This is the day you will always remember as the day Lindsey and Kyle took a train home to Olympia, from Dunsmuir, California. But I guess it is rude and confusing to jump ahead to the now, in the last post we were just getting into Chester! So let me backtrack a little bit and get you caught up so you can understand WHY we are currently, as I write these very words, on a train home to Olympia.
After a zero in Chester we were somewhat ready to hit the trail again. I say somewhat because as we ate our continental breakfast in the hotel dining room we were serenaded by the weather woman, warning of rising temperatures and a heat wave that was pushing the weather into the hundreds. Kyle was in a panic. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Kyle doesn’t do so hot in the heat. He kept grumbling about how he thought we had left the desert behind, why did we have to deal with it again? I knew what he was really worried about was the heat related migraines that he gets. It is not easy to hike with a migraine. Despite our comfortable bed and air conditioned room we had gotten up at the crack of dawn to eat so we could get back to the trail and start hiking before it had too much time to heat up.
When we headed out to the curb to hitch we were picked up by a man who surprised me by saying, “Oh, you guys are Tandem Trekking,” as we scaled our way into his giant truck. What!?! Someone knew who we were!?! Turned out Dogman, our driver, is a blog reader and a very involved PCT trail angel. It was wonderful to get a ride from him and swap some stories. Thanks for the ride Dogman!
The trail was fairly mellow that day, small climbs here, little descents there. We had our first good view of Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen started to get bigger and bigger as we passed through the National Park. And it started to get hotter and hotter. Right after Drakesbad Ranch we had an exposed climb that we took at a snails pace because the sun was pounding down on our shoulders. It felt like it was adding literal weight to our packs. After that we came to a river and some campgrounds in the shade and stopped to cook dinner. Gnocchi was delicious but not quite filling enough. At this point if the meal doesn’t fill our entire pot it isn’t enough. Making dinner killed that hot hour between five and six. But when we started moving again at six the sun was still high in the sky. There seems to be this phenomenon out here, the sun stays high above the mountains until around 9pm and then suddenly it drops out of the sky. And right as we were leaving our dinner spot Kyle’s first migraine hit him.
We got up to the campsites where we were planning on sleeping but despite having hiked around some other people all day there was no one up there. There were some campsites listed a little further on by a lake so we decided to go there. We really wanted to sleep around people that night. With all this heat it was essential for us to sleep well, and it has become apparent that having at least one other person around for mental comfort is helpful. At the lake we found three or four people camped, as well as, two trip leaders who seemed wildly outnumbered by the large group of kids they were leading. The kids immediately informed us that there was a pesky bear around who had already made off with one of their bags of food. We were even more glad we had stopped to camp with other people. In light of the bear troubles we worked extra hard to find a good bear hang tree and when we were finished we had erected an un-stealable bear hang. Plus it was pretty close to the kids camp, so…
The next morning we got up and I was doing my usual tent breaking down chores when Kyle came back prematurely from getting the bear hang to inform me there was a bear. Since we hadn’t actually seen a bear yet I ran after him and sure enough, plunked down in the middle of the trail, just a big dark shape in the growing light with two small green eyes flashing at us, was a bear. The bear of the lake I guess, because he wasn’t scared of us in the least. We forced him to retreat using an aresnal of sticks so that we could proceed to our bear hang. Bear hang retrieved we returned to camp where we were greeted as conquering heroes by our fellow camp mates, who were pleased that we had chased the bear away, for everyone’s sake. We were leaving camp by five.
I hate when these blog posts get a little long so I am going to have to leave this to be continued…