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Archive for August, 2012

I got dropped off at the Etna Brewery with the trail runners Ben and Mark where Harry and Allie found me.  We had some food and beer, then Harry drove Allie, Inspector Gadget, and me up to Happy Camp, CA.  Yes, it is an actual town…not a children’s camp.  It was filled with an odd mix of old hippies, tweekers, and forest service types, the last of which had expanded greatly due to the fires.

We got showers, then drove to a spot to camp near-ish to where we had to be in the morning.  Harry had managed to swing us into a volunteer trip for the forest service in which we go rafting and then do a wee bit of work for them: in this case, we tarped over a chunk of an invasive species.  Not hard.

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I had an inflatable kayak to go down the river in which turned incredibly fast and self-drained.  We went down the Klamath River for the day, relaxing, picking up trash, floating, and enjoying the coolness of the river instead of the 100 degree plus heat of the valley.  We picked huge blackberries and attempted to stay out of the fire bucket that helicopters were dipping into the river next to us to get water to dump on the fire.  They were literally right there, no more than 100 feet from us making a three helicopter loop, dumping the water on the burning ridge above us, which happened to be the PCT.

They got us back to Etna where we got dropped off at the hiker hut.  The town of Etna had become something of a small vortex and hikers seemed to gather and stay.  It seemed to have everything within a short distance: a cheap place to stay, a grocery store, the post office, a bar, a brewery, and a thrift store.  When we got there, we found Hop-a-long, Trooper, Navi, Extra Credit, Cactus, Trip, Hollywood, Zepher, E.D., Scrub Rat, Doe Eyes, Spins, and Baboon.

Way later than planned, Hop-a-long, Trooper, and I got a ride up with Still Phil, one of the Indiana Boys who had gotten off trail to go back to school.  Doe Eyes and Scrub Rat got a ride at the same time in a 1977 RV with a couple who does a Scott Valley podcast of local news.

We all went up trail for varying distances just to not camp right next to the road.  Hop-a-long and I stopped first at a small campsite because both of us wanted to cook dinner with a wee bit of daylight left.  Chances of thunderstorms were high that night and the crazy cloud patterns clearly suggested an entertaining night.  A warning had flashed across my phone before we left town to watch carefully for lightening fires.  Great.  More fires.  The whole damn west coast is burning!

A woman came up right after dark with no lights and two horses who freaked me out for a moment.  I just heard the big animal noise coming toward us, turned my bright light on and she identified herself.  At least it wasn’t a bear, I thought.

That night wasn’t actually bad.  I saw one bolt of lightning quite far away and it rained for a maximum of 10 minutes, or just enough to wake me up to make sure the tarp would keep me dry and not blow away.

In the morning, we started at a decent time and passed Doe Eyes and Scrub Rat’s tent in an amazingly small spot about half an hour later. Of course, there were much better spots about a tenth of a mile later, but that’s how the trail works.

About seven miles of that section was this really annoying rocky stretch with sharp ups and downs, the rest was pretty cruise-able.  Right at the top of the last sharp bump, Hop-a-long and I took a break and up walked Trooper who we thought was ahead of us.  He had a very entertaining story.  It went along the lines of this:

“So, I camp up at the first water and right as I’m going to bed, I heard a large animal in the bushes.  I picked up a rock and threw it over there and a mother fuckin’ bear barreled downhill.  Sounded like a 300 pound boulder rolling downhill.  Then, I wake up to noises, I pick up a rock and shine my bright light and it’s three mother fuckin’ deer.  Not long after, the mother fuckin’ rain started, so I got up and set up my mother fuckin’ tent, got in, then it stopped!  Like someone just flipped a mother fuckin’ switch!  I fell back to sleep only to wake up to more mother fuckin’ noises.  I pick up a rock and the same mother fuckin’ bear is over there!”  Trooper recounted with full arm gestures.

“That’s an impressive amount of ‘fucks’ you got in that story,” I laughed.

