We’re now in the section of the PCT called “Northern California”, and it seems basically endless. It’s not entirely clear where it begins, although just north of Tahoe seems as good a place as any — making Northern California last for five hundred miles on the PCT. This puts it as long as any major section of the PCT except for the desert, which we’ve long since finished…and it feels long.
Perhaps it’s that, as a Northern Californian myself, I often forget (as we Northern Californians do) about just how much of California there really is north of the Bay Area, and so expect to be in Oregon long before we actually ever get there. (What most people call Northern California — San Francisco, Oakland, etc. — should really be Central California, but I digress.) It goes on and on and on, with all of these places I’d never even heard of: Sierra City, Belden, Chester, Quincy, Drakesbad, Old Station, Burney Falls…every one of them another fifty, eighty, or a hundred miles away, and thus several days of strenuous hiking.
I’ve heard on PCT surveys that this usually ranks as hikers’ second-least-favorite section, behind the desert in Southern California. For me, it serves as a serious test of mettle and persistence: all I can keep myself focused on is the remaining miles to Oregon (320, as of right now) and eating into that number with every passing day. It’s not that there isn’t beautiful stuff to see — there most definitely is — but a lot of it is pretty similar to each other, and you end up being satisfied with it long before it’s actually over.
All of which is to say, really: we just keep slugging away. It’s pretty and generally pleasant hiking — but there’s so much of it, and, at this point, I kind of just want to get to Oregon. In time, I tell myself…in time.