Day 19- BFT
Days like today don’t come often for me on long distance hikes in that I got to talk to my girlfriend and best friend on the phone while at my campsite with a fire going. Such an incredible way to end a tough day on trail.
I woke up this morning at Azalea Lake and began my climb over the hill that was scortched from a recent fire. The trail led me onto the south side of a ridge heading west with amazing views of where I came from on the PCT. The terrain was smooth and gradual in grade. Eventually I came to a road walk that lasted longer than I had hoped, but it did allow me to make some miles.
Unfortunately when the road walk ended I was sent up what the writer of this trail called a trail, but it was more like a game of find the tiny flag on a tree and find a way to get there. This game lasted forever and after an hour I had barely gone a mile and my legs were bleeding all over from scrapes on fallen trees or gnarly bushes.
Eventually I made my way to the top of what I thought was the end, but saw a sea of Manzanita bushes where my “trail” was leading. I spent a long time and said a lot of cuss words in the next hour. Finally I made it to an old road that led me gently down to another road walk where I called my people and found an amazing camp spot right off the road with good water.
Since then I’ve eaten, made my daily fire and am now again in my quilt for my fourth to last night out here. Tomorrow is another big day of road walks, but I’m excited to knock down some miles.
Day 18- BFT
I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start my last section of this thru hike. The trail out of seiad valley is a good climb back to higher elevation, but the terrain is amazing and the grade is so gradual you hardly notice you’re climbing until you get to the top. Last time I hiked this bit it was a cloudy day and I was able to get above the clouds at the end and get some wonderful pictures. This time it was bright and sunny.
Once the climb was over my trail splits west from the PCT. I could see my trail from miles away scaling the inside of the Ridgeline and occasionally making it’s way to a saddle for views of both valleys. The walk was stunning. I stopped many times just to try and take it all in feeling overwhelmed at grandeur of the landscape.
I was able to throw down miles faster than I have this whole trip and got to a beautiful lake around 4:30. I had thought about going further to a little pond, but thinking about how much food I had and how nice it would be to be done so early I threw my things down and went fishing. I love making camp feel like home and arranging firewood together and clearing an area to read. It’s all so calming and natural.
I’m now tucked away in my quilt listening to frogs and mosquitos. Tomorrow I’ll be in Oregon for a short period and then back into California for some time in red butte wilderness.
Day 16- BFT
I never want to leave the PCT. I know this section is one of the easier ones, but it’s so incredible being able to look around while hiking instead of constantly trying to find the trail. Even though this was my longest day yet I don’t have too much to report.
I woke up this morning at Paradise Lake and got hiking around 9. Trail was relatively smooth with a few gradual climbs to get you out of the Marble Wilderness and begin the descent into Seiad Valley. The descent is a smooth twelve mile chiller down Grider Creek with incredible swimming holes and rock formations. I got down around 4 and jumped in the water before a seven Mile road walk.
I originally thought I would have been out for another day, but in the end decided to hike an extra ten miles to make it into town. Seiad Valley is a great small community of people who are welcoming to hikers. I showed up around 7:30 and met a few other hikers before winding down in my quilt for the night. I’m going to zero again tomorrow and try to fish the Klamath, but I hear the fishing is dull right now so we will see how that goes. I’m happy to be in this town again and happy to know my next town is my last. My trail turns west here and heads for the coast! Also, I held a baby Grouse today.
Day 15- BFT
There is nothing like sleeping in and waking up to a beautiful sunny day next to a little lake in the mountains. The weather was chilly this morning, but standing in the sun felt amazing. I wasn’t in any rush so I decided to fish for a bit before I left, but didn’t catch anything. After a boring poop and a slow water squeeze I left my little heaven.
Trail was immediately spectacular. The dense Alpine forest covered me from the sun as I slowly descended down to wooly creek. Once I made it to the creek I was blissed put thinking the rest of my day would be filled with chill hiking and smooth terrain, but I was quickly proven wrong. The second I crossed the creek the trail brought me uphill through an insane few miles of bush whacking and tree climbing. It took me forever to get through it and the worst was yet to come.
