Burnt Rancheria to Boulder Oaks via Cibbets Flat #1

6/9 – 6/10/2012
17.442 miles

Rocks – Day 1

Burnt Rancheria to Cibbets Flat

And we are off like a herd of turtles!  Lynn said he was getting me up at 7:30 and we’d be on the road by 8:15.  It was 12:30 before we finally hit the trail. We are learning it’s not a good idea to start too late because of the afternoon heat. Add that heat to hills and it gets challenging!

We parked one car at the visitors center near Burnt Rancheria campgrounds. GPS was telling us the trail was on the other side of the campsite, so we strolled through only to find a fence. We have learned quickly that in order to find the trail, we often need to skirt fences to get started. We are not always starting at established trail heads. But once we get on track, we usually don’t see many fences.  We have now decided to make an effort to always start at established trail heads.

Slow Decent to Cibbets Flat

At the start of day 1 of our first 2-day PCT hike. At the start, it was lush and moist. Later it turned hot and dry.

Initially, the trail was considerably different than on other day-hikes: the California Chaparral of other hikes had turned to lush forest with high grasses and sage. The soil underfoot was much softer and moister and the air seemed scented and fresher.  We were about 60-miles south on the trail from where we left off to the north and were now at 5800′ above sea level.

This was our first time to carry full packs. With plans to camp the night at Cibbets Flat 10 miles to the south, we had to carry the tent, our sleeping bags, food and plenty of water. Once packed, Lynn’s pack was about 34 pounds and Patti’s about 23. We both independently concluded that we need to consolidate and lighten the load, especially on only a two-day. We should be able to get by on many fewer pounds.

Compressed vs ;uncompressed sleeping bags

Our Cats Meow sleeping bags looked big at the store (left), but when rolled and put into the compression sack, the sleeping bag shrank to a fraction of its original size.

More lessons learned – again about the jeans. We don’t need them. That and we keep bringing too much trail mix. But our stove was awesome. Weighs probably less than an ounce. Its an ESBIT stove, like a tin box with a fuel cell. Got both a hot dinner of soup that night and coffee the next morning. Coffee is a luxury in life we refuse to do without. One other thing to do next time:  Don’t lock the car key to the finish car in the start-off car. In the finish car we need a cooler filled with ice and 2 beers, and a spare pair of shoes.

The trail seemed to separate into three segments for us that day. The first three miles were a little hard at first but were filled with straight, mostly flat trail. The second three-mile segment made us feel confident and we wondered why we hadn’t planned on more of a hike for the day. But then, the third segment of the hike approached. What was nice rolling hills prior was now rocky, sandy, and very dry soil that was slippery with every step. Patti once joked, “where’s that elevator,” and “who is in charge of quality control with this trail?” At one point Patti tumbled and hit her head on a small rock. Luckily, she braced most of her fall with her knees, both of which were marked up a bit after the fall. Through this section it was hard to actually enjoy the view and the experience because we needed to focus so much on our footing on the loose rock below.

Butterflies on flower

Lucky enough to even notice nature at its most unedited form, two mating butterflies right along the way. If I had blinked I would have missed it.

When we finally arrived at Cibbets Flat, the first thing we did was lay on the picnic table and put our feet up.  We were so tired. We barely needed the wine and scotch we brought – both, of course, total luxuries. We put the wine in a bota. We don’t believe that bota has been used since a Grateful Dead concert in college, but one can’t be sure.

While the campsite was fine and is quite typically the type of site we chose when camping over the last 25 years, Cibbets Flat is not a back-country campsite. It offered running water and outhouses and “housed,” that night, about 15 campers. So, we were not alone. We have yet to experience the true, back-country hiker’s camp. Soon we will be on the open trail and too far from home to do just a two-day. And then, we won’t have a choice but to take on that added challenge.

View to Cibbes Flat

Coming out of higher elevations of the Laguna Mountains toward Cibbets Flat. It’s like someone turned on the lights and suddenly it was hot, dry and dusty. With about three-miles left to get the Cibbets Flat, the worse was just ahead.

Patti & Lynn


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