Monday, July 17, 2017
PCT 11 - Low Mountain Ranges - Castella to Etna - 98 PCT miles
Crossing Interstate 5, the PCT climbs from Castella at just under 2,000 feet to a high traverse of the Trinity Alps and Russian Wilderness areas. While the trail mostly stays between 5,000 and 7,000 feet, the mountains except for Lassen and Shasta are only slightly higher. In a sense these are low mountains, but have much of the drama that we find in the high Sierra.
I left Castella at about 5:30 in the afternoon, just hiking up away from the Interstate to a beautiful stream crossing where I made camp with a few other hikers. The next day was demanding, with over 6,000 feet of climbing over 24 miles. The day after the trail was much flatter, making for faster hiking, and I logged 27 miles, my longest day so far. These big days put me ahead of my hiking schedule, but also tired me out. The next two days I was slower and finally getting to the Etna Summit trailhead was a relief.
In this section I enjoyed hiking along with 8 other hikers who were hiking similar miles per day, although all at a faster pace than I hike. Grim, Akuna, Mello, and Rubber Ball gave me the trail name Lickity Split because I take short breaks, and then I am gone down the trail. Grim also noted that there is also a reverse meaning in it since my hiking pace is so slow. Sort of like calling a really tall person "Tiny." If this makes no sense to you, you have not yet internalized the random logic of trail names. Spatula, Lucky Charms, and Bang Bang thought "The Nutty Professor " would be a good fit because of my squirrel puppet, which is another good opportunity for a leap of logic. For the moment, I am going with Lickity Split.
Etna is one of those extremely small towns that still manages to have everything a hiker needs. Thus includes a good burger shack, and a hiker-friendly B&B with one side of the property called the hiker hut. The hiker hut has a shower, laundry, common room, WiFi, and an area to pitch tents. Oh and did I mention a brewery? Not essential, but Etna has it's own too.
I will likely take a rest day tomorrow to recharge, and be back hiking on Wednesday.
Photos for this section are here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/EcUAmPQQsGFozip53