Ashes to asses in Nor Cal
Day 68: Zero miles. Burney to Old Station
I had breakfast at the spooky church with Fish and Nine Beers and went then to do my groceries, laundry and to send a resupply package to the Sierras. All of this took a half day since you had to walk all over the town to do this. Many people have family who are sending them boxes to the places they want. It is hard and time-consuming to do it on your own.
I had a milkshake and a pizza in the pizzeria. The pizzeria guy had hiked the PCT 2019.
I made a sign for hitchiking and started hitchiking towards Belden. Vampire should be there the next day so it would be fun to hike together.
The first woman who picked me wanted me to pay 10 dollars gas money for a 5 miles ride. Fine, I thought. Then I had a ride to Old Station. I tried to hitchike towards east with no success.
Then I tried southwards and a guy stopped. It was a hippie looking guy who had an budgie sitting on his shoulder. On the front seat he had small ducks. I had to sit with the ducks in my lap while the budgie was sitting on my head. The guy was drinking beer and the car was swinging from side to side so the ducks got stressed and tried to bite me. The guy wanted me to feed some worms from a bag to the ducks while he was smoking a joint. It smelled awful in the car. I thought I had to get out of there and noticed the guy was driving away from where I was heading to. He didn’t even know himself where he was going. I asked him to drive me back to a junction and luckily could skip more riding in that crazy car.
I was standing in the junction to Lassen National Park for an hour or two but nobody stopped. I also remembered one had to have a bear canister to sleep in the park. Fortunately a guy working that way stopped and asked where I was going. Since he was going back to Old Station I decided to head back and camp there behind the gas station. The gas station people were very friendly though.
I got a number to a trail angel but he wanted 150 dollars to drive me to Belden. No way, I thought. In that case I’d just walk even if it meant getting late to the Sierras and continuing hiking alone.
Day 69: 13 miles. Highway 36 to Carter Meadows Trail.
I woke up with the sunrise and went to have a coffee at the gas station. I started hitching and decided to give it 2 hours. After that I would just have started hiking. After 1,45 hours and hundreds of cars I had almost lost my faith in humanity but then a German couple picked me up and even gave me a rootbeer.
I was standing a while in a crossing where the Germans had dropped me. It was very smoky from a wildfire in the region. Finally a car stopped and a man picked me up. He had not seen a hitchiker in 25 years, he said. He was 85 years old and told he was going to meet his 95 year old sister before some of them would die. He told about how he took his kids fishing in a nearby lake and how he only started travelling when he was 50. He had never been overseas but said it was too late now. When he dropped me in Chester he wishes me a good life and I wished him the same.
I went to a Dutch style café and had four cups of pressocoffee. Then I hitched 3,5 miles to the trail and started hiking in the burned forest. I was not motivated to hike this section but I thought it would be even more impossible to get a hitch to Belden that is in the middle of nowhere.
At the stream I suddenly met four southbounders I didn’t know from before. They had hiked with both my tramilies. They were doing 30 mile days now as well so I couldn’t keep up with their speed.
We passed the PCT midpoint. Another similar distance to go! That is insane.
I got internet and saw Sniff was getting back to the trail. I had a dinner with my last wine watching sunset and as I was putting up the tent Sniff walked by and decided to camp in the same place. He had also skipped to Chester.
Day 70: 24 miles. Carter Meadows Trail to Myrtle Flat
I was supposed to get up at 04.30 but again the alarm didn’t work and I woke up just at 05.45. I had promised to wake up Sniff but now he also had a later start.
I went to a spring and had breakfast just a couple of mails from the start. I had accidently bought coffee meant for a coffee machine so I had to dig out the coffee and cook it, and then to wash the pot. That took forever and I never saw Sniff, or any other person that day.
The trail was again passing burned forests but also there were some cool boulders and views. I was quite bored but entertained myself with Chekhov read by Steven Fry. When you have so little external stimulance every part of a book becomes more meaningful.
In the evening I came to a point where the Cascade mountain range turns into Sierra Nevada. So I was officially at the Sierras! The High Sierras were still far away, though. Too far actually as I should be at Lake Tahoe in one week. I was eager to skip the rest of the Dixie fire area because of that.
I came to a campsite but never found a tentplace between the sketchy burned trees so I pitched my tent in the middle of the trail. Only three deer were passing by, no other soul was anywhere near.
