Beast Mode: Walking Because We Can.
Quick note: wifi and service is getting increasingly hard to find so I will do my best with photos and continung this blog. But…might just be a lot of words.
Welp. The last of the major snow-walking is over. I think. Sure seems that way. Which means a beautiful, wonderful, brown, easy-to-see, dirt trail. Oh the luxury! It means dry feet and legs blackened with dirt. It means we can walk without thinking about the placement of every step and even look up on occasion to see our surroundings. It. Is. So. Nice. It also means it’s time to put in the miles. The Sierra put us about ten days behind schedule. That is a lot of miles to make up. We are not even halfway and we have to start pushing how far we walk each day. Talk about planning ahead. But I would love to be done by September 20 for my cousins’s wedding. Probably not gonna happen but we’ll see. That would require 24 miles per day and no zeros. Sounds unpleasant. But in the meantime, Ima be doing 25-30 miles everyday to try to make that happen. Maintained that goal pretty well after Sierra City. Here’s the lowdown.
Day 78: After Lacey Peak, 1175.5
I continued to hike with who I am going to call the Settlers of Catan for the next two days. Why am I calling them that? Because they have a travel-sized Settlers game and loser had to carry it. Fucking brilliant. We played tonight and I tied for last! Totally thought I was gonna lose. Anyways.
Today was a lot of minor ups and downs and lots more wildflowers. Even though it is the same wildflowers they are still so pretty to look at. The Indian Paintbrush, Lupin, Penny Broil, Colombine. And a zillion others I don’t know. We climbed Lacey’s Peak, so naturally I took a photo of Lacy up there. Otter owning her own mountain. There was some smoke but it cleared up so we got to see some vistas. Unger, Wasabi, and Lady passed me in the evening. I was bummed about that cause I thought that by waiting for S&M, they’d catch up and we could hike with them. Oh well.
Started out with a small climb to a peak covered in…Lamb’s Ear? Bug, fuzzy-leafed plants with yellow flowers. Great for wiping your butt. The leave I mean. Then it was down, down, down for twenty miles to Sierra City. Near the bottom of the descent, it felt like we were in Lothlorian. Everything was so green and we followed the Milton and then Yuba River for a bit.
In town, Trail Dad bought us all dinner at Herrington’s. I felt kinda bad, cause I knew I was waiting dor S&M rather than hiking out with them but he insisted. And lord was it amazing. I got a 4 oz rib eye steak and ate it all. With a baked potato, salad, amd grilled watermelon. Plus blackberry cobbler gor desert. And a beer. Dammit it was good. We all camped behind the church on a nice slope.
Day 80: Sierra City, 1095.5
I zeroed today to wait for S&M. And after this…hopefully no zeros till Ashland. With 25-30 mile days…we’ll see. Hang in there body!
I said goodbye to the Settlers and had breakfast with Slip-n-slide. She had bought some things from the bakery and was sharing them with all the hikers who slept at the church. The generosity continues even amongst fellow hikers. I pretty much hung out with all the hikers who rolled in that day while I waited: Neon, Lady, Bender, etc etc. People I had hiked with for a bit in the past.
Bender plus some others and I ended up going down to the Yuba River and swimming for a bit. It is so much warmer than the alpine lakes we were skinny dipping in before. Makes it way easier to get in. AND, guess what I saw?? A river otter! Otter saw an otter! It was playing in the current then scampered back up the bank. It was perfect, my life is complete.
When I got back from the river, S&M had arrived and I met her awesome, wonderful parents. They were so nice and, yes, of course, generous. They treated me to another dinner at Herrington’s, and this time I got two pork chops. I could barely finish the meal but then got hungry again a half hour later. I also ran into Daniela Kaufer, my old PI from Berkeley! I swear I’m not kidding. We were both staring at each other cause I knew I knew her from somewhere, which was exactly what she was doing. Finally she came over and said, “I know you…Berkeley?” I said yes, she said Helen Willis, and Bingo it clicked. Such a freaking small world.
S&M’s parents paid for a bed a the River Haven. It was set up under an EZ up in their backyard. Super quaint and I slept like a rock.
Day 81: East Fork of Bear Trap Creek, 1223.7
And the twenty-eight mile days begin. We had a 3000 foot climb today but it was pretty mellow. Climbed up into the Sierra Buttes. We walked along a ridge for a while and passed five zillion lakes, all below, taunting us with their blue waters. Of course now that everything is not FROZEN the PCT decides to go just far enough from the lakes for you to not want to do the extra miles to get to them. Ugh. Annoying. We walked in lots of pine forests and ridge meadows. The feet are back to hurting, which can be expected with 28 mile days.
Today just felt good. Even after another 28 miles. In the morning we had a run in with a bear, but we didn’t know it. There was loud rustling ten feet above us and we thought it was a deer running away. We keep walking and see another hiker who says, “Ah, you’re what made the bear run”. It was so close to us and we didn’t see it. Grrr. Better safe than sorry though…I guess.
