The PCT is broken up into five distinct sections. The desert, the sierras, northern California, Oregon, and Washington. As of now, I am in the heart of northern Cali. What makes this section unique is the massive pine tree forests and the easy grade of the trail. Compared to the heat of the desert and snow of the mountains, this change is welcomed with a happy heart. I am able to do as many miles per day as I did in the desert and the scenery is beautiful and new. Another thing that makes this section so nice is the abundance of towns along the way. Almost every day I am able to eat a meal at a resort or ranch.
The day after leaving the town of Chester, I reached Drakesbad guest ranch. This is a rustic yet luxurious ranch nestled in Lassen National Park. The ranch is not exactly fond of hikers, but with the purchase of a rather expensive dinner they allow you to use their facilities. So upon arriving I was able to shower and swim in the heated pool. After the regular guests eat the hikers were allowed to eat. A few of the hikers were promised vegan or gluten free meals so when the waiter brought out one platter of corn dogs and chicken strips we were frustrated at best. They explained that they had run out of food from serving their guests and at that point the guest who couldn’t eat any of the food stormed off in anger. The combination of paying 20$ for dinner and hiker hunger is enough to make anyone mad. Luckily they didn’t charge anyone and appologized for the inconvenience. So I left feeling pretty good about getting a free afternoon at an expensive guest ranch.
Additionaly, the section I’m backpacking now is the section I did as a PCT practice hike last summer. When our family friend Jim Plant backpacked the trail last summer I flew out and backpacked with him to get a taste of the trail. I had an amazing experience and being able to make it back to the same place is awesome. The trail hasn’t changed one bit but the experience is entirely new for me. I have changed. Not only is the hiking physically easier than last year but I am now fully in the thru-hiking community. I know just about every fellow hiker I pass. Seeing how far i’ve come has been amazing and there is still a lot of trail left for growth.
Noel Nelson (PCT mile 1371)