Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 86 to 87 - Swimming in the Feather River

July 20-21
Day 86 to 87
Miles:  27+30
Total Miles:  1265

Lunch at the Feather River

Jubel left camp early the morning of July 20 - about 5:30 AM.  He wants to make it Belden by Saturday night for the rave.  Belden is famous for it's raves - all night parties that attract people from the surrounding towns.  Jubel would have to do two 42 mile days to get to Belden by Saturday.  Good luck with that!  I hiked alone today but managed to catch up to Lightweight
and we camped together at a road crossing.  Fall Risk wandered in after dark and the three of us called it a night.

Hikers sunbathing at the Feather River
The next day, after a long descent of 3100 feet to the middle fork of the Feather River, designated a "wild and scenic river" by congress in 1968, I enjoyed a leisurely swim in one of the best swimming spots on the trail!  About ten others were already gathered by the river eating lunch - others were in the river or sunbathing on the rocks.  Swimming was perfect - the water was the perfect temperature and the sun was bright and hot.  We found a perch on a rock wall about fifteen feet above the water and did flips and cannonballs into the water.  Soon, four hours had passed and it was time to prepare for the long hike out of the canyon.

I started my climb in the afternoon - a 3100 foot climb over ten miles.  I have a strategy to tackle these long climbs.  First, it helps me psychologically to do the math:  3100 feet over 10 miles = 310 feet per mile on average - only moderately steep.  Then, I determine how long this should take me:  if I were aggressive I could possibly do this in three hours, but that would require me hiking 3.3 miles/hour which is fast hiking on a climb like this.  I settle on a goal of about three and a half hours to get to the top which would put me at the top at about 6 PM.  Finally, with iPod tuned to some ideal climbing music, I start my climb.  On any normal weekend trip this climb would wear me out after about an hour - I would need several long breaks.  But with almost half of the PCT behind me, I have more endurance and stamina than I can remember and I climb this then miles in a continuous non-stop hike - only stopping briefly to top off my platypus at a creek.  I am probably in better shape now than I have ever been and I am amazed at how long I can keep up a climb without running out of energy!  I pace myself at a steady two steps per breathe and sweat soaks my shirt and drips down my face into my beard which releases showers of sweat onto my knees, but I feel strong and could keep climbing in this way indefinitely.  I earned this strength and endurance over the past 1200 miles and these climbs give me an opportunity to play and test myself to try and find my limits.  I am still amazed at the human bodies ability to adapt.

After the climb and a lunch at the top, I still have energy so I hike on past sunset with Lightweight to reach a road near Buck Lake - finishing 30 miles for the day.  Food once again proves to be the best motivator - we plan on walking down the road on a short alternate route to a restaurant at Buck Lake tomorrow for a well deserved breakfast!

Pedestrian Bridge over the Feather River


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PCT Northern Terminus

PCT Northern Terminus
On September 30, 2012 I reached the Northern Terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. Thanks to everybody who supported and followed my journey. It was a life-changing experience!