Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cassel to Castella

Seeing my sister Maggie in Cassel was a treat. I have five siblings and because my parents instilled in us a mild form of wanderlust by moving us around a lot when we were youngin's, we have settled in 5 different cities, Boston, Chicago, Raleigh, Louisville and San Francisco, where Jonathan and Maggie live. They drove up for the weekend, and it was a grand time car camping with them. It was the first time from the start of the hike seeing a family member. I was sad to say goodbye on Sunday.

Because it was so hot and that we had full bellies of breakfast, we elected to wait a bit, go for a swim in the canal adjacent to the Cassel Campground, and not start hiking until 2 pm. Over the next 3 1/2 days, we walked the 90 miles between these 2 towns. The trail was dusty and hot, reaching into the 90's each day and even 100 degrees for part of it. It was also unmaintained in some sections, leaving the trail overgrown and me longing for a machete rather then my dull trekking poles. However, we were graced with dozens of vistas of Mt. Shasta throughout this section. So many that I had to resist taking its picture each time, leaving me feeling guilty after passing such an amazing sight. It sits a few hundred feet lower than Mt. Whitney, but because the surrounding landscape is so much lower, it dominates the skyline. The only other thing to mention is that we saw our first (and second) rattlesnake since south of Kennedy Meadows Tuesday night, during a night hike donning head lamps. Scary.

We've grown a little tired of our trail food, so we decided to try a few new things. We added fresh veggies to the grocery list, including cucumber, tomato, spinach and carrots. All but the spinach was a success, even with the hot weather, we greatly enjoyed our vegetable pitas with salsa (another new addition) during lunchtime. We also made sun tea between meals while hiking, and tried a non-cooked version of Ramen, where you simply add it to lukewarm water in a Nalgene a 1/2 hour before dinnertime. It made for a wonderful meal when the thought of cooking in the hot weather seemed like a terrible idea.

Lastly, I'd like to mention some of the trail magic we've received during the hike, most recently, from our campground neighbors. Trail magic sounds dorky, but it's simply an act of kindness or generosity by a stranger. It can come in the form of a free ride to town, or a bag of plums left on the trail, or a cold Coke. At the Cassel Campground, as we waited for Maggie and Jon to arrive, Rodney gave us 2 beers.... and then brought 2 more when he saw that we had finished them.And Dan, who so generously let us use his outdoor shower at his site - it was much needed! If they, by chance, are reading this: thank you, thank you, thank you.

Next stop Etna, 100 miles away.

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