July 14, 2015
Fowler Peak Trailhead (1242.9) to Tentsite before Buck’s Lake Road (1269.7)
26.8 PCT miles today
1314.1 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 6,333 ft, – 6,380 ft
Today was officially our longest day yet, and Pickles and I could barely force ourselves to stop tonight for camp. We felt so good that we just wanted to keep going. Perhaps all the way to Canada! Or at least to our next stop of Belden. I’ve tried to refrain from making too many big claims about my feet and our overall state of being, for fear that I’ll just have to go back on it when things get bad again in the miles to come, but after today I’m thinking it’s about time to put our optimism into words.
Both Pickles and I are now officially pain free when we hike. Our feet get tired, and mine hurt for about 10 minutes right after soaking them in icy water, but even after 26 miles on them, neither of us even felt a need to sit down or stop. This is truly miraculous considering what I felt like a mere 6 days ago.
Northern California itself is giving us reason to celebrate. The landscape is beautiful, the hiking manageable, and the weather gorgeous. Plus, we’ve been rewarded every day with cool new animal sightings. This morning, about 4 miles into our hike, we heard something barreling through the forest to our East. Our first thought was that it was a deer, but it sounded way too heavy. We searched the woods and found our very first black bear! He was huge and clearly terrified of us because he was bolting away from us like a timid little chipmunk. We watched his fluffy bear butt crash through the woods and eventually disappear and then rejoiced in such a cool and special spectacle. Not long after that we were taking a break on some rocks along a great swimming hole in the Feather River and a black snake fell out of the tree above my head and nearly landed on me, but instead fell on the rock beside me. It was a little creepy, but also quite fun. And of course we can’t forget the banana slugs that we’ve started seeing, their fat yellow bodies occasionally crossing our path.
Now that we’re feeling back to our healthy, strong selves, we’re looking ahead and getting excited about all there is to come, both on and off trail. All of the town stops from here on out sound quaint and charming, and we of course have a ton to look forward to during our 4 stops in Oregon (Ashland, Crater Lake, Bend, and Portland). All of the positive energy that we’re feeling on the trail also gets us excited for all that lies ahead of us after completing the PCT. We can spend hours thinking about the life that we get to start building in October in Tahoe. From our wedding to our jobs to a home and car…the planning and dreaming are endless. It’s a good thing because so is our time on trail, so it seems. Only now we find ourselves cherishing the remaining time, rather than just hoping to somehow get through it. We’ll always love tent time, but now we are also back to loving hike time, and that’s what hiking this trail is really all about.