Scott and Rachel's Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike journal: Castella, Mile 1500, Jul 24

Los Molinos (again) - Well, we did it. We made it back to the trail after five wonderful days off at Scott's parent's place in Los Molinos, CA. With as much time off as we had, we are amazed at how little we actually relaxed. Our first two days off were consumed with washing, repairing and reorganizing our gear that we have had with us, and that which we will need at some point during the second half of the trail. In addition to our gear, our finances had to be reassessed and the journal brought up to date. Those two tasks took the better part of our third day off. By the fourth day, we were starting to unwind a little. Rachel curled up with a book while Scott attended to an assortment of computer projects. Before we knew it, the time had come when we had to repack our packs and go to the grocery store in order to prepare ourselves for the next leg of our journey, and we hadn't yet had a chance to get bored like we had hoped.

One thing that we did manage to do during our little reprieve was to put some weight back on. When we arrived at the Kimler's we were both still down about 25 pounds from when we started the trail, but by the time we left we had both managed to regain 8 pounds thanks to Marilyn's great cooking. We ate and ate, until Marilyn was wondering if she would ever have us leave the table full, but it took a couple of days before that happened. We keep telling ourselves that the weight went back on partly because we were re-hydrated again, but in the back of our minds we know that it is really because we ate like a couple of pigs. Keeping the weight off when we finish the trail is going to be difficult because it will take a while for our appetites to come back to normal, but we won't be burning the same kind of calories to keep us slim.

When we were going through some hard times on the trail back in the High Sierras, another hiker gave us some advice. He said that if we are ever ready to quit the trail we should wait until we get to a town and then take a few days off to consider our decision. If, after a number of days off, we are still having a hard time getting back on the trail, then, he said, we would have something to consider. While we weren't contemplating quitting the trail before we came off for the break, we did have a hard time getting back to it. We were ready and eager to return so that we could move on and get to the Canadian border, but when we thought about what is involved in actually getting there our mood would change. It was a somber day as we repacked our packs, and then it was a very somber 60 mile drive back to the trail. We found the trail where it crossed Hwy 36, stopped the car, hauled our packs out of the trunk, put them on, and then said our good-byes to Scott's parents. As we started down the trail Rachel had tears in her eyes, being torn between the comforts of home and finishing something that we started over three months ago.

We left the road, and Scott's parents, at about 7:15 PM. We were going 3.2 miles to Stover Camp, our first water source, before stopping to camp. What should have taken us about an hour to hike actually took us well over 1.5 hours. We had been forewarned by others who had taken extended time off the trail that the first couple of days back are tough: knees, ankles and feet are sore and the body has a hard time pushing out the mileage that one is used to, but after the first couple of days, one recovers and reaps the benefits of having rested up. We shuffled up the trail, seemingly barely moving forward, but we kept going. Our spirits were down and our bodies were rejecting the hiking but we told ourselves that it was just the first day back blues. Thankfully our first day back was no longer than it was.

We arrived at Stover Camp at about 8:40 PM and we quickly pitched the tent and crawled inside. We didn't have to worry about cooking dinner or bathing so we climbed right into our sleeping bags and prepared for sleep. The sun was set and the light was fading very quickly around us. As the light grew dim we strained our eyes to identify the creatures that were moving up and down the trail and over towards the creek. We had to scare a coyote off from around our food bags that were tied to a tree, and then shortly afterwards we saw a few deer. As we put our heads down we heard crashing through the bushes behind us, and we immediately sat bolt upright again, straining to see what it was that had made the noise. It was more deer. We groaned as we put our heads back down, knowing that we were in for a night with much nocturnal activity. Sure enough, the deer were so plentiful, and noisy as they pounced around and crashed through the bushes, that we were still awake over an hour after we had gone to bed. At last, once we were totally convinced that all the animal noises around us were made by deer, not bear or coyotes, we reached for our earplugs and finally managed to doze.

It was a restless nights sleep. It was a warm night and we were both caught in that difficult temperature zone where we were too hot under our sleeping bags, and too cold on top of them. We each tossed and turned throughout the night trying to find our comfort zone. At sometime during the night, we each took out our earplugs, a decision that we would soon regret and then reinsert them again. During that time without earplugs Rachel woke up because she was hearing snorting coming from Scott's side of the tent. She lay there, peering into the darkness trying to figure out what it was, and when she realized that it was coming from the vicinity of Scott's pack she reached for the headlamp and turned it on. The pack was where we had left it, but from behind the pack all she could see were two large ears poking out above it. There was a deer licking the salt off of Scott's shoulder straps, but in shining the light on him he wandered off. A little while later, Scott woke up because he too heard a noise nearby. He opened his eyes to see that a deer was sniffing the tent with his nose pushed up against the mesh not more than five inches from Scott's face. As soon as Scott moved the deer jumped and dashed off. At last morning came, and it put an end to our restless nights sleep. Of course there were no deer to be seen in the early morning light and we were left to curse them and all of the noise that they had made.

We packed up camp and were heading out along the trail by 6:20 AM. We quickly regained the crest and then proceeded to hike along it, through the waist high manzanita bushes. We were only about 2.5 miles into the day when Scott requested that we stop for breakfast. Our stomachs were grumbling and the going was slow so we picked out a sunny spot to stop. When we were finished our breakfast of cold cereal, we looked at the map and were dismayed to find that we had not come further. It felt like we had been hiking for hours, and we may well have been, but we were moving so slowly that we weren't gaining much distance. That proceeded to be the theme of the day.

We dropped down of the crest and crossed the North Fork of the Feather River before beginning our slow and gradual climb back up onto the ridges and into Mt. Lassen National Park. Much of the hiking we had done up on the crest and then again on our climb back up to regain the ridge had been in the trees or other cover obscuring our view of the approaching peak, but every now and then we would come into a clearing and get a glimpse of the volcano as we passed by. We were definitely getting closer as she was no longer the hazy speck that we had seen on the horizon as we had descended down in front of Gibraltar rock back in the previous section; now she was looming above us. Interestingly, however, as soon as we entered Lassen National Park we lost all view of the namesake peak. Once inside the park we were constantly in trees or down in a gully with the peak obstructed by a closer, but lesser ridge. It wasn't until a full day later, and we were just outside of the parks north boundary that we got to see the majestic peak again.

