Etna to Castella 23rd August After a lovely breakfast and a refreshing stay in Etna we hopped into our pre arranged lift in a pick up truck back to the trail.
At the pass we met two north bounders with their hiking dog and exchanged tales of the hike. We all enjoyed listening to other hikers experiences and we could also glean information from north bound hikers on the conditions ahead for us. We joined up with Svein and Ron for the day and the four of us continued our chat as we hiked along sub alpine terrain to camp at twilight after 21 miles.
On the next day we split up again as Ron headed off early from camp and we followed on meandering through trees and meadows with distant views out to the volcanic cone of Mt Shasta.
It was here that we met Dave and Gretchen who were spending the whole summer up in the mountains with their horses and had done so for the previous 5 years. Although they were ‘roughing it’ in the wilds, Dave was keen on electronics and enthusiastically showed us his gadgets including TV, radio, laptop and even a fan to cool his chickens – all powered by batteries charged by solar panels! A local trail maintenance crew joined us as we chatted in the trees next to the grazing horses in a meadow. Dave and Gretchen were a wonderful example of how people can live away from the dependence of a ‘9 to 5’ job out here in the US and we took our hats off to them.
We reluctantly dragged ourselves away to hike on south past Scott Mountain road pass and up to camp beside a natural spring. The PCT took us through the Trinity Alps here, however we managed a wee short cut on the Trinity River Trail as the PCT swept in a huge arc round the river valley whist we dropped straight down and climbed back up on trail-less terrain to rejoin the PCT. Some pitcher plants were growing on a marshy meadow next to a spring here- this is a carnivorous plant that feeds on insects by trapping them in a sticky nectar.
Our camp that evening on the 25th August was at beautiful Porcupine Lake high up at 7,200 feet in the Trinity alps and nestled under steep hills. The water was cold so we managed only a short but worthwhile dip before cooking dinner by the lakeshore. That evening as it was getting dark, two people came rowing across the lake to us – on a log! They brought kind offerings of popcorn and it turned out they lived nearby in Shasta City and visited the lake frequently. I marveled at their ability to steer and row the log without falling-in in the dark!
We dropped down past scenic Castle Crags to tiny Castella- a garage, store and post office with a nearby campsite. To our delight it had a section marked ‘Reserved for PCT hikers’ .