Hiking The Pacific Crest Trail: Day 98

Just when we thought the dessert days were over… Waking up at 3am to walk 30 water-less miles felt harsh (no natural sources of water, making us carry enough H2O for entire day) . In 2003 a huge storm passed through the Hat Creek Valley. Lightning struck over 900 times, igniting 27 wild fires that ended up burning over 100,000 acres of forest. The consequences are a shade-less & water-less stretch of 30 miles on PCT. What made it even worse was over 100F° temperatures due to a record breaking heat wave that was passing through.

Camping at Baum Lake

At the end of the day we made it to camp around 6:30pm. It was such a pleasure to situate our camp next to a lake. It felt like a small oasis, full of wildlife and noises. It seemed that the lake itself was a runway for herds of ducks that took off every 15 minutes. Several jack rabbits were running around in the grassy patch around our camp site. It was so pleasing, but not for too long before things turned into creepy and me thinking to myself why is this happening to us on one of the nights that we decide not to camp around people.

Evening Full of Mysteries:

  • It was already dark and I was situating inside the tent while Serge was still outside. We both heard some rustling in the nearby bushes and thought that perhaps it was a rabbit or a curious deer. Serge was shining his headlamp towards the bush and saw an animal appear and charge at our tent. Serge first thought that it was a raccoon. As the animal was getting closer to our tent, probably blinded by the head lamp and not seeing Serge’s silhouette, Serge moved to grab his hiking poles to prepare for a battle (because whooping raccoon’s ass is what my fearless man does :)). Poor guy noticed Serge last minute and in astonishment stopped and puffed up his tail like a peacock. It turned out to be a skunk! I immediately yelled out to Serge not to scare him because he will spray if felt threatened. Thankfully, skunk has retrieved back into the bushes and I continued to get ready for bed in hopes that we will not have any surprises in the middle of the night.
  • So at this point I am laying in the tent with my glasses off, Serge was still outside. I notice through our open tent curtain a huge fire ball flying in the sky. I’m like “whoaaah that’s a huge falling star”, then in millisecond I am realizing that it could not be, bc I am not wearing glasses and there is no way I would be able to see a falling star without glasses. I immediately put them on and yell to Serge to look. He was in astonishment. It was a huge fire ball, half the size of a moon, leaving a trace and we could see it fall apart as it disappeared behind the tree line. I immediately thought it was a meteor or a UFO, you never know with all that freaky shyt that goes down in Cali. Serge thought it was a crashing plane and was waiting for a big BOOM.
  • At this point I am super spooky and just want for the night to be over. Finally, Serge gets into tent and all of the sudden we hear very loud and distinct stomping of something HEAVY. We both froze in our tent, not breathing, trying to listen to the beast’s next move. We heard a few hackling noises that are very hard to describe and which we have never heard before. I was certain that it wasn’t a deer or a bear as we would have heard each animal approach through the noise of breaking sticks on the ground. But we didn’t hear such noise as heavy stomping appeared very sudden. We then heard hackling noise disappear into the distance, letting us know that danger has passed. Thankfully, rest of the night went uneventful.
  • Next day Serge browsed the news and found out that it was actually a Chinese rocket debrees falling from space, like space junk. It was seen in 4 different states. That made us feel slightly more sane about last night. However, no sightings of big foot were reported.

Entrance to Subway Cave

At this point we have been on the trail for 20 days without taking a day off. Initially our plan was to hike additional 3 days into small town of Etna. However, we have been so exhausted from hiking in the heat that we decided to take a day zero sooner, in Mt. Shasta town.

At this point we have been on the trail for 20 days without taking a day off. Initially our plan was to hike additional 3 days into small town of Etna. However, we have been so exhausted from hiking in the heat that we decided to take a day zero sooner, in Mt. Shasta town.

A young black bear walking along one of the logging roads

Our Animal Encounter:

  • On the last evening before getting to town, we were hiking to this awesome camp spot that I’ve read about in my guidebook. We would have a perfect view of the majestic Mt. Shasta. As we were getting close to our camp, right below our trail there was a dirt road that would eventually connect to our camping spot. Right on that dirt road Serge saw a black bear walking in the direction of our camp. We immediately made noise, to let him know that there are humans out there in hopes of deviating him from his path. At this point all I can think of that we will totally have a bear in our camp that night. To our luck, the bear never appeared anywhere near our tent. We have been on the trail for 3 months and never had a bear encounter. Deep inside I was glad that it happened from a distance and we actually got to observe him and not have to fight him off.
  • The next morning we woke up very early and were on the trail by 6am in hopes of making it into town for breakfast. As we were hiking, I heard some rustling noise up a hill on our left. It was a gentle noise that you could barely hear in between our walking. I automatically thought that it was a deer and paid no attention. I continued to hear the noise a few more times until I turned my head to look up and saw a silhouette of a big furry head. It did not take me long to realize that it was a bear looking straight at me. I immediately notified Serge that we are in presence of a bear and we should not stop and continue going. Serge started making banging our hiking poles to make noise and the bear seemed to be startled and began moving away from us up the hill. That is when we saw two little cubs run up the hill with their momma. It was crazy to think that here we were, 3 months on the trail, never a bear encounter, and here we had two in less than 12 hours.

Our camping spot with a clear view of Mt.Shasta

After all the craziness we’ve experienced on approach to Mt.Shasta, we have finally reached a small super market along highway 5. At the market store, Serge picked up his package from REI where he had a pair of brand new La Sportiva Wildcats shoes. He was happy as kid when he put those on. Soon after we were able to hitch a ride and get to the town of Mt.Shasta where we immediately went to get breakfast 🙂