PCT SOBO DAY 49 – NorCal is underrated 

Tent site on a jeep road – tent site 
29.2 miles. 4395ft up. 4943ft down. 

What felt like the middle of the night, but it probably wasn’t late at all, but it was completely dark, a car comes up the jeep road. Not what I was expecting!! The lights were brighter than the sun, I sat up bewildered and I heard the guy say, ‘sorry guys, enjoy your night’. Weird. 

About 5:30 an owl started hooting, it must have been in the tree right above me because it was so loud, it hooted once every 20 seconds. It wasn’t annoying at all. 6 o’clock comes around the bloody thing flies away. Time to get up, I thought Stringbean would be gone already but his tent was still there. I start moving and it’s a condensation station. My bag is damp and my fly is soaked. Thank goodness I wade the decision to actually put the fly on my tent last night. 

I’m on the trail at 6:40, I plan a 30ish mile day but I’m not sure if I will make it that far. My pack feels so much better today. No back pain. There is a lot of water on the trail so I don’t have to carry too much which helps. 

The trail still looked very smokey off into the distance. I ran into a couple of nobos, one really nice guy called Bo Peep. He met Catwater and she told him about me. She isn’t too far ahead by the sounds of it. He also said there was a girl about 45 minutes ahead who I’m assuming is Crusher. 

About 5 miles into the day someone comes up behind me, it’s Grim! I was expecting him to pass me, he skipped the fire too turns out he was camped only 0.3 of a mile behind me. He slows down a bit so we can have a little chat and then he is gone, super speedy. 

The trail feels like it climbs a lot this morning and I feel it in my breathing and in my legs. But I plod on. After 4 hours I’m about a half mile off my pace. I stop to take a bunch of pictures because the trail is just so beautiful today. The moss on the trees is such a fantastic colour. And despite the smoke the mountains and the rocks are amazing. Good views for most of the day. I love being up high and being able to look out at views. 

I meet Grim again at some water, he is obsessed with water, he always knows how far the next source is. I’m pretty sure he drinks about 5 times the amount I do. We chat and he speeds off as I struggle and fail to keep up. 

I meet a new southbounder called Delta. We stop and chat for a while and then he goes on ahead of me, I can keep up with him so we walk together for a while until we come across Grim eating. We join him and have some lunch together. My last avocado eaten with chilli cheese Fritos. And the rest of Jackie’s cookies which I have to eat with a spoon as they got a bit crushed! I’m good for snacks today, I have probably twice the amount I normally do. I’ve done 15 miles and I’m an hour off my pace now. If I want to make 30 I have to start moving. 

They ask me why I’m hiking the same trail again. And I explain the story, how I never intended it to be another thru-hike to start with but it turned into one. They asked me when it changed and I had to give that some thought, but I realised it changed as soon as I decided to raise money for Just A Drop – not that the fundraising side of things is going very well! I’m supposed to be raising £1 per mile, but with nearly 1000 miles walked and £280 raised I’m a bit off target. I try not to let it stress me out.  

I hike on and soon enough Grim comes up behind me. I’ve cottoned on to his game. He like to try to get as close as he can without being noticed, and then scaring you. But I spotted him this time. A little while later Delta passes me. I feel like I’m doing ok, then I get passed, then I feel really slow. I plug myself into some podcasts and try and maintain a pace. 

Nice and cloudy. Not too hot. Think it could rain. 

The next few miles are fairly gentle, we are following contours for a lot of the day with small ups and downs, although the trail is pretty rocky which makes it difficult sometimes. I come across Delta talking to an old guy and while they are talking a fashion a 1000 mile marker. 1000 miles is still a significant distance. They congratulate me and I get a high five from Delta, which was nicer than celebrating alone. 

It’s 3:30 and I want to try and make it another 9 miles so I get moving. I see Grim heading towards me. ‘You’re going the wrong way’ I say. He left his trekking poles down the trail. Bummer. So as they are part of his shelter he is having to go back to look for them. He was hoping Delta or I had picked them up but I hadn’t seen them. I was getting a bit concerned about Stringbean, I was sure he would have passed my by now, I hope he’s not ill. 

The trail does this annoying loop where you end up heading north for about 20 miles before it bends back around and heads south again, so we find ourselves heading closer to the fire again. The trail gets noticeably smokier again. When I arrive at the campsite (at 6:45, beating my goal of 7pm) Delta is setting up his tent and a nobo called Arrow is there. It’s a great campsite and there would be great views if there wasn’t so much smoke. There is a not insignificant amount of smoke to both sides of us so we are in it too. It feels a bit smokey but doesn’t smell too bad. 

There are no bugs again and the sun is still up so I sit outside with Delta and Arrow to eat dinner. I’m not super hungry and I can’t be bothered to ‘cook’ so I eat string cheese, Fritos and goldfish. A nice nutritious dinner. 

The Grim appears, he has made it here (with his poles) and walked an extra 4 miles. Machine. About 10 minutes later Stringbean appears. I told him I was getting worried about him. He said he just couldn’t be bothered to get up, he must have been really tired because he didn’t even hear the car last night. Maybe I dreamt it? No. I’m pretty certain it was real. But he still made it the same distance as me even though he started a couple of hours after me because he is fast and has legs twice as long as mine. I would love to be able to sleep in. 

Quite the little camping party tonight. 

They say that Crusher is behind me now which means I must have passed her today. But I didn’t see anyone. She seems very elusive! 

The sun sets and we realise there are some mountains in the distance that we can’t even see because of the smoke. 

Tomorrow I get have to get up and do it all again. But I’m feeling much happier about everything recently. The pressure has eased slightly. I haven’t cried for ages. The trail is just getting more beautiful. There are people about. It’s all good. 

No one talks about NorCal. It’s just something you get through. But I love it. It’s so beautiful 

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This blog is harder to maintain than walking 30 miles a day! I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Donate here.

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4 thoughts on “PCT SOBO DAY 49 – NorCal is underrated 

  1. Glad you are enjoying it….I’m enjoying your pictures! We’re only 30 minutes from the trail crossing on 89 near south lake tahoe if you need anything!

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  2. Trying hard to identify that camping spot. Just can’t seem to place it. Oh well.. Have to wonder what podcasts you are listening to.

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  3. You are doing great, Alex! Fantastic photos. Thanks for taking the time to take such fantastic photos for all of us to enjoy. Hike on!

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