“I was fuckin’ pissed!” Trooper said, not laughing.  “I got up at 7:30am, but ended up falling back to sleep until 11:40am and left at noon.”

We hiked awhile longer and ate dinner by a locked old forest service cabin.  While we ate, we saw kids out of no where and we asked where the road was because that many kids that young did not come in that far.  After asking several times, we discovered a road 4.5 miles away by an easy side trail.  Two forest service types came over to chat as well for a bit.

When we finished dinner, we set out to climb up and over another ridge to camp near Paradise Lake.  The trail became fairly overgrown for that stretch and I cursed Yogi’s guidebook which told me the overgrown trail would be over after section o.  The only other notable thing we saw were the goat people the forest service people told us about camped right on top of the ridge.  With the wind raging, they seemed to need a fairly large campfire, for what, I’m not sure.  Let’s think about this a minute.  Windy ridge.  No near water source.  Extra dry conditions. Large fire.  Not smart dude.

We found decent camping and passed out down by the lake outlet after I almost stepped on an extremely large toad.

The trail only had one more climb before it took a slow, long descent into Seiad Valley, filled with poison oak.  It’s hard to watch for it when your body wants to barrel downhill toward beer.  Before I gave into listening to music, I heard a large animal noise only to look over up the hill at the biggest black bear I’ve ever seen about 30 feet away from me.  It quickly ran away, up the hill, fast for what seemed like a 400 pound, musky smelling bear.  It stopped at the top of the hill and looked back at me for a moment before running over the other side.

I put on some music and cruised downhill trying to avoid the poison oak as best as I could.  At the bottom, we hit a dirt road on which we had to walk almost three miles down to the Klamath River, then a paved road around to the bridge and into Seiad Valley.  Hop-a-long and I had a brilliant beyond brilliant plan to cut off the paved section by swimming across the river while floating our packs on our sleeping pads.  Since I had floated down the river already, I knew there were calm spots and super shallow spots, but the terrain shot our plan down.  From the road, a 40 drop through poison oak and blackberry bushes separated us from the river.  We chose not getting poison oak, walked around and complained about the pavement.

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When we walked into “town” we discovered everything was right in one spot.  The post office, the store, and the cafe were in one building and the hiker friendly RV park run by Bruce, wearing a Dead shirt, was immediately next to it.  That was town.  We camped at the RV park for $10 and got some tasty beverages at the store before it closed at 9pm.

We decided to leave figuring out the fire detour for the morrow.

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I only made it a mile or less out of town from Dunsmuir when I meant to do six.  The problem all stemmed from Yogi claiming a laundromat was open in Dunsmuir.  I had planned to take lunch from the grocery store as well as my resupply and hang out there, doing my laundry, eating lunch, sorting food, and of course charging the electronics like the all important and essential iPod.  Yet, as this wonderful establishment was closed for business, I ended up eating and sorting food near a kids playground since that was the only public place with shade to do such things.  Of course, everyone walking in the vicinity avoided looking over because I apparently looked homeless.  The only person who stopped was Pacemaker who I enjoyed catching up with.

That being said, I still needed somewhere to sit with a plug, so I went to find a bar and found a brewery.  I quickly glanced at Yogi’s notes and she mentions no brewery!  What a curious thought.  Priorities, Yogi!

I plopped down next to an outlet and began charging electronics while drinking some good, refreshing pale ales.  Not too long after, Splinter and Inspector Gadget showed up to do the same thing, so I caught up with them and several beers later, we somehow managed to yogi a ride from a super awesome old hippie in a mini van.

After drinking another tall boy at the trailhead, we moved out hiking.  It didn’t take long for the recent lack of sleep to kick in and I camped in a super wide part of the trail near some power lines and watched the meteors until I passed out.

The morning didn’t work out so well either since I accidentally fell back to sleep at 4:30am instead of getting up and barely made it out of my sleeping bag an hour later.  Two and a half miles up, I found Splinter next to the first water and Gadget camped on the bridge of the second water a third of a mile later.

