Good Karma

Muggle, Northstar, MAV
One of these four called herself the “beer fairy” as she handed me an ice cold Coors from her saddle bag.
The trail communication vine in action. This was posted on the bridge in the next photo
Bridge with attached note

It has been a whirlwind since I last updated from Sierra City, California almost two weeks ago! If I explain that I’m currently sitting in the main public library in downtown Sacramento waiting for an evening train back to Klamath Falls, Oregon, one may well assume my Southbound hike has gone kittywampus. That is not the case. Other than a lingering concern I have regarding plantar fasciitis in my right foot, virtually ever thing else on the hike has been going very well. To be honest, this is probably the best I’ve ever felt on a thru-hike. And the big recent bonus- and the reason I’m travelling back up north for a week- is that the “Lion’s Head” fire closure (which I had to skip last year) re-opened last week, enabling me to complete the one outstanding section I didn’t think could be hiked this year! So, rather than walk through the northern Sierra section again after doing it last year, I’m jumping up to Oregon to complete the fire closure and will then return to California to resume my hike at Bishop Pass, California, where I left the trail last year. Assuming all goes well, when I walk up to the Mexican border I will have walked every mile on the PCT at least once and quite a few twice.

Tahoe Stealie #1
Tahoe Stealie #2
Tahoe Stealie #3
I have been so advised
Into the Mystic

These recent weeks on the trail have been magical with lots of time for personal reflection, lots of physical and mental challenge, and most recently, hiking with MAV- one of my hiking family I met originally on the Appalachian Trail. Between the AT, the CDT (Continental Divide Trail) and the PCT (this trail), MAV and I have hiked around 2000 miles together and enjoy each others’ company on trail. MAV and I plan on meeting up again in a week or 10 days where the PCT intersects the Bishop Pass trail and will then complete the southern portion of the Sierra section together. And if paces match, we may walk all the way to Mexico together!

Alpine lakes are becoming more frequent
Also frequent: scree fields and rocky trail
MAV capturing the view
The trail just goes on…
MAV on the move
I found this view mesmerizing

Last night MAV, myself and another great hiker I hiked with a bit last year (Muggle) were hosted by Northstar at his rustic home in Bear Valley, California. Northstar and I hiked parts of the PCT in Washington and Oregon together last year and he invited us to stay over for hot food and showers and laundry as we were passing through. As I regaled them last night with some recent trail stories and happenings, Muggle commented “Max, you must have generated some great karma in a past life to be living like this.” I also attribute my recent good fortune on the trail in part to the miles I’ve done on other trails (experience helps know what to expect), and to my recent efforts to dramatically reduce my pack weight, making each (lighter) step that much more fun.

A list of Tahoe Trail Angels posted at the trailhead

As a recap, I attempted to complete this PCT thru-hike last year but was ultimately denied by a series of forest fires that originally affected shorter sections of the trail but eventually culminated in the closure of all national forests in California, effectively ending the hikes of everyone on the trail in California, including yours truly.

The Nipple, obviously
And now for the favorite game, “Rocks that look like tents!”
Orange: 2021. Green: 2022-will be complete this week. Blue: 2022-to be completed

The above roughly depicts which PCT sections I did (or will do) in 2021, in 2022 or both years. It was both good fortune and good timing that the Lion’s Head closure re-opened when it did as I was in a good place to work out the considerable logistics of traveling from one remote trail location to another. My day today began in Bear Valley where Northstar gave us a ride back to the Ebbetts Pass trailhead. From there I had two hitches to make the 50ish miles back up to South Lake Tahoe. I then used the local free bus to do post office and resupply. Next I boarded a bus to Sacramento and in a few hours my overnight train to Klamath Falls, Oregon heads north. From there I’ll catch a connecting bus to Bend from where I’ll hitch the final 30 miles to Santiam Pass, hopefully arriving in time to still roll up some miles!

And for my final update: the story of how my day began yesterday. I was hiking alone in the early morning when I rounded a corner and smelled something dead/decaying (turned out to be a half-eaten deer carcass). The trail was hugging the side of a steep peak on my right, while on my left was about 15 feet down to a shelf strewn with large boulders. As I rounded the second curve in the “S” on the trail, I looked back toward the boulders below on my left and a large black bear (brownish in color) was watching me from behind a large rock. I tried to complete the curve and keep moving forward but the bear ran onto the trail in front of me to face me down. I’ve never had that happen before and was getting worried. I stopped walking and tried to make myself large and make noise but the bear started lumbering steadily toward me on the trail. I tried to walk backwards but the winding, steep trail made that difficult. The bear was now within 30 feet or so and kept coming closer, backing me further up the trail. After I had back-stepped 100 feet or so to the first part of the “S”, the bear was now standing at that second part of the “S” and bolted straight uphill on the right, out of my view. He had been backing me away from his escape route! I’m still shaky thinking about it- ended well but really had me going!

The bear moving behind the rock outcropping (center) before running up to the “S” curve where it cut me off (upper right).
There’s just something about a disappearing trail that stirs the soul
Pancakes to fuel my journey back to Oregon
No end to beauty in the Sierra

Ok, that’s enough for now. Check my YouTube channel for all the updates too- the new videos this time start from “Day 31”. All the best to you and yours! Maxheap

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