The wildfires continue to rage as I head north. To my relief, none of the trail has been closed while I was hiking through. It is evident, nonetheless, that the flames are close. Smoke often obscures the view of the mountains directly across the valley, sometimes making it challenging to landmark. This part of the trail is extremely dry and dusty, with long water-less stretches returning. After the bumpy horizon line of the High Sierra, the lone peak of Mount Shasta stands out like a symbol of encouragement. Mt. Shasta is a sometimes-active volcano marking the southern boundary of the Cascade Range. It became a very familiar part of the landscape by the time it was no longer visible.
The northern half of California is significantly more fertile than the southern half. The LA Aqueduct was designed to convey water from the more abundant Sierra to Southern California where the true demand for water exists. The aqueduct, among other diversion of resources, is one motivation for the State of Jefferson. Central, Northern California, and Southern Oregon proposed a new state after decades of being underrepresented by their home state. The proposal was rejected, but the ideals are still thriving in the remote, Northern regions I am now walking through. It is evident that things like lumber and fish are plentiful; however these areas receive less attention and funding. The state of California is so large; it feels as though it will never end. It has been a journey watching not only the landscape, but also the social and cultural environments transform as I hike.
Northern California is still experiencing drought, despite the higher frequency of creeks and springs. Communities have been evacuated for fear that efforts to control the wildfires won’t be enough. Fire safety for a hiker is a big responsibility, especially when we are living outside where risks are greater. In previous burn zones, where there are endless amounts of dry wood, it is plain to see how easily a strong wind could be devastating if a spark escaped.
What I have learned in this section is that moving North doesn’t mean we escape the heat! It is now July and hiking during the night is often still necessary. Now that I have begun increasing my daily mileage, my pack has rubbed most of my abdomen raw. Heat+dust+40lb pack+30 miles = rough day. As if apologizing for the suffering, NorCal has provided the most spectacular sunsets yet. Thanks Cali!
May your burdens be light,