ROCKY ROAD TO CASTLE CRAG
PCT DAY 88: Mile 1498.7 – Mile 1518.7
Sunday July 10, 2016: 20 miles (32 km)
Well it wasn’t quite rocky all the way to Castle Crag but it certainly felt like it after days of hiking on soft leaf litter. The rocky parts of today’s trail was again a reminder of the fantastic work done by trail makers. They manage to carve out a track in what appears to be inhospitable territory.
We got a ride to the trailhead from the friendly manager of the Dunsmuir Lodge where we stayed last night. We hit the trail at 9.15am. Today we faced a long ascent, almost 4,000 feet of elevation gain with the Castle Crags looming above us. Our only objective today was to get as much of the climb done while we were still powered by town food. As soon as we started the trail went up and continued going up and up. We hiked through the shade of the forest and crossed numerous beautiful creeks.
As we got closer to the Crags the trail left the forest and was quite exposed. It was so warm and humid and we were working so hard, my clothes were sticking to my skin. Ever so slowly the we reached a point where the Castle Crags were at eye level. As we continued to ascend, mountains in the distance started to become visible. To the south way off in the distance the snowy peak of Mt Lassen was visible. It does not seem that long ago that we were hiking towards it. Hard to believe we have walked all that way. We got a real surprise to see Mt Shasta suddenly pop into view behind us as we started to head away from the Crags. It was huge and it was close. It popped in and out of view as we wound our way towards our campsite.
It felt great to be hiking high again. But we were not prepared for the cold. As we pitched our tent, a cold wind was blowing. Not surprising considering how close we are to the snowy peak of Mt Shasta. Memories of the Sierra came flooding back.