We woke up early (5:30 AM–only day we set an alarm) on Day 4, our final day on the PCT. Joel and I knew we were just hours away from our return to civilization (and a hot shower, plus all the food we could eat!), so despite my extreme soreness, I dragged
my carcass 🙂 myself out of bed (sleeping bag) and packed up quickly.
I just ate trail mix for breakfast after we packed. I didn’t have much else left to eat, as I wanted to lighten my load in the two days prior, so everything else was already consumed. I noticed many of our tent-city-mates had already left. I didn’t even hear them leave so I must have been sleeping pretty soundly (and they must’ve gotten up VERY early). Several others were “cowboy camping”–sleeping outside with no shelter/tent. I had a quick convo with this one about cameras, and asked if I could take his picture:
We stepped off right before 6:30, our target time, and enjoyed the cooler temps (52* at the start). It was the only time I wore my Oiselle long sleeve shirt. Thankfully, it was mostly downhill, but we still had 300 feet of elevation gain (which felt like huge mountains to my aching body!) The forest was gorgeous, though I didn’t take many pics because I had one singular focus: get to the pick-up spot by 9 AM.
I moved out at a “3-clip” (AM explained that’s trail lingo for going 3 miles per hour) and when we stopped for water, Cole said “Wow, you’re moving out! You’re like: food-shower-food-shower with each step!” as he moved his arms back and forth—it made me laugh out loud. Yes, I was indeed focused on those two very nice things!
We reached some steep switchbacks–Thank God we were going down them!–and I could tell we were so close to Centipede Gulch trailhead.
Finally, we arrived—and our pick-up point was supposedly right up the road, 400 yards. We hurriedly took a few pics….
Then headed up the road (an actual paved road!) to meet our ride. Thanks to AM’s GPS, we had been able to communicate with Griff, the kind person who agreed to pick us up and take us back to our rental car. He said he would be there at 9 AM for us.
Side story: I pride myself on thinking through travel logistics (and being creative & organized about it), but the one part of this trip I was stumped on was the pick-up. I thought this over for weeks. Since we didn’t know exactly where we were going to end our trail journey, I didn’t think we could rely on an Uber or any type of public transportation. PLUS there was the added challenge of spotty cell service (about 90% of that area had none). I thought hitch-hiking was risky, and only wanted to use that option as a last resort. I didn’t want to leave the rental car somewhere random, then be required to make it back to the rental car. So I figured out best option was a ride—but who to ask? I ended up posting on the West Point Women Facebook group, and asked if any of my fellow WP women lived near Mount Shasta. Thankfully, one responded that she used to live there, and would make a phone call on my behalf to her former church. THANK YOU, A.A.B.! She replied that her pastor would make a call to someone—THANK YOU, pastor! And that person did indeed answer the call, and agreed to pick us up on Thursday from a yet-to-be-determined location. So in the end, thanks to several VERY awesome people, we managed to coordinate a pick-up in the middle of nowhere wilderness!
As we headed up the road, for what we thought was about a quarter mile, we quickly realized it was going to be a lot further than a quarter mile, and of course, it was uphill. We were going to be a little late, so I hoped Griff would wait for us.
We saw the dam, which gave me hope that we were close, but dang… I had metered out my energy to make it 7 miles, and had to go nearly 8 miles. One more mile. Seems like such a small difference, but I. Was. Absolutely. EXHAUSTED.
I trudged behind the other 3, trying to make it to the end without complaining (or needing someone to carry me!) Those last 20-30 minutes felt like an eternity. I willed myself forward.
We passed a big pile of rocks—the reason for the road being closed. I cursed the pile of rocks—if the rocks weren’t there, the road would be open, and our ride could have been waiting at the trailhead instead of a F*&%^! Mile up the road from it.
At last, we turned around a bend… and there were two vehicles! OMG—one of these must be our ride!! Please let one of these be our ride!
Sure enough, two people got out of the further vehicle, and smiled at us—Praise the Lord, we have a ride back!!
I said Good Morning and introduced all of us. Griff and Penny were retired, and the sweetest people. We chit-chatted for a few, and got a few pics:
We said good-bye to AM and Cole (and gave Cole my newer SmartWater bottle).
Whew!—what an adventure!
I am so thankful to be part of 54 miles of Cole’s trail journey. I can’t believe how far he’s come, and as I write this, over a month later, he made it to Washington State, and is nearly complete with his 2,650+ mile journey! THANK YOU for a fun, beautiful, full of laughs, sweaty, smelly, once-in-a-lifetime adventure, Cole! (aka “Slaw”)
Griff and Penny drove us over an hour, back to our rental car at Burney Falls State Park. I was glad the car was safe while we were gone 3 days. We had a lovely conversation the whole way there—Penny, a geologist, told us how her family was from Mount Shasta. Griff was an Army Ranger, and Vietnam veteran, then worked at the California highway patrol. I felt so incredibly grateful to both of them for their help. Of course, they wouldn’t accept any money, so when I got home, I printed out a few pictures and sent it to them with a thank you card.
Once at Burney Falls, Joel and I went to the general store, bought a delicious Mocha Frap (did I mention it was delish???) and some not-at-all-delish semi-stale donuts and cookies, used the bathroom, threw away our packed-out trash, and got on the road. We wanted to head north to Crater Lake, then stay in Bend. Tomorrow we’d head north to Cascades Locks, then fly home from the Portland airport.
Miles for final day: 7.8 miles with 300 feet elevation, over 2.5 hours.
Totals for all 4 days:
54 Miles / 7,657 ft elevation gain / 8,057 ft elevation loss / 19 hours walking / 133,000+ steps