Part 12 - NorCal
Coming out of Burney it was hot. Temperatures in the lower 90s and full sun. The forest hadn’t yet closed in around us as it would in the northern most parts of California and for much of Oregon and Washington. The summer heat had really caught up but luckily this section had plenty of water.
I’d spend three and a half days walking through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest to Castella at the PCT crossing of I-5. It was a time I spent in my head for the most part. I started thinking a lot about what crossing the Oregon boarder in about a week would mean for me. I started to think about what I needed for the push through the Pacific Northwest. I started thinking about what life would be like after this and where I would go home to.
As we closed in on Castella and Dunsmuir, Mt. Shasta revealed itself to us day after day and the forest closed in to provide shelter from the sun. Physically, I felt strong but mentally I was tired. The beauty of the trail and the joy of long hard days was still there but the feeling of monotony had set in as well. Twenty-five mile days for weeks on end had become tiring. The smoke from the Dixie Fire blowing around us and clouding out the sun became obnoxious. I needed a break from trail and luckily it was right around the corner.
The tiny town of Dunsmuir was a welcome treat. It had all the things hikers need, hot showers, warm food and a grocery store full of goodies. With the Dixie Fire burning down south other hikers were getting pushed north having to skip miles so we started running into old friends we hadn’t seen in months. After a day of rest we were back out of the trail with 6 days ahead of us to Seiad Valley and 8 days to the Oregon Boarder, something I was looking very forward to.
The first day out of Dunsmuir was smokey still, there were tons of hikers that had bounced north and the trail climbed back into the mountains. The next few days we pushed further each day to get ahead of the fire bubble. The views were beautiful through the Trinity Alps and Klamath Mountains, it was the beauty I remembered from my last adventures in North NorCal. The mountains were stunning, the views went on for miles and the trail wandered along ridges with plentiful water.
There was one day where it got cold and rained, a sign of the fall weather to come. A reminder that getting to Canada was still something that could be put off by snow and other weather up north. It was a nice break from the heat though, something that gave me a want to push north and get to the cooler colder weather.
After wandering through the mountains we found our way to Etna Summit and the small town of Etna down below. It was a wonderful little town and I wish it had been more accessible cause I would’ve spent a day or two there enjoying the pool, the brewery and all the town had to offer but the Oregon boarder was calling. Four days later I’d hopefully be looking at the boarder sign leaving California with the hope of touching the Canadian border a few weeks later.
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The PCT stands for the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,653 route extending from Mexico to Canada along the west coast of the United States. Every year several thousands attempt it and only a few hundred finish.