The Double Stuff Oreo Route
Beginning Elevation = 5,050
Ending Elevation = 6,650
Elevation Range = 4,900 – 7,600
Weather: Rain Dip N’ Dots sized hail, cloudy, a bit of sun, high 65°F
Well, if my mother didn’t feel she was getting the full PCT experience already, I think after this morning she should. Tenting in the back of the church, we awoke to rain and wind and some thunder and flashes of lightning. I’m not really sure why none of us checked the forecast, or maybe others did and it didn’t show anything, but either way, it came.
I woke around 6:00am and in my head, thought it was 7:00am, which is when the Holiday Market opens. Luckily, I realized before getting out of my tent and so spent the next hour trying to fall back asleep and then after surrendering to the notion that it wasn’t happening, worked on blog stuff.
At 7:00am, I was the first customer of the day at the Holiday Market grocery store. In fact, I walked in just after the employee opened up the doors. The rest of the team was still hiding in their tents. First thing I did was get a coffee and donut. I enjoyed both whilst cruising the aisles and getting resupply for the next two sections. I planned to ship a box ahead to the next town stop, Sierra City. I was pretty successful in my shopping and soon was back making a plan with the Dave H and Sheryl team. The rain and wind had picked up while I was nice and toasty inside the store and so it was a bit of a shock when I transported all my groceries out to the rental car in a tsunami.
After checking in with the squad, I got going on de-packaging all my food and organizing. Midway through the process, mom and dad said they were going to walk down the road to a breakfast restaurant, the Kopper Kettle Cafe. I’d recommended it since I enjoyed it when in Chester the first go around. I joined soon later and we did indeed have a lovely breakfast there. They were understaffed and the place was packed, but we were all impressed with how they handled everything and dished out some scrumptious food.
Afterwards, we made a quick visit to the post office where I boxed up my food and then sent it on its way further ahead along the trail. Meanwhile, Calzone and Cheer were at the coffee shop across the the road. Eventually, we were all back at the church packing up. The rain had slowed and then stopped around 10:00am, which was super nice. The wind was even helping to dry stuff out as well!
Around noon, we all piled into the super silver Malibu and headed to the PCT trailhead about 10 miles west of town. It was sad to say goodbye once again to the rents, but so nice to have gotten to road trip down here with them. So thankful for their support and enthusiasm for this journey. Here’s the team just prior to the start of our southbound adventure!
Mom and dad hiked up a short ways to see our forested path ahead and then went back to the car with plans to head north and see some sights for a few days before flying home. And myself, Calzone, and Cheer just started treking along. It was an odd mood that I think we all felt. For the first few miles we kind of hiked in silence, a bit reflective on the last few days and where we are in the bigger picture of this journey.
Looking back on the last few days, it all seemed like a whirlwind. How were we just at the border and now we’re here in Chester hiking again? And going south? So strange. Everything had gone smooth, but my mind seemed a bit discombobulated. Don’t get me wrong. Everything was great and I was taking it all in, but I think I was still processing all the events.
This is probably a good point to do a recap of what our plan is and how I got here since it’s a bit confusing I’d imagine for those who haven’t followed from the beginning…
April 8 – June 22: Hiked from Campo, CA to Taboose Pass (Mile 0 – 810.2 northbound)
July 7 – Sept. 12: Hiked from Chester, CA to Canada (Mile 1,331.3 – 2,653.1 northbound)
That leaves the 521.1 mile stretch (810.2 – 1,331.3) between Taboose Pass and Chester, CA left for us to hike, which is what what we set out today to start. We have decided to go at it southbound and end in the high Sierra. I like to think of our route as the Oreo method. Some folks are Nobo’s, some Sobo’s, but we’re Oreo’s.
Let me explain…. I hope all reading this are familiar with and have had the heavenly experience of devouring an Oreo cookie. For those who aren’t following me and may not even know what an Oreo cookie is, it is a classic delicious treat consisting of two chocolate, gluten filled, halves of cookie that are sweet and a bit airy with a delicate cream filling in between. Now, amongst the youth of America and potentially beyond, a sort of game developed over the years of trying to separate each of the three parts of the cookie while maintaining each’s structural exterior. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Ok though, back to how our hike is an Oreo. Simply put, the three sections of our hike are like the three sections of Oreo, with the last one being equivalent to that of the cream filling. Each is great on its own, but the trifecta combination is what truly makes for an unforgettable experience. Boom, there ya go. I’m pretty sure this classification is going to spread amongst other PCT’ers.
So here we go!!!
As far as terrain, the trail started out flat and then began a steady but somewhat gradual climb up to 7,600 feet. We were back in the bright green moss colored trees of Northern California!
Near the top of the climb, we reached the half way marker on the trail at mile 1,323.2. the trails had some readjustments over the years so this isn’t actually half way for the 2,653.1 trail, but close enough. Anyway, no big deal for us anyways, since we’re nearing the 500 miles left moment!
We had some hail action here for a while too…video credit to Calzone…
The sky cleared up somewhat for a bit in late afternoon. That and our higher elevation allowed for some nice viewing outward…
I really didn’t have any idea what to expect for today or for this stretch as a whole, but I was loving what I was seeing today. It surprised me that we’d already be above 7,500 feet and seeing such great vistas.
We powered through. Around 5:00pm, we took what we called a break for appetizers (snack break), but other than that, we kept it moving. Around 7:00pm, I made my way down to Little Cub Spring. It was about 0.3 miles off trail and down a ways…more than I’d expected. But, it did give me a great view of an amazing sunset!
And here’s on the way up again after filling up with 2 liters for our dry camp tonight. The sun had fallen quickly!
Calzone and Cheer got to the water source junction right as I was reaching the PCT again. It was already getting pretty dark at that point and I pulled my headlamp out so I’d be ready. Once I got into the darkness of the trees I needed it already at 7:25pm. I hiked alone ahead of the girls and later regretted the decision.
At first, it was a beautiful orange glowing sky along horizon which I tried to photograph as best I could.
After the grandeur of that wore off however, I started getting in my head a bit. Folks have asked, “don’t you get scared about animals out there alone?” And usually I can answer no honestly. I’ve had my moments for sure, but mainly no worries in that department. I had a bit of a scare though. Nothing even happened except I thought I’d heard something off to my left. I think it was likely my rain poncho rubbing on my pack, but wowsers I was in attack mode with my treking poles, ready to brawl with a cougar! Needless to say, I don’t plan to hike alone in the dark if I can help it from now on.
Around 8:45pm, I set up my tent at the site we’d talked about. 20 minutes later, Cheer and Calzone joined. I think we were all pretty whipped after the days hike and pulling this late day assault. Nearly 20 miles when starting around 12:30pm. Dang.