I realized I hadn’t posted in almost a week….surprisingly, not too many folks concerned about this or my whereabouts 😉
The evening before hiking into Castella I started thinking about the likelihood of 100+ miles of snow on the next section to Etna. After that there is a bit of dry trail and then we hit the Crater Lake area which is buried in snow. I did some quick math in my head I realized I could take a couple weeks off trail and let things melt and probably catch up to where I would be if I continued to slog through the snow. Luckily, I had some phone service while hiking into town and started to check out transportation options.
After a couple hours of deliberating my options (both hiking-wise and transportation home) I made the tough decision to take 3 weeks off trail and fly back to Colorado. The final decision was definitely influenced by the fact I found a flight out of Redding, CA (a quick 40 mile hitch down the highway) that departed at 5:45am and had me back to CO by noon, and all this could be had for 12,000 frequent flyer points and $75. Not bad for booking 12 hours before departure. It also worked out that my vacation rental in Frisco, CO is vacant for two of the weeks so I can relax in the mountains while trying to maintain some level of my thru-hiker fitness.
Loco-Bronco were a bit jealous of my schedule flexibility… they have a hard deadline and need to finish by (~Aug 25) for Loco’s new job. The good news is I got an update from them the other day and they had made it to Etna. It sounds like quite a bit of the trail was south facing so it was drier than expected but there were several sketchy snow sections and about 300 downed trees (think obstacle course). I will be interested to hear their updates when they get through Crater Lake.
The way things line up for me now I will come back to the trail and continue hiking northward to Canada ~July 10 which will hopefully get me to Canada the end of August. Then I will get back to Chester, CA (where we jumped to when we aborted the Sierras) and hike Southbound through the Sierras finishing right around the Fall Equinox (~Sept 20). I’m excited to hike the Sierras that time of year as the Aspens change and the bite of fall will surely start to make an appearance.
The whitewater creek in the first pic is Meadow Creek on the way to Lilly Pad lake (above). Notice how it has a bridge!…so civilized!