Days 88-95 (Mi. 1265.4 to 1394.2)

Spoiler alert- this section I’m thankful for HEALING. I know a whooolllllleee lot of people were praying for my Achilles, and I’m stoked to say that it’s back and better than ever. It definitely gave me a good scare, but with some rest and slowish miles… it’s in good shape!! Thank you for the prayers, friends. Grateful grateful.

Day 88: Zero in Almanor

5am: Woke and so eager to get to the trailhead!! I am RESTED and READY to keep on keeping on.
5:40am: Packed and ready to go!
5:43am: Laces up, puts on pack, and walks out the doors
5:46am: Back in bed with ice on elevated foot. There’s no way I’m hiking out anytime soon.
Gahhhh, this is so frustrating! Just when the trail gets a little more predictable, I’m thrown a curve ball and have to stay off the foot. This injury seriously might take me off trail. TBD.

Good news? My wonderful Aunty Lynnie and Uncle Michael were up in the area for the weekend!! My extended family has a cabin on Lake Almanor, so after a little swoop down to Quincy (thanks, fam!!), the three of us were in route to the cabin. My heart is aching for the trail, but I know this rest is so needed. Grrrr.

But not a bad place to take a 2nd Zero, am I right?

Day 89: Zero in Almanor

Third zero with little improvement on the ol’ Achilles.

Rest rest rest. Swim swim swim. Read read read. This is the good life.
Day 90: Bucks Lake Road (mi. 1265.4) to Mi. 1280.4

PCT, be nice to me!! Back in your territory after three days off from injury. 

I was able to do exactly 15 miles after being dropped back on trail today. Taking it reaaaaalllllly slow, but I was able to make the miles without *too* much pain. Thanking the Lord for surprising me with the little things- even if that’s a mere 15 miles without major pain.

Heading into camp, I was greeted with an unreal sunset. I had to stop and stare into the beauty, with an incredible headrush of how trivial my goal of reaching Canada is. Sure, it’s an incredible goal and I’m pretty dang set on making it! But in comparison to the fullness of joy, peace, and learning I’ve experienced through the miles, it is just straight up silly. I’m not sure if this makes sense…. but I’m no longer idolizing the Canadian border. That’s big. 
Day 91: Mi. 1280.4 to Mi. 1303.4

Took LOTS of breaks today, but I don’t care!!! 23 more miles are in the bag, and my Achilles is still attached to my body. Praise. Oh, and look at this climb. Ohhhhh Belden. You’re mean.

But yay 1300!
Day 92: Mi. 1303.4 to Mi. 1328.8

Halfway halfway halfway!!!!!!

Honestly, today was a blur because I was SOFREAKINGSTOKED to reach the halfway mark!! There was an infiltration of deer at the marker, so that was fun to hang with. I’ve been pretty fascinated with deer lately- such intricate creatures.

With 1325 miles both under the belt and in the plans, I have to ask myself if I’d do this all over again.

Would I go through the logistical nightmare to even get myself to the Southern Terminus? Trek through the exposed, waterless stretches in the desert? Dozens of blisters? Slush through 250 miles of suncups, with 2:30am starts? Have my Yosemite backcountry bushwacking incident? Hurt my Achilles? 

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared to with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

-Philippians 3:8

All those tribulations seem minuscule when sized up to the glory, majesty, and wonder of Christ I’ve experienced on trail. The purity of the sky in the desert, the sunrises canvases behind cathedral peaks in the Sierra, the growth and vegetation of NorCal… all undeserved. The beauty in hardship, and pressing into discomfort. The dozens of nations (and endless personalities!) represented on Trail. The trail magic and the mountain top experiences.

ALL of it brings me into a deeper, more transparent relationship with the Lord- both the treats and the trials.

Needless to say, I’m eager for the rest of the trail. More lessons to be learned!

After reaching halfway, I headed to the town of Chester! Chester was the closest town to the lake growing up, so the fam frequented the local ice cream shop (Pine Shack Frosty) alllll the time. It’s just the best, so you betcha it was my first stop in town. 

