The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

Tahoe to Belden: approaching halfway July 23, 2012

Filed under: hiking,PCT — Amanda @ 11:29
Tags: ,

Getting back on the trail after spending a weekend with Chuck at Lake Tahoe was hard – I really wanted to stay with him and return to the comforts of home (and the kitties!) in San Diego. But alas, the only way to justify the massive resupply trip to REI was to start hiking again, so I headed north on the morning of the 17th, knowing that Sierra City was only 2 days away, and my next visit with Chuck would be in Portland, OR in early September. I hiked about 18 miles the first day, and saw and chatted with lots of day-hikers and weekenders (i think i intimidated a couple who were out for a 15 mile weekend trip when I told them I was going “only” 38 miles in two days – oops!), but no other Pct hikers. I visited the Peter Grubb hut, built to shelter hikers and skiers from winter storms – it had the first two-story outhouse I’ve seen on the trail! I also impressed myself with my topo map reading skills – I found a perfect campsite, sheltered from the wind, in the exact spot that I had identified as a candidate from the contour pattern.
The next day was a quick twenty miles into the Red Moose Inn in Sierra City. On the descent into town I came across a bush of purple flowers that was full of dozens of orange butterflies – a beautiful sight! I enjoyed hiking through the Tahoe National Forest, which had lots of trail signs with mileage markers and an informational sign about the reservoir on the way into town. I met up with several other hikers, including GipC Girl and Action Pack, at the Red Moose, and being around them all again made me feel better about being back on the trail again, and a little less homesick.
I had a fabulous breakfast at the Red Moose the next morning, and set off to tackle the climb out of town under a beautifully overcast sky. The cool weather helped me power up the hill, where i passed the 1200 mile mark, and then I hiked with Action Pack for the rest of the day – chatting with her definitely helped the miles fly by. We hiked past Sierra Buttes, an impressive rock formation north of town; parts of the trail were a bit precarious on a rocky ledge, but it was a beautiful place to hike.
The next day was a tough one – I’d planned 27 miles and was actually hoping to do 29, but was really tired toward the end of the day and ended up camped with a few other hikers near the Fowler Peak trailhead after a 26 mile day. The day’s scenery was mostly pine forests and flowered hillsides, with a few expansive views of more pine-covered valleys. The trade-off for hiking among all of these lush plants is a much higher humidity level than I’ve previously hiked in, and the sticky heat is a bit tough to adjust to. I spent most of the afternoon listening to music, trying to crank out the miles and ignore how tired my feet were.
For some reason, the next day was much better. I got a decently early start and sped through the first few flat miles, walked over a fantastic bridge at the Feather River, and climbed for seven miles in the heat of the afternoon before finishing up with a few flat miles to my campsite – I walked for almost 28 miles that day, my longest day yet! I was pleased with how good I felt on the long uphill section, and eased some of my getting-to-Canada anxiety by giving myself permission to take a little more rest than I had planned along the way instead of pushing to finish by the (not really) magic date of October 1 no matter what mileage it takes to get there.
My long day left me with only twenty miles to go into the town of Belden – a short uphill followed by a long descent into town. I had great views of lakes and flower covered rides in the morning, then walked through more pine forests before emerging onto an exposed ridge with sandy switchbacks. The first few miles of the descent flew by, but the last six miles into town seemed to take forever, and my feet were very tired of the pounding descent. The poison oak that the trail into Belden is famous for had luckily been trimmed back to an easily-avoidable level, and just before I emerged for the final road walk I found some much-welcomed trail magic – an assortment of drinks had been left in a nest of ice on a trailside boulder; I picked up a cold can of guava nectar and gulped it down to energize me for the final mile. I’ll be back on the trail this afternoon after getting my fill of town food at Belden Town Resort and Caribou Crossroads diner, ad enjoying the hospitality of the Braatens, who host hikers here in town. The switchbacks out of town look intimidating, but I’m almost to the halfway point on the trail and am heading into Lassen National Park soon, so I’m excited about the week ahead!

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I made it through The Sierras! July 17, 2012

Filed under: hiking,PCT — Amanda @ 6:40
Tags: ,

My high-mountain adventure lasted almost a month, from June 15, when I walked out of Kennedy Meadows and the landscape started transforming into granite hills and hidden alpine meadows, until July 14th, when I walked over Donner Pass (without being eaten!) and met Chuck for a weekend of resupply and relaxation on the shores of Lake Tahoe. 1160 miles down, 1500 to go! The Sierras deserve a much longer write-up, but I have to get back on trail about two hours, so here are a few highlights:

  • A surprise meeting of friends from San Diego on my descent from Mt Whitney
  • Climbing 14,500-foot Mt Whitney and 13,000-foot Forrester Pass on consecutive days
  • Lots of deer and marmots (high-elevation groundhogs)!
  • More waterfalls and pristine alpine lakes than I ever would have imagined
  • Camping above 10,000 feet, and waking up to a tent covered in ice
  • Seeing the dramatic changes in rock formations through King’s Canyon and Yosemite National Parks and the National Forests in the Sonora Pass area and north to Lake Tahoe
  • Many mountain wildflowers – from tiny little plants hugging the ground above 12,000 feet to meadows full of flowers taller than me! I even got to walk through a field of wild irises.

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