The Gratitude Cafe Part 5

DAY 44 & DAY 45 - Ashland to Etna to Campsite 1714km & campsite 1754.2km

Driving in cars with the boys

It's so great to be back on trail. Things just feel right out here. Simple. Complicated in other ways. It really puts in to perspective how stupidly crazy stressful we make our lives in city living. We all really need to slow the bloody hell down!!

Anyways, I was very kindly offered a ride with an amazing trail angel from Ashland (Pauline!) around the Etna fire closure to get myself back to the trail. Pauline was one of the most open minded and intelligent women I have met out here. I am eternally grateful for her sincere kindness for getting me back on the trail. She even hiked a bit of the PCT herself today! 

The smoke from the fires is pretty outrageous and seeing helicopters fly overhead dropping water on surrounding areas is quite an eye opener as to how severe these fires actually are. 

But California is beautiful so far! The terrain is so different to that of both Washington and Oregon. I can feel the desert vibe already. Lots of rock, sand and dry dirt, but interestingly there's been a little more water so far than Oregon was delivering. 

After the drive from Ashland to Etna (which was roughly 1.5 hrs), I started hiking at 11:30am. It's an intense time to start as the sun is around it's most scorching rays. A lot of elevation to get back into the mountains, but it was a most rewarding elevation, unlike a lot of Oregon. The elevation had some incredible ridge walking. It makes the climb a lot nicer if you have amazing surroundings and not just trudging up dirt and trees. 

Of course with the fires around, I was bound to make my path through burn downs again. The temperatures out here are high! I could compare it to hiking a summer trail in Australia. It's quite unpleasant, really, but there's nothing one can do. Just keep hiking. It's only a little heat. As long as the fluids are kept up, that's the main issue in this heat. 

Stopping for breaks and food is not what is priority in this temperature. It's funny how the body just wants water. It wants as much hydration as possible. That's one major component that the PCT has thrown at me out here; knowing what your body wants and needs. It's two incredibly distinct and opposing requests. 

I have gained a lot of clarification on my body's needs. Hydration, fuel and rest. My three major needs. What it wants is a shower, but it doesn't need it! Haha

The gorgeous rocky ridges of California are just delightful to trek on. I'm back to solo hiking and I have started to wonder about all things Gretel again. Well, American Idol. Haha 

I thought I would divulge more into the young Gretel. In interviews, you are allotted a certain amount of time to address the topic at hand, and not all of your response makes it to the television, online video or print. And let's be honest, most of the time the questions revolve around something to do with dancing and singing as a child. I thought I'd share the other side of Gretel. The bit that gave me immense balance.

The last two days have got me thinking about my attraction to the outdoors. My mum couldn't think of anything worse than what I am doing right now, yet she happily (and willingly) allowed me to do this! My dad was always the one who was outdoors with us when he got he chance to not being doing house chores whilst mum looked after the baby. But most of all, my brothers.

In case some of you don't know, I have 5 siblings. All boys. And yes, all from the same mum and dad. We did have a TV. 

I grew up on the outskirts of Rockhampton in Central Queensland. Actually, the outskirts of Gracemere. Actually, can I even refer to it as outskirts?! It was a decent 45 minute drive out of town to a little place called Kabra. Kabra was one road with about 6 houses. There was a train line that would deliver coal to the power stations nearby and I lived on a property with a big front yard, back yard and a paddock. There was a little bus stop out the front, that we made of tree trunk logs. We lived on rain water; still the greatest water I will ever drink. We had a huge water tank attached to the house and it was our only drinking water. The shower and sink water was all from the bore. My grandma lived directly next door to us and my window in my room overlooked her house. My room was shared with the baby - Walt or Denzel, depending on the years! We were that "outback" I had a snake under my bed which my grandma had to remove with an old hockey stick. She was the greatest at removing snakes from the house! Our house was simple. No bells and whistles. We didn't come from great money. Dad worked his butt off to support us and mum raised the babies. We couldn't afford the luxuries in life, but somehow I always felt like a princess in my little room. I made it my haven. It was probably still the most simple I have ever felt. I miss that house more than people would truly know. 

