Mile reached: 1365.5 (+36.8 + 0.6 bonus)
High: Taking a break at a shaded campsite on the beautiful Lower Twin Lake
Low: Getting hounded by mosquitoes in the early hours of the morning
Cowboy camping the previous night turned out to be a big mistake. The mosquitoes weren’t bad per se but just bad enough to be really annoying. One would come by every 15 minutes to prey on me. Combined with the carpenter ants that just wouldn’t give it a rest, I almost gave up on sleeping by packing up at 2 am. However, I somehow dozed off and got ready at the more reasonable hour of 5. Nonetheless, I was still eaten alive in my sleep.
The trail dropped through a densely forested valley crossing land owned by various timber companies. By mid morning I caught up to “Scooter”, who had foolishly left Belden in the middle of the day two days ago. He admitted that it was so hot that it took him most of the day to do just 10 miles. We hiked together for a stretch down to the North Fork of the Feather River, which is a rather significant milestone. Namely, the North Fork of the Feather is canonically taken to be the dividing line between the Sierra and the Cascades, which extend all the way into Canada!
The break was short lived. “Scooter” needed to eat and tend to some chores. I dunked my shirt in the river and began the big climb up into Lassen National Park. Fortunately, the temperature up higher wasn’t terrible just unpleasant. The PCT wanders though the backcountry of the park past sites I had never visited previously despite several previous trips to the area. Unsatisfyingly, Mount Lassen can’t be seen from any part of the trail despite being so close until near the northern boundary of the park. And that’s only because a fire burned most of the forest.
“Scooter” caught me again as I was having lunch, but he pushed on further to eat at a campground. So, we leapfrogged a few times through the afternoon. In the late afternoon, I came across one of the most beautiful lakes I’d seen on the trail and breaked for a bit. It was surprisingly warm suggesting that the water must be heated geothermally. There were also no mosquitoes!
For the last few miles to camp just outside the park boundary, I saw numerous bear tracks on the trail. I was expecting to run into a bear at any moment, but never did. An hour or so later, “Scooter” came by and animatedly asked if I had seen the mama bear and cubs. Late in the evening they were only a few tenths of a mile away from my camp, so I guess it was a good thing that I was completely out of food.
When I set up my tent, I met two section hikers heading southbound. One of them, “Gadget”, was a triple crowner! What was even more impressive was how humble he was about his achievement. They gave me some advice concerning what lay ahead, and then I ducked into my tent to take refuge from the bugs.