Day 51 - mt. Shasta to soda creek (and back again)
May 17 | Miles: 22
Today we came up with an ingenious plan to slack pack (that is, hike without our packs) the 20-something miles between our host’s home and where the trail picks back up near Castle Crags, so we could effectively connect the dots and maintain our continuous southbound footpath while minimizing the effort involved in what would be our last stretch of roadwalk. Except we wanted to run it.
We got a late start around 10 after scarfing multiple bowls of many-flavored cereals. We were lucky enough to get back-to-back hitches that got us to the Castella area–one from Julia, who was graduating nursing school today, and one from a dude named Peter Pan who does wood carving and welding. He ferried us down the highway sipping on his Rockstar, blasting Biggie Smalls and making sure to add, “I don’t normally listen to rap.”
We hopped off at Soda Creek Road and the race was on. Armed with just .7 liters of water, my phone and headphones, 2 granola bars, and an emergency $20 bill, I shot out ahead early, but soon enough Trash Can caught up to me. I tailed him for a mile or two but couldn’t match his steady pace (I’m more of a sprint-and-rest kinda gal). He runs marathons so I knew he was gonna beat me anyway. Luckily Store Brand was nowhere in sight so I knew I was sitting comfortably in second.
The backwoods dirt road took us by winding creeks and up gated logging byways with big NO TRESPASSING signs, but I was fortunate enough to escape any kind of showdown with the creek (pronounced “crick”) dwellers.
The morning grew overcast and it was perfect running weather, hovering right around 50°. Like an idiot I had forgotten to charge my phone the night before, but of course I needed my running music, so for the first few miles I committed to memory all the turns I would need to take on the route so I could blast my workout tunes with free abandon. My comfortable 30% charge would drop all the way down to a paltry 2% before all was said and done, but I would escape death just by the hair of my chinny chin chin.
I was pushing hard and had just around 12 miles under my belt by noon. And then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere as I was pounding down a stretch of gravel, a big chunky brown bear leapt out of the woods to my right and darted across my path. I shrieked in disbelief before I realized that I was the one who had scared HIM. Huh.
A very very long run later–this was in fact the longest consecutive distance I have ever run, let alone without having run properly for nearly two months now–I jogged up to the house and nabbed my second place finish. My 4:15 time wasn’t completely terrible considering the 1500 foot elevation gain and the fact that my wobbly hiker legs hadn’t seen a treadmill in 60 days. Trash Can had only arrived about 40 minutes prior, which made me feel even better.
The run was honestly one of the most fun days of mileage yet on trail. It felt so good to have weight off my back and to be fast on my feet. My reward was a long hot shower and a big bowl of my leftover broccoli Mac and cheese and Collard Greens.
The balance of the afternoon consisted of resupply planning, laundry, food organization, tea drinking, snacking, stretching, watching the now-falling rain out the succulent-lined window, watching funny videos, more snacking, and finally, dinner (more Mac and cheese and Collards, could eat that combo until I die).
Tomorrow we hit the real PCT again for the first time in almost a week–it’s going to feel great to be back. Although I know my legs will pay the price for what I’ve done… and of course there’s more rain in the forecast. Such is the way.