The bus would pick us up for school at 7:30am and we would be at school just before the bell rang at 9am. The same thing in the afternoon. After we arrived home, we quickly jumped in the shower and got dressed in the car for dancing lessons, whilst mum drove us into class with the baby in the car seat (dad was still at work). It was a long travel, but it was all we knew. I still, to this day, have great water bills! I've mastered a 30 second shower!! Ask my sister in law. ;)

Every morning, I would get up around 6:45am (ozstyle aerobics was just finishing on channel 10 in time for Cheese TV at 7am) and make my breakfast. Dad left for work early mornings and mum was with the baby (whichever one!) so we had to be capable. I knew how to make my own food quite young. My two older brothers, Levi and Reuben, used to do it, so I followed suit (just like I tried to follow suit in the toilet training department... hmmm somehow peeing standing up just doesn't work for a girl?! But I was trained fast!). I just wanted to be like them. They knew how to do everything and I was willing to learn. I didn't want to be slower than them, even though they were clearly older!

I never felt the pressure from them, however, I just didn't want to ever let them down. I have a lot to thank from my two older brothers. My eldest brother, Levi, used to make majority of the rules and we just followed suit. One thing Levi never did was leave me out. He never said the words "Oh she can't cause she's a girl". If they went to the creek, he just invited me. If we went biking riding, we all went bike riding. If we went exploring in the bush, we all went exploring. And he never complained. Neither did Reuben. We just all went.  

My love for the outdoors grew from these two boys. There was something so incredibly exciting exploring around the bushes where we lived. We got up to such mischief, but there was always something new. From running into great big spider webs, running away from cows, riding down gigantic dirt roads, swinging from trees into unknown depths of creeks, trekking through private property, walking along train tracks, boogie boarding in flood waters, building cubby houses; it was all never ending creativity. We didn't need iPhones, television, toys and swimming pools. We had each other and the world around us. Interestingly, we all have barbed wire scars too and I wear mine with pride. 

I was what you would label a tomboy, however, I never felt like a boy with my brothers. I felt looked after and cared for. They always made sure I was safe and got home when mum and dad said (except for that one time they used me for a 'buried alive' attempt and put me in a test trench that they had dug)!!

My two eldest siblings never labeled me. Mum and dad brought a girl into the family and neither of them saw that as a hindrance. They just made it work. 

I asked mum about that recently, in reference to whether the boys ever complained about having me around and her answer was "they never said a thing". 

Running around barefoot with my two older brothers was where it all began. I realised today it's why I love the open fields and ridges! It reminds me of my days spent running around with them. I am eternally grateful to have them in my life and I don't think they realise how important they are to me. Everyone knows I value family, but this is a different value. I don't play favourites with my brothers. They all have outstanding qualities and I love them all equally for everything they do and mean to me. However, my two eldest will always hold a special place for me. I know I get the opportunities to have them at opening nights and watch me do my thing on stage and tv etc, but I'd give anything to go camping with them and share it all again. 

This is the side of Gretel that people don't get to see or hear me talk about. It's the side that creates the balance. I grew up dancing and singing 6 days a week. I set out to achieve my goals of being a performer. But I also ran around as a kid in the outback. My Sunday's were filled with sun, dirt and creeks (and homework, but I always got that done! Haha).

My siblings were, and are still, my best friends. They truly are the best link to my past and the people who are most likely to stick with me in the future. Every city, opening night tickets go to a sibling first. They are my number ones. 

I know in the past, people often turned their nose up when I said my siblings were my best friends; as if it depicts a slight anti-social quality about me. However, I have broad shoulders. My siblings are my friendship network. When you grow up in a big family, in a small township outside of a main town, your siblings are your connections. You can't just go over to "jessies" place to hang. If all 6 of us wanted to hang at different peoples houses, that's some epic family taxi efforts!! So it was us. A tribe. 

