The humidity is uncomfortably high as I hike out of Castella and into the Castle Crags wilderness. Thunder storms seemed to be moving in from every direction as I climb higher with a sweat soaked shirt and a lightning rod in each hand. Lightning strikes in the valley I was just in and rain begins to drench the trees below.
Obstructed by the fog the trail entered the Trinity Wilderness and though the next few days remained socked in, at times I could see that this was a major highlight of the trail. Beautiful rock formations and bright green tipped trees with wild flowers all around. Lakes lay calmly below, dark and still. The trinity wilderness seemed pristine and wild with big meadows filled with streams and grass that fed into the lakes. Trees scattered themselves instead of foresting in big patches. Everything had its own space to breath. Though I felt I missed most of this part of the trail, lost in the fog. I know I will be coming back to see its bounty on a clear day.
The fog rolled in and out and after a few days it eventually cleared and soon the Russian Wilderness was beneath my feet.
Moving on to Etna to resupply and enjoy a well deserved beer or two, the Marble Mountains laid just ahead. These mountains were rocky with steep climbs and bigger descents. Feet began to ache again but the scenery still rewarded the hard work.
Unfortunately a lot of it suffered from a massive fire in November of 2014. The trail snakes in and out of the burned areas. Parts that did not suffer were stunning and often gave sight to Oregon just ahead. Others offered a sad sullen view of dead burnt trees, no undergrowth, blown out rivers and streams. Debris from floods and trail reroutes through black ash. No animals stirred, no deer, no birds. I didn’t want to spend much time here and all I could think was, I wonder how beautiful this section was before the burn. I could only imagine.
Dropping down over 5,000ft, I am in Saied Valley and only a few short miles till I reach the California/Oregon boarder. I still can’t believe how much longer I get to be on this trail. Everything that has happened so far and now I get two more states to see. Though I am ready to be out of California, it will always be an amazing memory of the first time I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. (It won’t be the last.) From the excitement and diversity of the southern desert to the snow in the high Sierras, and the tug and pull of Northern California’s hot climates and beautiful forests. Now getting to Oregon still requires climbing back that 5,000ft, plus a few more large elevation changes. You really have to earn your rewards on this trail but it will all be worth it in the end. See you in Oregon.