After camping out near Burney Falls, we set off on the trail once again.
Thus begins Section O of the PCT...
|Arrival at Lake Britton.|
Along Lake Britton's shore, God provided us succulent black raspberries. How perfect, for there was no produce at the limited store at Burney Falls. Along this leg of the journey, we continued to find these delicious berries here and there. I also became introduced to thimbleberries. I also chewed on desert sumac berries, reminding me of all the wonderful days back in the canyon near Moab.
|Sign of a black bear nearby!|
Manzanita. Black bears love these berries and are bound to be nearby. I tried consuming some too and wasn't impressed, but the quality was probably affected by the drought conditions in northern California at the time.
|We traversed the rim above Rock Creek for awhile. Very little shade, and hot!|
|I was so happy to come across this deer on the trail. I don't think the feeling was mutual. My excitement scared her away!|
We finally found some deep shade below a bridge at Rock Creek. What a wonderful treat it was to
escape the midday sun for a few hours, to swim in its cool waters. We met two other friendly hikers here, Banjo and Smooth Operator.
|Rock Creek and the bridge where we found shade.|
We soon came to more shade in a forest, sat on a log by the trail, and read some more of the book that Cathy gave us back in Lassen National Park. We met a couple, Chop Chop and Prospector. I don't remember now much of what they said, but they were hilarious and fun to talk with. Then String Bean, a tall, skinny hiker came up to us. He seemed to be amused with us, lying around and not in a hurry to go anywhere. Likewise, we were impressed by him. We learned that String Bean, a runner from Boston College, was going for the assisted speed record. He had started on June 18th at the Mexican border, and he was already in northern California, talking to us on July 18th. His miles each day would average in the 50s, and that day he was going for 62 miles. He didn't look the slightest bit tired. He seemed calm, happy, and in great shape. I've heard that most people going for the speed record look like they're going to collapse and die, and many don't feel like they have the time to talk. String Bean, however, stayed and chatted with us for a half hour! Then off he went, trotting up a hill.
After walking through a dry area around Hat Creek, I was pleasantly surprised to pass through this lush, green forest. With the addition of the deciduous trees, it was slightly reminiscent of the trails I used to explore in Indiana, and it brought back fond memories.
|An arrow left by Freebird to show me the way.|
|Along Peavine Creek.|
|Would you camp right beside a dusty road? Me neither.|
Nearby Peavine, we heard of a camp of trail maintainers, most of them volunteers. We stopped by to visit them and thank them for all that they do. I would come to really appreciate what they do in the weeks to come, when we would get off of the PCT and hike other trails. None of them compared. On the PCT the tread is so smooth in most places, with very little signs of erosion. It's very rare that we would have to climb over fallen trees, and brush is cut back often. All of the wonderful crews along the trail work so hard to keep everything maintained. They really care for the hikers. Before we left, they offered to fill up all our bottles with water!
|Sunset at our nearby campsite.|
|Another beautiful morning!|
Unfortunately national forests allow these clear cuts to happen, spreading propaganda that it's for the maintenance of the forest. The forests were doing quite well before, without man's interference. Wherever the PCT would meander through national forest lands,
we would often see huge sections of forest destroyed.
|Forest fire smoke off in the distance.|
Our first views of Mount Shasta through the smoke, surrounded by clouds that
seem to originate from it. Shasta, like other tall mountains, has its own weather.
|Reading some more of Free Falling, the book that Cathy gave us.|
|Trail magic! Black raspberries emerging from nature's flower pot, right beside the trail.|
|Getting closer to Mount Shasta!|
|Snack break, courtesy of the hiker brothers back at Burney Falls. Their homemade granola bar was the best ever!|
|Admiring Mount Shasta with two thru-hikers.|
Another sign of a black bear. I still hadn't seen one yet, but I believe I heard the rustling of one in the manzanita bushes during this stretch of the trail.
|Freebird washing the dust off his feet, which builds up so quickly on these trails.|
McCloud River. We decided to camp along this river for the night and to try to hitch somewhere in the morning, anywhere that would have a grocery, for we were running out of food.
|We saw BFP and Deer Wrestler again (last seen in Lassen National Forest), as well as Neon, resting along the river.|
|Nearby our camp, a merganser tries to lead its young upriver.|
After a lovely dinner on the bridge and a night's rest, we took off the next morning to hitch.
First, we see this guy picking up bits of discarded food at an established campsite...
A note for Paka and Shrek from other hikers along the trail. We had run into these guys the previous day. One of them thankfully found cell service and allowed me to call Kayla once again, to confirm where we would meet when she would soon join in on the journey with us.
We got off the PCT and started walking down the forest service road. We had been told that on average, there is only one car per day through here. That would seem to be a very slim chance for hitching, but we went for it anyway. After walking for about 5 minutes, we spotted a spring along the road. As we were filling up our bottles, a man drove up to us and stopped, before we could even stick out the thumb. Happy Nomad, a former thru-hiker, was in the area serving as trail angel for his wife. He offered us a ride and gave us soda and carrots. We didn't even finish filling the bottles and we were already whisked away with Happy Nomad, searching for a nearby town in which to stay and resupply. There were many options to choose from, and he didn't mind driving us around.
We drove past Lake McCloud, and Happy Nomad had no problem stopping at times to take pictures.
|Mount Shasta obscured by clouds.|
|A view of Mount Shasta from the town of McCloud.|
When we got to McCloud, we learned that the town of Mount Shasta would have a larger grocery store and more motels. Happy Nomad then gladly drove us onward to Mount Shasta.
|Almost in town, with a view of Black Butte ahead.|
Soon we were in the town of Mount Shasta, and Happy Nomad drove us around to different motels until we found a room. Then he took off for another town. I'm so grateful that Happy Nomad so graciously opened his heart to us and made sure that we were taken care of. That's true love.
After another beautiful stretch of trail, we settled down in Mount Shasta for the night.