Category Archives: Hiking
Adam Slobadian from Bozeman Montana is a fast hiker. His trail name is “Too Fast,” but he doesn’t really hike too fast, just faster and longer each day than the average hiker.
Adam averages between 35-40+ miles per day on the Pacific Crest Trail. He left Campo near the Mexican border on May 15th and he expects to reach Canada by mid August. Wow! A 2600 mile hike through rugged terrain in 3 months!
Adam had been wearing his Altra Timp hiking shoes for 720 miles by the time he got to Burney. He wore down soles and the cushions so it was time for a new pair.
Before reaching Burney he checked one of the PCT apps on which people record their experiences and recommendations for PCT friendly stops. He saw that the Word of Life Assembly of God Church welcomes hikers. PCT hikers can sleep overnight in the gym. Kathy Newton is very hospitable and helpful, and church members provide trail magic. He also read that they receive and hold packages for PCT hikers.
So Adam ordered a new pair of Altra shoes online and had them shipped to WOLA. He hiked the stretch along Hat Creek Ridge on July 2. Coming down to Baum Lake, he pulled out his cell phone to check reception when he was suddenly called back to attention by a rattlesnake.
“Hey Buddy! Pay attention to the trail!” the snake rattled.
Adam spent the night at Burney Mountain Guest Ranch, and on the morning of July 3, hiked down to 299 to hitch a ride into Burney. The third car that came pulled over. Inside was Rev. Ken Frazier, pastor of WOLA, who was on his way to the church.
I met Adam in the coffee shop as he was waiting for his shoes. If the shoes arrived early enough he was planning to head back out on the trail. If they didn’t come until late afternoon or early evening he planned to spend the night at the church.
Adam is 32 years old. He grew up in upstate New York in a town near Binghamton. He attended the University of Vermont where he studied philosophy and art. During that time, he spent a lot of time hiking the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
When he received his degree in 2009, the economy was still suffering. Adam read about Bozeman and decided to head West to see what the Rocky Mountains were like. For the first three months, he lived in a tent. His found a job as a dispatcher for a towing company. Then he was hired by a firm that trains professional accountants where he has worked successfully for the past 7 years.
Living in the East, Adam had wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. Living in Bozeman, he decided instead to try the PCT. He applied to his boss for leave explaining ways in which his absence would actually benefit the development of the company.
His boss said, “Sure, take six months off and enjoy yourself. We’ll see you when you get back.”
Because Adam is “Two Fast,” he hikes the trail mostly alone. Most hikers average 20 to 25 miles a day. When he has told some of the hikers the pace he sets, several have asked to join him thinking that it would increase their pace. It did, but after a few hours they would drop behind wanting to rest or linger for a while someplace along the trail.
For many hikers, “It’s the miles not the smiles.” For Adam it’s the miles and the smiles.
“The Pacific Crest Trail has been an amazing experience with incredible scenery and extremely generous and kind people that I will remember for a long time,” Adam said.
The Burney Mountain Guest Ranch is becoming a favorite stop for many Pacific Crest Trail hikers.
The ranch is located just one fourth of a mile off the PCT at mile 1407.2 on the trail. It’s a great place to rest, resupply, and charge up the cell phone. Wi-Fi is available. There are laundry facilities and showers. Because it is so close to the trail, hikers can rise early, have a good breakfast and get off to an early start on their day’s hike.
Mike and Linda Morse bought the ranch in 2014. They did a lot of work renovating the lodge and cabins and installing shower and laundry facilities.
Their timing was good. In December 2014, the movie Wild starring Reese Witherspoon came out. The movie is based on the 2012 memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed that reached No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
After the release of the movie, traffic on the PCT increased more than three times from 3000-4000 hikers to as high as 14,000 hikers each year.
“The world comes to us at the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch,” owner Mike Morse said.
Two weeks ago, I had given three hikers a ride out to the ranch. Today, my wife Linda and I decided to drive out to learn more about it. When we arrived we saw packs on the porch.
