Etna to Castella Day 51 (8/23/10)
: A trend is developing -- one that we don't like. Whenever we stay in town, we don't sleep well. Last night, at the Etna City Park, the sprinklers came on while we were sleeping. These weren't just your friendly, I want to frollick through the water sprinklers, but more like violent water cannons! We managed to arbitrarily pitch the tent away from the first area of attach, so when it shut off and started in another area, we moved the tent to the already-watered area and only got minimally wet through the night. Still, we must have lost at least 2 hours of sleep due to paranoia.
By the time we get up, hit town for errands, and hit the trail, it's almost 6pm. We hike 10 miles with the last couple being under a full moon. We run into Jason and Cassandra's camp and they talk us into camping nearby. Day 52
: We hike with Jason and Cassandra today. They are also Southbounders, but started from Canada a couple weeks ahead of us (but took a week or so break from the trail). We have a great time getting to know each other and cracking jokes. The day feels like it goes by quickly and we are still able to cover a good 28 miles despite the longer snack and lunch breaks. We only pass by a few Nobos today; looks like we're reaching the tail end of the group.Day 53
: Shirley's stomach has been aching and cramping since we left Etna and feels worse today. She's the weak link of the group of four today, but she sucks it up through the hills and the heat. We have some nice views because there aren't many trees along the trail, but that also means walking under direct sun for most of the day with temperatures in the high 90's. We take frequent breaks to cool off in the shade and splash water on ourselves when we pass by a few flowing creeks. We feel slower today, but make it 28 miles to Dead Falls Lake with plenty of time to bathe and have dinner before dark. Not such a bad day after all -- must be due to the good company! Day 54
: The first time around, we weren't sure if our stomach problems were due to giardia. Well, after today, we're pretty sure Shirley has it...four emergency pit stops today. We're still in high spirits though -- traveling with our new friends even makes going through ailments seem funny with bad giardia jokes flying left and right. Despite the multiple stops, we somehow cover 26 miles before 5:30pm, allowing us time to stop at a watering hole to cool off in the 100 degree heat. We must have gotten a real power boost from that rest stop because we are able to make another 5 miles in 1 1/2 hours, getting us over 30 miles (31 to be exact!) and to camp with plenty of light left to sit around, make camp, and have an early dinner. We're only 2 to 3 hours to our next resupply stop, so we're feeling accomplished today.Castella to Old Station Day 55 (8/27/10)
: We all sleep in a little and hike to the store just as it opens for the day. We have breakfast, then take inventory of what is inside of our resupply box. Shirley's brother and sister bought the food and we have no idea what they includes, so it feels like opening a Christmas present. Hmm, seems like this box was made especially with Yannick in mind...two of his favorite kinds of cookies and his favorite brand of gummy bears. Shirley gets rice and a can of baked beans...hmmm...(actually, she was craving rice pretty badly, so that was really thoughtful of her siblings :).
The four of us head off onto the trail a little after noon. It's hot and there isn't much going on in the forest. The highlight of the day is showering in a river just before setting up camp. It's nice to go to sleep fresh and clean! Day 56
: Fortunately, we decided to pitch the tent with the fly because it started to rain overnight. We were sleeping next to a cliff, so we wanted to avoid having to do an emergency rain fly setup. The rain kept falling all day, which was a nice break from the heat and gave a nice change to the scenery. While hiking along some cliffs, we could see clouds hanging among treetops on the mountainside across from us. By evening, the rain stops and we're able to set up the tent without getting everything wet...how nice!Day 57
: Over the past few days, we've been going around Mt. Shasta and would get views of it from different angles. Sometimes Shasta would pop up in front of us, other times it would be off to the left. We would hike around a pass and see Shasta off to our right...and even see it behind us at times. Yes, we have literally been hiking in zig-zagging lines around mountains and valleys. Noth the most efficient route to go from North to South, but we can't complain too much -- we are hiking the Pacific Crest National Scenic
Trail after all. If we wanted the express route, we could have walked along the 5 freeway!
We are still having a lot of fun along the trail though. After one of our breaks, Yannick and Shirley went ahead of Jason and Cassandra by only 10 minutes. We thought it would be funny
to ask hikers we pass by to relay messages back to them, usually some cryptic message that only they would understand. Jason and Cassandra like to talk to those passing Northbound, so we figured they'd be delayed even longer and have a harder time trying to hike faster to catch up to us again. Eventually, we heard them off in the distance, so Yannick hid in the bushes for an ambush. Cassandra was walking in front of Jason, so as they passed by, Yannick reached out from under the bushes and grabbed Cassandra's leg. She jump and screamed, while Jason burst out laughing so hard. Ooooh, Yannick...such a jokester. Day 58 (8/30/10)
: Our goal for the next to days is to cover 57 miles to get to the Heitman's (the trail angels in Old Station, CA) before dinner. So we are up at 5:30am and hiking 45 miutes later. After 10 miles we reach Burney Falls where they have a beautiful waterfall and a store with FOOD. So we spend a couple hours eating, doing laundry, go through the "hiker box", and rest. Next comes the longest section without water...29.7 miles. Fortunately for us, the temperature is pleasant and we don't consume that much fluid. On top of that, we discover few water caches along the way to top off our bottles. We end the day on top of the rim with gorgeous panoramic views. 31 miles covered today. Day 59 (8/31/10)
: Last day of August and Yannick feels sick (sore throat, nasal congestion, fatigue). He likely caught a cold in the last couple days. Between Giardia, a cold, and one month of hiking without real rest, the immune system is telling us to STOP. Only 24 miles of effort today and we can take a real break. Perfect timing!
We get to the Heitman's "hiker sanctuary" on Old Station, CA at around 6pm and we are treated like royalty. Shower, the first real warm shower in a month, feels like heaven! Then comes a delicious hot dinner, internet and TV...What else do we need!