Day 114 7-17-07 Hostel
Russian Wilderness border – Etna, Hiker Hut
14.1 miles; 1606.3 (59.36) total miles; 3467.96 trip miles
80’s; Overcast, windy
Deer count is 93
Marmot count is 51
Rattlesnake count is 6
Bear count is 5
Pika count is 2
I had a good night on the saddle. I got up and was going by 6:20. I traversed a mountain side where the trail was blasted out of the rocks. It wasn’t long, but it was cool. I continued to traverse upwards for sometime. The views and the Russian Wilderness were great. I passed many water sources along the traverse, some of which were under boulders where you couldn’t get to it. I crossed over to the other side of the ridge I was on and descended.
I would climb once again, and as I did, I looked across to the other side of the gully I was in and saw another hiker. I turned on the gas, then briefly stopped for water (which later I poured out), and then resumed my chase. I crossed the outlet creek from Paynes Lake Creek and the trail went up again. Soon after I caught the hiker and it was someone I hadn’t met, Tazul. He had just turned 71 two days ago and was doing a section hike. Tazul is from Santa Cruz, CA. We talked a bit and he offered to buy me a beer and I said it should be me who bought them since it was his birthday.
I hiked on up the slope and traversed another breathtaking section on the side of a granite slope. This one was blasted and built up so we could pass. At the next saddle, I met a couple with two dogs. They were out for the weekend hike, and it turns out they were going to hike up north but both trailheads were closed due to the two fires. It turns out the smoke that I’d been seeing for two days now is coming from two separate fires on either side of the PCT. As we spoke, I heard someone coming around the next corner and it turned out to be two guys on horses. Each had a train of three mules or horses behind them. The dogs started to bark at the sight of them and the couple had to calm them. I asked the second guy if riding sections like this one scared him. He said they use to but not anymore. It was really cool to see the horses/mules traverse the rocky slopes. It amazes me them can do it.
I pushed on only to stop and talk to another day hiker. He said he followed the PCT up to 2000 but didn’t think it was taking off so he lost interest. I told him it had definitely taken off and told him a few sights he could look at. I, once again, went on my way and finally was on my way down to the road crossing. My feet and knees felt pretty good so I was happy about that. As I took out my last bar to eat, I came across a family of three, mom, dad, and daughter. They asked me to take their picture and asked me some questions. They also offered me a ride to town if I hadn’t gotten one by the time they got back. As I approached the road, I saw a celeste colored forest service truck pull into the parking lot. I fear the worst and thought they were there to put up a trail closure sign.
When I got to the parking lot, they were gone and there was no closure. I waited maybe 10 minutes and a couple camping nearby gave me a ride to town. They drove right through town and were not sure if the hotel I wanted to go to was the one we saw so we went on. We figured out it was the one we saw, so we turned around. As we did I noticed we were in the parking lot of one of the mentioned restaurants in my guide book. I jumped out then and got lunch. I got a cheeseburger, fries, milk shake and salad. As I left I checked my email at the phone and walked back to town. In town I made mental notes of what was open when and what was available. I went to the PO and got my food and sent home some old paper work. I had decided to stay at the Hiker Hut, which is located at a B&B. It was $25 and included a bed, shower, microwave, and frig. The internet was down. I got there to find Tazul, who got a ride from the family I met, and Greenleaf. I showered and got settled and rushed back to get pizza before the place closed. I had a half hour to spare; but I forgot that in these small towns business hours are not set in stone. I got there to find them closed. I was bummed.
I moved on to the library to find all the computers in use. So I went to the grocery store and saw what they had. I didn’t buy anything since I didn’t want it to get warm. I then went to the drugstore, which had an old school soda shop counter and got my second milk shake. It was then back to the library and finally back to the grocery store. I did some laundry, hung out, did my journal some and then around 8 PM, Tazul and I went to the bar. I hoped they had food, but they didn’t. We each had a beer and then I went to the store and got Pizza Bagels. Back at the hut I cooked the pizza and just watchedTV. I talked to Scott and Nick, my friends from the old bike shop. I also talked to Sam for a bit, which was nice. We didn’t go to bed until 11 pm. I had the top bunk! We fell asleep to the sound of rain.
Scatman 2011- Another wonderful day of hiking. The Russian Wilderness was great too but not as spectacular as the Trinity Alps. I felt good most of the day and wasn’t feeling the stress of all the miles as I had of late. It was also nice to talk to all the day hikers. Most days it was just me and Bessy, (Bessy is my pack). She’s pretty quite so you can imagine it gets lonely out there.
Etna was a great hiker town as it was small. Everything was pretty much in one area which limited the walking on had to do to get everything they needed. Some towns you have to hitch to get places. Not here. The highlight was the milkshakes. I couldn’t get enough milkshakes on the PCT. On the AT I was all about actual ice cream.
Get out there!