SOBO Day 91 Washed out riverbed above Walking Bear Camp to Delucci Ridge, 35kms

After yesterday feeling like we weren’t going anywhere today we had an action plan…well at least until breakfast. We got up 30 min earlier as it has been so god damn hot, and we decided to put as many miles as possible behind us before lunch. We walked 5 miles before we even stopped for breakfast (!) but our hand was played for us as that was the next water source after our dry camp and we are addicted to coffee. Our walk to Kosk Spring was really pretty along a crumbling ridge line with good views of Shasta and Lassen. 

My bb


After breakfast the scenery got a bit more depresso as the trail wound its way between logged patches. Not only does it just look bad the trail is always eroding and it’s really hot in the sun! PC states she doesn’t mind as it’s a change from the never ending forest we have been walking through. At our next break at Peavine Creek after this conversation i (Quiz) ended up chanting “nature good people bad”, perhaps we have been out here too long?

Logging and power lines and evidence that we are not that far from anywhere


We pushed through (literally as the path was quite overgrown) our final climb of the day to lunch which came 1 mile early at a surprise stream not marked on our maps. All our water sources in the morning were off trail so this on trail water was an extra bonus. We had walked 15miles by lunchtime and had achieved our goal, go legs! We camped out in the shade and picked through the last of our food. We ended up being quite social chatting at length to the 3 hikers who passed us by.

Green


After lunch the miles breezed by as it was all downhill through shady forest on a nice gentle gradient. We were starting to feel the miles so this was the best possible track for the afternoon, also it was hot hot hot and we didn’t need to drink as much water. Eventually we knew our dream path would end and it did so with a bit of a bang dumping us into an incredibly hot gorge, complete with a waterfall and idyllic pool that we could not reach! Our path clung to the cliffs and we crossed the river upstream on a wooden bridge. We collected 3L each to dry camp but even in the shade by the water it wasn’t cool. We dithered about swimming but it was just too unpleasant in the gorge so we packed up and left. 

My ghostly beauty, Shasta


We sweated profusely climbing out of the gorge and even though I had drunk 1.5L while there I was soon dry in the mouth. The map app notified us of a campspot 2 miles south of the river with a good view but we walked and walked and were unable to find it. Eventually we settled on a nondescript patch of ground in the woods just before the more settled area around Burney Falls (we will go there fore breakfast tomorrow). It’s now 8pm and I have been sweating since 8am. It’s still hot and sticky and there is no breeze, if you don’t hear from us tomorrow you will find some well marinated roasts cooking on Delucci Ridge. Xo Quiz

Who’s your suga daddy

SOBO Day 89 – Squaw Valley Creek to Deer Creek, 34kms

At the end of today I, Quiz, am tired but feeling pretty bloody good and proud of myself. Today was not flat, we spent a majority of it climbing over 1km of hight but I probably also feel good cos I swam twice and it’s one of my favourite things to do.

Back to the beginning, we all slept really well as the white noise of Squaw Creek was constant and comforting. We woke and like robots packed up and started hiking. We had given ourselves an ambitious 3 miles before breakfast to get us to the next water and we made it to a cute sunken campsite in a u bend of the trail for coffee. In Etna we brought a full size bag of local coffee and it was too nice to give away so we have been carrying it, and as a result making big strong cups every morning.

Squaw River


After breakfast we finished our first climb of the day continuing on through undisrupted forest, alternating between sparse pine and deciduous trees which cast eerie green light. We stopped for a break halfway down and within 30 minutes met Hamlet and Swedish Fish, our desert and Bishop and Echo Lake friends followed by the Canadian couple Shortcut and oh dear name blank! It was Hamlets birthday! And he was lucky enough to get sweaty hugs and some gummy rings, we first met Hamlet at Scissors Crossing day 5! Where he tried to give me the trail name sweetness because I was so excited. John another hiker came up just behind Hamlet and when he left tried to dish dirt on him but he had the wrong audience and as PC bluntly told him, “if you don’t care what people think then why are you telling me”. It was a pretty excellent break all in all but it did last for about 45min.

