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Posts Tagged ‘Splinter’

Thoroughly debating the state of Cookie Monster’s burned foot, we decided to press on right after a brief chat with Splinter.

“Where have you been?” Hop-a-long asked since he should have been only a few miles behind us.

“Ya know,” he sighed, “I was trying to get way further than I was but then I hit Russel Creek and I heard the water rushing quite quickly underneath all that snow and ice at night and I didn’t feel safe crossing it, so I set up camp right then and there.”

“Safe decision,” I said thinking about how glad I was we hit that in the daytime and properly assessed it.

We trotted onward and upward and away from the very expensive Ollalie Lake Resort.

Then we ran into a worried woman and her teenage daughter both complete with large weekend packs that went over their heads.

“You guys know it’s hunting season, right?” she stammered.

“Oh, no. Huh.” Cookie said unconcerned.

“Well you’ll be fine once you hit the Indian Reservation because there’s no hunting over there,” she mentioned.

After she left we thought about what she said and how worried she was.  “Then why is she hiking south, away from the reservation?” Cookie asked me.

“She also had no blaze orange on either,” I pondered.  It was one of those “Huh.” moments where that’s all you can say without acting like a rude smart mouth.

We pushed on, into the night contouring up the side of one hill, then another, and then another.  Eventually, we camped in Pinhead Saddle where Hop-a-long had found a fantastically flat campsite.  Cookie crashed out immediately, Hop-a-long sewed up her skirt, and I read some Game of Thrones on my phone.

Timothy Lake

In the morning, we got moving early and pushed for a long day.  Cookie’s foot wasn’t any better and he was simply trying not to think about it.  He kept it wrapped to avoid infection and pulled an amazing feat of mind-over-matter and ignored it for the 30 mile day we logged.  The terrain did not present too many challenges, so the walking seemed pleasant and flowing.  We had a hearty lunch and a little whiskey near Timothy Lake which looked like it would have great swimming if the weather had been warmer.  I almost lamented the utter hot obnoxious weather of California which pushed me to swim every chance I got just to get the sweat off of me, then I remembered my eyeballs sweating and that thought shot straight out of my mind.

The trail followed the lake for several miles of beauty until it dipped over to begin contouring up another hill and we found ourselves back in the Doctor Seuss trees with their glow in the dark looking moss.  Unfortunately, it did not glow in the dark, but I did imagine a million different Halloween wig styles that one could create with the moss.

We had a slight water gap where we had to find a seeping spring for which Yogi gave several paragraphs of information on how to find it.  In actuality, a wood plant with “water” written on it and an arrow pointed almost directly to it.  We just had to climb over one blowdown to get there.  Out of exhaustion, we almost camped there that night since it was only a few minutes until dark and our bodies were going on the “screw you, I’m tired” mode while the mind told it “only a few more miles…”

Plugging on, we walked into the darkness and contoured a large ridge going up, then cruising around it until we hit hwy 26/35 which could take us directly to Portland.  We signed a register, then noticed a note that said there was a picnic table and a privy right across the street.  Done and done.  Hop-a-long, Cookie Monster and I took over that picnic table and camped right there after enjoying tasty whiskey beverages.

Right before bed, Splinter and Inspector Gadget passed by.  They wanted to make sure to get buffet breakfast at Timberline Lodge.  Admirable goal considering we have all heard about the breakfast and lunch buffets at Timberline Lodge for hundreds of miles.  Not to mention you can stare at the beautiful Mt. Hood in the process.

I woke up to a light rain on my tent.  Just enough that it would drive me nuts and just enough that I had to have a jacket on due to the wind and colder temperature.  I packed up as quickly as possible noticing that Hop-a-long had mysteriously already got up and left, probably in food desperation as she was down to a cliff bar or two for the last ten miles and I knew she was still hungry going to bed.  Eventually, I found where Cookie Monster had ensconced himself in trees and made sure he woke up, then I began heading up Mt. Hood toward Timberline.

There was one large hill to go up and over, then a sharp 2,000 ft climb up to the Timberline Trail that the PCT followed for a ways around treeline.  The weather was miserable.  As long as I stayed moving, I stayed decently warm and ok, but I, too, was running incredibly low on food and had gotten particularly hungry through this stretch.  I think some of it had to do with the fact that I had no extra body fat stored on me to kick into gear.  I took about a 10 minute break to guzzle some water and stuff a cliff bar to the face before I became wicked cold and had to almost jog up the first half of the 2,000ft climb to warm up.  It was the first time I had been able to keep my shell on while climbing and not end up drenched in sweat.  Of course by the time I reached the Timberline Trail, I had already burned though the 240 calories of the cliff bar and my stomach made its hungry state known by growling loudly at me.  To make matters worse, the last mile up was all sand!  With every step up, I slid back down a bit.  My stomach certainly was not pleased then.

