31st July 2015

Mileage 30.2 (48.6km)

Caves Camp (1631.9) to Seiad Valley (1662.1)

My forced experiment of sleeping without a tent or sleeping mat was a big fat fail. No sleep. I was tempted to just pack my things and start hiking at 3am. I was awake, nothing better to do, even the stars were hardly visible due to the wispy cloud cover. Instead I forced myself to wait till 5am. It was still dark but I made my breakfast and set off for the day.

After only about a mile of hiking I crested a hill and entered the next valley. Fire. The lightning last night must have ignited a tree and smoke rose to fill the valley. In the early morning light it was a destructively beautiful site. I skirted the valley with the newly created wildfire and followed yet another stunning ridge that offered extensive views. Only the smoke from recent fires limited my visibility. This section of Northern California is a gem of a place to hike. 

While hiking the ridges, the newly created wildfire many miles behind me I heard a helicopter in the air. I later heard from Mr & Mrs Smith that the helicopter appeared, surveyed the fire the lowered to a nearby lake. A suspended water bag that must carry 100s of litres was lowered into the water. The helicopter then dumped its payload onto the wildfire this extinguishing it before it became out of control.

By the middle of the day the heat was extreme. I love hot weather but today was in another level. I live in the tropics, the hottest most oppressive time of the year is the month of October. Today felt like October at home. And I was walking 30 miles or 48 kilometres. I wouldn’t do this at home, nobody would. But today I continued. At every stream or minor water source I stopped to drink and soak my shirt before continuing. The heat also caused a minor sweat rash. No need to mention where! I was drinking about 1 litre per hour. It was hard work.

After about 24 miles I reached the bottom of the valley at Grider Creek campground. It was oppressively hot.  A young lady was there waiting for a friend who was hiking the trail. She questioned me. Had I seen her? All the while she was sipping on a large bottle of cold Gatorade. I looked with puppy eyes at the drink, hoping to be offered some. But none was offered and I was unable to assist with the location of her friend. I set off on the 6 mile road walk to Siead Valley Store. I had 2 packages waiting for me. A tent and a mattress.

While hiking on the road about 2 miles from the campground the Gatorade lady drove past, possibly she found her friend. I also spied Mr & Mrs Smith huddled in the back seat. They later told me they were drinking gatorade as they drove past.

At the store my packages were there. So was a 2 litre tub of ice cream which I started to consume once I finished drinking the 2 litres of Gatorade. We were all defeated by the heat and have  given into the temptation of staying at the RV Park. Oh, out of interest, I only managed to eat about 1 litre of ice cream before fatigue sent me to bed. I also found out it reached 110F (43C) and I hiked in that!!!!

hiking before the sunrise

  

fire in the valley

  
    
    
    

10am

    
   

10 Responses

  1. Marie

    Hi Shepherd,
    I have followed with great interest your PCT blog! I aspire to follow in your footsteps next year. Thanks so much for taking all the time and energy to post so regularly and with so much detail and stunning photos. I know it must be hard to take the time when you’re so tired from all the miles – so thanks for the effort!
    I have a nerdy gear question, if you don’t mind. Why did you switch out tents? I have been going back and forth between the Copper Spur, and the Fly Creek myself and would love to hear why you returned the Fly Creek.
    Happy Trails!
    Marie

    • BikeHikeSafari

      That’s for the kind words and good luck with your planning and hike next year. The Fly Creek is a good and popular tent but for me it felt like I was crawling into a cave. It is light and for most people a great choice for thru hiking. I need a tent that will serve many purposes, hiking the PCT is but a small part of my extended travel plans. After this hike I will be cycling to South America and returning for another thru hike next year. The copper spur is bigger, heavier and has side entry which is great for me. I also learned that carrying a little extra weight doesn’t bother me too much. For 95% of people I would recommend the Fly Creek. It also had a problem with the zipper, but that was not the main reason for me returning it. Hope this helps.

  2. Ruuster

    The 110F.. sometimes they come in fives where ur at.. Pray for rain… or better.. start the trail day at 4AM and quit for the day at Noon.. and carry a 7# bag of ice.. maybe two bags.

  3. Packman

    Did you pass that SOBO called Iceman ? He did the AT already this year and now SOBO on the PCT. Does 40+ miles a day. A freakin machine ! And keep up the effort. Oregon is just over the hill and temps are looking like in the 80’s. Hike on !

    • BikeHikeSafari

      I’ve passed about 5 SOBO hikers, all of them look like machines. Haven’t really spoken to any of them, most seem to be on a mission. The AT and PCT in the same year is a real mission.

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