PCT Day 69: McCloud River

June 29

Mile 1458.0-1487.0 (29.0)

My weird campsite next to a dirt road was wonderful. I went out in the middle of the night to look at the stars and the Milky Way smeared across the sky. It felt like magic.


I made an extra strong coffee drink and nearly ran the first 10 miles downhill. Like a wind-up doll or a chicken with its head cut off. I was singing and dancing at 6:30am. The power of caffeine!

There were tons of streams and I made sure to keep drinking water. It’s supposed to be another scorcher. The water out here is so sweet and clear. How will I ever go back to city tap water, with its chemical taste?

At Centipede Gulch Trailhead, right before the McCloud River, I met a family with a trailer who offered me some food. They loaded me up with fruit, yogurt, grilled chicken, and crackers. And a cold iced tea. What a tremendous treat! I thanked them and walked over to the river to eat a king’s lunch. There was even a mango! I was in high spirits eating this feast, sitting by the gorgeous cloudy McCloud River in the cool shade.


I walked a few miles through the forest, at turns roasted by the direct sun and cooled somewhat by the shade of the trees. Poison oak spilled onto the trail from every direction. Did my best to avoid it, but no doubt I’ll find it everywhere in a few days.

I was surprised when I happened upon a rattlesnake here in the woods. I saw it before it coiled up and shook its tail at me. I stared at it a while, watched it slowly loosen and slither away. A rattlesnake, here? Double checked when I scooted by and it coiled and rattled at me again, agitated but slow in the cool of the shade. I wonder how far north their territory extends.

There was a gradual climb then a level section, all engulfed by the same trees and dense shrubs and poison oak. I sweated and hiked on. Got thirsty, drank all my water, counted miles to the next stream. It is a relief and a pleasure to drink cold water from mountain streams in the afternoon on a 90 degree day.

I set out for the last climb of the day from Squaw Valley Creek, water bottles and belly full to bursting with water. Dry camping tonight, 9 miles to the next water source. Tiny mosquitos everywhere, I climbed and climbed, shaded at least by dense foliage. Camp is on a wide wooded ridge, slightest of breezes reaching me. 

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8 thoughts on “PCT Day 69: McCloud River

  1. I camped there too last year. It made for a nice easy morning hike down to Castella. Sounds like a lot more water this year. There were only trickles and still ponds between Rock Creek and Butcher Knife Creek last year. Keep it up!

  2. Rattlesnakes are just about everywhere in the Western Hemisphere, desert, plains, forests and mountains, but they are affected by cold.

  3. I noticed you have a ULA Circuit backpack. Do you find it to be adequate for the PCT. Especially in the Sierras with Bear Canister, micro spikes and ice ax.
    I hike the PCT in 2017. I like my circuit but a bit Leary about using it on the PCT. Especially when hauling large amounts of water in dry sections of trail .
    Thank You

  4. We are going back to McCloud this Summer, hopefully we meet another PCT trailblazer. I’m so happy we were able to offer some yummy snacks to replenish & energize! You are an inspiration to our family. Nice work!

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