Someone mentioned in one of the PCT Guidebooks that Castella marks the end of the overgrown section. For the most part, that statement is true. In fact, Chris and I very much enjoyed this section of the PCT. We started out in the Castle Crags State Park with their granite spires towering over the trail. In and out pine forest and meadows, we continued through the Trinity Alps and Russian Wilderness areas and all the while being treated to stunning vistas of Mt. Shasta and surrounding granite peaks and valleys bristling with trees.
One reason the hiking has been so pleasant may be our light packs. Water is fairly prevalent so we don't need to lug too much around with us. As Chris has mentioned before, we continue to unload gear and luxuries - like extra tent stakes, playing cards - in order to save weight. And, we also have lighter food bags because of the slim pickings from the gas station mini-mart. Chris made up for the junk food fare by filling his belly with fresh made burritos for three meals in a row- dinner, breakfast and lunch.
Another reason we've loved this section is that the weather finally cooled down some. After a sweltering climb our of Castella through the Castle Crags, we camped on a sandy ledge overlooking a valley. A welcomed, cooling breeze kept the mosquitoes at bay as we watched the sunset behind the ridge, silhouetting the pine trees keeping watch over the area. It was truly a magical spot - these moments are why we are out here.
That cool breeze continued for the next couple of days. For the most part, there wasn't a cloud in the sky except for one evening midway through this stretch. Clouds rolled in after dark covering the nearly full moon and heat lightening lit up the night sky. The light show did not phase Chris,
who was dead asleep, but I did manage to put the rain fly on before a light rain started to fall. By morning, everything was dry again.
We caught a hitch into Etna with one of the 20 residents of Sawyer's Bar and we are enjoying the warm hospitality of Dave and Vicki at their "Hiker's Hut". It's a dorm-style hostel with internet, showers, laundry and VCR. Now it's onward to Seiad Valley with it's restaurant known for one pound pancakes and then the Oregon border!
One last side note: I thought some folks might be curious to know what we do all day long while hiking. It can get boring putting one foot in front of the other for 10 or 12 hours a day. Sometimes we can waste a good hour or two talking about the cats or why the Toronto Blue Jays should be moved to North Carolina and be renamed the Durham Bull Sharks. Sometimes we listen to our iPods. Very often we daydream. I've already figured out what color we're painting the kitchen chairs and what we're going to name our dogs that we'll adopt someday down the road. And always, our dear family and friends are never far from out thoughts.
Thanks for your support and well-wishes, all! We miss you... -Beetle