north, and it is easy to assume everyone else has the same experience.  But at some point during this first day I met Pokey, Sailor Moon and Principessa working their way up a long climb.  They stopped to visit and expressed that I was the first south bounder that they had seen along the trail.  While I am sure that was not entirely true, it did illustrate that by this point along the trail the north bounders are pretty spread out and seldom see more than a handful of people a day.  And for some of them, a south bounder, even one only doing some section of the trail, is a novelty, and sometimes a welcome source of information for the trail ahead; generally concerning water sources and access into the next town.

Because I had put in a few extra miles the first day I decided to try and get to Moosehead Springs for camp the second night.  This was 30 miles away, with one long climb in the middle of the day.  I had almost gotten 30 miles in once the year before, but I was still looking for that elusive goal.  The plus for making it a reality this year was that I would be camped at water and able to cleanup, unlike the first night.  I know a significant number of the thru hikers camp wherever the end of the day delivers them, and water seems not to be a big concern.  But I fall short in that respect and really dislike going to bed without at least some semblance of attempting to get cleaned up.

At 5:30 a pair of hikers came past my camp using headlamps.  That was my signal to get up and head out myself.  I was on the trail myself shortly after 6 and in turn passed a couple of hikers still asleep 100 yards from where I had stopped.  The trail descended for a while before crossing the McCloud River and then beginning a 3500 foot climb up to the walk around the bowl.  This was the one stretch where water was relatively plentiful along the trail, with a number of streams crossing the trail during this ascent.

During the ascent I met Iceaxe, a lady using an ice-axe for a trekking pole.  As we came close she called out in rapid succession "What's your name?, "Can I take your picture", and "Can I post your picture on my web site".  We visited for a while and she told me about some yoyo camped on the trail ahead.  Sure enough, an hour later, at 10:30, I encountered Yoyo, a thru hiker who had flipped up to the Sisters in Oregon and was now southbound.  He was still in his tent stretched out in the middle of the trail.  We visited briefly and I went on.  Later on I was warned about a big angry buck just ahead.  I got to him just as Scrubs did and we each took a pile of pictures and than sat down to eat for a while, once the 4 point buck had moved off.

Near the top of the climb I crossed the last known water source, loaded up a gallon, and headed on to Moosehead, still about 12 miles away.  Shortly after I hit the top and was impressed by the size of the bowl I would be walking around; the map had not really prepared me for it at all.  The problem now though became one of time.  I still had 10 miles to go, and I only had about 4 hours left until dark.  The trail went up and down, flipping to either side of the ridge, but I had become so focused on getting to the spring that I didn't take time to enjoy it.  I met one lady at the top who appeared to be walking in a dream, just enjoying the moment so much that she begrudged having to stop for the night.  But not me; water and the coming dark were driving me on.  And the later it got, the grodier I felt, and the more I wanted the water at the end of the day.

Finally, at about 8:45, I staggered into the campsite at the head of Moosehead Spring.  To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.  There was a bit of water oozing across the trail, and I could hear it running just down from the trail.  But it was dark, or nearly so.  I found two trees and got the hammock up, alone with the tarp for only the second time during the trip and then went looking for water.  And it was not to be found.  At least not until morning when I was able to bushwack down to where it was.  So I briefly cleaned up with a few wet wipes and collapsed into bed; just before the rain started, all 12 drops of it.

Slept in a bit the next morning and then managed to beat my way through the brush surrounding the tiny creek and got a gallon of water for the day; all of the sources for the next 16 miles seemed questionable.  Finally, at 8, I headed out, vowing to go slower and enjoy the day.  No need to hurry because I was ahead of schedule at this point.  Half a mile from camp I saw a sign to Moosehead Creek, .1 mile away.  I followed it and discovered what people had probably been telling me about the day before; decent camping and good access to a nice little stream.  Oh well!

Nearly everyone I met this day asked about water ahead; and there ended up being more than I had expected.  Between Moosehead and Peavine creeks there were three off trail springs.  I went down to two of them and found water, getting it from one of them.

This section of the trail continued to alternate sides of the ridge.  If it was on the inside of the bowl, it was fairly scenic.  If on the outside (most of the time) you were walking trough either a recently harvested forest, or a soon to be harvested forest.  I have no objection to logging, but it is kind of sad to walk though an area that has been clear cut.

