Because we had to wait until the Post Office opened at 9am, we were able to sleep in a bit in our tree house. The techno music abated as we made coffee and we were on the road- Highway 70- walking toward the PO soon after. We hit the jackpot with armsful of packages, so many , in fact, that the delightful postmaster called us the hikers from hell. The next hour was spent sorting through the lot, reading letters aloud and feeling a bit homesick for all our dear friends and family.
But the trail called. We started the ten mile climb out of Belden around 10am and we were still climbing at 5pm. The heat, heavy packs filled with food and the enormous climb all conspired to make for a very slow day - only 16 miles! Fortunately we made up for the short day with some big miles in the next 4 days that followed - 3 days of 25 miles and our first 30 mile day!
Chris and I had great incentive to make it to Cassel by Friday because his sister, Maggie, and her husband, Jonathan, were meeting us for some car camping. The terrain was gentle - rolling hills through Lassen Volcanic National Park as well as several lumber farms. We survived a 30 mile waterless stretch thanks to a water cache halfway through, and we rolled into Cassel Campground around 8pm. Jon and Maggie arrived from San Francisco soon after and the fun began. Lots of beer, lots of eating and we even squeezed in a 4 mile walk together on the PCT. An awesome weekend. It is a real treat to see familiar, beloved faces after so long on the trail.
So now it's onward to Castella, and Ashland, OR beyond. We have a goal to to make it to Ashland without taking any zero days in an attempt to get back to schedule. To make it to the border on time, we have to pull 40 days of 25 miles or more, 19 days of 17 miles and that allows us 12 zero days - 6 of which we'll use for a Parker Family vacation on Cape Cod in September.
So, it's back to the grindstone today and a sad farewell to Jon and Maggie, who treated us to delicious feasts all weekend and great company.
*Note: This late entry was among my neighbor's vacation mail on hold in the Canton, MA post office for three weeks. Sorry for the delay. LP