Date: Saturday, 07 October 2017
Start: Camped by the trail at Mile 1291.1, 4121 ft
Finish: Camped by the trail at Mile 1315.0, 6673 ft
Daily Miles: 23.9 PCT
Total PCT Miles: 2635.6
Weather: Mild and sunny
Breakfast: Pop tarts
Dinner: Savoury rice and tuna
Aches: Right knee sore on the downhills, but better than last night.
Highlight: Cooking and eating dinner for my last night on the trail, on a perfectly still and quiet night, high on the side of a mountain surrounded by pine trees that were silhouetted by the bright orange glow of the sunset.
Lowlight: None really
Pictures: Click here
I was hiking by 6:30am, and needed my headlamp for the first 30 minutes. The trail continued to climb for another 3000 ft, to 7000 ft, making me glad I had gone the extra distance last night and climbed 2000 ft I didn’t now have to do today. Early on, the climb continued to contain steep rocky sections and my pace was slow, but higher up the gradient eased and the trail was better. Nevetheless it took 3 hours to cover 6 miles, so my hoped-for long day was off to a slow start.
At the top of the climb, the trail reached a sort plateau that was mostly forested, with a few large clearings, and gave just a few glimpses of distant mountains. It wasn’t flat, oscillating between 6500 ft and 7200 ft, but was easier going. Nevertheless, I found my motivation was low and the hiking a bit of a grind. I was mentally ready for my hike to be over.
Water was scarce on the plateau, and at lunchtime I loaded up 2.5 litres of water from the only readily-accessible spring, which should be enough to last me for the afternoon and camp tonight. Of course it added 2.5kg to my pack, which was noticeable.
During the afternoon, the plateau narrowed to a ridge with some rocky outcrops, and the trail followed the ridge northwards, occasionally giving good views to Mt Lassen in the distance. As it got later, rather than continue hiking after dark to get to my original target site, some three miles ahead, I found a relatively flat spot just off the trail and cleared a tentsite by the light of the setting sun and set up camp around 6:30pm. It was a good decision, and I enjoyed my last evening on the trail, and got an early night.
I have just under 14 miles, most of it downhill, to reach Hwy 36, and the end of my PCT adventure. I should get there late morning and then will hitchhike the 8 miles to the small town of Chester, where I have a room booked for tomorrow night. Getting excited!