Shortly after entering into the park we reached a trail junction with the spur trail descending 1/4 of a mile to an old road that would lead to Terminal Geyser. While the prospect of adding to our daily mileage was not one that we relished, we decided that we couldn't pass up the opportunity to go and see the geyser in action. We dropped our packs at the junction and began the descent down the hill. What seemed like a 1/2 mile hike we finally arrived at the geyser, having smelt the sulfur in the air long before we could see the steam. Terminal Geyser is actually not a true geyser, but rather a fumarole. A geyser is episodic where as a fumarole is a constant release of steam and a little water. A geyser is typically an underground basin that collects and then heats water. When the water temperature rises sufficiently the geyser released the pressure by spurting out steam and water. The sequence then begins again. Being that Terminal Geyser is actually a fumarole, we saw a constant cloud of steam rising from the rocky hollow. One didn't need to get too close to it to feel the heat coming off, and we even felt the feat of the outflow water when we stepped over the trickling creek.

Back at the trail junction and our backpacks we stopped for lunch. We sat on the side of the trail eating our peanut butter, bread, cheese and cookies and contemplating the trail ahead. It was almost 1 PM and we were still having a hard time getting moving. At last we agreed that the mileage wouldn't come while we were sitting on our butts so we hauled on our packs and ventured up the trail. Within a mile we found ourselves on the rim of Boiling Spring Lake, which has a nature trail around it, frequented by those people visiting the national park and those staying at Drakesbad Guest Ranch. The lake wasn't exactly enticing as it was a slime green color and had the pungent aroma of rotting eggs. Around the edges of the lake were a number of mud pots all burbling and plopping as the scalding-hot hot air escaped from underneath. While walking around the lake we met a couple of day hikers. We stopped and talked to them and then met up with them again on the other side of the lake, where the two trails converged to head back to Drakesbad Ranch and the Warner Valley Campground, and continued our conversation as we walked along. When we reached the crossing of Hot Springs Creek, just before the parking lot, and we stopped to refill our water bottles when David offered us a beer. Of coarse we accepted and before we had finished filling our bags and treating the water he had returned from his vehicle with a Red Tail Ale. We thanked him very much and then sat on the side of the trail beside the rushing creek and drank the beer.

The afternoon was really escaping us by the time we were back on the trail, facing the 500 foot climb up the escarpment wall and up onto the ridge above. We walked through the Warner Valley Campground, briefly contemplating calling it a day and selecting a site, and then slowly started up the hill. It was a good grade so we made it up to the top without breaking too much of a sweat, but true to the form of our day, we stopped for a rest break a mile further along the trail. We were aiming to camp at Lower Twin Lake, but that was still another 6 miles away, our feet and legs were tired and we just weren't in the mood to go much further. While we were sitting there another PCT thru-hiker, Ivan (from Texas -- whom we had never met, or heard of before) camp past. We talked briefly about who was ahead, behind, and where he was planning on stopping for the night, and we were surprised to find out that we didn't know any of the same people as the group that we had been hiking with are now about 5 day ahead, and that he was striving to make another 11 miles before camping. And we thought that doing the 6 miles to Twin Lakes was asking a lot!

At last we managed to cajole ourselves up again and we started moving forward. It was a slow 6 miles, and it didn't help that we took the opportunity to stop and chat with all of the hikers (National Park hikers) that we met along the way. At last, after another stop or two along the way, we reached the south end of Lower Twin Lake and we quickly found ourselves a level spot to camp. Rachel pitched the tent while Scott went down to the lake shore to get water, and then we nestled our tired and aching bodies into our tent and began our nightly routine. It had been a tough day so we picked out one of our favorite meals, Spaghetti and enjoyed a hearty dinner.

When deciding what we are going to eat on any given night, there are a couple of factors that we take into consideration: taste preferences; and water accessibility. As with any menu options, we undoubtedly have our favorites, but they aren't necessarily the same for both of us. Scott's favorite meal is without a doubt Spaghetti, complete with parmesan cheese; Rachel's is probably Shepherd's Pie, followed closely by Beef Stroganoff. Regardless of our "favorites" there are definitely those that we prefer and those meals that we generally leave until our options have slimmed, and the hierarchy runs something like this: Category A - Spaghetti, Beef Stroganoff, Shepherd's Pie; Category B - Beef Stew, Mex-i-Can; Category C - Curried Lentils with pork, Tuna Casserole, Chili (because it was made with a chili powder that was too hot); and Category D (which we are not eating at all because it was made way too salty) - Chicken Stir-fry. Aside from our pallet preferences, deciding which meal we will eat that night might be swayed by how much water is available. If water is not a concern then we might opt for a pasta based meal (Spaghetti, Stroganoff or Tuna Casserole) as much of the water used for cooking gets wasted when we drain the noodles. If we are dry camping and water is a concern we will opt for either a mashed potato meal (Shepherd's Pie or Beef Stew) or one that is supplemented with instant rice (any of the remaining meals) as all of the water used for cooking is eventually consumed as well. What ever the meal of choice may be on any given night, they are all good, tasty, filling and even after three months of hiking they have left us having very few food cravings (other than for pizza and burgers).

Anyway, back to the events of that evening... While we saw a couple of deer near our camp before going to bed, they were nothing like the deer at Stover Camp; they didn't keep us awake half of the night crashing through the bushes, nor were they overly curious about us and our gear... that we are aware of. After rubbing each others feet we put our heads on our pillows of folded clothing and didn't stir again until 5:30 AM. We awoke feeling refreshed and revitalized. It had been a cooler night, which helped to give us a good sleep.

What we had been told about our bodies bouncing back after a couple of days back on the trail was apparently true: we hit the trail running that day. We rounded Lower Twin Lake, walking past the non-thru-hikers sites showing no, or very limited, signs of life. along the lake shore, and for 6 miles afterwards, we were hiking along an old, abandoned road. The paths was clear, wide, and flat, making for great hiking. We cruised along making great time, and it wasn't until we reached Badger Flat (6 miles into the day), that we stopped for breakfast. The whole way we had been hiking in the trees, with no views whatsoever. At one point the guidebook talked about coming out into a clearing, but while we were looking for it, neither of us recognized it as such. One interesting thing that we noticed along the trail was that somebody has gone to a great deal of trouble to gather much of the downed wood on the forest floor and they have made these huge great piles out of them. The piles were so large and plentiful that at many times they merged together. We confirmed later that these piles of debris are burned in a controlled manner as a means of minimizing the potential for wild fires to start and limiting the severity of those that do.

