I woke Kristians up pretty early as usual, because I had to go to the toilet. T-Bone, too, was awake of course and after our breakfasts and packing we all set off together at around 7:50. Coconut and Tomb Raider were still sleeping in their tent.
The day ahead looked daunting: total 24,5 miles & 1800m ascent, two hills, the 2nd one very steep.
The first part went relatively fast because the slope was pretty gradual. We mostly stayed under the tree canopy and so it wasn’t too hot either. T-Bone was a bit ahead when we got up & over the first climb and then walked steeply downhill until the water source at 10 miles. Here we caught up with T-Bone for a sec but as we didn’t need water we went on ahead.
We knew it was only 3 miles until the Squaw Valley Creek and that it was supposed to be flat or downhill. It wasn’t. Instead we took a steep ascent on the hillside, then traversed the next mountain and finally descended a little bit until the bridge at the river. It was now pretty hot but luckily there was a nice spot down by the river, reached by a steep scree trail. We set up our lounge and Kristians took a proper swim in the cold water. We ended up having a 1,5 hour lunch during which I even took a nap. We thought that Coconut and Tomb Raider would catch up with us but they didn’t, so we just continued.
We now had ahead the second, steep ascent. And steep it was – our average speed went down by a kilometer per hour. We had 10 miles until the next water source and then a 1,5 mile water carry to where we’d camp. The uphill took us about 2 hours but luckily the trail then stayed flat for some time. We met a southbound hiker and then had a 10 minute break right on the trail – it was pretty darn hot and we were tired. We needed to push on a bit, however, and luckily the trail started to gradually go downhill. On the open hillsides we got some amazing views of Mt Shasta and the Castle Crags – all seemingly so close.
We did finally reach the creek, filled up all of our water capacity and then hiked the last bit of gradual downhill to the camp. We set up the tents while Kristians built a fire ring – we built one edge really tall because it was a bit windy.
After our cozy dinner we went to sleep but just as we were falling asleep, at about 21:30, Tomb Raider and Coconut passed us. They planned to hike some more miles down, towards the highway that leads to Dunsmuir and Mt Shasta. So we planned to meet up there in the morning because we were setting our alarms for 5am anyway. And off they went…
We started the day early, at 5, ate breakfast and packed up. We had 6 miles of downhill to get to the highway heading to Mt Shasta. On our way down we enjoyed a great weather and also passed Coconut and Tomb Raider in their tent. But they were about to pack up and be in our heels.
Soon enough we got to the highway ramp but quickly saw that there was pretty much no traffic. Just as Coconut & Tomb Raider caught up with us a van DID come by and picked us right up – turned out the couple had hiked most of 2017 and were now finishing off their last sections & doing some trail magic. So we got a nice ride to town and as the outfitter was still closed we went straight for breakfast even though we were still dirty & stinky.
After our well-earned big breakfasts we went to the outfitter that’s known for being hiker-friendly. We charged our devices and I bought new shoes (I had actually ordered a new pair online but it wasn’t delivered in time). I also found a hiking pole from the hikerbox – exactly the same model as Kristians has. This meant I’d now have two poles! Then we left our packs there while we ran the errands: laundry, health food store & resupply at the grocery store.
After returning to the store and packing our purchases it was time for the last thing in our to-do-list: get lunch. We got some burritos and smoothies and then sat there, using the wifi, with our fully loaded stomachs. And then it was time for the sad truth – it’s time to head back to the trail.
We walked towards the highway ramp and a van soon stopped and picked us up. Within two minutes of driving, however, we realized that the car was heading to a different roadcrossing of the PCT, one that was about 20 miles ahead of where we needed to go. So we had to stop and go off again, sadly, to try and find a better ride. Once we continued hitching, however, we realized that Kristians had forgotten one of his hiking poles in the van – so I gave my newly-found pole to him instead; I guess I’m meant to go with one.
After about 1 hour of sitting in the hot sun and hitching Kristians used a marker to make a sign out of his mat. A car quickly stopped – a former policeman whose friend had hiked the AT last year and introduced him to the concept of trail magic. After a nice chat he dropped us off and we thanked him. It was time to get back on trail – it was about 5 in the afternoon.
We decided to hike 3,5 miles to a campsite by the Indian Creek. T-Bone and Kristians of course quickly pulled up ahead and I started to listen to a podcast just to make the hike go faster. At one point there was a junction and a sign showed uphill, towards Indian Creek. Without too much thinking I headed that way and the trail continued at a 45 degree angle uphill. I knew that we had a big uphill ahead of us so I wasn’t too worried. After about an hour of this steep climb, however, I decided to check the map on my phone – I should’ve been at the camp already. I then realized that I had taken two wrong turns in a row and accidentally hiked to the top of a mountain!!
I didn’t want to but I had to turn around and go back downhill until the correct trail. Meanwhile Kristians had gotten worried about me, ran back to a place with signal, realized he’d lost his phone on the way, gone back to find it and then ran to signal again. So finally I managed to call him and tell him where I was. He said that Coconut and Tomb Raider had already gotten to camp but I was nowhere!
So while they set up camp and started a campfire I spent another 1,5 hours backtracking and hiking the correct trail to the correct campsite. Then it was time for a wet wipe shower and finally…my dinner! I was so tired after this but nevertheless didn’t sleep too well that night – the tent was sort of on a slope so I just kept sliding…
Kristians and I started last out of the group – at 8:30. The day got hot pretty fast as there was no wind but we were luckily shaded by the trees for the first 8 miles. We knew we had a lot of ascent today, around 2000 meters, so it was strange that the first bit of the day wasn’t very steep. After the 8 miles we took a short stop at the Disappearing Creek to fill in our water, the next water was in 6 miles. And as we could see the trail becoming more exposed we also covered ourselves in sunscreen.
We then started the steep ascent, zig-zagging up the hillside, and as Kristians was way faster we quickly split up. On the way up we got amazing views of the surrounding valleys and the Castle Crags. But don’t get me wrong – it was brutally hard and hot!
Finally, after about 4 hours, I joined the others at a stream 10,8 miles from the start. We sat in the shadow and ate slowly and a lot, enjoying a good conversation.
The trail then continued in smaller up&downhills, walking on ridges and cliffsides. We could see a lot of alpine lakes rock faces & peaks. There were a lot of breaks taken to take photos ir rest and during one of these breaks Darwin caught up with us again. We talked a bit and then he rushed ahead again.
We planned to do 15 more miles but ended up doing just 12. Just as we (T-Bone and us) were about to reach the campsite, 0,9 miles before, we came down this small hill to a parking lot and there was a trail angel. Dennis is a hiker himself and is hiking the PCT in small sections as he moves north. He gave us apples and a good conversation – what else could we want after a hard day like that.
Soon enough we had to continue and quickly reached the spur trail to the water source – that marked our campsite. Coconut and Tomb Raider decided to hike a couple of miles further so the threeof us just had a great relaxing evening by the fire. The evening was so warm and there were barely any mosquitoes either – this is why we love camping.