This probably explains a lot as to why I do the things I choose to do. It probably points to the reason why some people said "of course you are" when I said I was off to hike the PCT. Surprise, surprise. Another weird thing Gretel is doing! Ha!

There was something incredibly poignant about the fact that my eldest brother was there when I decided to hike the PCT. I found out a few weeks later that he immediately went away and started researching all this information about it. He was super excited that I was going on this epic journey. He still sends me trail info, eclipse information and updates as I go (accompanied by cute videos of my niece). I love that he allows her to play and explore. She runs around barefoot and gets dirty in the mud and under the backyard hose. I see part of my childhood in her and that makes me proud. 

When you solo hike, it's best to try and think of things that have been on your mind. In scorching summers heat, this can make the day go by a little easier. But that question has been playing on my mind, trying to figure out where it all began. I am eternally grateful for my brothers never leaving me out of their awesome outdoor plans and for never unfriending me because I was a sister. A girl. In a world where women are continually struggling for equality in the workplace and everyday situations, I am incredibly proud to have been raised amongst a bunch of boys, whom my parents taught how to respect women and treat us as equals. 

It's no wonder when all my siblings found out I was hiking the PCT, that not one of them responded gobsmacked or freaked out! They cheered me on and have wished me well. Thank you, boys. I love you all dearly. Now, hike on!

- Gx

DAY 46 - campsite 1754.2km to White Ridge tensite

Hot. Bloody hot. Northern California during fire season is like walking around Rockhampton without shade for 12 hours. It's rough. I'm drinking so much water, and for those who know me, I never drink water. I am needing water more than food these last few days. I am constantly looking at my map to see where the next stream is in order to refill. And I still get to camp at night wanting more water!! Go figure!

The smoke from the fires is constantly rolling in. There's parts of the trail that I am walking through, smelling and breathing a continuous campfire. Then I realise no one is around and it's just the burn from the 958 current fires! 

The smoke actually doesn't bother me too much. I still sing through it all, but I have a feeling it's adding to the extreme thirst. I'm wondering if I would be this thirsty on a normal Northern California hike?

So, just when you think you are out of the woods (pun intended), you actually realise shit just got worse. Not only am I still dealing with massive sized bear footprints on the trail, now we add mountain lion paw prints and territorial urine stench AND the good old rattle snakes. 

Yep. It's all happening in Northern California. Plus, I am one of the only SOBO's in this area at the moment with a few up ahead and a decent amount behind. So I am sort of leading this little section. With the North bounders starting to dissipate off this section, things are getting quiet. Especially with the fire closures. Section and day hikers aren't choosing Etna to hike. I actually crossed paths with no one today. So that doesn't seem pleasant for the lovely wildlife around me. No one else is making noise and warning the animals of the activity in the area. So I'm having to do it all myself! No big deal when you cannot live without music or singing like myself, but my uphill climb and diaphragm support is getting super amazing! Haha 

As much as the never ending presence of smoke is around me, I still see what beautiful landscape California presents. It's vast! It's over half of the PCT! It's a gigantic state and I'm looking forward to seeing it all change as I advance on. 

It was a pure relief finally heading into a section of trees. This lasted about 30 metres!! I miss the woods. I cannot believe I just said that, but I do. The Washington woods were exquisite. They were such a shelter from the heat and now, I'm just cooking like a crab out here!

I still find it amazing that the body still has all of its aches and pains. It's just 'hiker body'. Standing up is like Bambi taking his first steps. Then once you start walking, you feel like tin man. Nothing is properly oiled and it's painful to step one foot in front of the other. Then the engine just starts and somehow, by some god given miracle, you are actually walking. Something that felt so impossible at 6:00am. 