Almost immediately after leaving Badger Flat we exited Mt. Lassen National Park and began our long and gentle descent into the settlement of Old Station. We stayed on the road for a little while longer outside of the park, but then the grade got steeper, the trail got rockier. Interestingly, within half a mile of leaving the park we the terrain opened up as we descended down around Badger Mountain, and we were treated to our first view of Mt. Lassen in about 20 miles. It wasn't long, however, until wee were back in amongst the trees and we were hiking through a plantation of Jeffery Pines. We remained in the plantation for a number of miles, finding it interesting that these road like swaths had been bulldozed across the plantation every 50 yards or so. At first they went in an east-west direction, and then after a dozen of them we crossed a more substantial dirt road and then the swaths continued in a north-south direction. Every now and then we would think that we were out of the plantation, and t hen we would get to a section where the trees were all perfectly lined up and equally spaced, lining either side of the trail. It was odd as the grove looked like many other forested areas that we have hiked through except until we would reach one of these evenly spaced and straight rows of trees.

A number of miles later the trail began to parallel Hat Creek and we began to feel like we were getting close to town. We had decided that a burger would be much more desirable for lunch than another serving of bread, peanut butter, and cheese (although Scott was hard pressed to give up his row of cookies for a day, even if it was substituted with a burger) so we were pressing to make it before lunch. As we were hiking down along the creek, we met two section hikers, Mike and Chris, going southbound. We stopped and chatted with them for some time about who is ahead, who is behind, the upcoming dreaded Hat Creek Rim, and so on. They were also able to inform us that there is no cafe at Hat Creek Resort only a store. If we wanted a burger, we would have to venture another four or five miles further along the trail. With that information in mind, we were even more pressed to get going as it lunch would be quite late and we would have hiked 19 miles by the time we got there.

We pressed on and continued our quest for town. We finally left the plantation area and then crossed a number of jeep roads and low escarpments before finally reaching the turn off road. We headed a hundred yards down the road to a CDF station and we asked the guys working there if we could leave our packs against the station while we hoofed it the remaining 1/2 mile to the cafe. Thankfully they obliged us and we were able to unload our burdens. We wandered out to the highway and saw The Old Station Cafe and Pub just past the intersection. As we headed inside we noticed that glasses of Bud draft were on special for $1.75 each... Perfect...burgers AND beer! It was almost 3 PM by the time we were seated in the cafe, had a beer in hand and were waiting for our cheeseburgers to arrive. The burgers were great and the beers were cold so we ordered a second round of drinks and briefly considered getting a second burger to split between the two of us, but we finally decided against it.

It was 4 PM before we were back at the CDF Station filling our water bottles and bladders from the hose outside. While we had been off at that cafe the weather had turned; dark threatening clouds had rolled in and the thunder and lightning could be heard off in the distance, to the east. As we filled up with water we heard a voice over speaker in the yard dispatching the regional crews out to various lightning hit spots. The guys who had previously been working in the yard were all gone and it appeared that the truck was gone too. We guessed that they were all off putting out on of those lightning started fires.

With heavy packs laden down with water we started out on the trail again. We had already come 19 miles before lunch and we were hoping to get another 3 or 4 in before stopping for the night. The dreaded hot Hat Creek Rim was just ahead of us and we wanted to get up on top of it if at all possible so as to put us in a good position to finish the 30 mile waterless stretch (except for the good will of some people providing a water cache 15 miles along the rim) the following day.

As we walked along the trail we passed by a couple of sunken in Lava Tubes on either side of the trail. We skirted the rim of the western one and then dropped our packs, grabbed our headlamps and ventured down into the tubes. A lava tube is a interesting phenomenon caused by rapid cooling of the surface lava while the lava underneath continues to flow, and essentially drains out from underneath the solidified surface. The tube that we entered into had quite a low ceiling as we entered it so we had to crouch down to get into the inner cave portion. As we had dropped down into the opening of the tube we noticed a significant drop in the temperature, and then once we got inside the tube it was virtually cold (what a nice change). Inside the tube was much darker than one would have suspected, even with the light of our headlamps we had vision limited to about 8 feet or so. The floor of the tube was cluttered with large slabs of lava rock that had obviously fallen from the ceiling, and that made Rachel very nervous.

Back on the trail again, we hiked another three or so miles past the lava tubes almost to the rim of Hat Creek. We stopped just shy of the Highway 44 trailhead parking area and found ourselves a pleasant spot on the edge of the escarpment, on a bed of pine needles. The cloud coverage was still above us, although it was no longer so black and threatening, and wind was blowing which helped to keep us cool. We put up the tent and debated about whether or not we should put the fly on incase of rain, but then we decided to hold off and re-evaluate things just before we went to sleep, but by then the clouds had blown away and we were left with blue skies or very light clouds.

After a good nights sleep, (although a little restless because of the heat) we were up at our usual time and moving towards the dreaded Rim. We were under the cover of clouds again and there was a brisk breeze blowing, both of which were assisting in keeping the temperatures under control. We climbed up onto the rim and then began our 25+ mile traverse of it's hot, dry surface. We kept pretty close to the edge, looking the 500 feet down into the Hat Creek Valley as we walked, but then we had to venture away from the edge on a couple of occasions to cross around a gully or canyon. We stopped for breakfast after about 7 miles, and then hiked another 5 miles to the old Hat Creek Rim Fire Lookout station which burned down in the 1987. We sat in the shade of the only live oak to be found within hundreds of yards and rested up for our final push to the water cache at Forest Road 22.

We arrived at the Road 22 cache (otherwise referred to as Cache 22) at just about noon. There was no missing the cache with the dozens of water containers scattered around under a large juniper tree, the huge stone duck constructed on the side of the trail and the smaller rocks formed into an arrow right in the middle of the trail.; any one of those indicators would have been enough in themselves. There was a cooler which evidently had previously held some fruit and food (but now only help dirty water, a couple of empty plastic bags and a few more water containers), a couple of lounge chairs and a log book. Rachel immediately plunked down in the recliner lounge chair while Scott sat on the cooler, flipping through the log book, reading out loud some of the entries that other hikers had made. We ate our lunch in the shade of the juniper and tried to forget about the fact that we had another 13.5 miles to go before the next water source and our camp for the night. At last we could ignore that fact no longer and after cleaning up the cache site a little we ventured off down the trail.

