Northern CA R

Oct. 7, Fri.–??? miles–No. CA R

Fri. Oct. 7       Miles today:??? Don’t know–no guidebook     No. CA Section R

Well, it was great to be able to SEE this morning!  We were up on a mountaintop instead of in a dark canyon, so we were able to get up earlier.  Last night, a cloud came over us, then left again, so it was a clear morning when we first got up.  The sunrise was very pretty!  But what really surprised us were the large fog banks moving over some of the ridges.  It looked just like back at home when the ocean fog rolls in like a white tidal wave. 

We started off along the trail, and as soon as we had a good “sunpatch”, BEFORE we had to walk into the fog, we stopped for a quick, cold breakfast.  No mochas today–we needed to save every minute, and every drop of water!  We got to a very confusing trail junction where we weren’t sure which was the PCT, till we finally spotted a PCT emblem on a tree, but facing where only a SOBO would see it.  Grrrr!  Then we met a hunter.  Yikes!  I quickly put my red bandanna back on top of my pack!  Only ten minutes later, we hit ANOTHER junction, and this one was really tough to figure out.  There were no signs or emblems to indicate which direction of the “Y” was the PCT, and both directions looked well-travelled.  One was slightly blocked by a rockslide and headed downhill and northwest.  The other ws blocked by a stone wall with a cute green “garden gate.”  It went northeast. 

We stood around debating what to do, and finally chose the gated trail, since we knew the PCT here did generally go northeast.  But 15 minutes of happily charging down the hill, past a pretty lake, on a trail tread sparkling with mica bits, turned into dismay and frustration.  The trail ended, and there was the hunter’s truck.  Beyond it was a mishmash of dirt roads, and not a sign of the PCT.  We assumed we’d chosen the wong trail, and climbed sadly back up, through the green gate, and onto the other trail.

But 20 minutes of very steep downhill, in an increasingly wrong direction, with ever worse trail tread had me so uneasy that I said to Bill, “This CAN’T be right.  I think we should go back to the hunter’s truck and just roadwalk over to Cook  & Green Pass.  Then we’ll find th PCT again.”  Bill agreed, and slowly climbed all the way back up the hill, with me following him, very worried because I could see that he was rapidly becoming very tired.  Back through the green gate, down to the truck, and we started to walk northeast along one of the roads.  And guess what?  Not far from the truck, around a bend of the rough dirt road, there was that sneaky PCT!!!  We HAD been right to choose the gated trail!  Hooray!  Now we were on track again.

Later on, we met another confusing junction, but I told Bill to just rest while I took a quick trip alone down the “probably wrong” trail to confirm that it was NOT the PCT.  The guy in the store at Seiad Valley must not have had very good information if he thought the PCT was “well marked”.  We wished very fervently that there were more PCT emblems AND that the emblems were placed in such a way that it’s clear which trail is which.  Putting an emblem right in the middle of a “Y” junction is mildly reassuring (At least we know we’re CLOSE to the PCT) but it is no help in deciding which way to go.  I began a little bit of inward fretting over all the delay we were having because of the poorly marked trail, then kicking myself and saying, “Stop it!  You managed to find the trail every time, and if it means a delay, well, just trust God that His timing is right!”

As we continued on, Bill and I talked about water.  We had no idea where the next spring or creek might be.  And just then, along came another backpacker, heading south.  He said there was a spring only a few miles beyond the next pass.  Good!  A nice long, easy downhill to the pass (and great mountain views along the way) and…surprise!  There was a whole crowd of people at the road!  A trail crew!  When I asked for some water, they practically had a shoving match over who would share some of their water with us!  I ended up with a FULL load in my 2-liter Platypus!  Wonderful!  And Bill and I were both awed at God’s care for us once again.

We began the climb up frm the pass, enjoying the fall foliage of the bushes along the trail, then stopped for a great lunch with a view that stretched for miles.  It was very cloudy and chilly–I had to put on my jacket.  Thoughts of “big storm coming” were flitting across my mind, but I pushed them away.  After lunch, the PCT turned into an enormous roller coaster, going up and down along the crest.  We reached the spring the other hiker had told us about, and yuck! It was all tramped by cows and full of gross slimy stuff.  Good thing we’d been able to get water from the trail crew!  But my 2 liters pretty much got used up by lunch plus hiking, and Bill’s water was running low.  We figured all we could do was just keep walking and trust God to provide.

At 3:00, we stopped for a candy bar, and along came 2 hunters with a dog.  Even the dog was wearing an orange vest!  They advised us to go to Reeve’s Spring, almost a mile offtrail up ahead.  Sigh.  Well, at least we knew where to go.  We were just finishing up our candy, when along came 2 more hunters.  We asked them about Reeve’s Spring, and they shook their heads.  “You don’t want to go there.  Somebody shot it up real bad and busted it all to heck, and it’s WAY off your PCT trail.  You come with us to our camp–we’ve got plenty of water.”  And so that’s what we did! Talk about perfect timing!  Now I knew why God let us get muddled and delayed this morning–so we’d be at exactly the right place at the right time to meet the hunters and get water! 

Well, the camp turned out to be really something.  It was just off the PCT.  All the hunters were there, and gladly gave us all the water we needed, plus a beer, which we drank with them and exchanged stories of our hiking and their hunting.  It was a very wonderful time, and for us a time of EXTREME gratefulness to God for HIs care and provision.  When we finally had to leave, the hunters told us, “Just walk straight up that little ridge there, and you’ll hit the PCT.”  So we did, and kept on walking till sundown (6:30 pm!  We don’t get much daylight anymore!) where we found a nice quiet (we thought!!) campsite deep in the woods.  We’d just finished setting up the tarp, when only a little ways away, a hunter truck went by!  We had no idea that a road was so close. 

But we figured we were safe under our white tarp, and watched the clouds rolling in and blotting out the stars. It was very cold, and we were all bundled up with lots of layers inside our sleeping bags.  We were not sure where we were, without a proper map, but hopefully we were at least halfway to Ashland!  What an incredible day it’s been!  God is awesome!