PCT California, Bucks Summit to Highway 36, July 2010.
Tony is getting ready to go at the trailhead parking at Bucks Summit near Quincy, California. We planned to hike 66 miles in 4 days or so. We would only have time to hike two miles today.
The trailhead is well-marked.
A marker at the trailhead.
Even more signs at the trailhead. I remembered suddenly that last year when I came through someone had left a note saying they lost their dog and if found, please leash him to one of these signs and give him a call. At the time the signs were in the hot sun. I hope he found his dog and the dog didn't have to sit in the sun tied to a post for very long.
Right away we found ourselves in a ferny wonderland of flowers and spicy-sweet smelling manzantia brush.
The trail was lined with flowers.
Here comes Tony walking along the brushy slopes.
These lilies smelled wonderful as they poked up out of the manzanita.
Brushy trail with purple penstemon growing on the margins of the trail.
Closeup of the penstemon.
Some kind of pretty yellow and white flower. It liked to grow in shady spots so that's why the flash makes it look like it's in darkness.
Small springs flowed across the trail here and there.
We came to some nice Mule Ears blooming along the trail.
This is a picture the next morning of the place where we camped just 2 miles from the trailhead. We had already packed up our things and were heading out. We didn't have a fire but there was a fire ring. There was also a small creek nearby and a few lazy mosquitoes.
We walked into the morning's bouquet of flowers. These red flowers were lovely.
Here is some lupine and behind it is Mustang mint. The mint was quite profuse. We chewed a leaf and enjoyed the minty taste.
Paintbrush and Mule Ears.
Paintbrush and Mule Ears.
The trail alternates between shady forest and open slopes of flowers.
Soon we came to a meadow.
The trail skirted the meadow through a fern-lined area of trees.
These interesting white flowers grew in the shade near the meadow.
Near the top of the meadow was a small pond. Much of this trip reminded me of hiking through Oregon. this pond especially. This was the kind of water source I relied upon in Oregon. I didn't have to get any water from this pond, thankfully. I could rely on clear springs instead.
The pond and trees reflected in the surface.
We had climbed much since the night before and our view was starting to look more like the top-of-the world views of the PCT.
We followed an interesting volcanic bench for a while.
We came to a grassy area with a profusion of dark blue delphinium flowers.
Closer view of the delphiniums.
These yellow flowers were much like the mule ears, only more slender in every part of the plant and less fuzzy on the leaves.
The trail through the woods.
Mossy trees line the trail.
We made a side trip to Spanish Peak. There were amazing views from the peak. It appeared to be a popular day hiking site for the students at the college in nearby Quincy. The peak register was in the ammo can. Looks like the site was once a lookout tower site.
The view from the peak looking west.
the view from the peak looking east.
Looking a little more to the east you can see Mt. Lassen, the southern-most of the big volcanos of the Cascade range.
These pretty yellow buckwheat-like flowers enjoyed the rocky crest of Spanish Peak.
Here's Tony returning from visiting Spanish Peak.
These purple asters were a favorite of bumble bees.
Purple Lupine. I apologize for taking so many flower pictures, but the flowers were just so amazing up here.
A view of "mostly unseen Gold Lake," the description the Wilderness Press PCT Guide Book gave.
Next to Gold Lake is Silver Lake. This is Silver Lake.
More fields of golden flowers.
This may be Gold Lake again.
Silver Lake through the trees.
Happy sunflowers. Or daiseys. Daisy means "Days Eye".
Silver Lake as we climb a rocky outcrop. I remembered this area well from my big hike last year (I hiked 1800 miles of the PCT in 2009.)
Pink heather with Silver Lake behind it.
Silver Lake had its own little "Wizard Island" just like Crater Lake.
Now we aim for a dry little meadow.
And another rocky outcrop with a small lake below.
Columbine lined the trail.
A closeup of the columbine.
More ferny goodness on the trail.
Tiger lilies grew in a marshy area next to the trail.
Soon we followed Clear Creek down to a junction with the trail.
These small white flowers had a nice fragrance. Are they lilies of the valley?
Clear Creek where the PCT crosses. We took a break here.
We washed our dusty feet in the ice cold water.
We filled up our water bottles for the long descent into Belden Town. Clear Creek was the only water I treated on the whole trip.
There's another small stream just beyond Clear Creek. Last year I got my water here thinking it would be a little less contaminated by the horses that were camped right next to Clear Creek.
More hidden forest clearings full of flowers.
We came to a pond full of lily pads.
And another grassy swale full of flowers.
We followed more ferns through the woods.
Thimble berries were in bloom.
I spied this strangely bright lily growing near a marshy area.