We alternated between meadows loaded with wildflowers and lichen-covered forests. The trees are so cool to look at when you just see trunk after trunk of neon green. The sun was also peaking out from behind big, white, fluffy clouds, so we had an awesome morning sky too. Monet-esque. My fav. At one point, we kept hearing this crazy loud fan noise, like the sound of a woodchip maker. We could not for the life of us figure out what it was…and then we crossed a road. They were big semis. Duh. What the trail does to you.
After lunch we hiked to an on-trail swimming hole! Or river dip really. At the Feather River. The water was warm(er than alpine lakes) and it felt nice to clean some of the dirt off. The trail leading down and away from it reminded me of the hiking trails by Auburn and Placerville: dried oak leaves littering the floor, oak trees lining the trail, and massive river gorges.
We hiked to a small campsite on a ridge and I heard my first crickets in a long time. I also saw two snakes! A black and yellow one and a big ole’ gray one. They were synchronized slithering away together. Campsite was buggy but we made do.
Day 83: Campsite After Saddle, 1280.1
Day number three of 28 miles. Woot woot. Killin’ it. Body felt more tired today but dealing with it. Today was less exciting, I felt like a robot putting one foot in front of the other again and again and again. We had a couple cool vistas of the expansive green…hills we are now walking through. Because they definitely aren’t mountains.
We are getting exceptionally dirty now, hands, arms, and legs all black with dirt. With no lakes or rivers to swim in. Screw showers. We did have another registry though! Finally. Gotta see where some people are. At this point, I know I am not gonna see some friends again. They are just too fast and too far ahead. But it is nice to see their names.
Day 84: Two miles past Cold Spring, 1304.75
Ran the descent into Belden while dodging copious amounts of poison oak. I am so paranoid I’m gonna get it. And then we got the lovely pleasure of seeing the town of Belden. It is a weird, weird place. Lots of raves happen here and I guess people going to the festivals have been dressing up as hikers to get free camping or something. So some people got were asked for their permits. Ate a massive breakfast before starting a 15 mile, 5000 foot climb. Woooo eeee. Oh! And I got brand new, shiny, full-of-support shoes. The Sierra tore my others apart within in 300 miles.
The climb SUCKED. It was exposed and hot for the first couple of miles then this weird winding straight up and straight down trail that made it feel like we were gaining no elevation. After grueling through that, we finally got to the peak and had lots of wildflowers to welcome us. Did a few more miles to our random campsite.
Twenty-four into Chester. Pretty chill and we passed the midpoint! Even though it is 9 miles before the actual midpoint. They had registries in there from 2014! It was like reading PCT history.
Got an immediate hitch into Chester and camped behind a church for free. Took a six minute, $3 shower and bought way too much for a resupply. We ran into DG! We hadn’t seen him since…the early Sierra. That’s one of the best part of this trail. Running into people after weeks of not seeing them. Lerv it.
Another 28 mile day. Got anhitch from a forest service guy and got free coffee, well S&M did, from a guy who was camping for a month. We hiked through Lassen National Park and passed the boiling springs; this light blue gurgling pool of sulfuric water. The rest of Lassen was just water. We camped in a massive burn area so we were surrounded by white/charcoal tree. I couldn’t stake my tent cause the dirt was so soft so I cowboyed.
Did my first 30. Thirty one point seven actually. And it was hell. Ugh. To think we are going to be doing these regularly in Oregon. But not on porous lava rock. Hopefully.
Hat Creek Rim is a 30 mile stretch without water…with a water cache in the middle. So two 15 mile stretches without water. We got our last water at the Subway Cave and the tourists there kept handing us food. Watermelon, cold water, fruit cups, almonds. We were just sitting at a table not even looking that homeless and people continued to come up to us with goodies. So we took a looong lunch. The Subway Cave was a cool lava tube, nice little side trip.
We finally pulled ourselves away from the free stuff and started our awful walk in the heat over lava rocks under the exposed sun to our campsite. I was so done by the end of it; my feet hurt, I was tired, sweaty, and hot. And still exceptionally dirty. Our campsite was sweet, had an awesome view of the valley below and we fell asleep to the mooing of cows. Oh, Bender showed up after doing a 34 mile day and potentially having Giardia. People out here are nuts.
Day 88: Burney, 1408.8
Twenty into Burney. And we walked around 4mph! Pretty damn good. We met my dad and step mom at highway 299 and they drove Bender, S&M, and me to Burney Falls. They made us an amazing picnic and took us to Burney. I think that is going to be it for the family visits… maybe. I’m amazed they all worked out timing wise.
They dropped us off at McDonald’s and a girl started talking to us, asked us if we needed a place to stay, and told us her mom hosts thru-hikers. So we got a ride with her friends to the house, were served a spaghetti dinner, and crashed on their floor. At some point I will have to pay for a hotel. I’d imagine.
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