But the funny thing is, everyone says you have to take rests throughout the day. Well, technically no one has to do anything, but seriously, a sit down rest is heaven! However, try getting back up. Holy mother of god. You feel like you've actually never walked before, or your epidural is wearing off. Then 10 secs later, tin man comes to life again! Hallelujah! We are walking again.

It's a vicious hiking cycle and I was contemplating in laying down horizontal for about 6 weeks and hiring a chef, maid and assistant, after I get to Mexico. 

I set up camp on top of an amazing ridge. Apparently it has an incredible view of Mt Shasta. I can't see anything because of old Smokey! But it's just an awesome location to camp. I'm getting used to my new tent and becoming more accustomed to finding my comfort set up. 

It's quiet here. Stillness. There is a full moon shining down and everything is calm. I really do love it out here. It feels like home.

- Gx

DAY 47 & 48 - White ridge campsite to Castella castle crags Campground to Campsite 1846.8km

Everybody's ready for a change

STILL FREAKING HOT! It was a definite 40+ degree day and I felt myself overheating more than ever. It was, in no way, pleasant and definitely had me considering 'do I stop and rest for the day, or do I keep moving?' It was hard to know whether to keep moving through the heat or call it a day. 

I ran into a fellow Australian SOBO who definitely compared it to an Australian hike and said how unbearably awful it was; so I'm not being a drama queen! Ha!

The smoke blowing in from all of the fires is dampening every possible view. The close proximity views are visible but everything beyond is a pure haze of a hot, grey, soft lense focus. I suppose one thought that has crossed my mind over these last few days is appreciating the most immediate of circumstances. When you don't have the incredible distant mountains to show off their beauty and sensational peaks and valleys, then you really have to seek the beauty in the things that surround you, within clear seeing distance. 

I suppose in someway that is a lesson in life, again. A close similarity to the concept of 'the grass is always greener'. There's no point in feeling torn and negative in regards to the things you currently don't have or want. Seeing the good in the moments that are current or right in front of you is really where true happiness can be found. 

It's a shame, and it's hard at times, not having the greatest of views at the moment, but part of the fun is the climb; as excruciating as it is. How unsatisfyfing would life be if we were all fabulous at everything we set out to do or got everything we wanted? You may as well just stay home, because you probably aren't the nicest of human beings anyway. There's something humbling about people who have to strive for things and don't just expect greatness to be delivered to them. And there's something even more humbling in reference to people who don't always get everything, yet they appreciate what they have. 

Don't be selfish. Don't be greedy. Recognise the great things you have right now and see the wonders in what currently surrounds you. And remember, with the advent of social media, some people have the power to make their lives seems more beautiful than they really are. Let's no be fooled. Appreciate your immediate beauty. 

The day continued to a scorching 46 degrees Celsius. It was insane and a little out of control. I was feeling every bit of the heat and guarding every bit of my water. It's crazy to think that we are all drinking anywhere between 6-10litres of water a day. It's that dehydrating out here! 

On my way into my next resupply town, I happened to meet a whole bunch of SOBO boys (Captain Underpants, Jingle, Cowboy Coffee and Dirt Face) who were hiking into Castella too! These are a selection of awesome guys. So much genuine kindness and amazing conversation. It was nice to touch base with people after hiking solo for a week. Dirt Face is from Australia too! We've been hearing much about each other from people ahead and behind saying 'Have you met the other Australian?!' So it was awesome to finally actually meet and talk all things Australia (and the terrible jokes people make about the things we say)!

My resupply package contained a prepackaged tube of Vegemite, and Dirt Face was in heaven! We even convinced Captain Underpants into having some Vegemite and butter on bread!! He approved and thoroughly enjoyed. We did good. We were proud Aussies. 

Our campground at Castella was a hiker trash paradise. We chilled out on a hot and terribly balmy evening. The boys were all cowboy camping (just sleeping on the ground) and I had set up tent. I'm not into chipmunks, mice and ants in my sleeping bag, or mosquitoes eating my face. So cowboy camping isn't on my bucket list! But, it was so unbearably hot, I slept with my tent open and doors unzipped. I suppose that's one step closer to cowboy camping... who knows what will happen! Never say never!