Day 71: 10.5 miles. Myrtle Flat to Belden – Big Creek Road to Lookout Rock.
I woke up at 04.45 – I left my mobile on so at least one alarm would work. I hiked 7 miles down towards Belden and it was quite chilly. I could only sit and have breakfast a couple of miles before Belden on a rock with a view to the road.
I met a NoBo flipflopper, he was almost done with his hike and took a picture of me. He had some unfriendly experiences from Belden and said that the store only opens at 11. I went to Belden and had to wait for two hours for the shop to open. My backpack was there but they had no idea where my other package was. So much for new panties. I had to pay 10 dollars to pick up my package that I had walked 42 miles to pick. Belden is over and over voted as the worst trail town and I understand why.
I tried to hitch from Belden since I wanted to skip burn areas to Quincy. No luck again. I went back to Belden and asked a man with a car if he was going to Quincy. In fact he was and said he’d leave in an hour. I took a chance to eat an overprized icecream and took a shower. I washed my hair with dish detergent since there was no other soap. My hair will be just a big dreadlock at the end of this hike.
We left with the 60+ years old man and he was telling about his life and I was telling about mine. He had lost his house in a fire the previous year and told how he watched the black ash cloud getting closer from a window. He told also that he was 1/8 cherokee and that his grandad was an alcoholic that was always in the town jail and shouting to his dad from the jail window to get him cigarettes. The man himself had been sober for four months. He insisted on taking me back to the trail after I’d finish my chores.
I went and did laundry, groceries and eating, repacking my food in the laundromat. The trail angel joined me at the burgerjoint and he would probably driven me even further south if I asked him. I decided to get back to the trail after Quincy hence skipping 25 miles and much of the burned forests.
I walked just 3,5 miles and as there was no tentspot marked in the coming miles I decided to camp at the scenic but cold Lookout Rock. Somebody had left trail magic in the form of books and I saw in the log that Hoot and Sherpa were ahead of me but the rest of the crew ws either behind me or had not signed the log. It was crazy cold and windy so I escaped directly into my tent.
Day 72: 25 miles. Lookout Rock to Quincy La Porte Road
I woke up to a light rain but fell asleep again. My alarm went on 04.45 and I was hiking soon after that. It was very cold and since I had sent my warmer clothes to Sierra City I had to keep on hiking to not to freeze to death. I saw something black running up from the trail and realized it was a bear cub. As the mama bear could be near too I started singing and all I could remember was a song from Morrissey that I sang to the potential bear audience. It worked since no bear wanted to come closer to hear the performance.
I had my breakfast only 5 miles later by a creek called Bear creek, very fitting. Then it was another 5000 feet of climbing slowly up.
It rained on an off and higher up it was very windy on other side of a mountain. The trail went on and off from the slightly windy side to the side that basically had a storm. It was so scary as the branches from the dead trees were flying around and some of them fell right behind me on the trail where I had just walked 30 seconds earlier. I tried to walk faster but it was like a nightmare where you try to run but just can’t. People on PCT have died because of falling trees before but never been killed by bears so I found this situation very stressful.
I met two section hikers and then coming from a dirtroad nap even Sherpa that had heard me pass his tent that morning. At least some other SoBos were on the trail that felt very empty.
I kept on hiking the whole day with only small breaks and there were some cool film-like landscapes but 95 % of the time I just hated walking in the dead forests. I was pushing to make it to the road where the 100 mile burn area finally ended. It started raining like crazy again before I got there so I set up my tent right next to the road and ate in a miserable rain that reminded me too much of hiking in Northern Sweden.
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I don’t know how you are going to make it over the high sierra this late. Colorado already has ice crystals in the high country rain. But I love your blog and am with you all the way through it. Thanks for motivating me. Keep going strong!
Sorry someone wanted $10 for that 5 mile ride from Burney! Our town (Burney) prides itself on being welcoming to PCT hikers. From the church to giving hikers rides back to the trail, most people I know try to make it as cheap and convenient as possible.
I picked up many hikers and never charged one. If I pick up a hiker, it’s because I’m going the direction they need to go. Many people did offer to pay for gas, but hiking the PCT is expensive and I didn’t want to take their money.
I hope the rest of your hike goes well!
After reading your last article, I MUST come back and read the rest.
Again, excellent writing.
Perhaps you should write a book. Tal vez?