Heat and snow at the same time
Pacific Crest Trail Quest '08 - Page 20
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I managed to get out of bed early this morning and was on the trail by 5:30.  It was nice
hiking weather until the sun came up.  Then it quickly became unbearably hot.  I faced a
4,000 foot climb which only made me hotter, but the higher I climbed, the cooler it got.

I ran into a family of skunks headed down the trail as I was headed up.  We stared at one
another for a few seconds before the skunks wandered into the woods.  I also saw the
tracks of a mother bear with two cubs.  I've been seeing a lot more wildlife now that I'm in
front of most of the noisy hikers.

Today's trail was some of the worst I've hiked so far.  I walked through mostly clearcut
forest.  The trail was covered in dense thorny underbrush that tore at my arms and legs.  
Even the areas that weren't clearcut had been logged and the trees were few and far
between.  There isn't much water in this section, so the mosquitoes have been replaced
by flies.

The trail climbed over 6,000 feet tonight, and I was surprised to encounter snow drifts.  It
was still hot and miserable out, but I was climbing through the snow.

I set up camp tonight on a logging road that I hope is closed.  There aren't any tire tracks
on it, anyway.  There are so many bushes and thorny things growing in this logged out
forest that there's hardly anyplace to camp.
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I set off into the brush again this morning and managed to lose my sunglasses.  For
those of you keeping score, that's three pair gone so far.  When I get my next pair, I'm
going to make sure they are affixed to my body in some way.

The trail climbed mostly down throughout the morning, and the lower I got, the hotter and
more miserable I became.  I came to the cool, clear McCloud River at 2:30.  It was over
100 degrees out, so there was no way I was passing up a swim.  The trail makes a 2000
foot climb after the river and it was just too hot out for that kind of nonsense.  I opted for a
nap under a shade tree instead.

I woke up at 6:00 and started hiking again.  It was still way too hot, but I kept at it until after
dark, hoping it would cool off.  It didn't.  I set up camp at 10:00.  It's 11:00 now, and still too
hot to sleep.  I'll try my best to get up early tomorrow and put in some miles before it gets
too hot.
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I made it to the town of Dunsmuir today.  It was only 5 miles in a straight line from last
night's camp to town, but the trail managed to take 15 miles to get there.  I wanted to go
cross country and cut off some of the loops, but the brush was too thick to leave the trail.

I was hot, tired, and dirty when I reached town and decided Dunsmuir would be a good
place for a layover day.  I called the three hotels in town to check on the price of a room.  
Two of them were $90 and one had a receptionist that didn't speak English, so I never did
find out how much that one was.  It looked like Dunsmuir was out of my price range.

I bought a pint of Ben and Jerry's and sat down in front of the grocery store.  I hadn't even
finished my ice cream when a girl in a Saturn wagon pulled up and offered me a ride into
Mt. Shasta, where there was a KOA campground I could stay at.  The camp ground was
overpriced at $25 a night, but I was able to get a much needed shower.  I also got a nice
campsite about 50 yards from the busy railroad tracks.  I'm planning on taking tomorrow
off. I've gone about 1500 miles on the PCT, and I'm tired from all the heat.
I slept in this morning, then walked into Mt. Shasta to check out the town.  I started off with
a pretty good burrito at the Mexican restaurant.  Then it was off to the grocery store for
some Ben & Jerry's.  Mt. Shasta is a new age/hippie sort of town with four shops that sell
crystals and twice as many that sell books on astrology and herbs and such.  While I was
shopping for groceries, a guy came up to me and told me I have a really bright aura.  I
hope that's good.  After groceries, I bought two new pairs of socks.  They feel great!

I spent the afternoon sleeping under a tree in the park, then headed out to the I-5 on-ramp
to hitch back to the trailhead.  I hadn't been there long when a state trooper pulled up.  He
got out of the car with his hand on his gun and told me to take my hands out of my
pockets.  It seemed we were getting off to a real great start.  I told him I was on the PCT
and he relaxed.  He told me I could hitch from where I was, but that I couldn't hitch on the
interstate.  I was glad to see him go.

I got a ride a few minutes later with a guy who watches logging equipment at night so that
it doesn't get vandalized.  I walked to the first creek and set up camp.  I'm going up high
tomorrow so it should be cooler.  I have a new pair of sunglasses to lose, so everything
should be good.
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