WHERE: Burney — Etna: Oregon, USA
WHEN: March–August, 2018
WHO: Karma & Scott
OBJECTIVE: Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) thru-hike
DISTANCE: 1411 – 1600 mi (temporary jump ahead due to snow, total miles walked: 933.7)

Since we decided to put the Sierra on the back burner for a few weeks we worked on jumping north up the trail. A few hitches out of Lone Pine landed us in Reno where a post office mishap kept us much longer than we had planned before we finally caught a greyhound bus to Sacramento. A quick stop in to REI to pick up some new trail runners* before jumping on another greyhound to Redding and finally the local bus to Burney and we had jumped about 660 miles north on the trail.

*Not bad to make it all the way through the desert, about 750 miles/ 1200 km, in one pair of shoes by the way! We are really happy with our Salomon’s

When we started our journey north most of Northern California and Oregon had been virtually snow free, but the storm we just travelled through had changed the game completely. Donner pass was just barely open to traffic when we bussed through and now there was heaps of fresh snow on trail pretty much all the way from Kennedy Meadows to Canada! Still, we felt optimistic, we really needed to walk again! Long town breaks are really disorienting. You feel kind of lost and without a purpose.

So it felt really good to finally be back on trail again. The walk into Burney Falls was pleasantly warm and beautiful with lots of spring flowers and birds greeting the sun. Very different landscape up here. Lots of wildlife too. We saw some really big bear tracks crossing the trail, and big cat prints too, several bobcats and definitely a mountain lion too. Pretty cool! Saw heaps of small purple fairy slipper orchids look-a-likes (edit: most likely Dodecatheon pulchellum, aka Shooting Star, not orchids but rather a member of the Primrose family) lining the trail too. A beautiful sign of spring which really made my day!

PCT is a pretty cool trail, keeping us up at pretty high altitude for the better part of it, which we really like, but it is certainly not helping with the snow situation at the moment… As soon as we started climbing we started seeing snow again – and lots of it! Fresh powdery stuff from the last storm not supporting any weight whatsoever and we were post holing way past the knees in the drifts. Really hard work to get off the mountain!

We finally made it to Castella where we picked up our next food box at the market. We had to make a decision on how to proceed. We had met a couple of last night who had given rides to hikers bailing off the mountains we were just about to head into due to the snow. We could see the snow line up there too and it was not looking very good. So we decided to road walk to Etna on potentially sketchy forestry roads (they have a tendency remain the map long after nature has reclaimed the space) staying on course and at least walking the miles but at lower altitude than the trail hoping for a snow free passage.

The plan worked and we finally make it to Etna. It is a really cute and friendly tiny town in the middle if nowhere. We came in late, but since it was Saturday night there was really good live music at one of the local brewerys. We had a few beers and got to meet some of the locals, including a super nice trail angel who invited us to stay with him and his family. Awesome, thank you!

We decided to take a zero day in Etna to give the nice warm weather a chance melt off some more snow so we can get back on the actual trail again tomorrow. Feeling pretty good about it. Fingers crossed.