About 2 miles from Peavine Creek, my destination for the evening, I realized that it was still only about 3:30 so I decided to head on for Rock Creek instead.  I invited Mrs Eeyore to join me for the night and headed out.  That gave me 10 miles yet to go, but the last 8 were mostly downhill.  That seemed good at first; but my feet didn't like it and one of my blisters decided to pop up again.  When I got to where the wife was waiting it became apparent that it would be hard for her to get to the creek, and so I went to her hotel instead, for a good shower and hot meal.

The next morning I was up and back at the creek and slack packed the rest of the way down to Burney Falls.  And after passing the creek, realized that not stopping there was probably good; the tree selection was pretty limited.  We added a trip around the falls, which were amazing, and then into the car for the trip into the town of Burney.

Not very spectacular, but I like these Antlion dens that are found in profusion on some parts of the trail.

In a number of places through this section you encounter blocks of trees that are flagged and/or marked for logging.  This section of trail a few miles south of Castle Crags was flagged for at least half a mile.  It may look very different next year.

One of the few times the trail opened up the first day was to a peak at Mt Shasta.

Probably a funnel web spider's home.  The web is kind of hard to see, but it covers nearly this whole picture and in the center is a tunnel, where I assume the spider awaits his/her meal.  I saw several of these through here, although only two with such clear tunnels.

The bridge over what I think was Cabin Creek.  I found a way trail just north of the bridge that took me down to the creek and a nice place for lunch and a foot soaking.

Least you get too confident, poison oak also has red leaves sometimes.

This 4 (or 8) point buck that I saw at, appropriately enough, Deer Creek.

An interesting rock formation up near Mushroom Rock.  Reminds me a little bit of Stonehenge.

Walking through a recently logged out area.

Asters were very common farther north, but only a few small patches through this stretch.

The tallest peak in the distance is Grizzly Peak, at the far side of this large bowl.  The trail emerges onto the ridge from the notch to its left.

Lots of plants in Northern California produce stickers, but these are about the biggest burs I have ever seen.  About as big as a quarter.

I have grown to really like Pussy Paws.  They grow in dry dusty dirt and gravel and add some color to an otherwise colorless ground.  The flower stalks hug the ground at night and stand up during the day.  This plant and flowers are 8-10 inches across.

These come in yellow, orange and a kind of burnt orange and look like prime flowers for a dried flower arrangement.

For the section between Moosehead and Peavine, the trail was frequently marked with spray paint, I assume by logging companies since it was usually in logged areas.

This fallen giant has claimed the trail, which is now in the process of being established around it.

Ants have claimed this fallen tree.  They have piled up about a three foot high pile of needles that just about covers 10 feet of the trunk.  This pile of needles is swarming with ants.

Rock Creek and the bridge that crosses it  There are a pair of waterfalls and some good swimming holes here.

Chipmunks are in profusion all along the trail.  But seldom will they stay still long enough for a picture.  I almost regretted not being able to reward the little fellow for posing for me.

The trail crosses this dam just above Burney Falls

Burney Falls.  According to the signs, the water over this fall is fed by snow melt from nearby Burney Peak, and mostly flows under ground.  The Burney Creek emerges about 3/4 of a mile upstream, and you can see water all across this picture that is emerging from well below ground level.  8/10 of a mile further up, the PCT crosses the stream; and it is as dry as a bone.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

PCT 2013: from Etna Summit to Castle Crags

After taking half a day off to rest, resupply and write, the trail beckoned, and it was back to Etna Summit to begin the second leg of the 2013 PCT adventure.  I was at the trail head shortly after 6:30 and headed out, only to discover that the actual trail head was 100 feet down the trail in a pull out on the south side of the pass.  So I read the sign, looked around, and started down the only trail I saw, which was kind of sketchy.  It quickly jumped up onto a road, which I followed briefly before going back to the trail head.  After searching for a while, I finally found the "real" trail leaving from the opposite side of the parking lot from the big sign.  And so, after a 15 minute delay, I was finally on the trail.