While the morning had been relatively cool with overcast skies and a brisk wind, the afternoon was hot. The clouds had burned off and the wind had died down, leaving us to fry up on the exposed and treeless rim. Our pace significantly slowed from what we had been keeping in the morning but we kept plodding along knowing that we had so much mileage to cover. We stopped every few miles in the shade of the rare few trees that lined the path, each time rechecking the map to make sure that we hadn't actually gone any further than we thought. At last, we reached a section of the trail that paralleled paved Cassel-Fall River Mills Road for 1.4 miles and rather than walk along the dusty trail littered with lava rocks we crossed over to the road and proceeded to hike down it. The whole time that it took us to walk the 1.4 miles to the trail crossing we were only passed by two cars, both of them traveling in the opposite direction to us. It wasn't until just before the trail crossing that we both spoke our minds: that it was too bad that a car hadn't come along in the other direction so that we could have hitched a ride the 3.3 miles into Cassel where there was a store and campground.

As we stood at the trail crossing, reading the trail description out of the guidebook, we read that we would be leaving National Forest Land and entering onto private land very shortly and that there was no camping for about 4 miles beyond that. As we had been planning on camping at Rock Creek which was on private land, we quickly decided to stay on the road, walk or hitch the 3.3 miles into town (where we could get a beer and a campsite) and then rejoin the trail via the PG&E road the following morning. We walked the road for another half mile or so until a truck finally came along. We stuck out our thumbs and he stopped to give us a lift. We jumped into the back of the truck and whistled the 3 miles into town.

We were dropped off outside of an old looking building with a wrapping paper covering the windows. We asked our ride if that was the "store" and he replied that that was Cassel. There was a lady approaching us from the adjoining yard and she informed us that the store had been closed for 3 years. We must have looked very dejected because she then asked us what it was that we had wanted from the store and when we told her that we had been hoping to buy a beer she said that she had some in the fridge. While we sat and rested on the front porch of the store she went inside and retrieved four beers and brought them to us and she wouldn't accept any payment for them. While we drank our beers on the porch, we asked her which way the campground was and then she told us that we were more than welcome to pitch our tent at the back of their property and that we could use their private swimming hole. Once we were done with the beers she escorted us into the back and showed us this perfect little, natural, swimming hole with small rapids on either side of the four foot deep pool. There were trees all around providing lots of privacy, and an embankment on the other side of us, separating the swimming hole from Rock Spring Creek.

We quickly pitched our tent in the shade of two large pine trees, and then we rushed off to the swimming hole. It was such a private little setting that we both felt comfortable stripping off and enjoying the water in the buff. It was cold water so Rachel only managed to get in up to her waist, but Scott had a delightful swim. We washed the volcanic dust off our bodies, leaving clouds in the water around us, and then rinsed out our pant legs, socks and shirts which had become really grimy in the last couple of days of dust. It was truly a heavenly little spot.

Later on that night, just as we were getting ready to rub feet and call it a night, we heard a voice coming from across the yard: "Are you out there?" it called. To our surprise, Edie, our hostess, was coming across the yard with a huge bowl of ice cream and two spoons. We sat in the tent devouring this treat that must have been the better part of a half gallon and there was so much of it that between the two of us we had a hard time finishing it off... can you believe it?! We almost put PCT hikers to shame!

We slept well and were up at our usual time to return to the trail and make our way into Burney Falls State Park and the end of Section N of the guidebook. We stopped at the PG&E campground on the way out to use the outhouses and then we walked the dirt road back to the trail. We re-encountered the trail in the middle of a meadow like area with a couple of lakes and the PG&E powerhouses. Everything was lush and green and we had a hard time believing that this was the same trail that we had left four miles back on at the road. There it had been a dusty path through rough lava rock. We climbed up and onto the ridge above the lakes and we were soon back in more familiar looking terrain of live-oaks and pine trees. While it was only 12 trail miles to Burney Falls State Park, it seemed like so much more. The trail led us across a never ending assortment of jeep tracks and logging roads, through mostly un-noteworthy scenery. We were eager to get to Burney Falls where we could treat ourselves to a soda pop or beer to enjoy with our lunch, but the miles weren't passing nearly as quickly as we would have liked. It was a hot day, and there was a lot of humidity in the air which must have been draining us of energy because by the time we arrived at the state park we were well and truly ready for our fifth break of the day.

We arrived at the park store and concession stand at about 12:30 PM. While we were able to avoid the temptation of the concession stand (mind you, had they sold hamburgers we probably would have caved in) but we did purchase two cans of Diet Pepsi for Rachel and two cans of Bud Light for Scott. We then sat at a shaded picnic table to enjoy our usual lunch and special beverages while we watched the weekend park visitors come and go. Just as we were finishing our lunch we were joined by "Pur Boy" (another PCT Thru-hiker) and a couple of section hikers from Oregon. The five of us sat there and discussed the section that we had just completed, with all of it's hardships and challenges.

As our poor timing had it, we were ready to leave Burney Falls right in the heat of the day. It was about 2:00 PM as we loaded on our packs and walked down to admire the falls before returning to the trail. Shortly after leaving the park we began to climb up into a canyon. The sweat was dripping off us as the humidity was thick. The allure of taking a dip in Rock Creek was great and we couldn't wait to get there just so we cold cool off. At last we came around a ridge and we could see the creek below us. We walked further up the trail and finally came to the bridge. Both the guidebook and a note left on the trail talked about a great swimming hole down below the waterfalls, 50 feet below the trail, but when we walked to the rim and looked over the edge we realized that the trail down was pretty steep and that there were three non-thru-hikers hanging out at the edge of the swimming hole. Rather than scrambled down the steep slopes we backtracked to a shady pool under the bridge. Sure enough , Scott was in the water within minutes while Rachel dipped her toes in and then finally got the rest of her lower half in the water. Not long after we got into the creek we saw two more hikers come along the trail and across the bridge above us. It was Blackhawk and Strawberry Girl, who we had not seen since the day we left Sonora Pass. They came down to the creek and joined us in the little pool under the bridge. We were surprised to see them as we had seen their trail registry entries indicating that they were la few days ahead, but as it turned out, they had taken some time off in Burney.

After cooling off in the pool for the better part of an hour it was time to think about either making headway or camp. We referred to the guidebook and determined that the next water source was not for another 8 miles, but as it was only just after 4 PM we decided to strive for it. The four of us headed up the trail, Scott and Rachel struggling to stay up with Blackhawk and Strawberry Girl's blistering pace. We moved up the hill at a steady 3.25 miles an hour, at least a quarter mile an hour faster than we are used to traveling, and we were going uphill. The sweat was just dripping off us as we stayed behind this younger, light hiking couple, but the conversation was good and it was nice to see people we know again so we stayed with them.