Three friendly hikers were resting and chatting outside: Uncle Jesse from San Francisco, Sheagol from France, and Radio from Roseburg, Oregon.
All three were thru-hikers who had hiked all the way from Campo, near the Mexican border, through the desert, over the Sierras, down into the Pit River Basin.
Sheagol and Radio had begun their hikes at the same time and had seen each other early on. Radio said he hikes about 25 miles a day and had taken about 10 zeros on the way. Sheagol likes to pace herself at 30 miles a day but had taken between 20 and 30 zeros. How interesting that after more than 2 months and 1400 miles hiking they ended up sitting together on the same bench at the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch.
Radio works for a winery. He had time before the harvest and life was at an impasse. He had never done long distance hiking before, but he decided that he would give the PCT a try.
He said that the experience was both an exciting adventure, meeting the challenges of the trail and seeing new things every day, but also a chance to think about his life. He said that one of the ways in which the hike affected him was that he felt more comfortable meeting people in new situations.
This prompted a discussion about anxiety and fear. Many people are plagued by anxieties and fears which are groundless. When one faces them, one finds that there is “nothing to fear.”
Then Sheagol pointed out the difference between this kind of angst and healthy fear that one feels when there is a clear and present danger or a life-threatening situation. Sheagol is an adventurous young woman who exudes a sense of confidence. She has worked numerous different jobs in France. and she flew over from France to hike the trail by herself.
Hiking the PCT there are lots of times one experiences fear resulting from clear and present danger. They said that while hiking the 600 mile stretch through the high Sierras in late June and early July, about 150 miles of it were still packed with snow. Streams and rivers were high and raging with the waters of the melting snow. In many places the trail is precipitous.
Radio told the story of one girl who was frozen with fear as she was crossing an icy fast moving creek. She came to a point where she could not move. Panic had paralyzed her. Her legs would not move. She just fell down on all fours and was in danger of being swept downstream.
Fortunately, Radio and several other hikers were there to help her to the other side where after a period of time she was able to calm down and regain her composure.
I went inside the lodge and met Mike and Linda Morse. There is a beautiful dining area, a piano, a delightful lounge area. The ranch serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Outside, there is a nice pool on the veranda with a lovely view.
Linda and Mike talked about the operation of the ranch.
“It’s half trail angel and half business,” she said.
Supplementing the amenities at the ranch, they are also trying to develop a network of trail angels to assist the hikers in various ways such as providing rides when needed.
Linda told of a young Irish hiker who had a severe tooth ache. She arranged a dental appointment with a local dentist and gave him a ride into town to see the dentist. The young man had a root infection. The dentist was able to prescribe needed medication. Linda later received a letter from the boy’s mother in Ireland saying, “Thank you for taking care of my son.”
In addition to providing services for PCT hikers, they also cater to fly fishermen and other vacationers. They offer a variety of family-friendly activities for guests, including games, horseshoes, a pool table, and a swimming pool.
After chatting for a bit, Mike showed us the store they had built for the hikers. The shelves were stocked with goods that had been suggested and requested by hikers.
As well as providing supplies, the store also has postal services. Hikers can have resupply packages sent to the store for them to pick up when they arrive, or they can ship packages.
Then Linda took us on a tour of the grounds and cabins. There is plenty of room for camping.
There is a small building with laundry facilities and showers for the hikers.
As we walked, Linda explained that the guest ranch is not for everyone. Alcoholic beverages and drugs are not allowed. She said that she has nothing against people partying but this is not the place for it. Their mission and passion is to provide guests with a welcoming, inspiring experience. There are several quiet areas set aside for reflection.
Mike and Linda are also starting a non-profit organization called Rapha Healing. Rapha is the Hebrew word for healing. Linda has a background in counseling and the mission of the organization will be to host leadership seminars and retreats for women’s groups, men’s groups, churches, and other organizations. She wants to have programs for veterans. Already they have hosted one group from Warrior Expeditions, an organization that provides veterans with everything they need to complete a long distance outdoor expedition at no cost to the veteran.
