Although Northern California has proven to be unexpectedly difficult for us, we’ve also had some great fortune recently. Shedder, Roo, and Jess – who have been hiking just behind us for weeks – finally caught us near Chester. It was wonderful to see some friendly faces after being separated from them for 600 miles!
Though our differing paces separated us from time to time last week, we all made it to Burney within half a day of one another. Shedder and Roo had some friends meeting them at Burney Falls State Park and offered to help us slack pack the 8 PCT miles from Burney to the park. We happily accepted and hiked to the park carrying only water and leftover pizza from the night before, while they took our gear to the campground. We spent the night car camping with their friends, eating brats and s’mores and drinking beers.
We got a late start the next day, as we wanted to hike down to Burney Falls before hitting the trail. It was amazingly gorgeous – one of the most beautiful natural scenes I’ve ever seen. The water not only ran over the top of the falls but also seemed to pour out of the side of the rocky earth itself.
We then hiked into Shasta National Forest and into blissfully cooler weather. The hiking was easy, with deep woods leading to ridges with great views of Mt. Shasta. Unfortunately, the mountain has been shrouded in a haze for days, caused by multiple wildfires around Northern California. Some are fairly close to the trail but have caused no trail closures and are now mostly contained.
Yesterday, we arrived in the tiny town of Castella and camped at the Castle Crags Campground. Shedder’s parents visited from Redding last night with some AMAZING trail magic. Pizza, soda, beer, pasta salad, fruit, sandwich fixings, chips, and much, much more. 14+ hungry hikers couldn’t even finish the spread! Today we hike on toward Etna – our last stop in California (!), where Ashleigh’s parents are planning to meet us.