I woke up immediately before my 5 am alarm, mostly because I stretched and hit my water bottle, which then fell on me. Though what really got me moving was the flashes of lightning coming through my tent. The last thing I wanted was to put away a wet tent, and though it wasn’t raining yet, the lightning could have been a herald of rain.
It didn’t rain, though, at least not near where I was, but as I was climbing the hill immediately after leaving camp, I could see some cloud-to-cloud lightning off in the distance.
There were quite a few clouds this morning. I hoped they would last all day, but most of them were gone by mid-morning.
All of the great views today were in the morning, while the trail was climbing. Once it reached the day’s high point and started descending, it did so in the forest, which precluded there being a whole lot of views.
The morning also gave one of the best views of Mount Shasta so far, and it appeared largely unobstructed by any other hills.
I took my second break after 14.3 miles (and a little before noon) at Deer Creek Spring, a short side-trail off the PCT. True to its name, a deer was there when I arrived, munching on leaves. It disappeared into the foliage as I got closer, but it (or some other deer) would occasionally wander back out of the woods to get at leaves on the other side of the trail.
I collected water so I would again have cold water to drink. At least half a dozen bees in the area found their way into my water bag, and proceeded to drown in the water. Quite a few butterflies were also around; several of them took a liking to the salt on my pack.
The rest of the day was largely downhill, with a few short bumps, and was very easy to hike; I made pretty good time coming down the mountain, and if it weren’t for the heat, I probably could have made the 9.3 miles from Deer Creek Spring to Ash Camp and the McCloud River without needing to stop. Still, thanks to the friendly afternoon downhill, I made it to the campground faster than I expected.
Ash Camp is a car campground just off of the PCT, on the McCloud River. Near the campsite I set up at, the river had a small swimming hole (really, more of a wading pool), and I was able to rinse off in the river, though my feet didn’t like the relatively cold water very much, so it was hard to stay in the river too long.
I also saw a water snake, though I had left my phone back at the camp, so I wasn’t able to take a picture of it. It largely ignored me, though at one point, it swam over in my general direction, so I made a temporary hasty retreat from the water until it went away.
The campground also has a pit toilet. A bit hot inside, I described it as a “sauna”. 4 am suggested that it had a “distinctive odor”. (“Yeah, of shit,” I said.)
Dinner was fairly uneventful. The usual uninvited mosquitoes and gnats were there, as were some biting flies, and a lot of bees that seemed intent on investigating my stove, and my Crocs.
All the hikers from camp yesterday were here, spread out over three different campsites.
Tomorrow: Two big climbs, which aren’t going to be fun in the heat. At least the first one will be over before it gets too hot. I’d like to go 20ish miles, which would make for about 9 miles to the road into Mount Shasta, but both campsites and water are scarce in that area, so I’m going to have to pretty much wing it tomorrow afternoon based on how far I get in the morning and how I’m feeling.