Distance hiked today: 26.3 miles / 42.3 km.
So it begins: Northern California, the next section of trail. A few days ago, an older man day-hiking to photograph birds had stopped to chat with us. "Thread the needle" he'd said about our hike, and he was right. There's a narrow window to thru-hike the PCT from late March to September. If you start too late there's no water left in the desert and it's incredibly hot. Too early, and you'll get challenging snow conditions in the Sierra. Wait out the snow for too long, and forest fires will be raging in Northern California leading to trail closures, and Washington can start to get snow in late September. So you really need to thread the needle.
It's hard for many reasons: you need to choose a start date for your permit in November without knowing what the snow pack will be that year, then you need to manage your pace. Too many days off and you can find yourself behind the ideal time for certain regions, but pushing too hard can lead to overuse injuries.
So far my pace is working out - I'm just hoping to make it through Northern California before any forest fires, which means trying to push bigger miles each day.
Today the trail was muddy with snow melt, and some snowy sections around the peak of a mountain were a little sketchy and icy, but doable.
As I walked by a nice rocky-edged lake, a bird sat on a rock less than 4 feet away which was surprising. It squawked at me loudly, and I watched it for a while until I needed to keep walking… just as I passed, it flew away to the opposite side of the lake.
Much of the day was through forest, and I noticed the moss only grows above 8 feet or so off the ground. It was like the measuring stick at a carnival - must be this tall to ride?
There were many comments from other hikers about bear sightings in the last few days and I tried to keep an eye out, at times making a bit of extra noise. Thankfully I didn't run into any.
I packed out an avocado for lunch (yum) and slept on a ridge which had a nice purple and orange sunset.
Total trail mileage: 1129.7 miles / 1817.7 km