We knew that it would be a late night getting into camp as we had left Rock Creek so late, but by the time that we arrived at Peavine Creek it was about 8:30 PM, we had hiked 27 miles, and we were wiped out. To make matters worse, Peavine Creek wasn't quite what we had hoped it would be. We had been expecting something like we had seen at Rock Creek: a good flowing steam deep enough that we could climb into a cool pool of water. What we found was a stagnant little pond at the edge of the logging road junction. At first we thought that we were going to have to go two miles down the road to the headwaters of Rock Creek before we would find running water, but then as we walked a little further along the road Scott heard the sound of water trickling and he found a little stream beside a tiny meadow on the other side of the road. We pushed through the bushes down to the little meadow and managed to find a spot for the tent, half under the bushes. We were so tired that anything would do.

We were awoken in the middle of the night be the snorting of a deer. He was up on the road sniffing around in the bushes. He must have smelt the four of us camped down in the tiny meadow because he seemed very intrigued by the smells right near there. After he finally wandered off we were able to get back to sleep again and didn't awake until around 5:30 AM.

By the time that we left the meadow and ventured out on to the trail, shortly after 6 AM, there was still no sign of life from Blackhawk and Strawberry Girl's tent. The melodious breathing noises (otherwise known as light snoring) ceased as we got up and started to move around while packing up our gear, but since then, there had not been a stir. We knew that those two were self-reputed to be later starters than most, but we had never camped with them before so we were surprised that they still hadn't started moving by the time we left. All the rest of the day we expected them to catch up to us with their blistering pace, but the day passed and we never saw them.

We started out on the trail that day and it didn't take us long to come to the conclusion that it sucked. We were walking along the ridges through logged areas and the undergrowth that had flourished since the trees had been cut down was as thick as a jungle. We whacked our way along the trail while the bushes clung to our legs and feet. At times we had to hold our hands out in front of us and pry the bushes apart to make a clearing wide enough to pass through. It was non uncommon for us to trip and stumble as the undergrowth was so thick that we could not see the trail and obstacles beneath our feet. By the time we finished the section we had dubbed it "Section O for Overgrown".

Not only was the trail brutally overgrown, but it was unremarkable in scenery. All day there was a thick haze hanging in the air, to the point that we wondered if there was a forest fire nearby filling the air with smoke. As it turned out, it was nothing more than a south wind bringing the smog up from the lower San Joaquin Valley along with the hot air that was causing a heat wave. When we were in a clearing that had been logged there were limited view to be had because of the haze in the air. While we spent much of the day on the south side of the crest, we weren't even able to see the Mt. Shasta that should have been looming in front of us when we crossed to the north.

Water was a concern through that stretch of the trail as well. We had left Peavine Creek with a few liters each, but it was 15 miles before the next water reliable source and the humidity in the air had us drinking more water than either of us had expected to do. We were about 5 miles from Moosehead Creek headwaters, where we were expecting our next source, and we were already having to ration our water a little.

We were up on the ridge and came to yet another logging road to cross, and this time we didn't notice the trail tread resumption on the other side of the road so we started down the road. A couple of minutes later we look up ahead of us and saw what looked the trail traversing across and embankment above us. We must have missed the trail tread resumption. Rather than backtrack and walk back up the trail we opted to scramble up the embankment of loose dirt, scree and vegetation. The trail must have been about 50 feet above us, but by the time we regained it we were exhausted. The need for water to quench our thirst was now heightened even more. We set off down the trail again, now that we were back on track, and soon crossed over into a gully, that to our surprise had a trickle of water running down it. We looked a little above us and saw the source, a small spring coming out from the side of the hill. Eager to quench our thirst in the blistering heat, we dropped our packs and scrambled the few feet up to the dripping water to hold our Nalgene bottles under the drops. We each guzzled back a full quart of water and then filled our bottles a second time to carry with us as we still have a few miles to cover before reaching Moosehead Creek and we didn't want to have to deny ourselves water on such a hot and humid day.

At last we reached Moosehead Creek and were disappointed to realize that we were crossing it at the headwaters which meant that there was little more than a trickle of water flowing. We were so hot and sweaty that we had been dreaming of another creek similar to Rock Creek where we had been able to climb into a cold pool. The one nice thing about Moosehead, however, was that it was on northern slopes and was in the shade. There was a very small campsite near the creek and we debated whether or not we should call it a day and set up camp, but as we had only covered 15 miles so far we eventually decided to press onwards.

After leaving the headwaters we began a steady climb up 500 feet to another ridge. The guidebook talked about gaining beautiful view of Mt. Shasta and the valley below, but we were still in such a haze that we couldn't see either. As we climbed the weather began to change. The sun was retreating behind some thicker clouds and the wind was picking up. It looked like another afternoon thunder shower brewing in the west. We finally gained the ridge and the wind was blowing hard, helping to dry the sweat off our bodies, but it was warm enough air that it didn't serve to cool us down too much.

At last we reached the high point of the section, (6120 feet) and we stopped to take a break before beginning our descent the remaining 1.1 mile to the Tate Creek road where we were going to camp for the night. We sat down on the ridge and then, for no immediately obvious reason, Rachel burst into tears. It had been a hard days hiking and a tough section. We were both tired and hot, and thoughts of quitting the trail were coming fast and furious. Knowing the our friends, Anne and Lee, had quit recently made it that much harder to keep going and Rachel expressed that, in a strange way, she was jealous of them for being off. While a part of us wants to quit the trail, it's almost that we are too scared to make the break. We don't want to get home and then find that we regret our decision five days later. We know that we want to finish what we have begun, but there are times when our motivation for doing so comes under serious question. For the most part, the hike has been enjoyable, but the hard times can be really hard, and it is now more a question of mental strength than physical. We know our bodies can endure another two months of hiking, it is now just a question of whether we mentally want to endure it. Fortunately, the tears were short lived and before the moment passed and Rachel was able to move on again. We just had a short way to go before making camp and things always seemed a little better once we were in camp.

We dropped of the ridge, switch-backing down the west side of the hill to a road junction. Water was reported to be 1/2 mile down the road so we headed off in that direction. We weren't more than a hundred yards or so when Scott suggested that Rachel set up the tent right in the middle of the apparently rarely used road (while the road was of reasonable quality, there were some fallen trees lying across it leading us to be confident that not much traffic travels along it) while Scott continued on down the road in search of water. Being that we were both tired it sounded like a good option, one that would be most efficient in time and energy.

