[See the PCT Playlist on my YouTube channel for updated videos (64-67 are new)]

Smoke in Seiad Valley, CA, near the Oregon border
Pleasant roadside waterfall near Seiad Valley

I’m posting from the library in South Lake Tahoe, California, having skipped down from Seiad Valley, California- as mentioned in my last post- in order to avoid some large fire closures in Northern California. However, as of yesterday (8/19) the PCTA’s website indicates that ALL of the PCT in Northern California is now closed, with 9 additional National Forest closures added to the growing list, due to the unprecedented wildfires consuming the state. So, I sort of jumped from frying pan to the literal fire as the area to which I had relocated (just north of Lake Tahoe and Truckee) is now also included as the southernmost area in that closure. Tomorrow I’ll leave here and continue hiking south and luckily right now there is only one other small (20-ish miles) closure between me and the Mexican border, so at least that part of the hike appears to be salvageable. Two days earlier I was hiking along a ridge above the Alpine Meadows Ski Resort (part of Squaw Valley) when the smoke became so intense that I didn’t feel safe and ended up scrambling down the ski slopes to the road and then down to the highway where I subsequently learned that the very area I had just left was now included in the broader closure.

Dirty size 13 hiker foot vs. large pinecone
If you don’t know about the “State of Jefferson” movement, its worth reading about!
I’m seeing these symbols everywhere in Northern California
Yep, Donner as in “the Donner Party” infamy
The PCT goes through a tunnel under I-80 just east of the Westbound Donner Pass Rest Area
…and comes through here
And a second tunnel takes you under the Eastbound traffic
Yes, the landscape is definitely changing as I get closer to the Sierras
The new surroundings have me anxious for the views in the Sierras

Needless to say, its been both challenging and a bit frustrating to have to continually jump around and re-plan. I’ve called Wendy more than once recently saying “that’s it, I’m gonna hang up the spurs this year as its all just getting to be too much…”, but then when the moment comes to actually walk away from the hike I can’t seem to bring myself to do it. I’ll keep this post brief as I’ve still got more chores to complete in town today, but starting tomorrow I’ll be entering “the Sierras,” the mountains that most hikers consider to be the crown jewel of the PCT and perhaps of long distance hiking in the US overall. I’m looking forward to being up in elevation out of the smoke, to walking the area of California that John Muir so passionately made the focus of much of his life’s work and to seeing Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and all they have to offer. I bet the pine cones will get that much bigger! Thanks again for tuning in! Love to all, Max.

Sometimes the trail unwinds delightfully like a ribbon in front of you
Hard to see at sunset with my cheapo old phone camera, but that’s my tent nestled under the protection of a small grove on an exposed ridge
This photo doesn’t do it justice- the sun was as red as a grapefruit from the smoke