The trail just went up and down, up and down in small, rather pointless elevation gain and loss around some foothills catching lots of water.  Several thousand feet above us lay the Castle Crags, these giant rock formations that looked eerily like an old fashioned castle.

At the base of the climb out, where I meant to get, I found Stonewall camped there who I hadn’t seen since Ziggy and the Bear’s house (mile 210).  I totally didn’t recognize him at first through the tent bug netting.  I got water there, checked out the maps, ate a snack, and washed my socks downstream since I did not get laundry in town…I must stink!

The first bit of the climb wasn’t too bad.  I passed over Disappearing Creek which seemed to have disappeared since it was bone dry.  I thought I was taking a little much on the water anyway since I had 2.5 liters for 6 miles, but I was thirsty that morning.

It was a damn good thing I carried that much water since as soon as the steep switchbacks started up the ridge instead of just contouring up, the trees went away with all the shade!  I sucked down so much water it was ridiculous.  For four miles, the trail just shot up, up, up.  As I got further up, I noticed whoever built the trail could have had us contour half a mile further and then follow a creek up a bowl instead of the really exposed, dry, steep ridge I was climbing.  I could see the heat waves and started to feel a wee bit delirious like back in the desert.  My brain felt like it was frying inside my skull and my throat became drier and drier despite drinking lots of water.  I was also sooooaked in sweat.

The second half of the climb, I could pretty much only go half a mile up and then needed to sit in the shade just to cool off; it seemed like I was just overheating pretty badly.  When I finally got to the spring, I sprawled out under the only tree.  The spring was dry on trail, but 25 yards up or so, it trickled well enough.

I ate lunch and dozed for almost three hours since I apparently was not handling the heat that day.  I left a little after 4pm when it was still way too hot, but still considerably better than it had been.  A mile later, I hit the last water for 15 miles and loaded up from a pool 15 feet up since it was just mud going across the trail.  I was glad I had the Sawyer Squeeze since it was barely flowing.

I trucked along, but stopped early because the heat had zapped all my energy.  I only made it 18 miles or so and passed out right after Inspector Gadget came and camped.  I saw only a few meteors before my eyes refused to obey my brain and closed for sleep.

The next day, I woke up early and cranked out a 30 mile day thanks to Crystal Light Energy (i.e. drink mix crack) that has caffeine and B vitamins.  The day just went up and down, up and down.  I ran into Scooter and Green Machine that day, but not many other thru hikers.  I stopped for a nice two hour break at Deadfall Lake where I took a nice dip in my clothes to scrub them off a wee bit since I lacked laundry in Dunsmuir.

I made it to a nice wide saddle to camp that evening and managed to have some 3G, so naturally I used the internet for a bit only to find out that AsABat, the wonderful water report guy had passed away of natural causes while hiking.  That water report made the desert so much more bearable.

As I woke up early and packed up, I heard something, but didn’t know what it was.  Right as I left, I heard, “Hey Veggie!”

Startled, I whirled around to see Inspector Gadget off under a tree who had night hiked in after I had fallen asleep.

I knew I needed to pull miles again since I only managed 18 out of Dunsmuir and that disrupted my plan.  I woke up after stumbling down the trail in the dark when I drank that magical crystal light energy.  A few miles down, I passed Splinter sprawled out right next to the trail and he groggily said someone had super late night hiked past him.  I found out later it was G who pulled back to back 45 mile days in order to hitch back and climb Shasta.

I tried something new that day.  I only hiked about 5 miles, then took a 20-30 minute break instead of hiking more and taking longer breaks.  It worked out pretty well and I stayed hydrated and well fed since I resupplied while I was hungry, I had too much food.  I had a few sit downs and eat-as-much-as-possible sessions to lessen the weight.

Janet hiked on and off with me all day and then I hiked about five miles past her or so that evening.  I managed 32 that night and only stopped because I saw Stonewall and Taka, ended up chatting, then the tiredness set in.

