PCT Part 12, Finishing California (mile 1153 – 1717)

Obviously it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog update. Everything is going well though, I’m still hiking along on my way to Canada. The reason for this delayed post is simply because I’ve had basically zero downtime after coming out of the Sierras. After doing the math I need to average 22 miles every day to reach Canada on time so I’ve been spending next to no time in towns which is where I do all my writing.

I have a little time now to get out a small blog post – unfortunately I’ve covered around 600 miles since the last post so I’m not going to do a day by day account of the last month. Instead I’ll share some of the best pictures and give some high level thoughts on this last stretch of California.

Last bit of snow! I had several annoying sections of snow like this for about 40 more miles. This picture is actually the trail – see if you can find it. Navigation through terrain like this took a lot of effort.After skipping the final section of the Sierras I found myself in Northern California – the last 600 mile section of the state. This section, at least early on, was characterized by scenes of incredible greenery and lush beauty in the valleys and impossible to navigate sub-treeline snowfields at higher elevation.

See the Donner Party plaque – the trail actually passes through where the Donner Party was tragically stranded by early season snow and resorted to cannibalism. Thankfully around here the snow finally disappeared for the most part except for a few patches here and there.Swimming holes like this were abundant throughout all of Northern California.Summer wildflowers were abundant in this section as well!Check out out – this is the halfway point! The marker is unimpressive but it felt great to be halfway done.All of the towns in Northern California were super welcoming if not a little strange. Look up the ‘State of Jefferson’ movement – I’d never heard of it but it seems like a popular sentiment up here.

A church in one of the towns even let us hikers camp in their backyard area.I passed through Lassen Volcanic national park very briefly and I was super impressed! It’s not a well known park but it was an interesting place. First there was the boiling lake – exactly what it sounds like.Then I saw a bear not 5 minutes later.And then I saw some natural hot creeks. You can just barely see the steam coming off the creeks in the morning light.After Lassen I stayed at a guest ranch and everyone was so accommodating. They made us home cooked meals and let us camp on their property for the night.Parts of NorCal reminded me a lot of the desert section – days were sunny and hot and water was sometimes scare. The Hat Creek section is notorious for being brutally hot and dry (30 miles without water) but I didn’t find it unbearable. In fact, it was one of my favorite parts!I forgot to mention that right before the rim was a really cool lava tube cave as well. It was shockingly cool inside compared to the 90 degree temps on the rim.Views like this made the Hat Creek section one of my favorite parts of the trail.But the PCT is not always beautiful. For every gorgeous vista you get miles of burnt down forest walking.I was surprised to see just how much of the forests up here were burned. Thankfully there have been no major wildfires in NorCal this year.Water signs reminded me that I wasn’t in the mountains anymore. I had to be careful.Just after the desert like Hat Creek Rim is quite possibly the most opposite environment – Burney Falls.The water is just so blue and unbelievably cold. Even though the day was scorching I would not want to swim in it! I think I heard the water temperature was in the upper 40s.After the falls was a cool dam.A few days later Mt. Shasta came into view. Little did I know I’d be seeing this giant volcanic mountain all the way to Oregon. It really is an incredible mountain though.I even had a little slug friend join me for dinner once.The day after leaving Mt. Shasta some smoke blew in from a large wildfire in southern Oregon. Everything smelled like a campfire and I could swear it made the air feel warmer. I think some of my hottest days were hiking in the smoke and humidity. It sometimes felt like another planet altogether.This was the first time I’d experienced the effects of a wildfire. Thankfully in a couple days the winds picked up and carried the smoke away. I think there fire was contained as well.

I was glad the smoke cleared out because the next stretch was the most scenic since the Sierras. I was back up at decent elevation and the lakes and meadows were breathtaking.The wildflowers were still going strong too.Just look at how green everything is!I could tell I was getting close to Oregon. California had a few last parting gifts for me, however. The last 100 miles or so were filled with blackberries and raspberries and I must’ve eaten pounds of them.On my last day in California a serious storm blew in very quickly. I had made it over 1000 miles in this state without a drop of rain and now it seems I would get drenched. To make matters worse, I had left my tent stakes in the last town so I had no shelter. I’d been cowboy camping for a week straight.As luck would have it, just as the thunder picked up I came upon an old cabin. Two other hikers were there and they said I was welcome to join them!

The cabin was in the process of being restored and the owners actually encouraged PCT hikers to stay and use it for the night. It doesn’t look like much but it kept me safe and dry!And just a mile later I was in Oregon! After just under 4 months I was finally in a new state.Free sodas for PCT hikers! I shamefully chugged two because it was such a hot day.All in all I can honestly say I really enjoyed Northern California. Even though I basically hiked the whole thing entirely alone it was a great experience. I certainly got to listen to a lot of books!

I averaged around 25 miles per day which definitely took its toll but I still feel strong and I’m not really hurting yet. I must say I am looking forward to Oregon. I plan on being done with Oregon in around 17 days – averaging 30 miles per day. It’s ambitious but I think I can do it.

3 thoughts on “PCT Part 12, Finishing California (mile 1153 – 1717)

  1. Excellent photography. Are you using a smart phone? You will treasure these images the rest of your life. God’s speed. Be safe.


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