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Posts Tagged ‘Trooper’

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’m not dead, I swear!  Just haven’t had time to update, so here it comes!

Near Seiad Valley, three fires had sprouted.  Only one affected the PCT: the Fort Complex Fire (formerly the Goff Fire).  It burned on the steep 5,000 ft climb out of “town”, closing some fifteen miles of trail or so.  While we sorted food after waiting for the post office to open, super thick smoke settled down in the valley, irritating my eyes so much, I went and bought eye drops.

Bruce said the afternoon heat would bring the smoke back up high around 2pm or so and we’d have an easier time waiting until then to leave, so we stalled.  This fire still had a walkable detour option: walk down Seiad Creek Road (paved, for 3 or 4 miles) which turns into Forest Service rd 48N20 (maintained dirt road) until Cook and Green Pass where the PCT crosses it.  The detour was about 13 miles of shade, blackberries, and a creek running next to it.  It still climbed almost the same amount, however seemed easier than the trail would have been.

I decided to walk it, but most got a ride up that they yogi’ed from the store.  It wasn’t too bad and I got some great views of the smoke blocking out the sun.  At the pass, I camped with Sea Hag, Robo Knee, and Heisenberg.  Hop-a-long, Trooper, Inspector Gadget, Extra Credit, Cactus, Doe Eyes, and Scrub Rat found rides and passed me.  One guy driving up the road offered me a ride, but when I declined, he gave me a bottle of ice water.

Robo Knee and Sea Hag woke up at 5am and I got up too, scrambling around in the dark since I failed to locate my headlamp that I thought I had forgotten in Seiad Valley.  I caught up to Hop-a-long and Inspector Gadget at the first water source after passing Doe Eyes and Scrub Rat.  No one seemed to make it very far after the detour, probably because it shot up another 1400 feet immediately.

We cruised along the ridge, trying not to choke on the smoke wafting over the adjacent ridge.  The heat from it had kept me warm the previous night, but Hop-a-long said she could see the flames from on top of the climb when it got dark.

Eleven miles later, we hit the next water source which was a beautiful large flowing spring and I stopped for a quick lunch.  I had just missed Trooper, but caught Hop there again.  The trail just made lots of small bumps up and down in order to mostly stay on top of the ridge.

Then finally, the climb we’d all been waiting for came – the climb to Oregon.  Halfway up was the border, where I found Hop-a-long, Trooper, and Inspector Gadget.  The four of us celebrated at the border with wine, whiskey, and food.  We spent quite a long time there, ironically on the California side since it had the trail register and a log that sat somewhat in the shade.  I took various pictures attempting to get my amazing Teva sandals in the photos but ended up rolling over by accident because the border was on a slant.
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After our long break, we passed mile 1700 and headed on to Sheep Camp Spring which had a great pipe coming out full of water.  The “campsite” came complete with a resident deer which did not stop eating despite me setting up camp and getting water.  Soon, Gadget, Hop-a-long, and Trooper rolled in.
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Promptly, Trooper did a few more miles while we stayed there only to see Trip roll in right before we went to bed.  He had hitched up to Ashland to get a wisdom tooth removed that had suddenly caused him great amounts of unnecessary pain.
“Yeah, I went into the dentist and he said it was one of the easiest ones to pull out,” Trip said as he rolled a cigarette.
“Ya know,” Hop-a-long started, “you really shouldn’t be smoking after a wisdom tooth gets pulled, have you heard of dry sockets??”

“Eh, it’s fine.”
That night, I froze.  Luckily, I had a tent in Ashland, my next town stop.  I had no problem waking up at 5 am and leaving by 5:30, saving breakfast for an on-the-move slamming a bar.  The 23 miles into Ashland was actually pretty easy.  Annnnd, on the plus side, I could charge my iPod in town, so I jammed out to music the whole way.  12 miles out, I saw a trail runner heading toward me and I realized it was Ben who had given me, Creep and Twister a ride into Etna.  He asked when I would reach Callahan’s, and I said 2:30.  He said he would meet me there and give me a ride into town instead of hitching on the on ramp of the interstate.