We had a mere 19 miles to town from there which I managed grumpily before 2pm trying to make my friend Allie’s birthday.  I was really only grumpy for the pointless elevation change and the annoying extra rocks in the middle of the trail.  Overall, it was fine though.  I did get to see Snow Turtle and Aggassi at one of the yellow jacket infested water sources.  All of the water sources recently have had an absurd number of bees hanging around it and several people have reported stings in sections o and p.  As I got to the road, I ran into Twisted and Creep who I hadn’t met before.  Some trail runners gave us a ride into town after the three of us waited an hour and had three cars pass us, all of which stopped to make sure we saw how full their cars were and said sorry they couldn’t pick us up.

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Setting out from Burney Falls alone was super weird because Hop-a-long and Inspector Gadget were ahead and Dead Animal had to get off trail, but within 6 miles, I ran into the crew that had chilled and loitered at the store with me as well as Spins and Baboon who I hadn’t seen in about 1000 miles.

After cooking dinner with that crew, I hiked just under 5 miles further uphill to the next water and camped there.  I threw down right next to the trail and heard Dancing Feet and Not-so-bad talking in the only actual campsite there.

I started flying since I wanted to make a college buddy’s birthday at the Etna Brewery.  My plan was to wake up at 4:30am and hike as long as possible to pull a series of 27-30 mile days til Etna.  That meant morning night hiking.  Woohoo. Hmmm.

That entire morning, I would have been better off with a machete than trekking poles, it was so overgrown.  Poison Oak also grew precariously underneath the bigger bushes to bash through.  On top of that, cob webs began to encase me since I was the first person up and going.  I pulled the waving a trekking pole up and down in front of me.

All of a sudden, I saw something in the middle of the trail.  It turned out to be Scooter who had crashed there for lack of a better start and sat up bolt upright.

That whole mid morning to late afternoon the trail passed through lots of logging territory. This destroyed much of the shade and made our water more difficult to find since the sources were few and far between and down random unmarked logging roads.  Luckily, someone had written “H2O” with an arrow in sticks at the correct ones.

At my lunch break, Scooter caught up and ended up hiking with me the whole afternoon.  We ended up camping in the middle of the trail again after two large, bright meteors flashed overhead and we stopped and stared at the sky in the clearing.  That night I saw several more from the incoming meteor shower.

In the morning, we morning night hiked past Dazzle doing the same thing and all he said was, “Man, the days keep getting shorter when we need them longer!”

At the next water, we ran into a long section hiker Janet who was also vegan.  Then we scurried off and down to the icy McCloud River where we went for a super refreshing swim and laundry.  After a two hour break from the suffocating heat, we went back up the other side of the valley and over the top.  We stopped and ate dinner with Janet and then began hiking a few miles more.

Thru-hikers tend to have this night hiking habit of having their headlamps ready and on their heads, but won’t turn them on until they start stumbling and tripping over things.  This was one of those times.  It had gotten dark, but we weren’t stumbling yet.  That is, until SCURRY SCURRY SCURRY.

Startled, we immediately flipped the headlights on and in the direction of the scurrying down hill.  We could tell it was two or three animals.  It definitely wasn’t a bear; it wasn’t loud enough.  It definitely wasn’t a deer; the sound wasn’t bouncy and the eyes that stared back at us were different.  It definitely wasn’t coyotes; we hadn’t seen any of their scat and they run further away.  Then Scooter moved from side to side to make his headlamp move and the eyes followed the light.  We caught the faint outline of a mountain lion cub.  Ten feet further, we saw the other two and their tracks in the trail.  Ohhhhhh shit…where is momma??  We heard something above us and we mooooved out of there right quick and hiked fast to Squaw Creek where we ran into Kristo and Heehaw who saw a bear bigger than them that day.  That explained the huge amount of bear scat in the middle of the trail.

