Mile 2407 to 2659
This is the final chapter in the increasingly inaccurate 150 Homes series. Thanks to hard work, immense good luck and the constant support of our teammates, Arry and Calzone were able to reach the northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail on September 30th, 2017. These are the pictures of our final camp sites.
Mile 2144 to 2407
The fires continued to dog us as we crossed the Bridge of the Gods from Oregon into southern Washington. Trail was closing behind and ahead of us, forcing us to skip a total of two hundred miles.
However, our greatest antagonist was not the fire, or the bears, but the mice. They worsened dramatically as we ventured north, growing far bolder. The little buggers ate through almost all of our tents in this section, leaving us paranoid about any hint of rustling in the night.
Miles 1715 to 2144
Our flip-flop of California concluded, we drove a rental car from Lone Pine up to Ashland to continue our trek North. Oregon is in a sad state this year: much of the trail was on fire when we got there, and more would close behind us. We ended up skipping over 100 miles of this beautiful state, and the majority of our time was spend wading through thick smoke.
Our camp sites were usually deep in the woods. Oregon is known as the “green tunnel” of the PCT; conifers and lakes make up most of the scenery. Some excellent town stops (Bend, Portland) ensured that the repetitive forests didn’t become annoying.
Miles 1407 to 1095
We haven’t updated for a while due to the need to hike longer miles and take fewer zeroes in order to keep to schedule. Northern California saw many of the driest and wettest areas of trail so far, with Hat Creek Rim a particularly dry section. We ran into snow again around Lake Aloha, but we were seasoned pros at this point, and nothing could compare to the terror of the Ashland-to-Etna snow walls.
Since we had flipped north, this section was a period of building tension before we reached the Sierras. Would the creeks still be impassable? It was important to focus on the lower-key beauty around us and not dwell on trail we hadn’t reached yet.
Miles 1598 to 1407
Halfway to the Sierras! Again! We are still journeying south through California, and we’re now passing through the bubble of northbound flip-floppers. It’s surreal seeing people whom we left behind weeks ago, with the knowledge that we’ll never see them again. They will reach the northern terminus way ahead of us, and some will then travel back south to finish the Sierras last.
The scenery has finally started reverting to desert, though we have been treated to many dank forests and even the occasional bear. Shasta was a constant companion in this section; we’ll see her again when we flip back up to Oregon.
Miles 1715 to 1598
We faced a hard decision when we reached Lone Pine. The Sierra route was approaching peak melt in a year of unprecedented snow levels, which made for perilous and exhausting creek crossings. After much deliberation, we decided to flip to Ashland and tackle California from the north. This would hopefully give the Sierra time to melt before we got there.
Our new chapter started a few miles north of the California / Oregon border. Our camp sites here have been mainly under trees, but the thick vegetation and steep slopes have reduced the number of viable spots. Water is never an issue thanks to the dozens of unmarked snowmelt streams that we cross every day. We don’t need to carry more than two liters each.
Progress has been slow due to the thick snow that still blankets north-facing hills above 6000 feet, but the day temps have been in the 90’s so the remaining snow is doomed. We should hit our 20-mile-per-day stride soon.
Flipping has been surreal and disjointing, but also exhilarating: the trail is almost deserted out here, and it feels like true wilderness.
Mile 652 to 744
This is it. The start of the Sierras. And also the end of them, because we are skipping north to Ashland. The record snowmelt this year has made the Sierra creeks dangerous to the point of recklessness, so we are tackling the rest of California from north to south: this will give the worst rivers time to subside. Once we’ve arrived back in Lone Pine, we will flip north and continue our northbound hike from Ashland.
The camp spots in this section began in arid desert, climbed up to forest at 10,000 feet, then descended back down to desert in Lone Pine. Things will be very different next week as we flip a thousand miles north. We have no idea what to expect. All we know is that we’re committed.
Mile 517.59 to 634.93
This was the section where the Sierras, hitherto a distant and vague idea, suddenly started to loom large in everyone’s minds. Mile 702 (Kennedy Meadows) marks the real start of the Big Stuff, although we have been walking in the Sierra foothills for some time now.
Our feelings regarding the desert have become schizophrenic: on one hand we’re utterly sick of the 25-mile days with no water and we’re very ready for a change, but on the other hand, we’re a little terrified of the snow and roaring creeks that await us. This is one of the highest snow years on record, and it will test us.
Our tent sites in this section have been dictated by the sparse water sources, which has made for some crowded evenings, but we’ve greatly appreciated the chance to catch up with old friends whom we doubted we would see again.
Mile to 383.9 to 517.59
This section took us through three of the most famous trail angel establishments, each almost within a day’s hike of the next: Hiker Heaven, Casa de Luna and Hikertown. It felt like a much-needed final party before we enter the vast mountain wilderness of the high Sierras. Our hike is about to become a mountain survival expedition, which is why our beer intake has increased severalfold this week.
Mile 151.8 to 369.6
Another two hundred miles of trail down. Our mileage is approaching 20 per day, which should stand us in good stead to hit the Sierra at just the right time. There are more long sections without water now that we’ve reached the desert proper, which sometimes entails carrying six liters each in addition to our food.
Our homes are often thrown up in the fading light and dismantled before dawn as we seek to maximize our mileage. Such long days puts pressure on feet and knees, so this section ended with a luxurious double zero in Wrightwood while we recovered.