She showed us two cabins, each of which have one bunk bed room
and one very nice private room.
So hikers have a choice of simply camping outside overnight, sleeping in a bunk, or having a nice sleep in a big bed. Rates vary and the ranch offers several PCT specials that include a meal, laundry, pool use along with whatever lodging they choose.
After the tour, my wife and I enjoyed a delicious hamburger. While I ate I had a chance to talk with Hot Coffee, a hiker from Finland. Hot Coffee had hiked the mountains in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Wanting to try a longer hike, he chose the PCT.
Beginning in the south, he hiked through the desert and then took a four day break to fly back to Finland because there was a special occasion to celebrate with his 15 year old son.
When he returned he went to Dunsmuir and hiked to Ashland, then went back to Dunsmuir and hiked south through Burney Falls Park and then to the guest ranch. He planned to continue south over Hat Creek Ridge and Lassen.
He wasn’t planning to hike the Sierras yet. His whole family was coming over to the US to visit for 10-12 days and they were going together to Washington state, where he hoped to hike in the Cascades for 2 or 3 days with his son.
When his family returned to Finland, he would continue hiking in Washington and then if he had time, return south to hike the Sierras.
Hot Coffee began his PCT adventure on April 12. He was planning to continue hiking until he had to return home on October 31.
After we finished lunch, we went out to say goodbye to the hikers on the porch and met one more hiker from Denver named Snoop.
Friendliness, hospitality, peace and serenity in a beautiful scenic setting. The Burney Mountain Guest Ranch is indeed an inspiring oasis on the trail of life.
On Monday June 26, Linda and I stopped into Burney Falls Lodging to talk in with 2016 Honorary Mayor Nancy Bobo. As we were driving out, we saw two Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) hikers coming out of the office with their packs. I had only seen a few hikers this year and as yet hadn’t talked with any so I stopped to ask them about their experience on the trail.
Their names were Pecan and Walnut. They came from Illinois to hike the PCT and they have been married for 37 years. They began their hike on May 5 at Campo near the Mexican border and hiked through the desert area of Southern California. At Tehachapee one of them took a break and the other continued on to Acton. Then they took a break and went to San Diego for a rest.
After they had rested and recuperated, they skipped the Sierras and started the trail again from mile 1232 near Quincy.
This year there is still a lot of snow in the Sierras. (See Pacific Crest Trail 2017 site on Facebook). It is still very dangerous to hike through because of avalanches and flooding rivers.
According to Pecan and Walnut, most of those who have attempted so far are Europeans who are determined to thru hike the entire trail. They told me that there have been numerous rescues this year.
Many are skip hiking, hoping to complete the trip to Canada and then perhaps to come back and hike the Sierra portion later in the summer.
Pecan told me of one veteran who had just returned from a tour in Afghanistan. He thought that after serving in the mountains there he was ready for anything. He was carried 400 feet down mountain by an avalanche and almost lost his life. That narrow experience convinced him that the PCT Sierra stretch was too dangerous to cross this year.
Pecan and Walnut have been checking the snow map as they look forward. There are areas to the north in the Siskiyous and the Cascades that still have a lot of snow.
So we see, each year the trail is different. Two years ago, during the drought, there was little snow in the Sierras and hikers were able to hike through. Last year, the snow impeded progress in the Spring, but by late June hikers were streaming through. Peak season in the Intermountain area from Lassen to Shasta extended through July into early August.
To make it to Canada before the next winter snows set in hikers need to maintain a steady pace. Even in the areas where the snow pack is hikable, deep snow may slow the pace from a normal 20+ to seven miles a day, so it will really be a challenge for hikers to reach Canada by late September.
Since talking with Pecan and Walnut, I have begun to see more hikers. Traffic is picking up. I’m eager to hear more stories.
In late May, a trickle of trekkers begins to flow through the Intermountain area. This is the beginning of a stream of hikers making their way on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).
