We climbed to a saddle and traversed across two ridges, leaving Castle Crags' rocky peaks behind. Once we climbed above the trees, Mount Shasta came into view, rising above the surrounding mountains.
We stopped for lunch on a beautiful ridge with a view of both Mount Shasta and the Trinity Divide. There we met Monique (who Sierra quickly renamed Colorful), a 70 year old New Yorker who has always wanted to hike a section of the PCT. She finally said to herself, "If not now, when?" and planned a hike from Castella to Ashland for her 70th birthday present.
Reaching the next road crossing, I stopped to read a note left under a rock. Houdini warned future hikers not to leave their packs by the road when walking to the nearby spring. Someone had stolen Houdini's pack, including all of his gear, during the few minutes it took him to hike down the road for water.
The next road crossing brought more cheerful news. A trail angel had left two large buckets full of chilled Hansen's sodas!
We reached Toad Lake in the late afternoon. Mount Shasta was reflected in the lake's still waters, bathed in the sun's soft golden rays. We hiked on, planning to camp on the ridge where we would enjoy both the sunset and the first rays of morning sun. But the ridge was rocky with no flat camping, leaving us no choice but to hike on.
By the time we found camping at Deadfall Lakes, it was dark. As I set out our tarp to camp, I noticed a pair of eyes gleaming at me in the darkness just a few feet away. A doe grazed in the meadow by the lake. She ignored us and continued eating. We fell asleep to the sound of the doe steadily munching and crunching her way through the meadow.