These ferny places reminded me a lot of Oregon and a little bit of Washington. Washington tended to be more wet and more alpine than Oregon and Northern California, with slim, pointy trees instead of these big ones.
A grassy field full of white flowers.
White flowers and ferns. I love this kind of forest full of ferns and flowers. I feel like a secret wood nymph living in my hidden forest.
Still on the right trail.
These pink flowers were nice.
Soon we emerged from the cool, enchanted forest into the open manzanita slopes again. We now would begin our big descent down into Belden Town. We'd be descending about 5000 feet and then ascending it again tomorrow. The descent would take about 6 miles. Fortunately the ascent would be longer and gentler.
The blue penstemon seems to prefer direct sun.
We hike through the last chunks of white granitic rock from the great Sierra Nevada batholith. Once on the other side of the Feather River below, we'd officially have moved out of the Sierra Nevada into the Cascade Range. I wasn't sure where the exact boundary was, however. The Guide Book said it was just beyond the River and someone else said the boundary was at Highway 36, our destination.
Fluffy pussy paws enjoyed this area.
The pussy paws were fluffly like my sheepskin-lined Chaco sandals that I hiked in. My feet were so clean because we had washed our feet in Clear Creek. I enjoyed hiking in the sandals. I usually wore socks and I did put my socks back on shortly after this picture since I felt a hot spot on my toes from the straps. I never stubbed my toes with my sandals or poked myself with a stick despite the trail being rather covered in rocks and sticks. Aside from the sandals not having much cushioning, I had no complaints hiking in these. I would do it again, so long as I can hike somewhere with a trail and no foxtails.
Looking back. We had descended quite far already.
The Feather River carves quite a deep canyon.
We came upon a small spring on the side of the hill. Flowers grew around the spring. It would be our last water until we drank some beers in Belden Town.
Pink flowers near the spring.
We've come quite a distance down now and have descended into oak forest. There are a million switchbacks down to Belden.
Some of the Thimbleberries were ripe. Thimbleberries are my favorite berry but these were not as good as the ones in northern Washington.
After much switchbacking, we finally made it to the trailhead by the railroad tracks.
We passed the trailhead parking area where I camped last year.
We went to Belden Town Resort and had some beers and a salad. Feisty stellar jays hopped around in the tree. Tony "Too Many Pictures" took their pictures.
Here's one of the stellar jays.
Here's the Feather River from our table where we sat for 3 hours drinking beers and talking to other hikers who arrived later.
We found the trail register and Tony composed this song. He had been singing it all the way down the trail to Belden.
We camped by the river after getting a little drunk on only two beers. In the morning we set off early to begin the 5000 feet of climbing. But first the bridge over the Feather River.
A little mini "Bridge of the Gods." This section had a little of everything in it. It's a great section to get a feel for the PCT above the High Sierra.
The PCT follows the road briefly. Yellow Creek is a side creek spilling into the Feather River.
One last look at Belden Town Resort.
We found these interesting red flowers blooming. They seemed out of place, like they should be in someone's yard in Santa Barbara.
There's a big bridge over a side creek called Indian Creek.
We've risen above the actual town of Belden which is a mile down the highway from Belden Town Resort. There is a post office in town if you need to send supplies. You can hike down from the trail instead of walking the road. You can hike back up to the trail without backtracking.
We climbed in morning shade. The heights we would climb are washed out in this picture.
More of those red flowers lined a small creek.
Hot pink flowers lined the trail. These looked like they belonged in a Santa Barbara garden, too.
Tony stopped to get a little water at a small side creek.
Another small side creek. There were so many creeks we did not need to carry any water for the whole 5000 feet, 10 mile climb.
This is an old cabin site called Williams Cabin. The fire was still hot. We think we know who left it burning. We had met some long section hikers in Belden Town who claimed to be thru-hiking from Walker Pass. It turned out they had hitchhiked most of that distance. I hoped they wouldn't be so irresponsible up the trail and start a big fire. They are east cost people and former AT hikers and those folks seem to be the most careless with fire because they simply do not understand California.
At the cabin site there was a tree covered in pots and pans.
There was another tree with a pair of shoes.
We continued up the trail and found more side creeks.
The trail was lined in oaks, cedars and pines.
We came to another campsite called Myrtle Flat.
Mustang mint attracted butterflies along the trail.
A rather large side creek spilling over the trail.
Sometimes the creeks were below the trail in a small gorge.
We came upon a very long waterfall falling from the heights we still had to climb.
I think these are called monks hood but I am not certain.
The views were starting to change as we climbed higher. We were no longer in granitic rock. This was definitely lava rock.
