PCT mile 1429
Sometimes HYOH (hike your own hike) means making difficult decisions. Decisions that may be different then other hikers you are with, decisions that may set you apart from a group, decisions that others may not agree with or have a strong opinion against. All of us thru-hikers that were cutoff by the Eiler Fire had/have or will be faced by the necessity of making some sort of decision as to how to go about the PCT closure.
For me I woke up today feeling the need to get back on the trail ASAP. My plan of action was to get back on the PCT at the nearest reentry point to where I got off. This point was going to be somewhere near Burney Falls State Park. In order to get to Burney Falls from Redding one has to drive through Burney which 10.7 miles southwest of Burney Falls. Burney was under an advisory evacuation soon to be mandatory depending on the fires behavior. I had posted on the PCT Facebook page looking for trail angels in the area that could give me a ride, and found one that could give me a ride today but not tomorrow. Given those two bits of data, I needed to jump on this opportunity to get through Burney in case road closures would expand and one soon would not be able to get through Burney to Burney Falls. I arranged my ride for 2:30pm.
I called the InciWeb number given for the Eiler fire, which directed me to call the local sheriffs office for up-to-date fire evacuation orders. As of 1:30pm Burney was still under advisory evacuation and on standby for mandatory evacuation and Burney Falls State Park had no evacuation orders, so I was good to go.
This is where the difficult decision lie, I was on my own on this one. Pilsbury was using this fire as a sign that she should flip up to Washington and southbound (she always had been planning to flip she just didn't know when) and Buffalo wanted to take a zero today to fully research options and detours. The others I knew were in Chester, 2 hiking days behind, deciding if they should hike through to Old Station or detour from Chester. It was a sad and emotional decision leaving my group behind and heading out alone, but I knew Buffalo would not be far behind and I'd most likely see him in a couple of days and there'd be other hikers I'd meet, along the way, the trail will provide as it always has.
So I packed up said goodbye to Buffalo and got a ride to Burney Falls from an awesome trail angel, Jan. Jan is in the Redding area and willing to help any hikers in the Redding/Burney/Shasta area, you can find her on the PCT Facebook page for and PCTers looking for help or rides.
Surprisingly we got through Burney smoothly the place looked like a ghost town, but the smoke was not bad and the fire was not as close or did not appear to be as close as I had imagined. We were detoured before the Hwy 89/299 intersection, but the detour took us right up to Burney Falls State Park. When I arrived there were three other hikers that had gotten through before the PCT closed and were heading back out on the trail this evening. I had a resupply box at the general store that I picked up and repacked my pack again. The park was eerie and like a ghost town with no one around, so I didn't stick around for long I decided to get out and hike to the next water and campsite about 6 miles north. Ahead was blue skies and I was leaving the dark smokey skies behind. Once I was back on the trail I was happy with my decision and knew I had made the right decision for myself. When I got to camp there were also 2 other hikers there, so right away I was not alone.
One word of advice I learned from this experience, is make sure you get your information from primary sources. Don't depend on other hikers and Facebook for up-to-date info, stories change from person to person, details are exaggerated or left out. If you don't hear it firsthand it may not be exactly right. And go with what feels right for your hike, in the end you are the sole person with the two feet that will get you where you want to be.