The trail started off with a nice climb, with one section of the trail clinging to the side of a rock wall overlooking a lake, pretty cool.  The trail eventually came out to a pass with nice views to the east, including Mt Shasta and the Scott Valley below; an amazing spot for breakfast.  On the way up I met Chris, a youngish man who had been hiking the trail southbound from Crater Lake.  He had stopped for a break and I visited with him for a while before heading up to my own appointment with breakfast.  Little did I realize how much more of him I would see.

After breakfast I went on, back into the woods for a couple of miles and then out the other side to the Russian River valley.  And sight of a trail that stretched on for what looked like miles, clinging to the side of the valley wall.  I always find it interesting to see the trail in the distance, and this was the first of many places through this section where it was visible for over a mile ahead.

The views throughout the day were amazing, including another high rock to sit on for lunch.  Toward the end of the day the trail dropped down to a road, where I met Sue and inhaled an orange before going on to the nights camp on the South Fork of the Scott River, 21 miles from that mornings start.

I setup camp, ate dinner and then headed down to the river, which was little more than a creek at this point, to take a bath.  Shortly after getting back to camp, a group of about 9 teenage girls come marching through; loaded down with packs nearly as large as themselves and moaning about the mile long climb up to the road.  I couldn't help but thinking that if they had been half an hour earlier and seen the show, that their minds would more likely have been trying to forget what they had seen rather than the pain of their packs.

And half an hour later Christ came through camp, looking for a place to drop for the night.  I offered to share the spot, but he went on.  I've been passed.  And the competitive juices are now aroused.  No matter that he is likely half my age, and been on the trail longer.  Someone is in front of me and I have to catch them.

And catch him I did.  I left camp at 5:45 the next morning and passed Christ half an hour later, still in bed.  Yes!  The trail climbed fairly steadily during the first half of the day before beginning a long sow descent during the second half.  On the way down, the trail traversed around a bowl, taking three miles to do what a crow could do in less than 1.  Along that stretch I met over 40 people, mostly kids from a local backpacking camp.  Apparently they would send kids out into the surrounding area for some 'experience'.  The girls from the previous night were likely from there.

The trail through the day was mostly exposed, and the sun was fierce.  Seems like I got more sun that day than I am used to in a year at home.  There was a campground on Highway 3 where I was going to meet up with Sue and spend the night.  But before I got there I texted her and asked for a room with AC instead.  The heat was really getting to me.

So that night we went back to Etna and spent most of the next day there as well.  I am really going to have to learn to hike in the heat, since it is not likely to get much better soon.  We came back up to the trail head on Highway 3 at mid afternoon and just hung out in the shade for a while since I did not plan on leaving until between 5 and 6 that evening, trying to let the heat abate a bit before putting in a coupe hours of hiking.

While there we met Sarah, a young lady hiking the trail.  We gave her some fruit and a place to perch for a bit before she wandered on down the trail.  And shortly after, Chris came down the trail and flopped down for a break.  He complained about his big old boots and heavy load and the struggle to get in a lot of miles in a day, which is required if you are going to hike the whole trail in a year.  I discovered he wore the same size shoes that I do, so I pulled out the running shoes that I had thrown in the car "just in case".  They were due for retirement, but they fit him and he was ecstatic.  He left a lot of food and other gear with Sue and headed off down the trail, planning to meet up again in Castle Crags to pick up his "stuff" and mail it home.

I headed off down the trail at 5 PM, hiked a coupe of hours and setup near a tiny trickle of water.  After I went to bed a couple of other hikers came in and set up camp for the night.  The plan for the next day was to hike early and late, and rest during the heat of the day.  So I was up at 4:20 and gone by 4:50.  Since there was others camped nearby I got out as quickly as I could and drank my "first" breakfast an hour down the trail.  Hiking by headlamp was a new experience, and not as difficult as I had feared.

This was a good day, spent mostly up high and a couple of times being able to see the trail for miles behind me.  I was developing a blister on each foot by now, so stopped for 2nd breakfast at a marshy spring and washing my feet and changed socks.  Spent about an hour there chillin before moving on and felt better.

