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Sierra Buttes hike along the Pacific Crest Trail

I will never do it again. NEVER. EVER. That’s what I told myself a couple years ago after I hiked to the lookout tower high upon the top of the Sierra Buttes. But here I was last week, grudgely agreeing to take our friends up, up, up to the top of the mountain, along the Pacific Crest Trail in Northern California.

The Sierra Buttes are a series of towering crags in Tahoe National Forest that loom above the Yuba River Canyon, Sierra City and Highway 49. The Buttes are also the gateway to the Lakes Basin Recreation Area, better known as the Gold Lakes Basin, which offers great hiking, camping, lakes and trout fishing. I live a couple hours away and it’s one of my favorite destinations.

PCT Hike to Sutter Buttes Lookout

PCT Hike to Sutter Buttes Lookout


The tower

We made it to the lookout tower!

View from the tower at 8,587 feet

View from the tower at 8,587 feet

Hiking has become one of my favorite activities, but this hike kicks my butt, and I couldn’t believe I was doing it again. But the hike, the view, the pain, the lightheadedness, the thirst, are not what I remember about this trip; it was two girls I met along the way.

They were loaded down with big backpacks, hiking poles and a stride of determination. I was taking a water break, no backpack and heaving and hoeing about my decision to take this hike.

“Hey, are you guys walking the PCT?” I asked, thankful that these girls stopped to talk to me and give me a break in the action. “Yea, we are.”

“Cool, did you start at the beginning or are you doing a leg of the trail?” I asked.

“We started at the beginning and are doing the whole hike to Canada.” They both smiled. I, too, smiled and clapped my hands in excitement for them. Then I started firing questions at them: “Wow, are you blogging about the experience? Did you read, Wild? What was the hardest part so far? How many pounds have you lost?”

They were delightful and just as excited to tell me all about their adventure: “We are from England (both appeared to be about 25). We were motivated by the book, Wild. Yes, we are writing about the experience. The hardest part so far was the dessert in southern California. It was so hot and we had to carry our water. Water is heavy. I’ve lost a stone (14 lbs). ”

I looked up at my friends who were quite ahead of me waiting. I paused briefly thinking I wanted to head down the hill with the girls to talk more about the PCT and their experience, but I was taking my friends on our own adventure, so I gave the girls a final wave and headed up the mountain.

I’ve had regrets that I didn’t go with the girls, or give them my nectarine, or invite them back to our campsite for a chef prepared dinner. I just didn’t think of it at the time. But I have thought about them and the other hikers of the PCT and the journeys, stories and memories they are building.

I goggled to try and find if they were blogging, but to no avail. I did come across a PCT hiking blog, http://awalkintheparkpct.wordpress.com/ who mentions two girls from England, and I wrote to him that if he see the girls to tell them hi for me.

I’m hitting the PCT again in Oregon towards the end of this month, and I’m hoping to see the girls from England again.

Gail’s hike synopsis: 2.5 miles one-way, roughly 2,400-foot climb, from 6,200 feet to 8,587 feet; 5-mile, 3-hour round trip.

Two girls from England hike synopsis: The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650 mile hiking trail (dirt foot path) that runs continuously from the Mexican border at Campo, California to the Canadian border near Manning Park, BC. It is a designated national scenic trail. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. It offers some the wildest back-country terrain to be found in the lower 48 states.

Each year ~300 hikers attempt to complete the entire trail (thru-hike) in a 4-6 month period. Hikers generally start in late April heading south to north. Many hikers practice lightweight hiking techniques as they must carry all their food and gear in backpacks finding water at natural sources along the way. Hikers will resupply every 3-10 days at trail towns close to the trail.

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Categorised in: Fitness, Nutrition & Exercise, Seen & Heard

7 Responses »

  1. That is fabulous for the girls from England walking the PCT. And good for you hiking up to the Lookout, I made it up in a pickup and it was scary. Love 300 Word Limit, great stories and adventures. Keep up the great work, you are admired for your enthusiasm for life.

    • Thank you! After meeting those inspiring girls, I decided to do my own PCT walk, virtually, with America On The Move site which lets you pick a famous trail (mine, of course. is the PCT) log in your steps/minutes of walking, and the program tracks your progress. So far mine reads:

      “Since beginning your challenge on 07/04/2013, you have taken a total of 61,250 steps on the Pacific Crest. You have logged activity on 7 days. Your current daily average step count is 8,750. To complete your trail by the end of your challenge on 10/20/2013, you must take 3,593 steps per day.”

      It’s a cool, free program for anyone wanting a fun challenge, without sleeping in the wilderness!

  2. I can appreciate what you said about the hike as my husband and I just did it this afternoon. It took us a long time to get to the top, which was phenomenal!!, but like the girl said, that we met going up, “It’s worth it!”. It was mind over body as we got to the top. The weather was perfect, and on the way down, we realized that we had both accomplished something that we had wanted to do for a long time. He had wanted to climb to the lookout, and I wanted to walk on the PCT, and we did it! To anyone who wants to try it, GO FOR IT!! It’s a tough climb for a beginner, but if we could do it, anyone can. We’re going to try it again the end of the summer…

    • Kudos to you and your husband! I’m addicted to all things PCT and will try my first overnight backpacking trip in September. I also feel such an accomplishment doing these hikes outside my comfort zone. But LOVE the feeling of joy after!!

  3. Superb blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring
    writers? I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?
    There are so many options out there that I’m totally overwhelmed ..
    Any ideas? Cheers!


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p.s. I write, not to be read, but for the pleasure of writing.

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