After lunch we encountered a lovely meadow.
The meadow had a profusion of different kinds of flowers.
I remembered when I walked through hear in 2009, after this section of trail had been closed the year before, the only way I could find my way through was to follow these big cairns. This year, after so many hikers had gone through, there was an easy path to follow.
I think these are cinquefoil.
The meadow was absolutely gorgeous.
We are almost to the heights again where the PCT belongs.
We're almost level with the plateau. We are stopped here at a really nice spring. We assumed it was Poison Spring. The water was very tasty.
This is the sign to Poison Spring. The water came right out of the ground. It was probably the headwaters of the little spring where we stopped to drink.
Here's Poison Spring where the water comes out of the ground.
After Poison Spring we climbed to the summit and were greeted by this view that included Mt. Shasta to the left of the trees and Mt. Lassen to the right. Shasta is a bit faint and you can only see the snowy tip of it.
Now at the top of our climb, we meandered along the crest for a little bit.
We kept an eye on Lassen as we went along.
After only a few minutes at the top, after 5000ft of toiling, after 6 or 7 hours of climbing, we turned toward the descent. We encountered snow right away. Tony, aka TrailHacker, slipped in the snow and fell 100 feet off Apache Peak down near Mt. San Jacinto during his April section hike on the PCT. His fall cut his 700 mile section short after only 170 miles. He suffered a badly sprained ankle and had to be rescued by helicopter. This trip was his first backpack trip since his sprain. Here he is getting back on the horse, back on the snow.
The north side of this ridge was more open than the other side.
We discovered lots of flowers tucked into a rocky outcrop.
Lots of little purple penstemon enjoyed this area that appeared to have suffered avalanch damage and forest fire damage.
Penstemon in a manzanita clearing.
After our descent, we came upon a long meadow.
I remembered this meadow from my hike last year. I was so tired then. I felt pretty peppy today. Here I am, at least 20lbs heavier than I was last year and not as in shape, but I felt great during this whole hike. Other than my weight, what was different? I hadn't done a 25 mile day the day before or the day before that or the day before that. It got me wondering if maybe I had just done too much every day last year. Maybe I would have had an easier time if I had kept my mileage down. It was so hard to do, though, because all alone there's nothing better to do than walk all day long.
A small number of flowers dotted the meadow delightfully.
The trail crossed the meadow at the bottom and then paralleled the trail along the left side. We could view it through the trees as we walked through shade.
After the meadow we were in regular forest again. Looked a lot like Oregon.
We reached the sign near Cold Spring where the PCT hiker must choose between their long term goal and their immediate need. This would be the last water on the trail for 23.5 miles.
Cold Spring is a pipe and a trough. It's some of the best tasting water on the trail. It's very cold. It would be tempting to wash your hair under the faucet, but you'd get a terrible headache. Tony washed his hair with warm leftover water from his pack away from the spring. I only washed my feet and legs in the cold water using my bandana.
Near the spring is a pretty meadow protected from ATV riders by a wooden fence. There is a nearby car campground and people on ATVs rode by from time-to-time, as did people with cars and trucks. I felt like I was in a human zoo or something as someone would drive up and stare at us for a while and then drive away. Tony seemed to want to camp here but I suggested we just eat dinner and then keep walking a couple of miles until we found a wilderness camp. If we camped here, our whole trip would have been camping near roads and civilization.
So we hiked on. I ate too much pudding for dinner. I thought maybe Tony and I could share trailnames. He could be "TMP" Too Many Pictures. I could be "TMP" Too Much Pudding.
Somewhere a mile from Cold Spring I caught my first glimpse of giant Lake Almanor. My mom lives on the shore somewhere.
The forest was jumbled and thick. Very much like Oregon.
We found a nice flat just before a meadow. There was a fire ring in the flat and the dirt was soft. This picture is in the morning as Tony packs up his usual stuff sack explosion.
Here is the meadow near where we camped.
This is Princess and Lip Service camped in the meadow. They stopped by while we were camped and talked briefly. Another hiker named Bones also stopped by. Bones wore Chaco sandals like me. He was a young guy. It seemed like he was starting to feel the pressure of time and was getting serious to make miles. Later after Tony and I finished our section, we took a drive to Old Station and saw him hiking on the Hat Creek Rim. He was moving quickly.
The trail through the meadow.
The little trees were all crooked. This really reminded me of Oregon.
We reached the Butte County highpoint. We probably should have checked it out, but Tony seemed determined to get all the way to Highway 36 today. If we did that, it would be a 24 mile day.
Soon we rounded a bend and arrived at the interesting spot where the lava formed towers and hoodoos.
