July 29, 2015
Castle Crags State Park (1509.1) to Tentsite before Shasta-Trinity Gumboot Trailhead (1529.9)
20.8 PCT miles today, 2.5 non-PCT miles
1569.3 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 6,654 ft, – 2,438 ft
It is becoming more apparent every day that we have a lot of exploring to do in this short life of ours. The PCT has walked us past so many incredible sights, and at each one we comment on how someday we’ll have to return to explore the area further. Living in North Lake Tahoe, most of what we’ve hiked through has been “within a few hours of home” and we like to imagine what our return trip might look like and where in life we might be when it happens. It is truly impressive how many awe-inspiring monuments and landmarks the PCT crosses. If it is a sampling of the West Coast that you’re looking for, a brief taste of all the available adventures, than the PCT is your trail.
This morning we packed up early and were out of Castle Crags State Park by 6:15am. We prepared ourselves mentally for the backtracking that we’d have to start the day with. The climb down to the park from the PCT was demoralizing when we arrived, but now we’d have to climb up it, for about 2.5 miles of non-PCT hiking. It went quicker than we expected, and before we knew it we were settling in for an entire day of uphill hiking.
It was warm today, but it was made much hotter by the fact that we were climbing on the exposed faces of mountains for most of the day. We didn’t mind much because breathtaking views of Mount Shasta, Castle Crags, and far-off Mt. Lassen dominated our attention. It was truly incredible to see the last couple weeks of hiking all laid out before us on a green and blue canvas of epic proportions. As we looked around ourselves all we could think was how we couldn’t wait to come back to Northern California and explore these incredible areas more thoroughly. We’ve been duly impressed by the appetizer round, now we’re ready for the main course.
After hiking all the way around the back of Castle Crags, and then up the side of a steep mountain and along an angulated traverse for miles on end, we finally topped out at a ridge toward the very end of the day. We planned to hike 2 miles downhill to a large tentsite, but after a mile we became side-tracked by eye-level views of Shasta off the cliff to our right, and when we spotted a flat spot that we knew would just fit our 3-person tent, we made the rewarding decision to stop a bit early and camp here.
After all the rest and pampering that I gave my foot yesterday and today, I had high expectations for its continued recovery. Unfortunately what I got instead for all my effort is a huge, painful blister right on top of the still-lingering infection. I’ve done all my soaking and healing I can for tonight, so now my primary goal will be to protect the blister from friction tomorrow and see how that goes.
Tonight, right as it got dark, our friend Two-tone hiked up and sat with us while she prepared and ate dinner. She still planned on hiking on to the Tentsite up ahead, but it was nice to have her company for the evening until she left. It made us realize how very little non-hiking time we’ve spent with other hikers. It’s true the visit kept us up later than usual, but her company was well worth it, and we look forward to more social time in the evenings to come. When we come back to the area to explore Castle Crags further, we’ll have to bring along some friends and enjoy these incredible views among the company of others.