The PCT is a 2,659 mile long trail from the U.S. border with Mexico just south of Campo, California to the Canada–US border on the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia. It passes through 25 national forests and 7 national parks.
The PCT was conceived by Clinton Churchill Clarke in 1932 and received official status as a National Scenic Trail in 1968 under the National Trails System Act of 1968. The trail was officially completed in 1993.
Thru hikers are those who make the journey all the way from Campo to the Canadian border. One of the first things that they do as they join the PCT community is choose colorful trail names by which they will be known throughout their journey.
The journey takes about five months. Hikers generally begin the first part of their journey through the desert of Southern California in April. In order to make it to Canada by late September, they need to establish a steady pace. The pace varies with each hiker but generally averages between 20 and 25 miles a day. A few energetic hikers hike up to 30 miles a day. Sometimes the hikers take a “zero” day to rest. On “nero” days, the hikers take it easy and don’t hike the full pace that they have set.
One of the sayings of the trail is “It’s not the miles, but the smiles.”
But it’s not all smiles. Even in the spring, the first part of the journey through the desert is hot. Many suffer from blisters. People develop strategies to beat the heat, often resting during the hottest part of the day and hiking at night.
The next leg of the trek is through the Sierras. Depending on the snow pack, each year is different. During the drought, the trail was passable early. Last year, there was more snow, which caused a log jam in the southern Sierras as people waited for the snow to melt. Streams were high and perilous to cross. The early hikers had to cross miles of snow and camp in the cold.
Some hikers, like the Brit Family Robinson, decided to “skip hike,” renting a car to drive north.
The Brit Family Robinson had two of the youngest hikers on the trail last year, Pippy Longstocking, age 12 and Captain Obvious, age 10. Their father Christopher is an international trail guide who has hiked in the Himalayas, Mongolia, Alaska, and the Andes.
Other hikers, waiting for the snow to melt, congregated in towns and camps to rest and socialize. One 63 year-0ld hiker, Desert Steve from Henderson, Nevada, took the opportunity to go home and rest for two weeks before continuing on.
Once the trail becomes passable, the backlogged flow of hikers streams through the Sierras. The highest altitude on the trail is 13,153 feet as it passes though Forester Pass.
After passing over the Sierras, the trail meets the Cascade Mountain range near Chester, California. This is the midpoint of the journey. Crossing over Mt. Lassen the hikers enter the Pit River Watershed area as they descend to Hat Creek at Old Station. Old Station Post Office is one of the places that hikers can pick up resupply packages sent to them from friends and family.
The flow of hikers through the Intermountain area reaches its crest in July and early August. By that time the summer heat has hit our area. From Old Station, hikers transverse a thirty mile waterless stretch across Hat Creek Ridge to Cassel lake. This is one of the hottest driest stretches of the PCT.
Last year during the hot spell, a trail angel, Coppertone, set up his trailer on top of the ridge, where the trail crosses Bidwell Road to supply the hikers with water, fresh fruit, and ice cream floats. Coppertone is well known for his “trail magic.” He takes his trailer and sets up at locations all the way to Canada to minister to the hikers.
Trail angels are important benefactors of the PCT. Angels provide food and water stashes, camping sites and lodging, rides to and from the trail and other help. Another saying is “The trail provides.”
After crossing Hat Creek Ridge, the hikers come to Baum Lake. They can rest and get water at the Crystal Lake Fish Hatchery across the road.
Then the trail goes on to cross Hwy 299 where many hikers catch rides into Burney. Burney is a convenient place for hikers to rest, resupply, pick up packages, or even meet friends and relatives mid trail. Safeway, Dollar General, MacDonald’s, and Gepetto’s are some of the most popular stops. Some hikers like to take a day off to refresh and stay at local motels such as Burney Lodging.
Burney has a lot of trail angels. People have learned to recognize the large packs that PCT hikers carry to differentiate them from other hitchhikers. From late July into early August not a day goes by that one doesn’t see hikers walking along the highway, frequenting the restaurants and stores, or sitting outside Burney lodging.