Lots of nice flowers bloomed in the bare soil in this area.
Lassen was getting closer. One thing I really loved about hiking the PCT was how these big volcanos would come into view one day and then the next day I'd be walking right below them or right over their shoulders. It always made me feel amazed at my physical capabilities to see how far I could move on my own two feet each day. I was never physical as a child and even now anyone who looked at me would never suspect I could walk 30 miles in a single day. It made me feel very proud. More than proud, I felt powerful and free. I do not need a machine to move me over vast distances. I can do it myself. Because of this experience, I often feel a profound feeling of self-reliance deep within myself. It's an amazing feeling I wish everyone could have.
Lassen is framed by these hoodoos.
At one spot you walk up a small rise right into this perfect view of Lassen between two boulders. The trail builders did this on purpose, I'm sure.
We had nice views of meadows in the valley and green mountains.
This is Lip Service. She was suffering from a foot problem. She was starting to think of getting off the trail. I stuck near her so that I could offer her my mom's phone number and my own. I thought if she was getting off the trail, she should try to get to Old Station and rest. It's the most restful trail angel stop on the whole trail. I know how hard it is for PCT thru-hikers to skip sections of the trail, but I suggested that since her foot was in such bad shape, that it would be better to skip the relatively boring sections to come than to miss completing the hike that she had carved out such a large portion of her life to do.
There's Tony right behind me.
Cheery daisies in the bare rock.
The trail is a bit precarious here. Prior to this spot, it was almost non-existent and I slipped and scraped up my leg.
We met a man hiking with a burro. Later discussions with other hikers seemed to indicate that a) he was hiking to Mt. Whitney and b) he was moving very very slowly. His burro was friendly and very cute.
It is 23.5 miles between Cold Spring and the next on-trail water source. This elaborate design marks the Carter Creek trail where there is off-trail water a half-mile away. We are still about 12 miles from the next on-trail water at Soldier Spring.
We encounter a patch of snow that can't be walked over.
It was hoped that this little knoll marked Butt Mountain because we had a 1500 foot climb to the turnoff to Butt Mountain, but it wasn't the mountain at all. We had barely begun the climb.
Butt Mountain and Lassen in the distance.
Lassen is looming much larger. To the left of Lassen is Brokeoff Mountain.
Butt Mountain behind the trees.
Butt Mountain summit. I had hoped we'd have time to do side-trails and maybe climb Butt Mountain, but we didn't. We got caught up in thru-hiker fever and wanted to make the miles.
I hiked a short distance up the Butt Mountain trail just to take a peek. From the Butt Mountain trail, you could see Lake Almanor.
You could see Chester near Lake Almanor. What puzzled me was how close we were to the lake and yet we had 10 miles to hike to get to the highway. Once at the highway, we'd be far from Chester and in a location that I could not imagine reaching with Chester visible from this angle.
Another look at Butt Mountain as we began a long descent to Highway 36.
A lovely view of Lassen came into view.
Here I am at the mid-way point on the trail.
The mid-way point marker. I've hiked all the miles to Canada.
I've hiked all but 60 miles of the miles to Mexico. By the end of August 2010, I will have hiked them all.
After reading and signing the trail register, we continued down the trail.
After the nice high mountain country we started descending into dusty forest.
After Soldier Spring, we reached this clear-cut owned by either Kimberly-Clark or Collins Pines. It is sad that industrial culture requires living trees to blow noses and wipe rear ends. Isn't there a better way to live than this?
We crossed a swampy meadow on private property. We were almost at the highway.
We were in flat country now.
On the south side of the highway is a note letting hikers know there are goodies on the other side of the highway.
My mom leaves this array of coolers and useful information and other things for the hikers. It is a little difficult to get a ride into town from this spot on the highway. Cars don't see hikers thumbing rides because they come over a rise. They are then going too fast to stop. There is nowhere to stop on the highway. My mom leaves her number out on the trail so hikers can call her and get a ride. If they don't need a ride, they can have a pepsi and continue on.
Naturally we got a ride from my mom. She took us home. Tony teased me for having such dirty feet wearing sandals and socks. But then he took off his shoes and his feet were just as dirty.
Good old dirty hiker feet. Besides Tony's dirty feet, the other feet belong to Lip Service, the woman whose foot was swollen with a possible stress fracture, who we took with us and behind her is Annica, who hadn't been hiking the trail for a while due to a knee problem. Tony and I took the both of them to Old Station the next day.
It was a great hike. Bucks Summit to Highway 36 is not a section you hear a lot about, but it is a microcosm of much of what the PCT has to offer in the Northern California/Oregon area. I highly recommended.