I slowly found some steady ground, but then found myself met with a sea of poison oak. I tried my best to make it through untouched, but we will see in a few days how well I did. The terrain again proved relentless. I would lose the trail the second I found it again and spend so much time ducking under fallen trees or wading through chest high bushes. Fucking hell.
After an hour or so I had enough and stripped down to jump in the creek. I spent almost thirty minutes splashing in a beautiful swimming hole next to a miniature waterfall before I got my clothes back on and kept moving. Eventually after hours of bullshit I began climbing uphill to the PCT and the poison oak faded out. I couldn’t wait to get on the PCT and hike on that highway without a single blockade.
The second I got on the PCT everything changed. I forgot just how spectacular that trail is and how well maintained. I’m hiking the PCT all the way to Siead Valley through the Marble Mountain Wilderness. I blasted five miles in about two hours again blissed out on the beauty of the surrounding peaked and ridgelines. I had a few flashbacks to this section from my thru hike in 2016, but honestly didn’t remember too much of what I saw. Maybe because two years ago I was plagued with a shin splints and focused on getting to town asap. If you want to read my blog on this section from two years ago check it out here and here.
I eventually made my way to Paradise Lake and started to fish with some other day hikers. This man told me in 19 years of living out here he has caught 611 bears. He uses dogs and runs them up trees and then let’s them go. Not sure the point, but he was really proud. He said it’s all in the chase. After another dinner next to a fire and a gorgeous sunset over the ridge I’m in my quilt ready to sleep deeply to prepare for another day on the PCT. I love this trail!
Day 14- BFT
Nothing makes me feel more energized than coming off a zero day and hiking next to a creek. Today’s hike made me feel like myself again in how I like to hike. My body felt strong, I felt rested and the terrain was magnificent.
I woke up early to catch a ride to the trailhead and within an hour I was back to the North Fork of the Salmon River. The trail ran alongside the river for almost eight miles before it crossed and began a steady climb out of the valley. The lower elevation was pretty consistent with what you would expect; poison oak, small shrubs, dense canopies and tons of water.
When I began to gain elevation I got a little bit of views of the surrounding areas and was able to get a pretty damn good picture of the Marble Mountain Wilderness to the North. I noticed a ton of lakes on my male and decided to pull off at one called Wild Lake.
I got into camp around 5:30 and immediately went to fish. Within a few minutes I had caught a few fish when I noticed across the lake a bear wander down from the spring to the lake and get in the water. I crouched down to watch as it splashed about and eventually got up to start walking around the water. It was on a path towards me and I waited until it was about twenty yards away and started smacking sticks together and yelling at it and immediately it ran off.
I made my fire and cooked my fish before setting up my tarp to get in my quilt for the night. Tomorrow should be a nice and breezy walk down to lower elevation with a smooth uphill at the end of the day to put me on the PCT again. Hoping that bear stays away!
Day 8- BFT
After 47 miles of road walking I am finally back on a trail. I despise road walking and it’s monotonous character and brutal impact on my feet and knees. Today’s road walk was a but more exciting as I would up canyon Creek with gorgeous views of the water and the eroded cliffs skirting the edges all the way up. It was also diverse in ecosystems. The trail started in Junction City, which is rather dry and hot, and slowly developed into a thick canopy of Douglas fir trees with Ponderosa needles blanketing the pavement. However, I am glad to be back on a real trail.
I woke up late this morning without a care in the world and heard a fish splashing in the river. I threw a line in only to come out empty handed again, but I’m still hopeful for the future. Tomorrow I camp at Caribou lake 6,000 feet up and hope to see some fish in there. After eating last night’s chocolate and a poptart I got my stuff together and made my way into Junction City one last time to grab a drink and say bye to the store worker who is mailing a package for me.
