Day 87 mile 1501.2 – 1521.9 (plus 0.6 for water)
Elevation: ascent 6,391 ft, descent 1,805 ft
Well after lying around for two days and REALLY enjoying the AC, we knew it was time to hit the trail again. Our bodies definitely loved the time off but also were starting to get antsy with the lack of activity that was going on in Dunsmuir. Our jaws got more of a workout the last two days than our legs 🤣.
We got picked up at the hotel by our taxi at 6:30 since we were trying to get back to the trail early to beat the heat that was predicted for today. As we left to head down to the taxi I did a quick scan of the room. When I say quick it was quick and not very thorough. Literally as I am closing the door, Double Down yelled up to me asking if I had her trekking poles? Well of course I didn’t, and to make matters worse we had left the keys to the room inside. I had collapsed her poles down and placed them by her pack but being smaller she didn’t see them. We both stood there for a minute staring at each other, each with that OH SHIT look on our faces. Doesn’t help when you taxi driver is staring at you like he wants to get going. So I went to the office to ask for another key, however they were closed. I rang the after hours bell 3 times, still no luck. Double Down then pulled out her phone and tried calling the hotel. She was able to get a hold of one of the owners who was literally just getting out of the shower. A couple minutes later he arrived out the office door with a key we used to retrieve the poles. Crisis diverted!!
We were dropped off at the trailhead at 6:45 and we were both happy with our decision to leave early, as the temps were much cooler. The day was going to be mainly climbing so we wanted to get as much done as we could early in the day. The trail didn’t ease into the day that’s for sure, and I guess neither of us were surprised by that.
About 5 miles into our day we came to the East Fork of Sulphur Creek. We had decided to make it our breakfast spot. Now we both had some reservations at first because the name brought back bad memories for both of us, when we had filled our bottles with sulphur tasting water near Mt Baden Powell (months ago in the desert). Fortunately the water was clean and tasted great. While we were in Dunsmuir we had picked up a couple of Honey Buns which we have always heard other hikers in the past raving about. We hadn’t seen them before in the stores so we gave them a try today. We both gave it a thumbs up. How can you go wrong with sugary fried bread, plus it is packed with calories (590) and it doesn’t crumble like our Pop-Tarts. We might find more of these getting into our food bags if we can find them in town.
After breakfast the climbs continued but were also becoming more exposed and a lot hotter. Sweat was pouring off each of us as we climbed higher towards Castle Crags. On the way up we also ran into our 4th rattle snake since starting in March. We both have been surprised we haven’t seen more the past few weeks as the temps have shot up. Maybe it’s too hot for them as well.
As we were climbing up along a ridge we ran into Flip Flop, Tramp and Caveman again. They were actually walking towards us though. So when we got to them they told us they were slack packing (hiking without a pack that someone was holding for them), and had decided to do this long climb southbound so they could avoid the steep climb we were doing today. Like I have said before there is no right out wrong way of hiking this trail and each person makes their own decisions. This is one Double Down and I have said we wouldn’t do, but it’s working for them.
The views we started to get from behind Castle Crags and peak-a-boo views of Shasta had us very entertained most of the day. We finally started to get our views we had been missing.
We got to Gully Spring around 1:00 and ran across these very interesting plants growing in the water pouring down the mountain side. I grabbed water to refill our bottles but with no place to sit for lunch we moved on with a full water resupply. We did find a nice shaded spot further up the trail and found we had some cell service. We took a short break and called our daughter to check in with her. This is when we were passed by another hiker “Energizer” who seems to be doing big miles so we probably won’t see him again. We were reaching the top of the climb and had spectacular views back down into the valley and Castle Crag State Park.
We arrived at our tent site at 4:30. Not bad for almost 21 miles and over 6,000 feet of climbing after a full resupply!! We decided to call it a day here and enjoy our view of Mt Shasta. I walked the 0.3 miles down to Heavenly Spring for water. It’s nice being able to be outside just relaxing without mosquitoes or ants. There is a nice breeze and being over 6,000 feet in elevation has brought some cooler temps as well. It’s been a long time since we have gotten to camp this early and are able to just sit around camp and take it all in. We even had a slanted rock we were able to use as a backrest while having dinner.
We are both feeling great and think the double zero came at a perfect time. We are looking forward to some trail magic later in the week (more on that in a day or two) and feel really happy with our progress. Thanks for following along!! Link