After downing some fried food and a coffee milkshake, I scooted over to the local Lutheran Church for some free camping. Shoutout to the Church for making hikers feels so welcome and at home, even if it’s just some backyard camping. That’s good stuff.
Day 93: Mi. 1328.8 to Mi. 1343.8

Town went quickly! PTL! I scooted along, resupplied in the AM, even made a few phone calls, and was on trail around noon. My hitch even had a dog, which is always a score.

Today’s goal was an easy 15 miles to the Lassen National Park Boundary. The park is now requiring bear cans for overnight camping, so PCT hikers make it a goal to do the entire park in one day. That will be my tomorrow! Hooray!

PS- it feels real nice to have the “To Canada” miles smaller than the “To Mexico.”
Day 94: Mi. 1343.8 to Mi. 1367.2

Home sweet Lassen.

Growing up, my family frequented Lassen Volcanic National Park. Its geology of boiling lakes, geysers, and, of course, the volcanic Mt. Lassen itself, seemed to create a bit of a wonderland.

My first time up Lassen Peak was in my mom’s womb. Seriously, she climbed the 10k’ volcano pregnant. It all makes sense now, right? My second attempt up the mountain wasn’t quite successful- I got big time sick. Little did young Andrew know… this was the beginning of a wonderful relationship with altitude sickness. Seriously, even last year I tossed my cookies on the 10k’ Mt. Crested Butte in Colorado. WEAK.

Shoutout to a slow and steady acclimation for getting me through the Sierra.

Anyway. Sickness and all, Lassen is my jam. Lots of memories here.

Last night I forgot to set an alarm (oops!), so I woke up to a bright and sunny 7:15am. I panicked at first (this is a pretty late wakeup for hikers), but decided to take a chill pill and enjoy my already slow morning. I made oatmeal (with a banana inside!!), snacked on some cheerios, listened to my favorite tunes, read a little bit, and finally started hiking around 8:10. That’s basically Hiker Noon. Oh well.

Today’s hike was easy breezy- relatively flat with some beautiful spots to hang. I stumbled across this boiling lake early on…. yikes. Wouldn’t want to go swimming there.

Annnnnd now for my favorite lunch spot. Lower Twin Lakes. This spot was bug-free and rocky, with the most perfect water temperature. Just cool enough to be refreshing, but still warm enough once you’re totally submerged and not catching a breeze. The DREAM.

I made it to the lake around 1:10, and rewarded my quick pace with a 1 hour 20 minute swim/lunch/nap. Again, the dream.

Post lunch was flat and uneventful. I ate some dinner at the Park Boundary (bye Lassen!), and scooted along to camp to be able to blog and read before bed. As much time as I have out here, the amount of time not eating, hiking, or sleeping is surprisingly pretty slim. Oh well! I was ever the best at time management. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 
Day 95: Mi. 1367.2 to Mi. 1394.

To say Hat Creek Rim was long and exhausting would be a dramatic understatement. And probably an insult to the Rim itself.

Back in the desert! Today started off nice and smooth. I was hiking by 7 (a rarity these days), and hit Subway Tunnel, a water source .5 miles off trail) just in time to fill up before hitting the Rim in the heat of the day.

The Rim towers over Hat Creek Valley, a massive expanse between Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta. The trail keeps elevation around its rim, jetting Northeast, before scooting closer and around Shasta.

Pretty much the entirety of today’s trail was exposed, dry, and HOT. With limited sources (and, admittedly, not-high-enough-volume water bottles in my pack), I rationed out 3 liters of water for a solid 12 miles. Not my best work.

Anyway, obviously I made it work (woohoo!), but not without a lot of daydreaming of ice water and a Coke slushee. I rolled up to water around 6:30pm, filled up, made dinner, and trekked the remaining 3.5 to camp.

Today wasn’t too fun. It was pretty miserable, actually. But MAN I’m thankful for it. It contrasts well with the wonderful days. And the tough days/miles are always so refining. So good.

Tomorrow I’m taking it slow (only 22.5 miles!), eating/resupplying, and camping at a real campground. Maybe I’ll score a picnic table!! TBD.

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