By the way, Mexico is 2379.2kms away! Hahaha

I busted my shoe hiking into Castella. I've been trying so hard to make these shoes last, as I DO NOT WANT NEW SHOES. But it's got to happen soon. So, I did a bit of wardrobe assistance and hand stitched them back together!! Desperate times call for desperate measures. 

That's actually what the PCT is about. Survival. How you handle things under minimalistic situations. When you think it's the end of something or the end of your trail, somehow you figure out a way to keep going. You just do. And you don't make excuses. Something that would seem like the greatest drama in everyday life, is actually totally capable if you just stop and think a) 'how can I fix this right now' and b) 'if I can't, it is really the end of me?' It's simple. 

I found Mary Poppins again! Amazing! I needed to wait for a package to arrive and so did she. Perfect timing because we both set back on trail at the same time. We bypassed the boys down by the river. They were planning on hiking into the night, so were enjoying beers and food by the river... for hours!!! 

We followed the river to find our way back to the PCT. Interestingly, the river didn't lead to the PCT. So with some incredible navigational skills, we climbed ourselves over a rock and tree wall to find a road that google maps was showing me. Hooray! It was a great little side adventure, albeit scary considering the epic poison oak around us. We washed ourselves off at the first stream on trail. 

Again, it's nice to be back out on trail. It's even more wonderful to hike with Poppins again. She has intelligent and insightful thoughts to offer this world, and there's an incredible calmness surrounding her energy. Not to mention, our mutual love for Tori Amos. It's a hard hike tomorrow, so early night, early rise, a lot of uphill and I'll see you on the other side.

- Gx

DAY 49 & 50 - Campsite 1846.8km to Ash Camp to Mooseheaf creek campsite. 

I finally got my Mt Shasta view! The smoke has been slowly clearing and the mountains are arising in the distance. Ideally, the last 5 days should've shown views of this beauty of a peak, but the fires have been veiling all these surroundings. It's no big deal. It's life and it's what the PCT has offered this years hikers. 

But for some reason, seeing these views makes me appreciate them even more because it has taken so much patience to receive them. 

The day was hot - again. Surprise. Not as hot as the previous days, but hot enough to enjoy a swim in the river during lunch break. We have a nice little bubble of hikers at the moment. Zack, Angela, Shameless, Tall Joe, Mary Poppins and Myself. We have all been hiking and camping together, a few miles apart but all within the same vacinity. 

This creek was an absolute blessing to cool down the day. We were pushing toward a 45km day, so every refreshing element was worth it. 

This section of Northern California was forest ridden but dry. I assume the heat had a lot to do with that, but it was still pleasant, as sweaty as I was. Hiking in heat is not my favourite thing in the world. It's a reason I actually don't like a lot of Australian hiking. If I do, I prefer the wetlands, Kosciusko or Tasmania. The more moisture in the vegetation, the better. It's just a personal preference. So days like these incredibly temperate ones, are slightly soul destroying and takes a  lot to enjoy the sweat dripping down your face, the the bugs flying in your mouth and nose, the heat radiating from the enormous back pack, the water carrying and drinking capabilities, the sun beating down for hours straight across shadeless stretches... you get the gist. It's not for the faint hearted. 

We were exhausted as we literally crawled into camp. It was a big and hot day, but the worst and best thing was hearing the roar and claps of huge thunder and lightening strikes. A storm was rolling in! The skies were beginning to spit. I found my campsite for the night and began smashing my tent pegs into the ground. 

It was a beautiful campsite along the banks of this flowing river pictured below...

However, the ground was not that kind. Staking my tent was a tedious and painful process, and whilst the thunder was teasing up above, I was under the gun to try and get all of my house set up and prepared for the storm.