Timberline Lodge

Once I made it to Timberline Lodge, I beelined for it thinking only of how hungry I was when I ran into Dead Animal who had driven up to hang out and do some more slackpacking for us.  We went inside to find Hop-a-long, Splinter, Inspector Gadget, Tickled Pink, Last on the Bus, Blood Bank, Panorama and Xana.  Cookie rolled in not too much longer than that and thus began our waiting out of the weather.  We got to wait it out in the best spot possible: Timberline Lodge, location of filming of the movie The Shining.

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After all the beauty of Crater Lake, the PCT through Oregon followed a line of volcanoes and the tall mountains which

Crater Lake

conveniently went in a northward line.  We could see the first one ahead from the rim, Mt. Thielson.  A trend emerged as the PCT methodologically traveled northward; we would climb to a certain point on the westward side of each mountain, just enough to get a few good views, then contour around it until we went steadily down, back into the trees.

Surprisingly, I did not want to walk locked into a green tunnel, despite the exposed and super hot California because Oregon had turned cold and my body had not yet adapted to near freezing temperatures at night yet.

I caught Hop-a-long and Inspector Gadget warming in the sun where a side trail split off to go to the top of Thielson.  None of us were convinced the summit wasn’t technical, but we could only see part of the trail up.  What we could see was mostly scree, which is fine going down, but going up is a bitch and a half.  We opted to continue down the PCT toward Thielson Creek to eat lunch.  My motivation had not yet recuperated from the cold by lunch which had begun to worry me.

Right as we left, the three of us ran into a guy hugging a tree and taking a MySpace photo of himself in a spot that didn’t seem unique to any of us.  As soon as he told his story, we understood.  His name was Scarecrow from Long Island.  He had almost completed his thru-hike last year, in 2011, but the snow slowed him down and he had to miss a chunk of trail from the spot where we found him until Bend, and then from Skykomish, WA to the Canadian border.  He told us about his restless nights and inability to sleep well at night because he hadn’t finished.  He had completed the stretch sobo from Bend to Thielson Creek and was about to head up to Skykomish to finish.

He helped my motivation significantly, not only from his excitement, but because he confidently said we were going to make it to the border and I was getting sick of people asking us if we’d make it since so many other hikers had already gone through.

We passed through a section of trail that had recently opened four days earlier after the Butte Fire damaged the area significantly and crossed the trail for about a quarter mile.

We passed the Oregon/Washington high point afterwards and continued until we camped for the night in a saddle that offered comfortable pine needles to sleep on.  By that time, Hop-a-long was getting seriously worried about itchy bites that were beginning to cover both of her arms, hands and neck.  I gave her some anti-itch cream, but that only goes so far when a person has so many bites.

By late morning, we reached Windigo Pass which offered an alternate trail which would bypass about 9 miles of PCT and rejoin at Willamette Pass near a ski resort.  A note posted at the trailhead gave information for a local trail angel based out of Bend named Lloyd Gust.  Hop-a-long called him and asked if he knew anything about bed bug, chigger, or flea bites since we couldn’t quite determine which ones were biting her.

“Do you have bites in threes?” Lloyd asked her on the phone.

“Yes.”

“They’re bed bugs.  We don’t have many, if any at all, chiggers around here,” he replied.

Seeing an RV park and a road close on the alternate route, she went that way to find a hot shower and laundry to blast the bed bugs out of her clothes and sleeping bag on high heat.  She even found spray rubbing alcohol to add to the bed bug death mix.  Inspector Gadget and I kept going on the main PCT and expected to meet her at Willamette Pass.

The next morning,the temperature went down to about 27 degrees and frost covered our tents.  Trying to simultaneously ignore my alarm and convince myself I needed to get up and hike somewhere, I laid in my sleeping bag staring at the frost above.

THUNK

I bolted into sitting position, still in my sleeping bag thinking a damn bear was right outside my tent.  Then I saw a headlamp.  It was 6am.  Who the hell is walking already packed up at 6am in this cold?

“Who is it?” I asked.

“WHAAAAAA!!!!” the person startled, “oh shit, I didn’t see you guys there!  It’s Splinter.”

“Shit man, it’s Gadget and Veg!” Inspector laughed.

“Hey guys!” Splinter gasped seemingly delirious, “I’ve already done 48 miles! 12 to go until Shelter Cove Resort and I’ll have 60 miles in 24 hours!”

