Day 78: PCT mile 1247.2 to 1272.2, 25 miles
Day 79: PCT mile 1272.2 to 1290.2, 18 miles
Day 80: PCT mile 1290.2 to 1313.3, 23.1 miles
Day 81: PCT mile 1313.3 to Chester, 15.5 miles
Day 78 had us wake to the sound of the Feather river. We usually have rehydrated berries with granola and Carnation Instant Breakfast. It is pretty tasty, but for some reason I really did not want it this morning; so instead, I had a Hot Fudge Sundae Pop-Tart with peanut butter, and it was delicious. It gave me extra energy to power up our big climb out of the canyon. The switchbacks were gradual, and we moved quickly over 10 miles to climb back up to 6,000 feet. We were greeted with great views all day, and hiked our longest trail day yet. We accredited out miles to the fact that we both recently have been making an effort to consume calories (hence, the peanut butter on a Pop-Tart!), and the friendly day-hiking family who have us a soda at a trailhead.
The rest of the day was rolling, and we had wonderful views of pristine lakes and cliffs. We found a nice spot in some manzanita bushes, with a panoramic view of the surrounding area, and enjoyed the sunset.
The sunrise the following morning was also spectacular, as one can imagine! We packed-up camp by 7am and made our way towards Belden Town Resort, 12 mostly downhill miles away (4600 ft down to the valley floor). About 3 miles from Belden, we started hearing a dance beat. Belden is known for their music festivals, but being a Sunday morning we didn’t expect to land in one- let alone one of this kind. When we got down there was a full on rave going on at 11am! We had hoped to get lunch, but the restaurant was taking a break. Luckily they had a small store with sandwich fixings, chips, soda, and decent hiker supplies. We took it outside and sat with other hikers on the porch watching people go by. You know something strange is going on when the dirty hikers in a place aren’t attracting any attention. We finished our snacks and got on our way, having had our fill of the rowdy atmosphere and seeking the quiet of the woods. On the way out we passed concert-goers floating in rafts, that part looked like fun!
We quickly started a hot, exposed climb out of the valley. We hadn’t had heat like this since the desert, but fortunately unlike the desert there was plenty of water along the way. We chugged a liter every mile or so, but it didn’t seem to help. After a few miles we found a small oasis of shade, so we took a stop to wait for the heat to break. Thru-hiker “Bear Bait” came along and sat with us, and we chatted to pass the time. The shade started to leave us though, and it was time to venture on. We made it two more miles before calling it an early night, as we were exhausted from the heat!
The next day we finished the climb out of the valley, and enjoyed a gentley rolling hike for the rest of the day.
Day 81 was more special than usual as it marked the half-way point of the PCT. It was nice to reminisce about the first half of our hike, and we cannot imagine what the rest of the trip will bring as we’ve been surprised each and every day so far! We are starting to notice a change as the Sierras gradually turn into the Cascades. We’ve been seeing Lassen Peak for the last few days from afar, and today we got some great views as well!
We had thought we may spend some time in Belden a few days earlier, but after the unexpected crowd, we decided to go into hiker-friendly Chester (7 miles east of the trail) for the night. At the road there was a cooler of soda and fresh fruit for hikers, and we easily hitched into town. We did laundry for the first time in 6 weeks, Garrett showered for the first time in a month, and we got a good meal. A nice break from the heat!