When I asked Cake and Righteous how their hike had been through the Sierras they both laughed.
“Very exciting and challenging,” they said.
They said that during their one month making their way through the Sierras, only about 20 percent of their time was spent on the actual trail. The rest was spent making their way through snow, climbing up and down rock faces, and whacking their way through the brush.
Righteous said that he thinks that now the trail through the Sierras may be back to normal. I think that there really is no normal for the Pacific Crest Trail.
I picked the two hikers as they were hitching a ride out of Burney to the PCT trailhead on 299. Righteous is from Los Angeles and Cake is Phoenix.
Both hikers said that they had seen bear around South Lake Tahoe. Righteous saw one in town and Cake had one pass through his camp at about 2 a.m. in the morning. I told them that the bear population has been increasing in this area since the state outlawed the use of dogs for hunting.
“Is that why they are posting for people to put their food up in bear canisters in Lassen Park,” he asked.
“I’m not sure,” I told him. “I think that that is just a reasonable precaution because there are a lot of bears.”
They asked if we had cougar in the area. I said yes. Both hikers felt that there were times when a cougar had been watching them.
Yesterday they hiked over Hat Creek Ridge in temperatures over 100 degrees. Righteous is pretty sure that he heard the rattle of rattlesnake in the bush by the trail as he passed by. He said that he had seen dozens of rattlesnakes during his passage through the desert in Southern California.
Last night, they stayed at the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch and then came into Burney today.
I asked if they felt they were on track to make it to Canada.
“I think that we are,” Righteous said. “I’m hoping that we don’t have anymore fire delays.”
I told him that it was just in the past week that we had begun to have serious fires.
“You mean Chester?” he asked
“No,” I responded as I pointed to the east and told him about the Adin fire.
We arrived at the junction with Cassel road where I dropped them off. They were planning to take an hour heat break before starting north. When I told them that it was only about 8 miles to Burney Falls, they asked if I thought that that was a good place to stop for a break.
“Sure!” I said. “You’ve got the falls, a store with ice cream, and I think there may even be a campground for PCT hikers there.”
They were smiling when they left.