Many locals enjoy meeting the hikers and giving them rides. PCT season provides an opportunity to meet and talk with people from across the country and all around the world.
One hiker from Israel named Animal Style left his Brooks Cascadia 11 Trail-Running shoes in a man named Bob’s truck when he got a ride into Burney. Animal Style was desperate. Good shoes are a necessity on a 2500 mile hike through rough terrain. After hours of searching, he was able to locate Bob and call him on the phone. Bob had returned home to Bieber but he drove all the way back to Burney to make sure that Animal Style had his shoes.
Ages of the hikers last year ranged from 9 years old to senior citizens. Most of the hikers are young college educated adventurers. Many have just finished school and are taking the opportunity to take the hike before beginning their careers or going on to graduate school.
One older hiker who came through last year was Donaju from Holywood, Northern Ireland. Donaju said he was a Royal Irish Ranger who had done eleven tours in Afghanistan. He had also served in a number of other hot spots. He was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail for the Wounded Warriors.
Several families hiked the trail together last year. Some seniors are taking a break to reflect on their life. Some hike for the challenge. Some hike to experience the diverse natural beauty and wildlife. In addition to thru hikers there are also local hikers and section hikers.
Section hikers hike only one section of the hike in a year. Then another year they may hike another section until they have hiked the entire trail.
One hiker named Sky Eyes said, ““When you hike the trail, you become a part of the Pacific Crest Trail family,” he said. “You meet different people from all over the world. You hike together with some of them. You camp together. You share food. Relationships are deeper than in normal life because you’re free from all of the business of the world. Everybody has the same needs.”
Some couples have met on the trail and later gotten married.
Since 2014 traffic on the trail has grown tremendously. Sky Eyes said that over 14,000 people hiked the trail last year. One of the reasons more people are hiking is the release of the movie Wild starring Reese Witherspoon in December 2014. The movie is based on the 2012 memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed that reached No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
We are fortunate to have the world pass through Pit River country on the PCT. After crossing Hwy 299, the trail progresses though the woods to Lake Britton and Burney Falls Park. The park has a campground frequented by many hikers.
Leaving the Park, the trail goes for a ways down Pit River Canyon and up to Rock Creek Falls. Then the trail heads northwest to Dunsmuir and then north for many more adventures in the Oregon and Washington Cascades.
Get ready, PCT season is coming.
A short video of Garett Costello and Kayla Trotter introducing their new business Intermountain Adventures at the Burney Chamber of Commerce Meeting on April 11. The video includes interesting and informative question and answer with Chamber members. You can also visit the Intermountain Adventures website.
On morning of July 31, my wife Linda and I drove to Old Station for the Volunteer Fire Department’s 35 Annual Chicken Barbecue, Raffle and Craft Show.
The craft show began at 10:30 a.m. and the barbecue began at 12 noon. A kind gentleman helped us set our canopy. Linda arranged her photo art, cards and artwork. We were looking forward to meeting a lot interesting people and enjoying the delicious chicken.
Just before 10:30 a.m., a curious, high-spirited man from Sacramento stopped by the booth to look at Linda’s cards. Why was he high-spirited?
Because he and two friends had just finished a 4-day hike of one section of the Pacific Crest Trail. Their trail names were Shady Lady, Head Heart, and TBD. They had hiked from Chester to Old Station. Normally, thru hikers do the hike in two days, from Chester to Drake’s Bay and from Drake’s Bay. However, since this trio was just doing one section they didn’t push themselves too hard planning so as to arrive in Old Station just in time for a nice chicken barbecue as a reward for their labors. The made friends with lots of PCT hikers and a friend from Sacramento came up to give them all a ride home.
Old Station is a stop for many hikers on the PCT. Many have resupply boxes shipped to the post office and they can rest a bit before the long waterless hike over Hat Creek Rim to Burney. As I meandered round amongst the crowd of fishermen, campers, hikers, tourists, and locals who had come for the barbecue, I met a hiker from Washington State. His trail name was “Walking Home” because he was walking home.