Now the funny thing is, I love my new tent, but I am sure some stealth hunters have been having a decent chuckle at my set up process. It's hilarious and something I am getting better at the more I do it. However, one does not expect a storm within a week and a half of using their new tent. When storms arise, tent staking is a serious business! You can't just leave air pockets and flys loosely attached. You have to stake it as close as possible to the ground to prevent wind gusts from ripping up the tent stakes. 

Funny part is, this ground that I was staking in to, was like smashing a nail through cement. The ground was hard and solid. Rocks everywhere. I was smashing the pegs into the surface as hard as possible, but I'd smash one and the other side of the tent would collapse because that side tent peg would release! It was a fun game. Next time when a storm is brewing, think yourself lucky at how easy it is to GO HOME FOR THE NIGHT!!

After staking the tent (with extra rocks to hold down the fly) solid like it was the Marina Bay Sands, there was not a drop of rain over night. I awoke to a completely dry tent... 

So off on the next days hike I started. It was a huge 16km climb to start the day - DELICIOUS! Because we all know how much I love an uphill. About an hour into my hike, things changed!! A huge clap of lightening and thunder and Boom!

Everything turned green again. The air was filled with moisture and it all glistened. What a change! After 40 degree excessive days, this was a delight. I lapped up every moment of it. There was dirt on my hands and pieces of mud hitting my legs, and I didn't care one iota! This was my reward. The climb continued throughout the rain and it was a blessing. It was freezing, yet I was keeping my temperature up with the uphill hiking. I was thrilled. Actually, our whole bubble of 6 SOBO's were ecstatic. When we all caught up for lunch, we shared in the joy of what we had finally got to experience.

Reaching the top of the 4-5hour climb, saw blue skies and clear views. My, how things were changing.

This next section of the day was one of my favourite on trail. I was climbing over a total of 13,000 feet today, but this was worth every minute. Ridge walking around Northern California with extreme cloud cover, aw myself walking through clouds!! It was magical. I had waited for a moment to take my breath away. And this did. I was Alice again. In her wonderland. No one was bringing me down off this ridge. Everything was filled with colour again. The smoke from previous sections was rolling out and incoming was fresh and clean mist. 

Walking through this section was almost like reoxygenating oneself. It was overwhelming how much clarity it provided and such a reset of pure energy. I was lucky to be standing here, experiencing this moment. Not many can say they have literally floated with the clouds. 

The sky was creating absurdly beautiful changes throughout the day. As I walked further south, the feilds were lining the PCT, almost as if I was taking a walk in the Emerald City. They were luscious and green, and still holding on to their drink from the morning rain.

As angry as the skies were looking, there was no more rain after midday, but the skies were moving their grey further north and it was magnificent to catch a glimpse of the suns rays attempting to show face behind the thickness of cloud. I was happy not to see the sun for majority of the day. It's had it's fair share of PCT. A little cloud cover never hurt anyone. 

As I was coming in towards my camp site for the evening, I was reflecting to myself on the wonders of the universe and how the weather can control our emotional response to nature. Change is good for the soul, and out here, the PCT proves that. You can only walk for so long in scorching heat before things become unbearable. Your mind wanders. Hiking gets even tougher than it already is. We all need change. Even the world around us needs change. The trees and plants need change. The wildlife. It's ok to need change. It's actually healthy. Without change, we don't recognise how toxic things can be around us. Let change happen. Nine times out of ten, its most likely a blessing! 

- Gx

DAY 51 - Moosehead creek campsite to Burney Falls Campground.

