Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 73-75 (7/29-31) Moving the Fast Way

This morning Fool got off to a bit of a slow start leaving, but did depart by 8 or so. He has 1700 miles to go and about 75 days to do it; a 25 mile per day average. Being late will help him avoid some of the snow that slowed others down, but it is still a solid pace. I wished him the best of luck and then he was on his way. My heart sank as he left since from here on out I turn into a section hiker with no intention of finishing the trail straight thru this year... This has been obvious for weeks ever since I got injured, but skipping ahead really brings that home. I did over the first third continuous, and that section of the trip tallied over 1000 miles including the side trips I took. In a couple hours I would be speeding northward fie the final leg of my journey. What an amazing summer so far, and I hope this last section continues to exceed expectations

My dad left Sacramento around 8, do I was expecting him around 11. As I waited at the store, who showed up but Number One again! He had left a day later than us from VVR and despite our low mileage he only caught up now once I stopped. Goes to show how hard it can be to make up days on trail. We decided to grab a few beers and relax for a bit one last time before we went our separate ways. For awhile we got into a discussion with some other hikers about the PCT, which is always fun. We speculated about the status of other hiker friends of ours, and the general consensus is that many, many, many people dropped out or skipped around due to the record snow this year. It sure has put alot of people in a tough spot to finish because mid-October is about the latest you can go before hitting fresh snow in WA. Number One was unconcerned and said he would but snowshoes if that was what it took to finish the whole thing this year. Finally after an eternity my dad showed up at 12:30; he couldn't find Tuolumne Meadows and couldn't call for directions once he got into the mountains and lost service.

We grabbed burgers from the store, then went over to hang out with the other hikers whowere around. Erin and Chism were  getting ready to keep going north, and then Yoshihiro (a common PCT-L writer) was there getting ready for a trip on the JMT. He was joined by Shroomer (another PCT-L regular) and it turns out they are both my Dad's age. They all shared stories and the other two tried to convince my dad that he could do the whole thing sometime. I'm not sure I can quite imagine it, but I wouldn't be terribly shocked if he hiked some of it once (if) he retires.

After a good while we said our goodbyes and headed north, destination Echo Lake. We drove north out of the mountains and back to the 395, with clouds building to the east. As we turned up west towards Echo, the clouds seemed to close in and suddenly we were being pinged by hail. Poor rental car... As we made it further west we outran the building western edge of the storm, and made it safely to our destination. The first person I saw as I walked down to the lake was Canadoug! There were a few thrus during outside relaxing, and we spent a few minutes catching up. Turns out Steamy was a day past there and Positive ID a day back. I talked about my plan, and Canadoug cautioned that Washington was still socked in with snow and it would be slow going. He have me the idea of jumping ahead then southbounding to meet ALL the hikers still on trail. The siren had continued to build and dark clouds now threatened just to the east. We bid then farewell, got a few shots of the lakes and took off just in. to to avoid being drenched.

The second day featured plenty more driving as we worked our way up towards Crater Lake. En route I got to see Shasta and Lassen, two massive volcanos in northern California. Shasta particularly dominates the horizon, and I have to imagine seeing that everyday might inspire people to take up hiking or climbing or other outdoor sports. In Illinois we just have trees and skyscrapers, so its a wonder that anyone gets a passion for the outdoors.

We drove for hours to reach Crater Lake in the late afternoon. This wad one of the locations I had wanted to see all trip, so I wanted to make sure I would see it even if I was planning to jump ahead. This lake is something else, the largest, deepest lake I have ever seen. I marveled at the forces of nature that created this awesome place. As we drove around the park snow was still very prominent in a number of places. I could only imagine how WA would look a couple hundred miles to the north. A plan began to take shape, building off of Canadoug's suggestion. I would hike south from here and in the process run into all the remaining northbound hikers. Plus, after checking the maps I would be able to end at a town with a train station, so it would be easy to get to an airport for my flight home. Satisfied with the new plan I decided to start back on Monday the 1st and finish Wednesday the 16th in Dunsmuir, CA, 340 miles to the south.

Sunday was spent relaxing and preparing. I had to adjust my plans for resupply, sort through food, catch up on journals, upload  (a few) photos, do laundry, shower three times, and load up on calories. Also in there my dad and I managed to find time for a 5 mile hike out near Klamath Lake. He was struggling with the elevation (6,000+), and I was really enjoying walking without my pack or gear. For dinner I feasted at the Black Bear diner, a cool west coast chain. Its been a great 3 days with my Dad and I look forward to jumping back on trail tomorrow for this final leg.

Miles Today: 600 (by car)

Photo: Driving through Northern CA and OR

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