Forest walking


We descended through more forest catching occasion glimpses of a raging bright blue river in the gorge below. Our dreams came true when that was the river we were lunching by and the trail arrived at an old wooden bridge that saved us a hectic river crossing. Despite there being Day hikers around and 2 fellow PCT hiker on the opposite bank we all went swimming, me like always in the nude. I really don’t care anymore and it feels great. It was so hot that we ended up rinsing some of our clothes and they dried within an hour. Thanks McCloud River you made my day! We also saw a ferret on the river bank, none of us had ever seen one of them in the wild.

The dreamy McCloud River


After lunch was our second hot hot climb for the day. I drank 3.5L in 7miles, my mouth was getting so dry. We all got rubbed in new places and to make our climb longer Mushy got to camp to find another hikers bagsing all 3 spots for her party. The map didn’t list any for quite a few more miles but luckily there was one spot at the next water source where we put our tent and Mushy is camped half on the trail. We had no choice as we are climbing on the side of steep ridges for the next 5 miles and we are hot and tired.

Deer Creek and our favourite umbrella plants


We felt a bit presumptive using the trail as our kitchen and sitting space but luckily only 1 hiker has passed up in our cramped little camp. I made everyone hot chocolate after dinner and it was pretty tasty, it’s nice having so much water around.

On trail camp

SOBO Day 88 – Mt Shasta to Squaw River Campground, 26kms

We all felt so tired this morning. Town was killing me by making beer so available. We roused ourselves with coffee and avocado toast and packed our belongings. The day before i had called a trail angel called Tony to arrange a lift out of town. This morning he texted ‘I’ll be there in 40 mins’ and we all made sure we had our shit together. 
Tony is a local sheriff in Mount Shaster and is retiring in 1 week! And wants to hike the PCT! He is pretty much always picking up hikers when he’s not working and hearing their tales from the trail. Thank you Tony! 
We start up the trail today at a swift pace. Feels good to have a day off, gives your body some new life! We start at 10:30am and climbed nearly 2000ft by lunch time. Next to stream we had a little shady lunch spot and ByLine walks by. We all talk in a podcast he made in week 2 of the hike. He had seen Princess Layers and Brucie in Chester before Brucie got sick.

Castle Crags


Today’s walking was pretty gentler and shaded. We saw a couple of snakes in the afternoon that reminded us we are shortly going to walking through Hat Creek Rim, a mini desert in Nth Cali. One of the snakes I saw was a magnificent royal blue and was only 7cm long! Quiz saw two Bowers (cute & non-poisonous). We peaked the pine forest climb with views back to the spooky Castle Craggs, Mount Shasta and pine plantations. 

Old shasty


After our afternoon break the trail descended down into dense pines coating the bottom of a valley. We walk on the shaded side of the hill and it’s amazing how dark the tall pine forest actually gets! The switch backs take us down to Squaw Valley Creek. It’s a fast flowing full Creek with beautiful black river rocks and water lilies and ferns. It feels 5 degrees cooler down here and we agree that it’s time to call it a day. Walking a mile off trail to the car park trailhead nearby we find a disused road to camp on. We all wash in the creek and get ready for bed. 

Squaw River

SOBO Day 87 – Mt Shasta, 0kms

Mushy here, your favorite American! After celebrating the United States’ bday in style, we woke up late to the distant rumbling of trains going past our forested campsite outside of town. Families were packing up camp into their cars and heading back to the city for their workweeks and the routine, holidays over for now. We briefly contemplated our upcoming workweek (a 90 mile section to Burney, CA) but it was too much to think about before breakfast. Which is coincidentally both our favorite and THE most important meal of the day. Naturally, we head to the original location of Shasta’s famous Black Bear Diner, for seconds. 

Mushy’s new pal

 

We anticipate a shorter wait than the day before, but end up disappointed. I know a good biscuit when I see one though, so I get the hype and I’m on board. In waiting for a table, we miss check-out time at the campground. Oh well! The biscuits have decided, we’re staying another day in Shasta!

Mt Shasta behind the town


On the walk to breakfast I had counted seven crystal shops. I admit to geeking out about these things, and had told Pinecone and Quiz earlier, “a town with crystal shops is a town I can hang out in.” So I don’t mind taking the day in this funky little town.
We’ve been watching Mt. Shasta approach for more than two weeks, and its energy is undeniable. Nearly as tall as Mt. Whitney, it dominates the wild, forested, volcanic landscape. The town sits just below, and we are not surprised to find it a Mecca of myths and legends. 

