Today was probably a lovely day for most but a tough day for me Quiz. I have been very happy and thankful to be walking with the delightful hiking babes Pinecone and Mushy both of who have helped me through. I woke with stomach cramps after the weird fajita Spanish rice pasta side dinner last night. I hoped my questionable morning poo would solve things but it didn’t. At breakfast I hoped eating something would solve things but it didn’t. Water hasn’t been as plentiful as we are used to and so we only walked 1 mile before we had breakfast as it was our last water for 8 miles.
I had thought today would be easy as it was mostly flat with 2 gentle ups, but the cramps really put a dampener on things. We got to a car park and PC and Mushy got phone service and sat around interneting. I’m with a different provider and so told them I would meet them at Deadfall Lake. The walk to the lake was really pretty and the trail stuck high to a steep valley before opening up just before the lake. I went and sat by the water but drinking water caused the cramps to flare up again so I drank what I could. After 45 min I still hadn’t seen any sign of the others and walked back to the PCT. I sat by the trail for another 15min asking hikers if they had seen Mushy and PC. There is a sketchy snow section of trail coming up and I really wanted to walk it with them. I got conflicting information from the other hikers some saying they were ahead and some behind. I left a note and continued on down the trail. After 5 mins I found them by a different part of the lake, while I was waiting at the trail PC had gone looking for me at the lake. What duffers, but I was glad to be with my pals once more.
We set of climbing again on rocky trail traversing rock slides. The whole valley around the lake seemed to be one continuous rock tumble, some huge and some tiny. We crossed a saddle and met a day hiker and his dog who had little booties on to protect its pads on all the rocks, the pup was so happy to be hiking! We could see our trail heading up the ridge through snowy traverses. They looked bad from afar but when we got there so many people had passed before us there were good footholds. The last patch on snow at the top of the Pass stumped us though. It was about 3m high and rose nearly vertically from the trail which was already on a steep gradient. We debated getting out our ice axes but as the snow is so soft and the fall steep we opted to find a way round. The problem with steep inclines is that you can’t see the top of the ridge. We picked what looked like a good spot and started climbing but the snow field was larger than we could see. We traversed the slope rock scrambling back to where the snow ended in a rocky crag (we are nearly in Castle Crags Wilderness after all). We started the climb which was at least at a 75 degree angle, our footing on a mix of firm and loose rocks. I started to panic with all the slipping and PC talked me through the whole climb while Mushy scouted ahead to find the best route. I really couldn’t have done it without them, it was flipping scary.
On the other side I collected myself, dried my eyes and we walked the final 2 miles to lunch. We got excellent views of Lassen and said hi to Princess Layers and Brucey who are there right now. We were excited for lunch as we were going to porcupine lake which had gotten excellent reviews from a NOBO hikers we had met. Indeed one swim in the lake and I felt refreshed and hungry, my fear from an hour ago forgotten. There were quite a few dayhikers around (it’s nearly the 4th of July) but I was glad I wasn’t the only one skinny dipping. Pinecone brought some Niki Minaj-esque bathers from the thrift shop in Etna and was so excited to wear them.
We rested at the lake till quite late in the afternoon and then made the last 6mile dash to camp in a very business like manner. We me Caddyshack going north and he gave me a big hug which was exactly what I needed. We last saw him in Big Bear but he has a very infectious enthusiasm. Camp has yet another view of the glorious Mt Shasta, and lots of mosquitos. We stayed up till the sun started to set chatting and making me feel nearly normal again, just a slight tummy ache. We also realised we will get into town on July 4th and will be ready to party!