Sunday, August 3, 2014

Starting the PCT at Donner Pass!

After a restful night in Truckee, Freebird and I stopped at a gas station for lunch before beginning the Pacific Crest Trail at Donner Pass. Some Stellar Jays and Cowbirds joined in the feast with us.

A beautiful and kind Australian couple picked us up and drove us to the trailhead, 
way farther than we were asking for. What an amazing start to the journey!

After filling up on water, we began. This stretch from Donner Pass to Sierra City would have 
colorful wildflowers everywhere. During this trek, I believe we saw about 300 kinds! 
We are fortunate to have seen them at their peak!

The staghorn lichens on the conifers indicate how high the snow fell in the area.

Castle Peak. It was spectacular seeing this for miles as we approached it.

We went through a couple of culverts that took us under I-80.

A rest area along I-80. As we passed, we met a trucker taking a break and hiking the trail.

Snack break!

Sunset as we settled into our first campsite on the trail. We camped on top of a ridge 
overlooking a beautiful spring-fed stream filled with at least 30 types of wildflowers. 
Here's some pictures from around the stream the following morning...

Along the trail were fields of mule's ear.

Another view of Castle Peak.

We've reached Castle Peak!

Peter Grubb hut, a refuge for hikers and skiers. The front door is on the second floor because of heavy snowfall in the winter.
A meadow nearby where we stopped to eat lunch.

The same meadow from above.

Alpine meadows full of flowers!

Paradise Lake.

Third day on the trail... Soon we stop at this beautiful spring at the top of the hill.

We got our hair and shirts wet in the spring's frigid waters - "Air conditioning!"

Happy tree.

Walking the crest and enjoying the breeze!

A group of five thru-hikers.  
Two hikers follow the trail with Sierra Buttes in the background.

Ponderosa pine. Stopping to smell its vanilla-scented bark is always a wonderful treat.
Trail magic - a leaking water truck! What a relief to soak our clothes and hair before beginning another ascent!

Home Girl, a woman we met at the water truck and then hiked with for awhile.

Another shot of Home Girl.
Snow flower.

A huge Ponderosa pine!
Jackson Meadow Reservoir and the Sierra Buttes. We camped here for the night. I slept beneath two 300-year-old fragrant trees - a cedar and a Ponderosa pine.

The sunrise the following morning was just as spectacular...

A PCT sign, swallowed by the tree.

An old gold miner's shack.
Morning dew.

Another spring. I'm amazed at how many springs we come across 
on the trail, despite a 3-year drought in California.

East Fork Yuba River. We stopped here to swim and eat lunch for hours before reaching Sierra City.

Sierra Buttes! Sierra City is near, at the base of the mountain.

We reached a beautiful canyon just before hitching in to Sierra City, where we could swim in Love Pool. The bluish-gray color of the rocks seems so surreal.

                                                                     Love Pool.

Freebird swimming out to check the depth for T-Bo and The Zone, so they could jump off the cliff.

This amusing thru-hiker entertained us as he climbed up to jump off the cliff with T-Bo.

We walked up the trail with T-Bo and The Zone until we reached the highway, then we caught a ride into Sierra City with John, a firefighter who resides there.We slept two nights at a secret spot along the Yuba River, hung out with some fun hikers, and met lots of amazing residents of the town. Details and more pictures will be in the next post!


  1. Take care. Watch out for smoke and fires.

  2. Looking forward to your posts re: the lost coast trail/Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. I met you there with my husband and his sister as we took a day-hike. I have your email and will send you the photos I took. Maybe you can post them here. :) Take care!

  3. Awesome blog. Great photos and stellar art. You have a steady hand.