It felt good to walk fifteen miles without much effort, but it all kind of felt like a build up to something else. Days like that are hard for me to really feel like I’m doing something I love in the moment, but I know the payoff will come and that keeps me going. It sucks being alone in the woods in a lot of ways, but honestly right now I’m pretty happy. I got my fishing pole, my Tootsie rolls and a ton of fire wood to burn. The birds and chirping and the sun is slowly setting. Into the Alps!
Day 12- BFT
I didn’t realize how easy of a hike I would have into town until I woke up this morning. When I looked at my map I saw that I would be walking on a steady downhill trail eleven miles to my road.
Trail today was amazing and enjoyable. I had beautiful views of the Russian Wilderness as I left high altitude and then was covered in a canopy for the rest of the day.
When I got to my road I plopped down and had to wait for two hours before this Jeep picked me up.
I eventually made my way into Etna and was dropped off at the Hiker Hut where I did laundry and showered and met an incredible man who was on a biking trip. We had dinner together and he went to sleep while I stayed up eating chocoloate and watching Netflix. I’m looking forward to a down day tomorrow relaxing and enjoying the beauty of Etna!
Day 11- BFT
Today was another beautiful day hiking on the Bigfoot Trail. I wondered through dense forests early in the day and eventually popped out to some incredible Rodge walks along the outer parts of the Trinity Wilderness and entering the Russian Wilderness.
Today I got to hike on the PCT again for a few miles and it brought me back to how I used to hike. On that trail I would blast a fast as I could without much time to stop and swim or enjoy the still needs of the forests. Speed hiking works for a lot of people but my style I’m realizing is slower and less stressful. I’ve been really enjoying this trail and taking my time along the way. Tomorrow is another town day!
You can see the PCT across the valley on the other side of this mountain.
Day 10- BFT
Well I finally did it. I caught a fish! I woke up early soaked from dew in my quilt and went back to sleep until the sun cooked off the moisture. I finally woke up to start fishing and caught two small trout. Not sure what kind but here is a picture.
After fishing until 11 I got ready to leave and began a peaceful walk along the lakes and started heading down hill towards Coffee Creek.
There was only one serious climb standing in my way today up to the top.of Packers Peak which is the BFT high point at just under 8,000 feet. When I got down to the valley I came to coffee creek road and took a break to prepare for the climb. The climb ended up being easier than I anticipated and I made my way up in just over an hour.
The summit was amazing. Beautiful views of Shasta and Lassen and the Trinities behind me.
After the summit I had a nice walk along a ridge and was following bear tracks and eventually came upon fresh scat I made a bunch of noise and walked with caution until I noticed the tracks leave the trail.
I finally reached a saddle.in the ridge and made a fire next to some rocks and wound down for the night. It’s feeling incredible to be in these mountains.
Day 9- BFT
Damn. Today I feel like the hike really began. I woke up next to a creek and got hiking going up and up for about five miles when I finally got to the top and got my first glimpse into the Trinity Alps.
Hiking today felt amazing. I climbed about 7,000 feet in fifteen miles and got to hike a part of California I have wanted to for years. The trail started by going on a single track rarely used through thick brush and small creeks. It climbed and climbed up the south side of the mountains switching back and forth until it finally dropped me over the pass. Immediately the trail went down into the valley and ran along the South fork of the Salmon river for about seven miles.
After a beautiful walk in the valley the trail climbed 3,000 feet up a dry side of the mountains in three miles. Luckily I hit this section in the evening and slowly made my way to the top with gaining views of emerald lake and surrounding peaks to the south west.
Above is a picture of the valley I walked through. I came over a pass at the top right of the picture behind the ridge in the front.
When I made it to the top I saw Caribou lake and made my way down the snowy borther side of the pass by skiing on my feet. I found a place next to the lake and started to fish without any luck. I’m sleeping next to the water and looking forward to waking up early to fish and slowly make my way further into the Trinities.