A decent 48km day today. I was ready to see the end of it. By 5pm, my body starts to give in. How's that for improvement, though? I remember back in Washington, I was feeling the fatigue at 1pm! But now, by 5pm, my body has enough of hiking. At the 11th hour, it's as if I am running on fatigue and it's not the time of day you want to be popping caffeine products into your body. I would be awake all night and getting no bodily repair! I am at a decent stage with my hiking regime, where my body is asleep by 9:30pm. At 9:15pm, my eyes are struggling to stay awake and I am hardly getting a moment to blog. The sunsets are happening around 7:30pm and by the time I set up camp and have my dinner, 8:45pm rolls around and I have hardly any ability to remain awake. Trying to stay on top of my blogging has definitely started to become difficult. The 12 hours of hiking a day really takes its toll on you.

After yesterday's rain, today's hike was luscious. Everything looked renewed and refreshed - almost as if I wasn't hiking in the California I have been trekking through. Finally, the trees and bushes around me seemed to be rejoicing the shower they received yesterday. Much like me and the shower I will be receiving tomorrow. It's certainly been nearly 9 days without a shower and I am starting to feel GROSS!

The rain yesterday has absolutely brightened up all of the world around me. It's lifted so much of the smoke surrounding the trail and given an overwhelming amount of life back to the wilderness. 

I have to certainly congratulate myself on still remaining positive throughout the entire last section of Oregon and beginning section of California. I haven't had a clear blue sky for weeks now and I feel beyond grateful to finally be seeing clarity. It's almost the child in me coming out to play again. Excited by the little things. However, an amazing view of Mt Shasta is not 'the little things'. It's a beauty of a mountain and seeing it in full clear sky was astounding. I kept looking around and behind me all day to catch glimpses of it. There is definitely something a little mystical about this mountain. 

Apparently there are some strange beliefs surrounding the mountains. A fact first,  is that it's potentially an active volcano. But that important information aside, people believe that there is some spiritual new age connection to the mountain and that the mountain is one of the numerous global 'power centres' throughout the world. I don't dismiss that sort of belief because I definitely think there is something incredibly different about this structure compared to the previous ones!

The day delivered a constant breeze and as much as it was still a warm and sunny day, it was a lot cooler in comparison to the last few weeks. 

Towards the end of the day, the terrain started to turn very 'straya' and reminded me of my days as a child. Dry, long grass, sunny patches and leaves crunching on the ground. All I needed was a batch of gum trees and that would transport me back to Queensland.

Northern California has surprisingly had me walking some beautiful ridges. Exposed and hot, but now that I can see the world outside of my immediate walking zone, the ridges open up toward such a vast land and big blue sky, making it not as hot and bothersome as previously mentioned. 

Toward the campsite, a climb uphill commenced again and I was starting to fade. As I came closer to the sound of rushing water, I realised it was a huge waterfall and creek creating a significant drop in the landscape around all the rock faces. The water was racing and gushing so fast, it wasn't the kind of creek you would find yourself taking a swim in, just in case you go over the edge! 

A dead carcass on the side of the trail really started to make things look like California in the desert. It was worthy of a picture because I felt like I was stuck in some western film. All I need was a loon to roll by and two guys appear with guns and cowboy hats. It's strange, yet beautiful, to be witnessing the change between section to section. You wouldn't think that a few miles would make such a significant impact on the terrain experience.

By this time of day, I was sure fading. Crossing low down to bypass a huge dam, meant only one thing...

You have to get back up above it! One last climb was leading me towards the campground. I chose to camp at the Burney Falls Campground tonight in order to see the falls in the morning when I hiked out.

Entering the state park was beautiful; water flowing all around and you could hear the falls absolutely pelting down around the side of the river. It was something to seriously look forward to in the morning, but right at that moment, I just wanted to be horizontal in my tent. The 48kms was enough for the day and my legs were a bit like jelly... sore jelly. 

One last walk toward the campsite allowed me to cross a bridge over the falls river. It was picturesque and around 6pm, it was glistening in the afternoon sunset. I am planning on stopping at the Burney Mountain Guest ranch tomorrow, after bypassing the falls in the morning. 

Right now, exhaustion has set in. I need sleep.

- Gx


  1. What a great morning read for us over an early morning cup of coffee!! Hike on my girl!! L xxx


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