That afternoon, while approaching Deadfall Lake, there was apparently a concert down in the valley.  I could see parked cars and tents with loud "music" blasting away.  I could hear it from over a mile away.  Deadfall Lakes seemed to be a pretty popular spot, especially for teens.  I don't know how far it was from the nearest road, but there were groups of kids all over the place.  Stopped there for lunch and spent quite a bit of time sitting under a shady tree as well as soaking my feet in a slightly cool stream.

Headed up from there and crossed the Trinity Divide.  The water on one side went into the Trinity River, and on the other into the Sacramento River.  I walked this divide about 3 or 4 miles and came to Porcupine Lake, just above the trail.  I pulled in there for the night, after a 26 mile day, and took a quick dip.  It was kind of like swimming at a local pool, the water was quite pleasant and refreshing. Porcupine was one of the prettiest lakes I have seen and, at 7600 foot, was the highest.  The moon was nearly full and as I was getting ready for bed I kept looking around to see who was shining a light on me.  It was God!

Decided I was way ahead of schedule so I slept in until after 6 and was on the trail shortly after 8.  About 3 miles into the day I came to a spring flowing out of a rock reside the trail.  And the water was cold.  Dumped out all I had and loaded up with a gallon since the next water was about 12 miles away.

That next 12 miles was mostly exposed and very scenic, again being able to see the trail ahead for miles sometimes.  I picked a lunch spot under a small clump of shady trees that looked out over the Castle Crags, an extremely rugged ridge.  This ridge dominated the skyline for the next 6-8 miles, and I took dozens of pictures.

I finally started the long descent down to I-5 and the end of this leg of the trip, but time ran out before getting close to the end.  I got a hold of Sue and she picked me up at a side trail 7 miles from the end.  I spent the night in the camp ground with her, returned to the trail early the next morning and scooted the last 7 miles down the trail without a pack on.

While sitting behind the car chugging my chocolate milk, a car drove up looking for thru-hikers to mother.  The lady in the car was mother to one of the hikers I had met a couple of days before.  She had been supporting "PacMan" during this portion of the trail.  Had a good visit with her before she drove on.

Overall, this last 156 miles of trail has been high and rugged, sunny and dry, and very beautiful.  I have a day and a half to rest, resupply and heal my blisters before heading out for Lassen National Park, about another 150 miles away, with a coupe of resupply stops along the way.

Smith Lake, down below a trail clinging to the side of the cliff.

Several places along the trail above Smith Lake the trail sits atop a retaining wall.  This is the only place so far that I have seen something like this.

Really!  No hang gliders?  I wonder if they ever get any flying by low enough to read the sign?

The moss on these trees must be directionally challenged.  It is not growing just on the north side.  Instead it is growing all around these trees.  And seldom down lose to the ground.

Looking back down the valley that the Russian River is in.  Notice the trail snaking along, high above the river.

Mt Shasta is getting bigger all the time.  The trail is headed east now, back toward the Cascades.  Every day Shasta gets bigger and bigger.  And the little secondary peak is becoming more obvious as we also get a bit further south.

This is pretty typical of the high country around here.  Rocky, dry, some hardy undergrowth and sparse trees.  Beautiful in its own way.

These pine trees, like many others in the area had a lot of character.  They seem to have led a hard life, and yet they are still there.

Not sure what it took to twist this tree so strangely, but the end result is pretty cool.

I don't know what the layering is here, but sometimes you could see 3-4 of the lighter bands of rock in the cliffs along the Trinity Divide.

This is apparently some kind of Orchid that grows up high in the Klamath Mountains.  I have only seen them in one place this year, and a single location last year as well.

My own personal nightlight at Porcupine Lake

The lake is hard to see, but it is in the background, about a 100 feet back and down.

Porcupine Lake, one of my favorite spots along the trail so far this year.

White Ridge Spring flows out of a rock just below the trail.  So good, and cold.  Especially good when the temp is climbing towards 100.

Shasta from a bit further south.

You can make out the trail snaking off into the distance for several miles alongside the 7 Lakes Basin.

Looking down on the southern end of the Castle Crags

The north end of Castle Crags

Warning!  Poison Oak.  I think I finally know hat it looks like.

Manzanita is one of the predominate shrubs in the area.  There are at least two distinct species with different colored leaves.  This has to be the toughest bush I have ever attempted to walk through.  The branches are nearly as tough as steel.