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PCT North 2013: Donner Pass to Bucks Summit

110.5 miles; 12,457 vertical feet gained in elevation
August 22-26, 2013 (5 days)
Jared Atkins, Dave Sholer

Planning Information
Much credit for the planning of this trip goes to "Halfmile", who has an excellent website with topo maps and accompanying mile-by-mile notes. We used these maps and these notes and adapted them more our trip over the smaller section of PCT. Click the trail notes link above, or any of the other links for a more specific look into our trip.

Daily Journal
Aug 21, 2013
We drove 2 cars up to Bucks Lake Summit Rd, left Dave's car at the trailhead, then drove Jared's car to Donner Summit, where we stayed for the night at the PCT trailhead.

Aug 22, 2013 (27 miles)
We got up at 5:45am and were hiking by 6:30am. We actually didn’t realize when we hit the PCT, so we starting hike southbound instead of northbound for about 10 minutes until we realized we were heading the wrong direction. The only people we saw all day were 2 women camping near Paradise Lake, after they were caught in the storm the day earlier. We hiked all day and stopped for couscous dinner near Lasier Meadow Trail. We descended to the campsites near the big lake, cleaned our feet and rehydrated in the creek, and hiked a bit more until dusk at 7:45pm. We set-up camp in a meadow and got to sleep by 8:30pm. We saw some cars on the way by the lake, but didn’t see any other people. The only animals we saw today were some chipmunks and possibly a marten.

Aug 23, 2013 (25.4 miles)
We got up at 5:44am and were hiking by 6:25am. We saw a doe (a deer, a female deer) in the morning. We got to Highway 49 at 11am and took an hour break. The other side of the highway had a lot of elevation and sun. Part of this section felt like hiking in the Alps, with views of the big, lush green valley below. We saw some day hikers and parked cars near the Sierra Buttes. We kept our waters filled as much as possible during this section. We stopped for dinner at one of the trailheads, then got to our campsite, near Summit Lake at 7:45pm, and to sleep by 8:30pm.

Aug 24, 2013 (23.5 miles)
We slept in until 6:10am. We walked over to the nearby Summit Lake to see if we could fill up on water, since the next 10+ miles didn’t look very promising for water sources. Summit Lake seemed to be too shallow with too much sediment, so we kept on hiking, moving again by 7am. We saw 2 bucks and a doe in the morning before we found a slow-flowing spring at WA1215. We saw 2 bow hunters at the A Tree. During the next several miles, we were intentional about keeping our water containers filled at all opportunities. We crossed paths with a group of backpackers at the bottom of the switchbacks before W. Branch Nelson Creek. We had couscous for dinner just past Duck Soup Lake, then continued to almost RD1235, arriving at 7:15pm. We enjoyed the extra 30 minutes or so before dusk, and used the opportunity to clean our feet up and change socks! We got to sleep by 8:30pm.

Aug 25, 2013 (27.0 miles)
We slept in until 6am and got hiking by 6:30am. It turned out we were closer than we thought, only about a quarter mile from RD1235. We took a 0.3 mi detour each way to fill-up water at a creek down the road, then continued hiking. A light rain started at 9:30am, and lasted only about 25-30 minutes. It wasn’t too heavy, and didn’t cause us much trouble. We saw a girl hiking solo around this time. We took a lunch break early before Middle Fork, and then stopped there at the river and big bridge around 1:30pm. We saw another solo girl hiker there. We washed our feet and filled-up on water before heading up the hill at 2:30pm. We got to Bear Creek bridge at 3:15pm, took a short break, and were hiking again by 3:40pm. We did the next 7.5 mi uphill section, then stopped before the spring to have our couscous dinner. We filled up at the small spring, just before the top of the incline, then kept on hiking until 7:45pm. We slept up on the ridge at RD1262, getting to sleep by 8:30pm.

Aug 26, 2013 (7.6 miles)
We were ahead of schedule, and enthused by being just 7.6 miles from the end of the trail, so we got up around 5:15am and were hiking probably 30 minutes before sunrise. We kept a steady pace and got to the Buck’s Lake Summit Rd. trailhead around 9:30am.