Scott ventured on down the road in search of that vital commodity and he reached a drainage beside the road just about a half mile down. He walked over to the drainage and looked into it, and it was bone dry. A little further down, just below the next ridge, he saw another drainage trough, and as he approached it he found himself praying quietly that it would be fruitful, and it was. He filled the water bladders and Nalgene bottles and then turned around to hike back up the road to our camp. By the time he arrived back at the tent, Rachel had everything set up and she had some soup simmering on the stove; a little something to replenish some of our body fluids and sodium levels, things that we were pretty sure that we were lacking after two hot and muggy days.

Our camp, in the middle of the road, was nicely sheltered from a storm that was brewing around us. The wind was blowing through the trees, making them sway way above us, and while we were getting a little bit of a breeze to cool us down we weren't getting blown apart. The sky looked ominous however, and we could see lightning and hear thunder off in the distance. We counted the seconds between flashes of lightning and the deep rumble of thunder and we ascertained the eye of the storm was about a mile away. We discussed our contingency plan just in case the storm should come closer and the lightning should start a forest fire nearby and determined that we would try and head down to the creek drainage and take refuge there. Fortunately, however, we never had to put the plan into effect as the storm didn't come much closer before the storm settled down as the evening temperatures cooled.

Aside from thinking about what to do incase of lightning sparked fires, were did debate the likelihood of rain. Scott, being from southern California originally was adamant that the storm would blow off and we would never see rain. Rachel, on the other hand, who is from the pacific northwest was sure that the darkness of the clouds and the intensity of wind were sure indicators that the heavens would soon open up and dump rain down upon us. As a result, we went through great gyrations about what to do with the tent fly: should we put it on; should we take it off'; perhaps we should leave it draped half over the tent so it is out and ready, just in case; and so on. At last Rachel decided that we should better be safe than sorry and she put it on, but then we had the vestibules blocking the draft through the tent so she took it off, turned it around so the draft was maximized and then settled into bed. Within minutes of getting everything all sorted out she determined that the wind had died down, the clouds had cleared away, the draft through the tent was now negligible, so she got up again and took it off. The whole time Scott was lying in his sleeping bag watching her fuss, patiently waiting for her to be done. With the fly off and packed away again, she returned to her bed and we managed to doze off to sleep in the warm and muggy evening only to wake up at 2:30 AM because, low and behold, it was starting to rain. This time Scott got up too and we threw the fly over the tent and dove back inside to listen to the sporadic pitter-patter of raindrops hitting the fly. Ten minutes later, the light dusting of droplets were over and we were back to sleep with the fly on for the rest of the night.

The following morning we were a little later getting moving than usual. Dawn is coming later and later every day and we are beginning to notice that we are finding it more and more difficult to get up and moving by 5:30 AM This morning it was about 5:45 before we were actually wriggling out of our sleeping bags and it was near 6:30 AM before we were heading out onto the trail.

Some mornings when we get moving we can feel right away that it is going to be a hard day of hiking. We have no idea of what the trail terrain is going to be like, but just from the way our bodies feel we know it's going to be like pulling teeth. On the flip side, however, there are times when a within a few steps you can tell that it is going to be a better day, and baring really bad terrain or some other incident in the day it goes well. Thankfully that morning was one of those later types. As we were hiking up the road to rejoin the PCT we could tell that it was going to be a much better day than the previous day.

We started off along the trail, hiking at a good pace and we were making reasonable speed. We were hiking through a treed bowl area when we stopped because we heard some noise drifting towards us though the trees. It took a second or two to realize that what we were hearing was someone playing a little tune on a recorder, and at that time, in that place, it was possibly one of the most beautiful things we have ever heard. The notes were drifting softly though the air, falling upon our ears and it seemed to lighten our step and brighten our outlook. Music is something that we have often take for granted when at home, or even in some towns when staying with family or friends, but out on the trail it is a luxury that we don't get to enjoy much (some hikers choose to carry walkmans or other music playing devices with them, but they tent to be solo hikers and being that we are a couple it has never been an option that we have really entertained). We pondered about who could be making the beautiful sounds and then a few minutes later we came around a small hump and saw Strawberry Girl and Blackhawk sitting by the trail finishing up their breakfast; Strawberry Girl had the recorder in her lap. We knew that they were both musicians and that Blackhawk had been carrying a harmonica with him (he had played in camp two nights previously as we were preparing dinner and we thoroughly enjoyed listening to him) but we had no idea that Strawberry Girl was carrying an instrument as well. Our only regret was that we had not been in closer proximity to enable us to hear more of the delightful music that she was making.

After stopping for our breakfast and catching up on their news and exchanging stories about how awful the trail had been the previous day, the four of us packed up and moved along. The miles continued to pass quickly as we make our way along the ridgelines towards Grizzly Peak lookout and beyond. The haze of the previous day had cleared away and we were treated to clear views of the ridges and valleys to the south before beginning our 10 mile gradual descent to Ash Camp along the McLeod River. As we descended we leap-frogged back and forth with Blackhawk and Strawberry Girl as each couple stopped briefly for one reason or another. We stopped for a snack with them at Deer Creek and then a few miles later enjoyed a lunch stop at Butcherknife Creek. By that point we had hiked 15 miles and the going had been good, but after that we had a hard time getting our momentum going again. The remaining 3.5 miles to Ash Creek seemed to take almost as long to cover as the 15 miles previously.

We arrived at Ash Camp, a vehicle accessible campsite on the banks of the McLeod River, in the mid afternoon and we faced a dilemma. We had only hiked 18 miles that day and we wanted to do a few more, but the next water source was another 10 miles ahead and we weren't sure if we were up to going that much further. We wanted to do another 5 miles or so, but that would have meant a dry camp and the idea of carrying extra water with us was not in the least bit appealing. We consulted the guidebook to determine how much mileage remained in the section as we had a commitment to be off in a day and a half to meet Scott's parents who were coming to pick us up for another couple days of rest. We figured that we wouldn't have much problem making our pull-out time even if we called it a day and took advantage of a good campsite, but the longer we sat there the more restless we became and the guiltier we felt for not even making 20 miles that day. After pouring over the guidebook, trying to ascertain what the camping availability would be like further on, we decided to go another 2 miles to Fitzhugh Gulch, get our 20 miles for the day and camp on the abandoned road near there. Blackhawk, Strawberry Girl and Pur Boy (who had caught up to us while we contemplated our options at Ash Creek) were all going to push on further as they were planning on making it the rest of the way out to Castella the following day.