The next morning, I got up super early again and made 17 miles into Dunsmuir by 12:30pm.  The trail pulled a few of those large obnoxious switchbacks that added at least 3 miles onto the trail to keep the grade down.

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The stretch from Chester to Drakesbad Guest Ranch went quickly and had some great jam music from Heehaw and Kristo.  We stayed near Drakesbad at the trailhead for a night as all the hikers clumped together in a new bubble from having to skip around the Chip’s Fire.  Drakesbad gave us free laundry and showers which was great and we got to swim in their hot spring pool…but only after a shower.  Dead Animal, Dancing Feet, Not-so-bad, Cowboy, Shep Dog, Heehaw, Kristo, and Swiss Army.

Dead Animal had gotten back on after a week off to rest his right knee which had started hurting him crazy bad right before Barker Pass.  He and I set out from Drakesbad right as Hop-a-long had caught up and headed north slowly since the heat was pretty bad.

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The heat actually sucked so much, we stopped after 3.5 miles and took a two hour nap.  We saw Michigan Wolverine, E.D., Even Star, and Dazzle there when we first laid down.  When I woke up, Magellan was eating lunch ten feet away.

We plugged on five miles to South Twin Lake and went for a swim which felt most refreshing.  Yay water filter!  The lake was also the last water for 12 miles.

Dead Animal and I put on headphones and managed to whip out another ten miles or so in just over three hours and camped for the night about five miles before Old Station.

When I woke up, however, I did not feel in tip-top shape.  I thought it was just because I hadn’t eaten as much as I should have the night before, so I ate breakfast and kept packing up.  Right before leaving that feeling you get when you know you’re going to throw up sometime soon hit me.

I managed to get a mile and a half to water where I laid down.  Not much longer and the sudden feeling of “I’m going to puke NOW” came and I made it about 10 feet before breakfast came right back up.  My first reaction was annoyance: I could have used that four hundred calories.

Since puking made me feel better, I ate a handful of Triscuits to replace the lost calories but that only upset my stomach five minutes later and I hurled everything up again. Dead Animal waited patiently while Splinter and Inspector Gadget passed and made sure I was semi-ok.

We moved another mile before I had to lay down in the shade, then puke, then I could go another mile or so, then lay down, then puke.  I’d hiked on food poisoning twice before in Spain and it sucked, but I knew I could do it if I had to.  Dead Animal did eventually take my pack for the last two miles when I was not holding down water and almost passing out.

Dancing Feet and Not-so-bad had called Firefly, a former trail angel to pick them up and Firefly offered to take us in as well.  Magellan came to get away from the heat.  When she came, I was laying on the cool pavement outside of the Old Station store drinking ice water from a cup with a straw so I didn’t have to sit up.  Funk gave me an anti-nausea pill that doctors apparently give to cancer patients to keep food and water down.  It worked miraculously.

Firefly got us all over to her house and showed us around.  I decided to take a nap in her garage since it was the coolest place around.  After some sleep and rest, two days later, we were back in action going up to Hat Creek Rim.

Dead Animal and I saw Safari, G, and Bouncer that evening as we began our night hike up there.  Right as it got dark, we saw sweeping views of the Reading Fire, started by lightning in Lassen National Park back where we traveled through before.  To the other side, we saw grand views of Mt. Shasta off in the distance.

That night we got 14 miles into the 30+ mile of exposed rim before we took a nap to get up early and try to get through the rest.  The cache 22 was not far off and we found it in the morning as a small oasis of water, shade, and an amazing trail register.

Regrettably, we had to leave the space of wonderfulness and go out into the evilness of the sun.  The entire day had very little shade but we did get a small treat of trail magic in the form of a cooler full of ice water.  I had actually just been dreaming of ice and anything iced.  We enjoyed a break with Bird, Freebird, and Scallywag.

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Dead Animal and I pushed that afternoon and made it to Hwy 299 into Burney and went in to escape the heat.  Talk about a small town.  It was super nice and the motel was clean and had cheap laundry.

