PCT mile 1452
Things seemed much different on the trail today, a bit lonely. Without having anyone behind me that I know or having Pilsbury and Buffalo getting up early and being in front of me until I caught up to then later in the day. Just me and the trail.
As far as I know I was the last person to make it Burney Falls after the fire closures and evacuations. I'm hoping there's others behind me but I haven't heard...there are a large number of hikers bypassing the rest of Northern California and hitching up to Ashland, Oregon. So perhaps in a few weeks I'll be catching up to old friends again.
I wasn't completely alone, when I arrived Burney Falls yesterday there were three hikers that were the last ones to make it through Old Station before the PCT closed (Tin Tin, Hornsby, and I can't remember the 3rds name), but they were heading out just as I was arriving I still needed to get my resupply box and pack so they were several hours ahead. When I got to camp last night Hornsby was there along with another hiker, Trouble.
I was really tired today and didn't have much pep in my step. I don't know if it was emotional exhaustion of the days past activities or because I got up early to beat the heat. It never got as hot as it had been the past few days maybe highs in the 80s today, prior it had been well in the 90s. It was a little more smokey this morning and you could see a scant dusting of ash on the ground but nothing horrible. The sky was gray all day...not sure if it was smoke, overcast or both.
At lunch time I had caught up to Trouble and we enjoyed lunch together. Trouble is section hiking the parts of the PCT he has not hiked and started from Burney Falls yesterday, this year he will be completing the entirety of the trail.
Shortly after lunch, I ran into Cat and Mike, the first ture PCT thru-southbounders of the season! They thru-hiked the PCT northbound in 2001 and decided to try it southbound this year. They commented on how the backpacking/thru-hiking world has changed since 2001. "No one had cell phones back then." "We only relied on paper maps and we still are only relying on paper maps." It was real fun to talk with them and hear of their experiences.
After that there was no more human encounters, just me and the trail. The wind picked up and it seemed like it may storm. I was ready to stop hiking earlier then usual and get to bed early. I stopped at the next water stop which had a nice small tent spot under the cover of the trees. I was settled in for the night all cozy in my new sleeping bag, just as the a thunderstorm began. The thunder and lightning didn't last too long and I listened to the soothing sound of rain as I was falling asleep for the night.