Pacific Crest Trail Journals

Castella to Seiad Valley

July 31 – August 4, 2010

I spent the morning in Castella, putting away pints of Ben & Jerry’s and catching up on phone calls to friends and family. I was facing a long, hot climb out of Castella into Castle Crags and should have tackled it early in the day when it was still cool, but I was having too good a time in the Castella and didn’t start the climb until around noon. It was a hot afternoon (hot enough to melt all the chocolate in my granola bars and trail mix) but the views became increasingly rewarding as I climbed into Castle Crags. I passed several patches of pitcher plants; they’re common in the nutrient-poor soil of the area. I’d intended to get past the Trinity Divide before camping but ran into two women a few miles before it who were surveying thru-hikers for some kind of benefit/outcome analysis and I spent the rest of the evening answering questions and hanging out with them. They also had a record of all the hikers they’d surveyed in the past day so I was able to figure out everyone who was ahead of me.

The next day I hiked all the way to a highway crossing of the trail, for no reason other than the compulsion to hike a big day. The highway was an arbitrary destination and I easily could have camped just a mile or two before it, so I was thrilled when I got there and found some past thru-hikers running trail magic in the highway’s campground! Hemlock Muppet and his friends gave me food and beer and I stayed up late with them around the campfire. They’d also brought some good reading material and I spent the next morning hanging around camp and catching up on recent issues of National Geographic. I hadn’t been reading much on the trail and it was really refreshing to just sit in camp and read for hours. I finally dragged myself out of camp and hit the trail again.

Despite having no resupply plans there, I headed into Etna to see who was in town and to hang out for a bit. Another hiker’s (Max Chill) mom showed up at Etna Summit Road just after I arrived and I was able to hitch a ride into town with her. Max Chill’s parents were visiting him on the trail and were ferrying hikers around while they were there. I’d planned to just stop in town for the afternoon but ended up meeting some new hikers and stayed for the night in a hotel, courtesy of Max Chill’s parents. Thanks!

After a visit to the Etna bakery I left town a couple of other hikers, Motor and Neon. We hiked together until we got to Paradise Lake, where there was a mix of local hikers and thru-hikers camped out. From Paradise Lake it was only 20 some miles into Seiad Valley and most of the thru-hikers left early in the morning to get there. I headed out just before dawn and caught the best sunrise of my trip while hiking on a ridge. After an easy descent to the Klamath River followed by the longest road walk (all of 6 miles) on the “official” PCT, I strolled into Seiad Valley. Unfortunately the Seiad Cafe was closed after having had their fire suppresion system go off in the kitchen, so I was unable to defeat, let alone attempt, the famous 5 Lb Pancake Challenge. The local RV park has set a side a small area for hikers and I camped there for the night with several others. The “small area” bears a strong resemblance to an animal enclosure, complete with white picket fence and a bedding of hay on the ground.

Previous                 Next