The next morning, we got out and went to the trail fairly easily.  Hiking another 8 miles, we got up to Burney Falls State Park where I had my resupply sent.  Dead’s knee was still really bothering him those 8 miles and he made the tough decision to get off there instead.

The state park store where we loitered for quite some time had some rather disgruntled older and very rude employees, so we tried not to spend too much money there and blow up their toilets a few times for them.  A whole crew took over a section of picnic tables: Extra Credit, Cactus, Trip, Hollywood, Scallywag, Mr. C., Buffet, and Camilleon.

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Food Poisoning

Recently, I got some bad food poisoning and have been sleeping it off for two days.  Several others have gotten sick as well and the only common thread seems to be from the dirty Chinese Food at Happy Garden in Chester…DON’T EAT THERE!  I have treated all my water with a filter and haven’t eaten anything out of the ordinary besides the Chinese Food.  I will be back on trail soon with more fun stories.

Until then, I recommend googling the Chips Fire which has grown to over 10,000 acres, created spot fires two miles away, and continues burning through the horrendously dry forest.  Hot temperatures and wind have not helped either.

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Hop-a-long and I raced down the 3500 ft drop to the Post Office to get our packages before it closed at 1pm.  Whoever we camped near was still asleep when we left.

Plugging along, as soon as the descent began, we saws the fire on the other side of the canyon sending up an enormous amount of smoke and covering quite a large area.  We walked down seemingly straight toward it.  It switchbacked downward for the most part, but definitely still made my knees hurt a bit, so I had to go a bit slower.

I found Hop-a-long at the Belden Town “Resort” which pretty much consisted of the entire town minus the “Post Office/Museum” and a small convenience store/RV park about 2 miles down the road.  She had found Trooper, Cowboy, and Tracks eating breakfast, so we joined them and before long Snow Turtle, Aggassi, Swanson, Bird, and Freebird joined us.

Immediately, the forest service began telling us our options.  Their first spiel went something like this: the PCT is closed between Hwy 70 (Belden) and Hwy 36 (Chester) due to the Chips Fire.  All the side trails in the vicinity connecting the two highways are also closed.  The fire started small but has grown.  It was human caused and is only 10% contained.  Option 1: walk Caribou Rd up to the end and take a bike path to Hwy 89 and walk/hitch to Hwy 36, then walk/hitch to the trail crossing.  Option 2: walk/hitch Hwy 70 16 miles to Hwy 89 for 36 miles, then walk/hitch 5 miles to the trail.

We sorted through food, blogged, snagged a shower from Funk and Troopers cabin, and drank some beer while we mulled over our two options.  In the process of drinking beer on the porch, the forest service came back over in a panic mode and told us not to hike up Caribou road because the fire had spread that way and they were going to evacuate all the campgrounds and RV park.

If we had to hitch it, we definitely weren’t going anywhere that evening to get stuck on one of those sides of the roads.

That night, we all crammed into one cabin: Funk, Trooper, Cowboy, Shep Dog, Chef, Pocahontas, Hop-a-long, Dead Animal, and I.  In the morning, the fire had spread even more and had dumped ashes all over the deck.

Dead and I began hitching right outside of Belden Town and got a ride down to the corner store from the Post Office lady, but then were stuck there for five hours.

During that five hours, pretty much only forest service people passed who can’t pick anyone up in a government vehicle.  We got talked to by several of them ascertaining that we weren’t trying to walk through, and then by the cops.  One of the cops pulled the dick cop move of questioning us about who all was ahead of us in that cop tone with his arms crossed and his sunglasses on in the shade.

“So you don’t know who was a day or two ahead of you?” He asked for a last time.

“No, I caught everyone I knew directly ahead of me in Belden,” I replied.

“You didn’t see any non thru hikers? Like around midnight?” He kept at it.

“No…its not uncommon to night hike though.”

Grunts, “you know you have to hitch around to Chester?”