“You’re fucking crazy,” I muttered still waking up.  “Why did you want to do that?”

“I needed to catch up!  And I wanted to see what I could do for a long day.  When I had 30 miles done in the first 12 hours and I wasn’t tired, I figured I’d go for it,” Splinter laughed.

“Dude,” Gadget started, obviously shivering, “come hang out with us at Willamette Pass after you pick up your resupply and eat pizza.”

“It’s only open on the weekends though, it’s Friday,” Splinter said.

“It’s Saturday,” I said.  “It was Friday when you started hiking this crazy mileage.”

We went up near Diamond Peak, contoured around, then headed down through a throng of day hikers who did not seem to understand headphones blasting as a don’t-talk-to-me sign.

“How far up is the lake,” one asked in a whiny voice.

“Which lake?” I asked in return.

“Uhhhh…the lake…” he responded looking confused.

“Dude, I passed at least twenty damn lakes this morning, I don’t know which lake you want,” and I continued on while he looked perplexed.  I had decided not to eat trail lunch since fresh salad, pizza, and beer would be at the ski resort in about four miles.  This, however, increased my annoyance with day hikers who wanted to ask the usual mess of questions.  Sorry, I’m not trying to be a bitch, but I’m starving and there is food that is not in my pack right ahead, probably where you parked your car.

The ski resort was not busy in the slightest, so we took over a table and several outlets to charge all of our electronics while we ate several rounds of food and drank some beer.  Hop-a-long had just gotten there and regaled us about blasting the bed bugs out of her stuff and the bites seeming to stall, or at least not get worse.  Splinter caught up with us and decided just to start drinking instead of taking a nap to not mess up his sleep schedule.  Always a great plan.  He had managed 60 miles in 24 hours and then started drinking beer.  Props.

That evening, we hiked out a few miles to the Madison Ski Hut which was a ski shelter shaped like an octagon for backcountry skiers.  We spent the night reading the register and figuring out how to booby trap our food from the scurrying mice that also inhabited the shelter.

The Oregon Hiker Highway with the super cool moss.

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The Standing Stone Brewery, where we ended up at in Ashland, was excellent and I ate copious amounts of food with good beer.  When we realized that the hostel was full, we had to hitch three miles back to the interstate, where all the cheap places to stay were located.  In the process, we encountered the local squatter population which seemed to want to take us in as their own since we were dirty, had backpacks, and therefore must not have any money to stay anywhere or buy our own food.

“Hey! You look like me!” one guy said walking by with a non hiking backpack.  Hmmm….how do I say this…no.

“Hey!  You know, the best squatting is down by the bridge!” Another one said.

“Thanks, but we’ll take a cheap motel instead,” Hop-a-long said.

We ended up having to call a taxi since everyone kept confusing us for the squatters begging for food near us, one of which had a sign that read, “Divorced Bigfoot…anything helps.”

Once we got there, Hop-a-long, Trooper and I split a room in the cheapest motel, the Relax Inn where we were put in the very end room, right smack next to the interstate.  The room reminded me of my freshman dorm room at college complete with concrete blocks and the owner dude watering the same flower bed for 30 minutes to watch us air our sleeping bags and put sink laundry out to dry.

After resupplying the next day, we somehow managed to spend most of the day eating, sleeping, and sending food places.  All in all, it turned into an inadvertent zero day.  We did not realize that until we found ourselves wanting food and noticed it was dinner time. Handily, a decently priced Mexican restaurant was located behind the motel, so we went there and ended up finding Splinter and Scooter who had hitched back to Shasta to climb it, then hitched back to Ashland, then Spins and Baboon.

Hop-a-long and I managed to get back on trail by noon the next day while Trooper waited for Funk to show up, who had gotten a day behind.  We also saw Tahoe and Taka at the trailhead and we leapfrogged them for the rest of the day.
At that point, Oregon did not seem too different from California: smokey from the nearby fire, dry, some sand, and a big fat rattlesnake.  Hop-a-long had boogied right by and it slithered out of the way to my right without rattling, but still managed to make me jump back, then ease closer to get a better look and see if I could get a good picture of it.  The thing must have been three and a half feet long!  Crazy!  I hadn’t seen a rattler in a while, just lame little garter snakes.

All four of us took a break by a spring that had a spigot.  Distrustful of random spigots in the middle of absolutely nowhere, we all treated it, and why not…the sawyer squeeze filter is so easy!

That night, Hop and I made it a little past a small highway and set up our tents in the most flat patch we could find, which wasn’t that great, but I slept fantastically anyway because the extra warmth of the tent blocked the breeze.  I reveled in having the extra two or two and a half pounds that my MSR Hubba offered.  I could definitely notice the weight change though.  Bye bye tarp!