Old gas station turned rock shop crystal reading room

Essential oil 4 animals


I pick up on some of these myths while visiting a crystal shop, and a local helps me fill in the details. The Lemurians are an ancient civilization thought to live under the mountain in a fortress they retreated to after a war with Atlantis. They are technologically advanced and have been sighted in town as seven-foot tall humanoids buying provisions from the grocery store with blocks of gold. Mt. Shasta’s iconic weathervane cloud is thought to obscure their space travel, but UFOs are a common occurrence in Shasta County. 
Mt. Shasta is also rumored to be home to the New Age spiritual master Saint Germaine, who introduced himself to an early British mountaineer. This belief is central to the “I AM” movement, a nationalistic brand of theosophy popular in the county. 

Walkin into town

Mushy and the pie


We end the day by going to the movies, and have our heads filled with stories to entertain ourselves for the next week of walking through woods.

SOBO Day 86 – East Fork Sulpher Creek to I5/Mt Shasta, 10kms

It’s a town day and it’s Americas day of Independence the 4th of July! Double whammy of fun we hope, and a pretty good motivator to get us out of bed and moving. We ate bars for breakfast at the campsite and then powered the ups and downs to the I5 in 2hrs, 3miles/hr. We walked through thick forest alternating between just pines and eerily no undergrowth and deciduous trees (Beech and others I (Quiz) don’t know the names of). The light was green and and gradient easy and as a bonus treat we ran into Jill just before the interstate who was walking her 3 cute pugs, although Marty was a bit naughty and pretended he wanted to fight us.

We wish all river crossings came like this

The At the interstate we set ourselves up at the intersection for the on ramp and waited…and waited and only one car stopped and he wasn’t going far enough and only had 1 seat. Obviously our stinkyness was getting the better of us! But then who should return from her walk but Jill, she ever so kindly agreed to take us all the way into town but first she had to drop off her pups. Jill drove us right past her front door and to the neighbouring town of Mt Shasta, out of her way because she “could tell we were good people”, we know that Jill is an angel!

Castle Crags and civilisation


Priorities always go to diner breakfasts and we got dropped off at Black Bear Diner, it has a reputation and we have been hearing about it since Seiad Valley. It was worth the 30min 4th of July wait and we all couldn’t fit in our after our main course. We then walked through town to the supermarket to buy some beer, we want to celebrate as we are very patriotic Americans. We pass the town parade complete with old cars, horse and carts, floats and parading police and ambulance. Star spangled banner was sung and we felt like we were in small town in the movies!

The OG Black Bear Diner


After buying beer we walk a mile out of town to the campground, we booked it yesterday in a mountain Internet pocket and were glad we did as everywhere is booked out. Mt Shasta is a tweaker town and a hot place to see fireworks. We could also fit more stranded hikers on our plot and Woodstock and Action joined us. We drank the mimosas first and got a bit drunk just in time to shower and go in the pool. We ran into Rhino who we hadn’t seen since early desert and he offered for us to join his gang for a dinner BBQ. Of course we said yes and brought more beer as well as steak and veges and tinfoil. We lined a table with tinfoil and Rhino tipped everything into the centre, and doused it with salt, pepper, spring onions, balsamic and lemon. It was flipping delicious, better than the restaurants. Rhino even smoked some chicken and then made s’mores for dessert, it was amazing I don’t know if I can emphasise that enough!

Happy mimosa, I mean 4th


We also did some more drinking and we were probably the biggest drunkies at the party, but we soon found our party animal friends back at our campsite in the form of Woodstock and Action who were drinking tequila and making hamburgers at midnight. We stayed up till 1am (I got up at 5am) and then crashed in our tents with car lights passing every 10 min of other night owls coming home.

Dinner creation

SOBO Day 84 – Cliff above Bluff Lake to Gumboot Trailhead, 30kms

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.

PC in a Meadow

Magical or haunted?


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. 

Deadfall Lake


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.

Beautiful Shasta gave me no strength!

Our daily dose (this was the easy bit)


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.

Walk on PC walk on

Hi PL 👋! You can kinda see Lassen floating like a dragon in the background


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!