Day 72: Crossing to the dark side…

Day: Tuesday, August 9th 2016

Miles: 1494.1 – 1508.8

Remote Camp 1494.1 – Disappearing Creek Remote Camp 1508.8

It’s an oddity of the Pacific Crest Trail. If you look at a map, the trail makes an orderly northbound route for the most part form Canada to Mexico with two exceptions, the logical “let’s not burn up in the Mojave desert” westward wobble that it makes around Los Angeles. The second being inexplicable westward wobble the trail makes in Northern California from Mt.Shasta in a wide arc before hitting the Oregon border. Joking at one point with someone along the way, we lamented it was either some very boring bureaucratic or land ownership issue, or else a very salacious and intriguing story of vice and corruption in the design of the trail, perhaps the wobble being caused by some vested interest wanting the trail to swing through their town. I now know that neither are true. Writing this post after completing the section, it’s because the section really is truly very beautiful and quite unique. However at the time of hitting Interstate 5, it certainly did feel like crossing the abyss. To the dark side, it was. For the next week we would hike miles to the west, then turn back eastwards and retraverse Interstate 5 roughly 4 exits north of where I am right now. My excitement at hitting Interstate 5 after a pleasant downhill hike this morning was this tempered with curiousity and a little frustration at what exactly lay ahead.

Immediately however some trail magic lay on our path by the small Sacramento River crossing, and thus frustrations fell to the wayside as myself and ActionJackson enjoyed some morning treats, before a ride was offered to the store a few miles away where my package lay. Jumping into another flatbed truck, we headed for the completely empty food market for our resupply, and in my case the realization that I needed a cooking gas canister which I would need to hitch north to Dunsmuir to try and purchase.

As usual the trail provides and I managed to get a hitch with a trail angel dropping some hikers back to the trail head. I dropped into the brutally unfriendly and supcious hardware store in Dunsmuir, enjoying a verbal frisking about my national origins before buying some cooking gas (which was pretty demeaning), then being told that most thru-hikers were fools for not carrying side-arm protection against potential human aggressors on-trail, which was even more bizarre. Afterwards I tried to get a coffee, before realizing the entire town seemed to take Tues/Wed off and that nothing was open. I ended up grabbing a burger at the mediocre yet cheerful burger barn on the way out of town. Being the only customer when assigned order number 47 was surprising, only to wait an amount of time that seemed to match my number in line. As I sat alone eating my cheesesteak, customer 48 came in, and waited so long for his order that I wondered if the other customers actually existed but were perhaps wearing  invisibility cloaks.

After my burger I walked back towards the highway and quickly caught a ride with a local back to the soda spring trailhead where I jumped off trail earlier. I was happy to get out of Dunsmuir as something about that town really didn’t sit well with me. It’s just too hard to put a tangible reason on it, however I think it was the least pleasant spot I’ve yet visited on the PCT.

Happy to get back on trail, I was able to celebrate another milestone soon after rejoining as I hit the 1500 mile mark before entering the magnificent Castle Crag state park. An area of sharp ridges and beautiful peaks high peaks right above the tight valley containing interstate 5. For the next few days the crags would act much like the Sierra Buttes, a visual reference point with some pleasant sharp points against the might of Shasta in the east. As I ascended the ridges and enjoyed a cool evening hike, I saw a magnificently colored rattlesnake crossing the trail. I was able to observe him from a distance as he wandered about the rocks and trail side undergrowth before sliding away downhill.

Knowing that yesterday was a record day, I decided that I didn’t need to be a hero today and aimed to camp at Disappearing Creek, where I coincidentally linked up with ActionJackson again and settled in for a late dinner after eventually finding the disappearing water source (certainly matching its name!). The dark side was certainly pretty and I cowboy camped given the lack of bugs. What a novelty!

One thought on “Day 72: Crossing to the dark side…

  1. Got to look up this Dunsmuir dump. I can just imagine the questions the prime example of RWNJ inbreeding and gun loving was asking. I can tell why your least favorite place on the PCT.


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