June 25, 2016
Castle Crags Campground (mile 1499.6) to bushcamp with a view (mile 1516.4)
Today we were waking at 6 am rather than walking. We ate Pad Thai for breakfast and drove up to the Castle Crags Vista Point parking lot. From there we walked half a mile to rejoin the PCT.
Once again Sue joined us for the first few miles. The trail was wide with subtle ups and downs and occasional glimpses of the rocky crags.
We passed 2 beautiful streams with large green plants scattered about. Initially most of the trail was in the shade of pine and oak trees.
We said goodbye to Sue before the real climbing began. She goes home today and we are grateful for the time she spent with us – driving us around, helping us run our town errands and hiking with us. Thanks Sue!!!
We started climbing after crossing the east fork of Sulphur Creek. At first we were in shady forest but not too long after we left the comfort of the shade for hot, exposed rock. The sweat fest began instantly. Our clothes clung to our bodies as we slowly put one foot in front of the other.
Halfway up we stopped for lunch in the shade. We chatted with some day hikers who offered us Fritos which we politely declined. We were carrying 5 days of food and having just left town we weren’t craving lots of salty food.
Skippy, a northbound thru hiker we met a few days prior was chilling in the shade as well. We waited out the heat of the day sharing stories and impressions from the trail thus far. Skippy has hiked the AT and rode his bike across Canada last summer.
Stories like these make Laurie wish she were in her 20’s again.
“There are so many cool adventures to go on!”
“Why can’t you still do them?”
“Because if we want to have a family, we have a timeline.”
“If there is a will, there are many ways.”
Such a classic Andy-ism.
I guess if we have kids they will ride along in our van as Laurie rides her bike across the country 🙂
It feels good to be in a pack again. The speedsters are ahead but occasionally we see them after towns. It is nice to know there are lots of people behind us, many of whom will be catching us at some point.
After a luxurious hour-long break we headed back out into the oppressive heat. We are thankful to be here in June when the temperature is in the high 80’s rather than in July when it can reach triple digits.
The trail continued up via long switchbacks. The views of Castle Crags behind us was stunning. Eventually we got high enough to see Shasta and Lassen too.
Finally the mountains gave away their secrets. These views. My goodness. The only way to get these views are to hike the PCT or take a helicopter ride.
Around 6 pm we crested a hill and enjoyed an even more impressive panaramic view of Shasta, Castle Crags and Lassen. There were a few tent spots right off the trail.
“This is too good to pass up.” Said Laurie as she turned to Andy.
“I agree. It’s not all about the miles. This is why we’re here.”
We had planned to camp a few more miles up the trail, but these views were epic.
So we sat and enjoyed “happy hour” Silver and Saver style – cheese and water.
The bumblebees hummed around us as we let the sun dry the sweat off of our backs.
We set up our tent and were joined by 2 Swiss women and Fixie, another hiker who jumped on the trail at Burney Falls.
We watched the alpine glow sweep across Shasta. Soonafter the sky lit up in pink and purple hues on the horizon.
“This is the best campsite of our hike thus far.”
Tonight we are grateful for shade and seasonal springs.