I saw Tahoe in the morning as he packed up and we chatted for a wee bit as we took the newly rerouted PCT which seemed to add half a mile to go around the west side of a large hill instead of the east side.  Hop-a-long decided to cut off two miles by walking the dirt road instead, so I did not see her until lunch, where we also found Indiana Toad and Chocolate Chipmunk.

At the next water, I sat down to filter it when none other than Little Brown walked up heading sobo.  I had met him at the 501 shelter in Pennsylvania on the Appalachian Trail.  He had major knee surgery and the doctor told him not to thru-hike this year, so he decided to section hike.  Good spirit!  His knees seemed to hold up well and he told Tahoe and I a few stories with emphatic gestures.  He also gave us the important information that the last spring on the way into Crater Lake Mazama Village was dry.

We passed many small roads the whole day until we came upon Dead Animal with his blue Neon, a cooler of beer, and a five gallon bag of box wine.  We promptly sat down, drank a beer, and complained about how our feet hurt.  All three of us checked out the map and realized that the Brown Mountain Shelter (super weird to have a shelter on the PCT) was less than three trail miles away and .2 from another paved side/back road.  At the end of 26 miles, we hoped in the car and went the 2.8 miles up to the next road, then walked south to the shelter with arms full of food, beer and boxed wine.

The only person there was Little Steps, who had given us rides to and from the trail at the Anderson’s Casa de Luna (mile 478).  She was super excited to camp with other thru-hikers since she hadn’t in a bit.

Hop-a-long and I annihilated a large box of lettuce, some cookies, and any other food we could find, while entertaining ourselves with a trail register.  Her, Dead Animal, Tahoe, Little Steps and I began a game of “Slap the Bag” in which one person holds the five gallon wine bag for someone to slap and drink from above them.  Little Steps even joined in our little shenanigans…and she’s 60!

After dark, Scooter rolled in and before he could even get his pack off, we made him chug some delicious box wine, then stuck a beer in his hand.  He had a grin from ear to ear.  A wee bit later, Inspector Gadget rolled in and got the same treatment.  This went on until the five gallons was gone and we blew the bag back up with air to use as a pillow.

The morning was a little rough, but we managed to make it back to Dead Animal’s car where he cooked us all breakfast while we hovered in the little sunlight that poked through the trees.  It seemed as though fall had begun to set in since the nights became significantly colder and the days got significantly shorter.  Dead took all our stuff up to the road 10 miles later to Fish Lake so we could slackpack across the lava.

Despite the lava, the trail actually had such amazing construction that a great amount of dirt had been brought it so as not to roll your ankles with every step over sharp lava rocks.  The miles whizzed 0n by and we were back at Dead’s car before we knew it.  There,  we cooked lunch and Hop-a-long whipped up an amazing sautéed vegetable, soy chorizo mix to cram into a tortilla for easy mass calorie intake.  The boys cooked bratwurst.

Unfortunately, no roads crossed the trail in the next 51 miles to Crater Lake, so we had to take all our stuff there where Dead Animal said he’d be the following day.  Inspector Gadget set off first on the challenge at 2pm, then Splinter at 3pm, and finally I left at 3:30pm.  Hop-a-long was battling a giant brain crushing headache combined with an obnoxious back rash from her pack, so she hopped up to Crater.

Twelve miles up trail, after scaring some day walkers, I found Gadget at the first water where we cooked dinner.  I had surprised myself flying up that first climb when I was so un-motivated.  We only managed two more miles or so after that and crashed out on a  side trail thinking no one else would hike that.

I was pretty determined the following day to make it to Crater Lake despite it being 36.3 miles away.  I went for it.  Up by 4:30am, hiking by 5:15am, and in almost all my layers because I walked all over a windy ridge.  The morning miles flew by pretty well, until I hit the 1800 mile mark and plopped down in the sun to grab a snack.
The only notable feature of the day was Devil’s something or other which had these sweet rock features going all over the place.  Why is anything crazy awesome have “devil” in the name?

On the way down, about 15 miles in, I ran into Scooter right after he finished digging a cat hole.  That was the only time I saw him that day until Crater.  From there, I went in six mile-ish segments all the way to Crater Lake.  I had begun to get tired, so I chugged some Crystal Light Energy (aka crack).  My feet had also begun to hurt for no apparent reason, so I took my socks off and that seemed to help significantly.

I hit the road at 7:50pm, found a tall boy beer Dead Animal had left, chugged it and walked deliriously into “town,”  ready for an entertaining evening.
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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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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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