PCT 2019: Day 157, Dunsmuir to Dirt Road at Mile 1479.3

On a good day, I know it's not every day, we can part the sea

Some days are "just one of those days." You know the kind, when nothing you do seems to go right.

Today was not one of those days. Far from it, in fact. It was a day in which everything seemed to go right.

DateThursday, October 10, 2019
WeatherClear sky, breezy and chilly in the morning, then warming to the low 60s
Trail ConditionsLong but easy climbs and descents on a smooth path
Today's Miles21.9
Trip Miles2360.1

It started when Bluejay and I woke up at 6 a.m. The hostel had ingredients for making pancakes, so she prepared that for us.

Then the caretaker, John, drove us back to the trailhead. We appreciated how willing he was to drive us yesterday and today, and we made sure to pay him well.

As I said, everything went right for us, and that included getting back to the trail. We were hiking by 7:30, which is a time that's not always possible after a stay in town.

A short distance of road walking took us across the Sacramento River. Then the trail re-entered Castle Crags State Park.

A breeze made the morning's chilly temperature a little brisk, but it didn't feel uncomfortable. Thanks to a sunny sky, the temperature soon began to rise, though it remained cool for much of the day.

The trail was easy and pleasant to walk. After crossing the river, it began a continuous climb for the next nine miles. In that distance, it went up more than 3,300 feet.

The substantial elevation change was stretched out far enough that it never felt steep. Several switchbacks and zig-zags helped to ease the steepness.

The trail mostly remained in a cover of trees. After climbing about two-thirds of the way up, an opening in the trees provided a view north. This was in the direction of Mt. Shasta, which was now less than 19 miles away.

This was the closest the trail would get to the mountain, but the peak would occasionally appear on the horizon for the next five days.

As the trail neared the top of Gerard Ridge, it made the biggest switchback I've ever seen on a trail. The switchback added an extra 3.2 miles to the climb compared to what it would have taken to go straight up.

Some comments in the Guthooks app described a shortcut on an old logging road. I never saw it, but even if I had, I would have still stayed on the trail. Besides, the reward for the added miles was an outstanding view of Castle Crags.

At the top was another beautiful view of Mt. Shasta.

The sky was cloud-free with a hint of a haze. The news reports I had seen yesterday about an increased chance of wildfires made me wonder if I was seeing smoke. This haze has been present for the last two or three days, though, so maybe it wasn't smoke.

The descent from the top was not as far as the climb but was about as steep. It went down 2,600 feet in 7.1 miles.

On the way down, I stopped for lunch in a sunny spot. The temperature was still chilly and a little windy, but I found a comfortable place to take a break.

When I discovered I only had eight miles to go for the day, I decided to take extra time for lunch.

At the bottom of the descent, the trail crossed Squaw Valley Creek, then began another climb.

Bluejay and I had made somewhat vague plans for where to stop today. We weren't set on a specific spot because we were unsure how difficult the climbs would be. Where we ended up stopping was at the top of this 2,000-foot climb.

When I reached Trough Creek at 4:45 p.m., I found Bluejay was there filtering water. We decided to go another hour more, which would take us to a dirt road at the top of the climb.

This spot was reported in the Guthooks app to have plenty of room for camping. We agreed that if it didn't look satisfactory, we would continue about a mile farther down the trail where another tent site was located.

Bluejay left while I stayed to finish filtering water. All of our campsite options were dry, so I needed water for tonight and tomorrow morning.

When I reached the road at 5:35 p.m., we considered continuing to the next listed tentsite. We didn't need much convincing to stay put, however.

We had already walked 21.9 miles. Like everything else today, that was better than just good enough.

No time left now for shame
Horizon behind me, no more pain
Windswept stars blink and smile
Another song, another mile

You read the line every time
You ask me about crime in my mind
You ask me why another road song
Funny but I bet you never left home

On a good day, I know it's not every day
We can part the sea
And on a bad day, I know it's not every day
Glory beyond our reach

From "Wiser Time" by Chris Robinson and Rich Robinson (The Black Crowes)


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.