Tuesday, June 30, 2015

PCT 2015 -> Days 70-85 (6/20-7/5) (miles 1,091-1,450)

The past 16 days and roughly 360 miles have brought the Sierras to a close and the trail has transitioned to the volcanos, heat, and easier tread of northern Calfiornia.  After leaving south Lake Tahoe the PCT follows the west side of the lake, going behind the ski areas of Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley before crossing I-80 near Donner Pass.  After passing through the small towns of Sierra City and Belden the trail crosses into Lassen National Park, then continues north to the high desert Hat Creek Rim section, which has long waterless stretch.  After dropping off Hat Creek Rim the trail turns west and heads towards Mount Shasta.

The trail in NorCal is generally flatter and easier on the body than the Sierra section, so most hikers tend to start increasing their daily mileage to around 25-30 miles per day after leaving Tahoe.  Another positive about the NorCal section has been the abundance of natural springs either on or close to the trail, providing cold clean water.  On the negative side the trail has been mostly unremarkable/hot/ buggy since Tahoe, much of the time passing through bland forests and logging roads.  So while physically the trail in NorCal is easier, mentally the test can be harder than the Sierras. 

Fontanillis Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Sunset from campsite above Lake Tahoe, Granite Chief Wilderness

Alpine meadow near Donner Pass
Sierra City, mile 1,195

Sierra City - PCT friendly Methodist Church allows free camping on lawn (except on Sundays)
Camp at 1,280

Sunset near Belden, CA

PCT midpoint sign

Sunrise on Hat Creek Rim

"Wild Bird Cache" trail magic near Highway 299

Burney Falls

Mount Shasta early morning from camp, mile 1,450