This was the second year that he was walking the trail. Last year he hiked as far as Chester. He ended the trek there because he wanted to take time off to visit his grandchildren. This year he hoped to complete the entire trail.
He had come into Old Station the day before to pick up a resupply package at the post office. The Post Office was closed but he thought it would be open today from 11 a.m- 2p.m.. It was just after 11 so I gave him a ride up to the Post Office. It was still closed. Other hikers were waiting there too.
Amongst them were “The Family” from Texas – Farwalker, Thunderfoot, Widowmaker, and Spinner. 13-year old Spinner is one of the young hikers on the trail this year. When I first met her mom, Widowmaker, I thought she might be Mama Bear.
“No,” she said, “I’m not Mama Bear,’ but I know her. She’s a little ahead of us. I think she might be in Burney today.” Alas! I missed Mama Bear. She is hiking with her 9-year old son, the youngest thru hiker of the year.
Widowmaker told me that she is happy that there are several families hiking the trail this year, amongst them Brit Family Robinson and Swiss Family Robinson. She said that many of the young hikers are “party hikers.” So it’s nice to have families too to socialize with.
She also told me that there are quite a few retirees hiking the trail. One recently retired man told her that hiking the PCT is the perfect thing to do right after retiring. It’s an inexpensive vacation, you get to enjoy tremendous natural beauty, and you have plenty of time to think about your life.
She told me about one pair of friends, aged 70 and 73 who were thru-hiking. One of them was wearing a diabetic pump.
There certainly is a lot of diversity on the PCT!
Most of the hikers waiting wanted to stay to see if someone would come to open the Post Office. Walking Home decided to go back to the barbecue to get some chicken and then come back.
I dropped him back at the fire station. I wanted to get away from people for a little bit so I took a short drive up to the Mt. Lassen vista point for a short walk.
On my way back, I stopped to see if the Post Office was open yet. It wasn’t. The Family was getting hungry. When I told Widowmaker that each meal had half a barbecued chicken, she jumped in the Jeep to drive down and pick up some to go meals for her family.
While she got her meals, I checked on Linda. Traffic at the craft fair was slow and Linda was suffering from the heat. I talked for awhile with Elaine Lainier from the Fire Chiefs Association of Mt Shasta who had a booth to recruit firefighters.
Widowmaker came out with five big to go chicken dinners and I drove her back to the Post Office. The Post Office wasn’t open yet but the postmaster had arrived and said it would be open at 1 p.m. The Family sat down to enjoy their meal.
When I got back to the fire station, I bought a huge chicken dinner for Linda and I – a gigantic half chicken, potato salad, green salad, baked beans and garlic bread! Then for dessert vanilla ice cream with really flavorful strawberries. Two cups of lemonade helped to cool us off.
I had to park in front of the vacant building next to JJ’s, When I did I notices a bevy of PCT hikers lounging on the porch.
One of them was Hawkeye from England. Another was Animal Styles from Israel. I didn’t get the other names. Several in the background were sleeping. They had deemed it too hot to hike the Hat Creek Rim and were resting till early evening. Then they planned to night hike to Burney. I gave them all a card and told them if they needed a ride into Burney the next day from the trailhead to give me a call.
Later, when I was going to move my car closer to the craft show. a hiker named Desert Steve approached and asked if I were the man from Burney. I said yes. He asked if I were going to Burney now because he could use a ride to Burney Falls.
I told him that I hadn’t planned on leaving yet because we were set up selling stuff. But then I went over and talked with Linda. She was really hot, but she said she wanted to go one more hour and then start packing up. I told her there was a man who wanted a ride to Burney Falls and asked if she minded if I gave him a ride.
“If you want to!” she replied.
I went back to the area where the hikers were resting but Desert Steve had already left to try to hitch a ride.
For more see Desert Steve goes to Burney Falls
See also Night hikers make it to Burney