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Ron & Julie "Snowplow & Rubber Legs" Cluster
Begins: Jul 17, 2010
Date: Sun, Jul 18th, 2010
Start: Bear Creek
End: Honker Pass at Bucks Lake - 5251 ft
Daily Distance: 7.6
Trip Distance: 24.2
Hours Hiked: 8
Daily Ascent: 2700
Daily Descent: 700
Min Elevation: 3250
Max Elevation: 5950
Entry Lat: 39.86753
Entry Lng: -121.16932
Min Temp: 60
Max Temp: 93
People Met: 11
Entry Visits: 621
Journal Visits: 8,534
Guestbook Views: 340
Guestbook Entrys: 7
Natures Obstacle Course
We got going at 6:30am and it was 61 degrees. The trail began climbing immediately through an oak and pine forest. Unfortunately, as we gained elevation, we discovered that a lot of that oak and pine forest was broken and laying across the trail. In the six miles from Bear Creek to the top of the ridge, we had to climb over, around or sometimes under at least 200 trees. We lost count. Our pace dropped from our normal 2.5 miles per hour to less than 1 mile per hour. Most blockages were on such steep terrain that going around the mess was not an option, at least not for us. So we climbed over most and crawled under some on our hands and knees. To get by a couple of them, we had to take our packs off and belly crawl under them, handing our packs through to the person on the other side.
A couple of miles of this and we were exhausted. We stopped and took several breaks and we were drinking plenty of water but the last couple of miles to the top were really tough. It was close to Noon and the temperature was in the mid 80's. We had to take it slow so we didn't get into the heat related problems we had yesterday. We talked about the conditions and, knowing there were several more miles of downed trees north of Belden and even more between Burney Falls and Castella, we decided that we did not want to continue. We figured we would try to make it into Belden, or maybe walk down into Bucks Lake, and see if we could get a ride down to Chico to catch Amtrak.
The next mile or so was along the top of the ridge and out in the full sun. It was in the high 80's but it sure felt hot, even hotter than the desert sections last year. Maybe coming from our nice air conditioned life just three days ago has something to do with that. After making it to the top and another mile to Lookout Rock we came across a most welcome sight. The trail angels at Honker Pass, Terry & Nancy Williams, had a large sign by the trail with their contact info. I had heard about them via chatter on the pct-l email list but didn't get their info in my planning notes. They aren't listed in Yogi's PCT Handbook either. That's a real oversight as it turns out, because these folks are fantastic. I call the phone number on the sign (there is pretty good Verizon service here, but none down at their house) and talk to Nancy. She offers to pick us up where the PCT crosses the paved Big Creek Rd in about 90 minutes. I thank her and we get going again. After less than a mile, we come to a gravel road. As we are crossing it we hear a vehicle coming down the road towards us. They offer us a ride down and we gladly accept. I thought they would just drop us off at the trailhead down below where we could wait for Nancy but they ask where we are headed. We give them the info and they drive us right to Nancy's door step, a couple miles west of the PCT trailhead. I'm sorry I don't recall your names but thank you both very much.
Nancy gets us settled in at Honker Pass. They named their place after the Geese that fly through Haskins Valley just beyond their large wooden deck. They have a large cabin with kitchen, living area and their bedrooms. The wood deck is HUGE and shaded, with chairs, tables and games. They have a stack of foam pads for sleeping on the deck or you can set up your tent out among the trees if you like. The "hiker hut" has laundry, a shower and bathroom. They have some loaner clothes and basic toiletries for hikers also. This place is amazing, as are our hosts Terry and Nancy, who are really committed to helping out hikers any way they can. We also get to meet Dennis and Shelley (Nancy's Niece and Nephew) who are helping out (Dennis grilled the best Tri-tip we have ever tasted) and Buzz and Lucy (Nancy's father and his wife).
Hasty and Charmin, hikers who we met Friday evening at Chimney Rock, are here. Hasty needed new shoes so Terry and Dennis drove him into Reno where he was more likely to find what he needed than in Quincy (on a Sunday). After they got back, Dennis offered to take us down to Chico tomorrow. I called Amtrak and revised our tickets and it was all set. Three more hikers arrived later in the day and we all had a nice time swapping stories out on the deck.
We are disappointed that we aren't able to complete more of the trail this year. We didn't do any conditioning to get ready for this year's hike and I think that was a mistake. The heat and downed trees combined made it much more difficult than we were prepared for. We will view this as a lesson learned for planning future trips.
We slept out on the deck under the stars. A beautiful night. I think we should try this at home occasionally...
Animal Sitings: Too tired most of the day to notice much of anything but we do recall seeing Chipmunks and Lizards.
Snowplow & Rubber Legs
Ron & Julie On The PCT - 2010
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org
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