It was an easy two miles to Fitzhugh Gulch and when we got there we found a nice little clearing just a couple of feet off the trail right near the creek. We were happy that we had come the extra couple of miles as it got us that little bit further along the trail, eased our conscience about the low mileage day, and it got us away from the car campers. While our camp was small and crowded by the bushes, it was nicer than any we had seen at Ash Camp because of its privacy and quietness and it was still earlier enough in the evening (around 6 PM) to allow us a little extra time in camp so we could relax and not be rushed to get our evening routine completed before darkness was upon us.

We slept so well that night that we didn't wake up and get moving until 6:05 AM. We were amazed that we had slept in as latte as we had, being so close to the creek it had been a couple of degrees cooler and being in the trees it was a little darker. While a little taken aback by the lateness of the hour, it didn't upset us too much as we only had 27.4 miles to cover and a day and a half to do it in. We took our time about packing our gear and didn't hit the trail until almost 7 AM.

Our hike began with a 1500 foot climb away from the McLeod River drainage. As we climbed we thought about the three hikers who had passed on by us the previous evening and faced the climb in the waning light of the evening. The trail was riddled with poison oak and we felt like we were dodging the plague as we navigated our way through it and up the trail. We were wearing long pants while the other three were all wearing shorts. When we bumped into Pur Boy later he commented that he hadn't really noticed any poison oak in the poor light and we fear that in a couple of days he may be suffering the consequences of it. (We have not seen Strawberry Girl and Blackhawk again since so we don't know how they faired.)

We spent the morning traversing across ridges and down into gullies as we made our way to Squaw Valley Creek. We arrived at the creek, our last water supply for another 10 miles to where we would probably camp that night so we decided to stop and fill up with water and enjoy our lunch by the creek. As we were sitting there on the rounded rocks of the creek bank, taking our time over lunch as we only had another ten miles to go before camping, Scott was looking at the map and then asked Rachel if she wanted to push out that day. It was another 17 miles to the Interstate 5 and Castella so Rachel was a little amazed that Scott would suggest going that distance when it was already 1 PM. But there was a possible shortcut, he pointed out. Looking at the map we noticed that the trail had been rerouted south along a ridgeline for about two miles only to round the point and then head north back up the ridge to a place about a quarter of a mile west of where it ventured off. The description in the guidebook indicated that the trail had originally been routed in a direct line down the northwest descending ridge, but that it had been rerouted to avoid private logging land. In looking at the map it became apparent that it would be ludicrous to hike over three miles down and around to make a quarter of a mile headway when we could try and follow the old trail that same distance and then meet up with the trail again a little further along. We decided that it sounded like a good option, but as it would miss our last available water source before finishing the section (thereby putting us in a position that once we started on the shortcut we would have to finish) we would have to re-evaluate how we were feeling when we got to the junction.

With renewed motivation, we packed up after our lunch break and began the climb back up to the ridgeline from Squaw Valley Creek. Scott was setting a fast pace as we ascended the 2100 feet but fortunately we were now on north facing slopes in the shade of Douglas fir and pine trees. An hour or so later we were nearing the end of our long climb when we came to a clearing in the trees and right in front of us was Mt. Shasta. It had been a couple of days since we had had a view of her as we had either been on south slopes or she had be shrouded in haze and cloud, so it was a real surprise to see her so close. She loomed above us with snow still clinging to some of her slopes and we could clearly see the smaller volcano, Shastina, off to the west of her with the I-5 coming down between them.

A couple of miles further on we found ourselves standing at the junction on the northwest descending ridge. The PCT continued on, broad and clear to the south, while to the northwest of us we saw nothing but thick bushes. We consulted the map again and once again saw how ludicrous it would be to hike so far south only to come right back again, so we decided to go for it. We pushed through the bushes, holding our hands and trekking poles up in front of our faces as we pried the bushes apart. We were attempting to follow any remnant of a trail that we could find but the bushes were so thick that it was difficult to imagine that a trail had ever passed along there. A couple of hundred yards later we found the bushes giving way a little easier and we could see the faint remains of an old road or trail beneath us. Eagerly we followed it, having to detour often around newly grown trees or bushes, but after about fifteen minutes we dropped down onto an old road that had been indicated on the map. We had d one it, we thought as we patted each other on the back and congratulated ourselves, now we just had to follow the road another half mile to where the new PCT crossed it. We hiked easily along the road, looking over the edge to see if we could spot any sign of the PCT coming along to join it, and after a couple of road junctions at which we always took the downhill track, we finally saw the path below us. A short little scramble down the hill had us standing back on the PCT at the Castle Crags State Park property boundary not much more than a mile from where we had left the trail, having us about 3.5 miles of unnecessary hiking out of the route.

We started on down the trail, back on the PCT, and began a series of switchbacks that would drop us down to the Sacramento River and the I-5 in another 3+ miles. As we veered off to the right, heading onto the north slopes of the ridge and towards our first switchback we noticed a faint trail heading straight down the nose of the ridge. "Probably a more direct route" Scott mumbled as we continued on past. About a quarter mile further on down the trail we were had switch-backed back to the nose of the ridge and we saw the same faint trail coming down to us. "Yup, a more direct route. We probably should have taken it" Rachel said. A quick glance to the side revealed that the path continued on down the nose and we decided to try it out. Sure enough it was a direct route down the nose of the ridge, probably cutting another 1.5 - 2 miles of unnecessary hiking off the trail, and the interesting thing was that as we descended this steeper, but more direct route, we saw evidence of old trail blazes (patches on the trees where the bark has been cut away, used to mark the trail) along the route. We figured that we were following the original PCT route.

Taking shortcuts and breaking switchbacks in not something that either of us have taken to in the past. As a matter of fact, we have been quite adamant about sticking to the official PCT route, despite the option to take shortcuts or more scenic alternative routes. The motivation for us to break that trend for us this time, however, was the desire to finish a lousy section of trail, the accumulation of frustration at all of the past times when we have stuck to a poorly routed trail, and most importantly the desire to make it into town and to hitch the 60 miles down the I-5 to Scott's parents place in good time. We doubt that cutting the trail will become habit for us, but should we be faced with more ludicrous routing, it will always remain an option.

