Day 81: NorCal Deja Vu

July 7, 2017

Total daily miles: 26.1 miles

Total PCT miles: 1140.2 miles

Start: Lake Helen (0.6 miles off PCT mile 1521.0)

End: mile 1547.1

Total elevation gain/loss: 2957.7/2949.1 ft

The morning colors on Lake Helen were gorgeous this morning. Such a beautiful sight to wake up to!


The trail this morning was once again exposed with sweeping views of the surrounding area. The trail stayed close to the ridge line and out of the forests that we’d become accustomed to on the trail between Burney and Castella. I started to regret my decision to switch to a t-shirt instead of my long sleeved shirt. Despite my efforts to apply sunscreen yesterday and this morning, I was worrying that my arms were getting pink too quickly.


After staying at more or less the same elevation at the beginning of the morning, we had a short climb up to a snow-covered saddle. It’s the first snow we’ve seen since Lassen and was well-trodden and fairly simple to cross.

Easy crossing over the remaining snow here.


My lunchtime goal had been to get to Deadfall Lakes. From the snow-covered saddle it was all downhill to there and I was excited to take a swim and relax for a bit. 

Deadfall Lake


The lake was beautiful, but my plans were for naught. The wind was roaring and I didn’t think that battling the wind would be a peaceful way to spend my lunchtime. Apparently, one of the hikers who was there when I arrived disagreed. She asked if I was planning to camp there, clearly concerned that I might nab her spot. I assured her that I was not (I had another 10 miles to hike!) and she set up her tent along the windy shore. I did not envy her camp site.

Exposed water source


We ended up eating lunch just downhill from the lake in a slightly better protected spot. I opted to switch back to my long-sleeved shirt before I burn too badly. Hopefully, we’ll get more cover soon and I’ll try again. Our plans for swimming scraped, we headed on. There were lots of day hikers out today, including a couple of women with their horses and dogs. They’re only the second set of horses that we’ve seen all trail (the other horses we saw also appeared to be day trippers).

This afternoon put us back in the trees a little and through more of a valley instead of the ridge line. The trail seemed remarkably flat, although we still ended up with some amazing views.  Today seemed strange because despite seeing so many dayhikers, we only saw a few PCT hikers.  It feels like we’re out here on our own again!

Didn’t we have the same view yesterday?


The end of the day included a very deja-vu moment for me. The way the trail hugged the mountain and skirted up around a lake seemed exactly the same as the end of our day yesterday. It felt like I had backtracked 25 miles! I guess this is the kind of thing that we should expect more now that we’re in Northern California, but I keep trying to find the unique beauty in each day.

Sadly, we did not end up with as awesome of a campsite as yesterday. We were aiming for a couple spots near a spring, but when we got to the site, there was already someone camped there and not much additional space. We ended up backtracking a couple minutes to camp along the nearby saddle. I was exhausted by this point and not pleased with the location because there was no shade, meaning that if we set the tent up immediately everything inside would roast. But I was too tired to go on. We made dinner and then I hung out sleep sheets over the tent before crawling in to relax for a bit before bed.


Here’s to hoping for unique sights tomorrow. And that I’ll be feeling less tired/grumpy.

Current ailments:

Elizabeth: none.

Michael: sore foot.

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