PCT DAY 71: Mile 1159.2 – Mile 1183.8
Thursday June 23: 23 miles (36.8 km)
Let’s do a marathon tomorrow, Hammer announced last night. If we can hike 26 miles tomorrow that will leave us less then 10 miles for the following day. We can get into Sierra City for a cold beer and burger by lunchtime. With a resupply town so close, the motive to hike longer is very strong. Not that the food we are eating on the trail is bad or lacking somehow. It’s just that strange cravings can occupy your thoughts for hours while hiking.
We broke camp and were on our way by 6.30am. It was only a short walk through a snow covered pine forest, and over Castle Pass, before we reached a beautiful meadow and Peter Grubb ski hut. The hut is just like the ski huts we have back home, cozy inside with basic amenities. Before reaching the hut we met a hiker heading in the opposite direction. He was cutting his trip short, being disappointed by the amount of snow covering the trail and the navigational hassles. I just want to hike the trail, the snow covering the trail makes it too hard, he said. After a month of hiking on a snow covered trail we could certainly related to his sentiment. But I think we are at a stage where we are resigned to the fact that snow on the ground will be with us for quite some time. We just have to accept that it will slow us down. What’s been making navigation difficult for the past few days is that there are more day hikers who are not always on the PCT trail, so following footprints in the snow is not as reliable as it has been before we reached Tahoe. The other thing that has been surprising here is that snow is appearing at much lower elevations than we’ve experienced south of Tahoe. I also know that in a few weeks when we are hiking through the volcanic rock of Mt Lassen I will miss the crunch of snow underfoot. So I have to remind myself to be in the moment and to enjoy. Because it will soon be gone.
For most of the morning we were moving through a snow covered pine forest. And for the rest of the day we hiked through a National Forest which has been selectively logged. Most of the big trees were gone opening up the tree canopy. Not very pretty but at least it was not clear felled.
In between the forest we were on ridges exposed to a strong wind. Great views of distant lakes to the west. Otherwise it was pretty pedestrian scenery until almost at the end of the day. Through the trees we glimpsed sun reflections off a huge lake. Jackson Meadow Reservoir is enormous with large campground areas adjacent to where the PCT passes. We stopped here for the day having not quite completed a marathon distance hike, but very happy with our efforts. Hamburger and beer are only 12 miles away.