We found ourselves standing on paved Riverside Road within an hour and a half of having decided to take the first shortcut through the bushes down the nose of the ridge, and there we had a decision to make. The guidebook talked about heading south along the road for two miles towards Castella, or we could stay with the PCT route to the end of the section that we essentially leave us standing at the Soda Creek Road exit off the I-5 (with very little vehicle traffic). Our ultimate objective was to get ourselves 60 miles down the interstate to Scott's parent's place, but we were unsure of where the best place to attempt that from was going to be. We knew that it would be hard to hitch a ride on the I-5, but at the same time we didn't want to waste another 40 minutes walking the 2 miles into town as by the time we got there it would be getting later. At last we decided to stay with the PCT to the interstate, to try and hitch from the off ramp and that if we weren't successful then we would camp by the Sacramento River and wait for Scott's parents to pick us up the following day.

We hiked down the road towards the interstate, and just as we were crossing the river the bells started to ring at the railway crossing separating us from the highway. At first we were frustrated as we thought that it was a little uncanny that a train should come along just as we were wanting to cross the tracks, but as two cars pulled up and stopped on the opposite side of the tracks we realized that it was going to work out to our advantage (it is always easier to approach a vehicle that is already stopped or moving slowly than it is to get one that is moving at full speed to stop). As the train passed, the bells stopped chiming and the barricades raised up, we flagged down the first of the two vehicles to come across the tracks. Rachel asked the lady which was the best to get to Castella to which she pointed in the direction of a road paralleling the interstate and indicated that if we followed that we would get there within a couple of miles. As she sped up and pulled away, the vehicle behind her s topped beside us and asked if we were looking for something. When Rachel told her that we were looking to get to Castella she said to jump in as she would give us a ride. We loaded our packs into the trunk and she turned the vehicle around to drive us to Castella.

We were dropped off at the gas station mini mart and post office right near the off ramp to the I-5, but after purchasing ourselves a cold beverage each, it became apparent that most of the people pulling in were either local residents or staying at the nearby Castle Crags campground. As we sat outside the store chatting with Pur Boy, who had gotten in a little earlier and was in the middle of enjoying a pint of ice cream, we began to consider other options for getting into town as it didn't seem as though hitching a ride was going to be all that easy. As each person pulled into the gas station Rachel asked them if they were heading southbound and if they had room for a couple hikers and packs, but the frequency and speed with the refusals came was a little disheartening (did we really smell that bad?).

Just as we were about to call Scott's parents to see if they wanted to make the two hour drive up to get us, a full sized bus pulled into the parking lot. "Ah-ha" we thought, perhaps it was headed southbound and we could sweet-talk or purchase ourselves a ride into Red Bluff. Rachel walked around the building to approach the bus and driver, but as she got nearer she realized that there was something different about that bus. It had writing all over it. There wasn't an unmarked inch to be found on that whole bus, not even the hub-caps had been left clear. As it turned out, it wasn't any ordinary bus, but rather it was the American Cancer Society's Celebration Bus that was traveling the 48 states raising grass-roots awareness of the problem of cancer. They were collecting signatures on the bus that they would take back to Washington, DC on September 19th to present to congress as a means of motivating them to do something about Cancer research, development, and insurance funding. Rachel gladly added her name to the bus and then asked the driver, Frank, if he was headed southbound and if he might have room onboard for two hikers and packs. As luck would have it, Frank was headed into Redding where he was going to pass off the bus to another driver to take over to Reno while he continued on down to Sacramento via a company shuttle van, and he was more than happy to take us as far as he was going. We grabbed our packs and jumped on board the Celebration Bus for the ride into Redding.

When we got to Redding, Frank pulled the bus into the pre-arranged meeting place at McDonalds. While we were gathering our packs and belongings to get off the bus Frank went to talk to one of the two drivers who he was meeting there and he inquired as to whether it would be feasible to take us with them the rest of the way down to Red Bluff. Both other drivers were in agreement to help us out, but decided that it would be faster for us if we went the rest of the way in the shuttle van rather than the bus. Thankful to have the remaining 30 miles of our journey taken care of so easily, we moved our gear off the bus and loaded it into the van while we waited to head out on the interstate again. Before we knew it, we were being let off in Red Bluff, a ten minute drive from where Scott's parent's live. A quick phone call later and we had the remaining 12 miles of our journey taken care off so we walked down the road to the Burger King to await them and get something to eat.

Time and time again we have been amazed at how things work out for us. Here we were pulling off the trail not more than three hours previously and 60 miles from where we wanted to be, but before long everything had fallen into place and we were back in Los Molinos at Scott's parent's place. The generosity and willingness to help of the people we have met along this trip has been overwhelming and inspiring. There have been many times when we would have found ourselves in difficult straights, but each time we have been assisted by a kind hearted soul along the way. For all of those people out there who have done nice things for us, other hikers, or anyone at all, "Thank you, you make the world a nicer place to be."

Now that we are back at Scott's parent's place, have showered, and rested, it is time to start thinking about the next leg of our journey. We still have to repack our packs, mail off our next two re-supply boxes, reply to some email, and enjoy the company of Tom, Marilyn and all the critters. We will have one more nights sleep in the comfortable bed and then it will be back to the trail and 20+ miles a day tomorrow morning. We are hopeful that this next segment of trail is going to be better than the last, but even if it isn't we have something to motivate us forward towards Seiad Valley: Rachel's parents are driving down from Vancouver, Canada to meet us there for Rachel's 32nd birthday on Aug. 3rd. We were originally hoping to meet up with them in Ashland for the birthday celebration so that we could catch a Shakespeare play, but as it turns out Seiad Valley works out better for all involved and we may still day-trip into Ashland for a play.

We regret to inform you that updating our journals and obtaining our emails is likely to become a little more difficult from here on in. The internet service provider that we subscribe to has had a local access number for all of the towns we have passed through so far, but once we hit Oregon and Washington we loose local numbers and we have found that our computer does not have the capabilities to handle all of the numbers necessary to use our calling card service to connect via a long distance access number. Quite frankly we are stumped as to how we are going to address this problem, but rest assured that we will be doing everything we can to overcome it. One thought that we have had is that perhaps some of you, our readers, subscribe to an ISP that has local access numbers for the towns that we are re-supplying in, and if so perhaps you might be willing to allow us to use your user name and password along with the local access number so that we might be able to make an update from those towns (Ashland, Crater Lake, Crecent Lake, Estacada, Naches, Skyhomish, Stehekin). Outside of that possibility, we will be attempting to seek out other means by which to upload our journal to the net and keep you all updated as to how we are managing. In the meantime, all the best and happy hiking.