“Yeah, but we’ve been standing here for 4 hours…wanna give us a ride at least to the next road?” I asked annoyed that by talking to us cars wouldn’t even think of pulling over.

“We have to go to Belden Town. Sure you didn’t see anyone?”

I’m sorry, I thought cops were supposed to help people.  My bad.  All those taxpayer dollars.  I may not be a resident of California, but I’ve sure spent enough money in your broke ass state in the last three months for a 16 mile ride.

Eventually, one of the cooks at Belden Town took pity on us since he had some time before work, turned around and picked Dead Animal and me up and subsequently Cowboy and Shep Dog down the road since they gave up on hitching and began walking.  Hwy 70 was a very dangerous road to walk on: curvy, no shoulder, and high speeds.

“If I’m late, I’ll just tell him I drove hikers to the next road. You guys give us a lot of business, they won’t care,” he said.

He dropped us off at the “Y” of Hwy 70 and Hwy 89 where a bus was supposed to make a non route stop there on the way to Chester if hikers were there.  We had 20 minutes to spare, so we threw our thumbs out in case anyone would take us sooner when Joe picked us up in his truck.  A former Navy guy who now fixed appliances kindly drove us all the way to a Chinese restaurant in Chester.

There, we found Heehaw, Kristo, and Swiss Army who were the last ones to make it through the walking detour.  I inhaled two lunch specials.

As Dead and I wandered around, a blue truck came up and rolled down the window, “Do you guys need a ride anywhere?  We’re looking for hikers to help.”

“We need to charge our phones, but we’ll be done in an hour,” Dead said.

“Ok, we’ll be back here for you then!” She said.

And they were, Ron and Karen came back and drove us to the trail where PipersMom had left trail magic coolers.

We got back and hiked to the first water.  All the same suspects were there listening to Kristo and Heehaw play guitars except Hop-a-long, Funk, and Trooper who got later rides and didn’t make it that far that night.  Overall, it worked out, but mostly sucked because the half-way point was burning.

On the pct-l, reports have been coming in over the Chip’s Fire explosion and saying it’s going nuts, there are more evacuations and Hwy 70 will probably soon close.

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We got into Sierra City after a long, drown out descent.  At the road, Hop-a-long and I hitched a ride with 1/2 of the Red Moose Inn, trail angel Bill.  He gave us a ride there, we dropped our packs, and ran across the street to the General Store where we had sent resupply boxes.  Several bags of chips and soda later, we went back to the Red Moose and enjoyed the most awesome resupply help from Margrette and Bill.  They let us have free showers, laundry and $1 cheap beers.

A huge crowd had become sucked into the vortex.  G, Splinter, Inspector Gadget, Snow Turtle, Aggassi, and Swanson had all gotten there 9:30am the morning before and were still there.  Other suspects included: Hollywood, Chow Down, Lorax, Chimney Sweep, Dr. Huss, Dancing Feet, Not-so-bad, Drop Zone, and Scallywag.  It was Scallywag’s birthday, so naturally, we all celebrated quite a bit.

Hop-a-long and I worked hard to have our first “in and out” trail resupply, so we whipped through showers, laundry, and eating as much as possible, which included dinner at the Red Moose.  The only people to make it back to the trail that afternoon were Snow Turtle, Aggassi, Swanson, Splinter, Dancing Feet, Not-so-bad, Hop-a-long and I, yet the two of us only managed to get out at dark and night hike to a nice flat spot that we found off of a switch back, not more than a mile out.

We got up early and went for it to knock out a 3,000 odd foot climb up to the crested buttes that we looked directly up at from Sierra City.  Since there was no 1200 mile mark, we stopped and created one.  Three miles up, the trail began a giant upward contour instead of switchbacking.  That’s where we found Dancing Feet and Not-so-bad barely awake.

Once up and over, we began to hit side trail after side trail and a shit ton of jeep 4×4 roads as we went from ridge to ridge.  At one point, we came across three jeeps blocking the entire trail as they figured out how to get one unstuck from the bottom of a hill.

