Day 78: Fourth of July Push to Castella

July 4, 2017

Total daily miles: 19.3 miles

Total PCT miles: 1091.8 miles

Start: mile 1479.4

End: Castle Crags State Park Campground (mile 1498.7)

Total elevation gain/loss: 3902.2/4940 ft

We were up and out of camp before the other hikers were up. We immediately stopped to grab more water and then headed downhill to Squaw Valley Creek. The morning was relatively cool and we stayed in the shade for the first couple hours.

From Squaw Valley Creek we climbed for the next several miles. Once again we passed several southbound hikers. For some reason it always feels like we run into the southbounders first thing in the morning. Maybe it’s because of how people bunch up on their way out of town?

What does this mean? I didn’t see an octopus anywhere!

Near the top of our climb we had some nice views of Mt. Shasta. It’s finally starting to come into focus. Up until now it’s typically looked sort of fuzzy and ethereal.

I ran into a stick…

The descent into Castella seems long, but I guess that’s normal for a town day. We stopped for a brief lunch at a camping spot and then pushed towards town. I wanted a cold drink and ice cream and we seemed close enough to taste them!

As we neared town we started to run into day hikers out for their Fourth of July jaunt. It was hot and I can’t imagine enjoying the dry climb up the mountain that some of them were doing.

For the last few miles down, I could hear the traffic on I-5 even though I couldn’t see it. There’s something a bit disconcerting about getting closer and closer to such a loud noise when all we’ve been hearing for the last several days is the sound of the wind in the trees or the streams we pass. My dislike of the noises of civilization was quickly offset by the discovery of trail magic (juice and bars) just before we hit the road!

We crossed the Sacramento River and then tried to hitch the 2.5 miles along the frontage road (cleverly named Frontage Road) to Castella. There was no traffic though, so we quickly became resigned to the inevitability of a road walk. Within 10 minutes of walking though we got a hitch! A couple of the day hikers that we’d seen had decided to call it a day and recognized us as they drove by!

Although our resupply package hasn’t arrived in Castella yet, we did have a package waiting for us at the small store. A care package from my former co-workers Lisa, Tim, and Ryan! It’s complete with chocolate chip cookies, fruit leather, and some awesome looking nuts and trail mix. I’m not sure if some of these items will survive our planned zero day tomorrow…

It was a half mile walk from the store to the campground, and by the time I got there I was ready for a shower. Problem was that we had to go purchase shower tokens at the ranger station back near the store. Argh! As I was about to set off again, a trail angel (the one who’d provided today’s trail magic) pulled up with some hikers and I was able to get a ride back to the ranger station with her!

The rest of the afternoon was spent showering (turned out one of the women’s showers didn’t even need tokens to work!) and socializing with the other hikers at the PCT hiker camp spot. I’d hoped to yogi some hot dogs or other food from car campers, but everyone appeared to be away for the evening — maybe enjoying the fireworks at Shasta? I resigned myself to eating our own camp food (and some of the leftovers from other hikers). We ate and then hobbles into our tent to get ready for bed.

At about 8pm, the trail angel from this afternoon (Kellyfish) pulled up with some leftover pasta, roasted veggies, bread, and wine. Then another car camper came by with some “extra” beer (is such a thing possible?). Looks like we’d be stuffing ourselves for the Fourth after all! The trail community is pretty awesome and it never ceases to amaze me how generous people have been with hikers.

Tomorrow we’ll zero. I can’t wait to sleep in — I’m over our 4:30 and 5am wake ups!!

Current ailments:

Elizabeth: scratch on my leg, otherwise all good.

Michael: sore knees and left big toe.

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