After relaxing at the Word of Life church, it was back up to the trail, but not before we received a free frappe from the church. For this section we have bought a bear proof sack which we are using so that we don’t have to hang our regular food bags every night. This should save us a bit of time and effort as sometimes it has been hard to hang, as there were not enough trees or we had arrived into camp too late.
9 miles later we arrived at Burney Falls. This is a spectacular waterfall but the water here is also very, very cold. Jenny and I went for a dip but only stayed in for about 30 seconds before we started to go a bit blue. This waterfall is spring fed so stays a crisp 40 degrees all year long.
We ended up buying some beers here and stayed the night. One of the best bits about the trip is not having a rigid schedule. If we like something we’ll break by it for longer or take a side trail as we’ve done a couple times recently.
As we went to sleep we started to see ash drop onto our tent. This was from the nearby Carr fire. A few days later this section of trail we walked through was closed as the fire spread to 134,000 acres and got within 5 miles of the PCT. We’ve been keeping up-to-date to ensure we are not in any immediate danger, as the fire has been moving so quickly. This means we have had updates from friends and family come through on our Garmin letting us know where the fire is now. The result of the fires is that we’ve been getting smokey days every day of this stretch and haven’t been able to see what is normally a glorious view of mount Shasta. The smoke makes the climbs so much harder as it tickles your throat and makes you cough. It’s sad to think off the displaced locals and wildlife who have had their homes destroyed.
The Carr fire started near Redding, California, when a vehicle got a flat tire and the rim of the wheel scraped the asphalt. Sparks shot out and started a fire which has become the sixth most destructive wildfire in California’s history. The fire spread quickly, burning up mile after mile of dry brush, and is still burning nearly 2 weeks later. It is so ferocious that it created its own weather system (which experts have described as a “firenado”), that uprooted trees, ripped off roofs and downed power lines. The Carr Fire has burned over 1,500 structures to the ground and has killed at least 6 people including several firefighters who have struggled to contain the blazes.
The next couple of days we hiked through wooded areas. At first we saw trees which had moss that looked like black hair hanging from the branches which was kind of creepy, especially on the night hikes. Jen has been enjoying the raspberries that have been growing by the trail. Joal, slightly concerned about what happened in the film Into the Wild, has held back just to see if there are any side effects.
For this section we upgraded our food bag to a bear proof sack and we saw our first bear on trail so this was just as well. We were soaking our feet in a stream and drinking water when Porsche saw something moving in the bushes heading towards the trail. As it got to the trail, a hiker who was walking down yelled and it scampered. It was huge, probably about 5 foot tall but as wide as a small car. Luckily we were at a safe enough distance to not be afraid and it wasn’t tame. The deers around here on the other hand are pesky. They don’t seem to care about us and come into our camp frequently.
At the river with the bear we ran into a photographer who was also hiking the trail. He’s taking pictures for his ‘hiker vogue’ series, which makes the most filthy worn out hikers look like magazine models. Swimming has been great in this section. One lunchtime we spent 4 hours getting out of the heat of the day. Siestas are also back in fashion due to the heat.
Getting closer to Dunsmuir there were a lot of wasps on trail. Jenny is still traumatised by Hannah’s collection of wasps when she was younger, and doesn’t enjoy our lunch and break spots now, and unfortunately got stung the day before we arrived in Dunsmuir. Luckily the hotel we booked had a 24 hour jacuzzi so we could rest up with the trail family. The room was funny as it was very rustic.
We had a family dinner at a small place called Yaks. This unassuming place had awesome beer and burgers but Joal made the mistake of going for a garlic burger with garlic fries and he has now stunk for days!