“Excuse me, sir?  Do you know you are parked on the PCT?  A footpath. No motorized vehicles…” I said annoyed that they had kicked up enough dust to line the insides of all our lungs.

In a dirty, grumblely voice, “you can walk right there,” pointing to scrub bushes around his 7 mpg jeep that was destroying the environment.

I threw them as many dirty looks as I could and kept walking.  Due to all the dirt roads, many day walkers were out and about the whole damn day.

After having to get gross ass water from Summit Lake, the A Tree spring tasted fantastic, although, the Sawyer Squeeze filter worked fantastic and I was definitely glad to have it.  Aquamira-ing that would have sucked, especially since all around the lake was a marshy mess.

We ate dinner and then kept hiking to where Yogi mentions we should “descend to a spot with some campsites – good water” at mile 1225.  Yeah, Yogi lied.  Both of our headlamps were starting to die, for some reason there were a ton of blowdowns and we neared the end of a 27 mile day tripping everywhere.  At 10pm, we knew we were half a mile further than where she said the flat spot would be and had seen nothing the whole time, so we called it and camped right smack in the middle of the trail.  Our logic was that the only person behind crazy enough to night hike past us was G and he would find it hilarious and no one would be up before us.

No one ended up passing us, but we found Snow Turtle, Aggassi, and Swanson in semi-flat areas half a mile further.  We cruised along, up, and over and eventually ran into Splinter who had slept until about 10am or so and just starting out.

“How far did you get out of town?” Hop-a-long asked.

“Uhh 13.  I had a good buzz going and I just kept drinking and smoking cigarettes until it was 1am,” Splinter laughed.

When we got to the road with the water .3 off, Hop watched our stuff in the parking lot while Splinter and I got water.  On the way back, we saw Hop talking up some nice looking day walkers.  They ended up offering us each a beer which made our day!  While we sat there, the woman came running back with a coffee mug type thing and said, “We’re really bad hikers…I bring two of these every time and I only need one, so you guys can have this and leave the mug in the back of the truck.”

It was a frozen Piña Colada that tasted especially delicious and soooo refreshing.  We shared all of it with Snow Turtle, Aggassi, and Swanson when they came a few moments later.

We had motivation with that coursing through our system to get to what was described as the best swimming hole on trail at the Middle Fork of the Feather River.  It was indeed the best one yet: the water was a perfect temperature, there was a large rock perfectly submerged to sitting depth in the middle, there were campsites nearby, and someone had left a goggle face mask there! The 15 miles to get there after lunch was so worth it rounding us off at a 25 mile day and swimming by 8pm.

Hop-a-long and I got up early and prepared for a really long day in order to make the Belden Post Office hours which were severely limited to 9am-1pm Monday through Friday.  The entire long day, we pretty much climbed out from the river to the tallest ridge around.

We ran into Splinter again about 9 miles further by the last water for 8 miles.  After chatting and hanging out, he realized he did not have his headlamp and he left it where he slept some 3.5 miles back and down some 1500 ft at least.  He ended up going back for it.

Hop-a-long and I kept plugging and ran into Sea Hag and Robo Knee getting water before the last climb.  It wasn’t a bad climb, but we had climbed all day.  They ended up camping at the top of it while we kept going over the very bumpy ridge.

The two of us ate dinner by a side trail and Aggassi, Snow Turtle, and Swanson passed us.  I turned my phone on for the hell of it and Dead Animal had texted me, “fire north of Belden, trail closed.”

“Details?” I texted back.

“All I know is info in Belden Town Resort,” the text came back.

Well, it was north of Belden, so we proceeded with our plan to do a 30 mile day so we only had 9 miles down into town.  When we managed to get to the campsite just before 10pm, we found a tent there with someone asleep and we didn’t know who it was, so we snuck around and found something behind it and set up quietly wondering what the fire was about.

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