Couldn't have my coffee this morning because a squirrel bombed Lionheart and me with pine cones--big, heavy pine cones with th seeds still in them. It dropped about seven of them from way up in the trees, and lucky number seven nailed my mug of hot water, spilling it in the dirt. Hiked 25 miles to pct mile 1799. More than 2/3 done with the trail now.
Lots of hikers flipping up to Canada to hike south through WA and OR to avoid bad weather. I think it would feel pretty anticlimactic to see the northern terminus in Canada before actually finishing. I want to go from Mexico to Canada, south to north, come what may. Hiked 23 miles to pct mile 1750.
Showed up at 7 a.m. for the pancake challenge to eat five one-pound pancakes within two hours. I failed miserably, eating only two, and I could barely keep the last few bites of the second pancake down. One thing I hadn't anticipated: pancakes get cold, so after a half hour you're choking down cold pancake. Apparently, only two people have won the challenge in the past five years, and one of them was a pro competitive eater. The old polaroids of hikers who have won are no more recent than 2003, 2001, 1998.... Thanks to Lionheart, Ladykiller, and the southbounders for cheering me on. After a short rest to digest, I hiked 21 miles to pct mile 1683.
Hung out in Etna for some birthday celebrations--mine, Belgian Red's and Gone Slow's. Hiker Hut trail angels baked a couple of yummy birthday cakes. Lionheart, Apache, Sierra Bum, and lots of others in town. Cream Tea and Skedaddle got me the beautiful birthday present pictured below. It must weigh over a pound, and they're making me carry it.
When I was back in Shasta, Double Sprainbow had asked me if I'd seen many rattlesnakes lately. She'd seen a few. I hadn't seen any since the southern deserts. Until today. I had a really, really close call with a rattler. It was under some manzanita bushes around a bend in the trail. It started writhing and rattling, and I, fighting forward momentum, started performing some sort of tiptoe and trekking pole dance, practically on top of it. But I then backed away, and it slithered off the trail.
No photos of the rattler, but here a some cool pitcher plants.
Hiked 20 miles to pct me 1533.
Took a zero in Shasta. Was nostalgic walking around, as this was the first town I experienced when moving to California 10 years ago. A lot of the downtown has stayed the same. Many of the shops are the same inside and out. Was even touched by the sight of the DMV, where I got my California license.
Kazu came through town, and we shared some local Lemurian lager while she showered and packed up her resupply. Later, when we were sitting behind Berryvale, a guy tossed us a bunch of bananas, blew us a two-handed kiss, and said 'We love you."
Caught up with Scat Tracker and showed her that photo of scat that appeared five feet from my tent one morning some days ago. She thinks it's from a bear. Wow.
Hiked 16 miles to Burney Falls SP, pct mile 1423. I was on my way to do 5 more miles but ran into One Pint and wound up sharing a campsite with One Pint, Jon, Hannah, Bryce, Brad, and Melissa. Felt great to shower, wash and hang laundry, and eat some soft serve ice cream.