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Posts tagged ‘Pacific Crest Trail’

PCT

Kelly and I both took Friday off from work, and amongst other things, our plan was to find a nice morning hike.  Following an unnecessarily lengthy review of potential candidates, we settled on the Pacific Crest Trail.  Sure, the logistics of driving only 15 minutes to the nearest trailhead could not have been easier, but in actuality, its hard to feel that we actually ‘settled’.

The PCT is the most widely used north/south long-distance hiking trail on the western portion of the United States,  and  those who choose to follow its path will view some of the most beautiful scenery there is to be seen.

 

Map of the PCT

Map of the PCT

With Canada and Mexico as bookends, the trail spans 2,663 miles through California, Oregon, and Washington and is closely aligned with the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges.  Not in a position to hike the entire trail on Friday, we spent three hours exploring an out and back section.

The trailhead we used for access was just off an old logging road and I’m guessing receives moderate usage.  We saw only one other party (two people total) which made for a very enjoyable morning on the trails.

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McArthur-Burney Falls State Park and the Pacific Crest Trail

The plan yesterday morning was to visit McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park (MBFMSP), which is located about 20 minutes from our current BLM location.  MBFMSP is California’s second oldest state park, its main attraction being the whitewater falls of Burney Creek.

Anticipating holiday weekend crowds, we arrived around 9am which is crazy early for park standards.  The combination of a Sunday morning and campers operating on “park time”, things were eerily quiet while we had trails and other popular lookout points mostly to ourselves.   Like most large parks, there are a few “must see” attractions at MBFMSP.  Here, the main event is the waterfall and I understand why.  Unlike many waterfalls, the majority of the water does not ‘fall’ over the edge.   Rather, a significant amount of water is routed through underground channels which end abruptly at the wall of the falls, sending 100 million gallons daily cascading below.

Water descends 129ft at Burney Falls.

Water descends 129ft at Burney Falls.

The popular Burney Falls loop trail seems to be a common route for most visitors – it is short, focused on the falls, and conveniently located to the parking lot.  Seeking a bit more walking, we opted for the lengthier trail which continues another 1.5(ish) miles towards Lake Britton.

The river trailer to Lake Britton

The river trail to Lake Britton

Lake Britton

Lake Britton

As was the case earlier this weekend, all this calm water had me bemoaning my lack of canoe or kayak.  A park concessioner does offer rentals, but the steep fees coupled with our time constraints quickly squashed any illusions of a morning paddle I had swirling in my head.

Suffice it to say, we continued to walk.

Returning from the lake, we chose to continue back to the truck by way of the main park road.  Because the park was so empty, we enjoyed a nearly car-free saunter, making a point to enjoy our surroundings as we viewed the area.  Eventually we reached the main campground, which only served to reinforce how fabulous our BLM location was in comparison.  Unlike this relatively crowded state park, our 10-acre campground contained only 7 sites (plus one for the host).

Kelly, preparing for dismount

Kelly, practicing her balance routine

Kelly not sticking the landing

Kelly missed the landing

On a whim, we decided to visit the General Store before leaving the park.  Not surprisingly, the selection was mostly junk, but I was struck with the beauty of a handmade bench outside the main door.  Too awesome to be sat upon, I could only reflect on its exquisiteness.

The bench of all benches

The bench of all benches

As a general rule, dogs are not allowed in California state parks … at least not on any of the interesting trails (yet another reason this state drives me crazy).  This being the case, following lunch back at the trailer, we made plans for an afternoon hike with Lilly – our destination being a trailhead along the Pacific Crest Trail.  For those who don’t know, the PCT is a single continuous walking pathway extending through the states of California, Oregon, and Washington.

Other than its close proximity to our camping site, the section we visited wasn’t anything overly impressive.  It seems that the more time we spend in nature, the higher our expectations bar continues to rise.  Oh how we’ve come so far.  Back when we were living in Chicago as urban condo dwellers, I’m quite certain Kelly and I would have found this particular trail to be amazing.  Now it is simply a nice location to walk the dog.

That said, we love being outdoors and time spent in nature’s playground is always a precious treat.

Wild flowers in bloom along the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild flowers in bloom along the Pacific Crest Trail

Relaxing and snacking

Relaxing and snacking under the shade-cover

Overlooking the Pit River Valley

Overlooking the Pit River Valley

Transporting hydroelectricity   power from the Pit River

Transporting hydroelectricity power from the Pit River

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

It was another hot one here in Ashland today.  Consequently, I was inside the Airstream most of the day.  While comfortable in the confines of air conditioning, by the time my work day ended, I was more than ready to get myself outside and into a change of scenery.

At Kelly’s suggestion, we decided to explore a nearby trailhead and see where it would lead.  Unbeknownst to us, the expansive Pacific Crest Trail sat quietly just down the road from where we’ve been parked these past few days.  The PCT proved to be just perfect – it was close, was not too steep, and afforded us lots of tree cover to block any direct sun.

To my surprise, the trail itself was exceptionally well marked.  We covered only a few miles, but we must have passed a dozen trail markers.  The trail is maintained primarily by the US Forest Service and I’d be curious to know if the entire  system is so well marked.

One of many trail markers

We had a nice walk and per usual, Lilly was out front the entire time.

Lilly, always ready to keep moving

All in all, a great walk.  We arrived back to the Airstream just in time to capture a nice sunset and enjoy a late dinner.

Tomorrow we begin the trip back to Half Moon Bay.

The Airstream

The Airstream