The forest floor is littered with sticks in this area. Logs appear to decay normally, but sticks apparently go slower. Why?
The rock outcroppings from yesterday fade away, and now we have tall and deep ridges, covered thick with trees, and not much for views. Starting at the campsite at 7k elevation, the trail descends by switchbacks to the Target River, at 3k. Then the trail climbs back again from 3k to 5.5k. Tomorrow the trail plunges even deeper to arrive at the tiny town/resort of Belden.
Today I saw 10 sobos (southbounders), in ones and twos, and no northbound, and four trail maintenance crew.
Yesterday I forgot to say that a new PCT re-route for a few miles was in place, but I stuck to the old route because my gps and maps had that path. The new route moved to the east side of some lakes, and encouraged motorized vehicles on the west side. Saunter passes me, grumbling about the new route, which he took. He was moving fast, not sauntering. The area here is characterized by many large rock outcroppings of crumbling rock, tall trees and thick forest, and fewer water sources. The water sources are now once every few miles, like a normal trail, not the insane concentration of once every 200 feet like in the Sierras. The day has a couple of 1k climbs, but is mostly gentle downhill or level. Where are all the southbound hikers we were rumoured to meet? Not one today. Aside from Saunter, it is only me out there.
Start at second crossing of Milton Creek, mile 1191.5
End mile 1206.2, flat spot
Miles walked: 14.7
After a brief walk, the small town of Sierra City appears. I meet BoyscoutsWheelChair and SunriseChardonnay, southbound, at the small church that provides free camping. They say I am done with snow!
Later I meet Saunter, northbound, at the general store. The store has free wifi, and I get my supply box and buy supplemental food there, and get lunch from their grill, and leave town in the early afternoon.
From 4.6k elevation at the highway, I climb on controlled-slope switchbacks all afternoon to 7.4k, bloated from town food and with a pack heavy with food supplies I find long skinny pine cones, not the huge Coulter Pine variety, but something different. After several hours of dense forest cover, suddenly the trail gets above trees for a few miles. The trail gains a broad ridge with views, and follows for a few miles.
End at second crossing of Milton Creek, mile 1191.5
Miles walked: 30.7
The morning sky is overcast and dark, and with a sudden crash of thunder showers begin. As I climb, rain turns to pellet snow and covers the path. Later I climb down lower in altitude, and rain showers resume. With no sun for most of the day, the temperature is cold, and I must wear down vest, windbreaker, raincoat, and gloves for warmth, though keeping walking all day is the main way to keep warm. Toward the end of the day many switchbacks bring me down to 5k elevation, and I camp just a few miles from town, with rain against the tent until I fall asleep.
I meet Boogie, nobo starting at Donner, already thru-hiked a few years ago, wanting to do Oregon and Washington this year. I also met a couple of southbound flip-floppers going too fast to talk.
Climb up, then down, then up again to nearly 9k elevation at Tinkers Knob. Then the path goes atop a high exposed ridge for several miles in brisk wind, higher than any nearby peaks so that you feel touching the ceiling of the world. I meet a few flip-floppers during the day, and they believe their group is huge, often starting from the town of Dunsmuir. Approaching historic Donner Pass, I meet many many day hikers, as we descend on rock switchbacks. Donner Snow Ranch offers shower and laundry to hikers at a low price. Real nice people. I stop for a couple of hours and enjoy their food and wifi. Afterwards I meet Mantis and Oats, northbounders like me, and tell them about the pie a la mode, so they head that direction.
A little beyond Castle Pass is Grubb Hut, a cabin open to hikers. Note the outhouse with two stories. You use the top one when the snow is high. The cabin itself is also built with second story access in case of snow. The lower floor is a dining area, with sleeping quarters above. I am the only tenant this night. The upper story is naturally warm and cozy, so I only need my sleeping bag liner. The cabin shuts out the frog croaking of the flooded meadow outside, and all other animal sounds, leaving a profound quiet inside.