August 10 (~07:30 – ~08:10)
Kettlebelly Trail Junction / Castle Crags Campground – Interstate 5 (0.5 mi / Total: 1501.2 mi) (+1.6 bonus miles to Kettlebelly Trail Junction)
Total PCT miles: 1990.3
Weather: Overcast, chilly with intermittent rain.
Despite the insane thunderstorm last night, it doesn’t rain all night long, and my tent isn’t as muddy as it could’ve been. Still, upsplash got dirt on my inner netting, and I’m not looking forward to packing this mess up. Surprisingly enough, it actually ends up being the one day I’m one of the first hikers to leave the campsite. I guess everyone else has heard of the front coming in, a day of rain and thunder, and I’m just happy it coincides with my planned zero.
I follow the long Kettlebelly Trail back to the PCT, watching out for bears in the dim forest, and walk the final 0.5 miles to the other side of the Interstate. And with that, my first Northern Californian southbound section is finished!
Last time I arrived here, I’d hiked into a snowstorm and spent a day ploughing through the fresh powder, after which it took me another two days to reach the interstate. By the time I arrived, I was cold to the bone, and facing a difficult hitch into town from the Interstate. I was lucky – I got picked up quickly and found myself in a warm car which felt like such bliss. This time, I have the luxury of already having arranged a ride – I’ve been messaging with Doug, who lives in the area, and very kindly told me he may be able to give me a ride into town. It’s perfect, especially after such a strange night, to have a car waiting for me. He gives me a hug and takes some pictures of me with the glamorous Interstate sign. It’s a good start to my nero already.
It turns into a pretty great day. I have coffee with Doug in Dunsmuir, and we talk about hiking and gear and everything else, and then he drops me off at the laundromat in Mt Shasta. I do all my chores – hang out at the gear shop where I get to leave my pack and charge my devices (and watch other hikers stumble in wearing shoes that are falling apart, riddled with injuries and surely still doing 30 mile days), sit in Yaks for coffee and food and some much needed blog updates, and get some groceries.
Then it’s time to head for the KOA campground on the edge of town, and even though it isn’t the place I’d really wanted to stay at, it’s actually quite nice. My tentsite is humongous and I have a fire ring and a picnic table, and it actually feels really relaxing to be here. Like I’m on holiday. I sit at the table despite the cold until it begins to rain, and it feels great. It feels great until everyone else comes back and starts to make dinners and play music out loud – but everything quiets again at night, and after a shower, I also go to sleep.