The trail down to Callahan’s cruised right on down.  Callahan’s even made a side trail down to them where they had a carved wood sign advertizing one free beer.  I wanted beer super bad, so I followed the obnoxious green spray paint.  Scared by the horses which came out of no where, I found a way to get to the side of the trail while they passed, leaving fresh shit in the middle of the trail on the way.

Callahan’s had absolutely nothing going on, but I got a free Deschutes Porter anyway and bought Ben the trail runner a beer in order to see if Hop or Gadget would make it in for a ride.  They  didn’t, so I got a ride into the Post Office where I loaded all my food and tent into my pack and mailed back my tarp and other unnecessary items.

I waited until Hop-a-long, Gadget, and Trooper got there, and then we made moves toward the brewery in order to decide what to do.

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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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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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“…just to watch him die…” – Johnny Cash

Hop-a-long and I finally left the shelter of the bathroom at 1:30 in a break between thunderstorms realizing we had only managed 6.5 miles that morning.  We climbed up and over a small ridge and down to a creek and campsite where some section hikers were posting up at 3pm for the night.

We got water and watched the sky, debating our options.  Seven miles of exposed ridge walking would come in about 3 miles and there was no more water until we descended the ridge.  After we sat through a couple small storms and watched other systems collide and make dark swirls in the sky, we decided to load up on water and go until treeline and see from there.  The map showed possible flat spots right around where the trees would disappear on the ridge if the storms persisted.

On the way up the climb, it hailed on us and we stood under a tree for it to finish.  It got up to about pea sized but stopped after about 10 minutes and we continued climbing.

At the top of the ridge, we ran into three day walkers who told us the other side looked clearer than the east side facing Lake Tahoe.  There, we got to leave the 40 mile section that the PCT and the TRT (Tahoe Rim Trail) shared.  Watching the sky, we saw they were right and also another patch of trees a mile or so down.  w2e scampered over to them and reassessed.  Still ok.  Well, the clouds were a little dark but we hadn’t seen lightning in several hours that was close enough to be threatening.  We hurried along the ridge from semi-safe spot to semi-safe spot.  This particular ridge did not really leave too many bail out points that did not include 500 feet or more of scrambling down.

When we finally descended, we breathed a sigh of relief, sat down, and swatted mosquitos.  Then we hiked a bit more to a small campsite just a bit up the next climb.

That night was a bit strange without Dead Animal or Inspector Gadget, but Hop and I had fun anyway.  I also swore I heard voices, but Hop heard nothing.  Great.

“Hahahahaha, did you hear that?” Hop-a-long asked in the morning.

“No,” I said looking up from the 3G I discovered on my phone.

“Someone just yelled like Tarzan…you’re not crazy!” Hop laughed.

We had two climbs that morning before a very long descent to town road.  We ran into the first day walkers about half way up the second climb and they scared the shit out of me since I was rocking out with my iPod and in the zone climbing up.

When we reached the top of the ridge that we would follow down, we ran into a large man named Daniel who was doing a section from Truckee to Mt. Whitney, which he’d done several times to get back in shape.  He said it would take him 4 months for the 400 miles.

“So what are those loud booming sounds we’ve been hearing?” Hop-a-long asked when he said he was a local.

“Ohh, yeah, there’s a bomb range right over there,” he said nonchalantly, “and over there is some other military base that flies fighters all over, and over there is where they hit targets over in…what’s that country?? Oh, Afghanistan, with remote controls.”

“Huh.” Was our reply.

He sat and told us various other entertaining comments until we got up and hiked to town.  We began running into a million day walkers the closer we got to a road.  I kept my headphones in to avoid having to repeat the usual conversation over and over.

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At the road, Hop hitched right to Truckee and I hitched left to Soda Springs.  My wonderful mother sent my resupply box to the hostel, but the Post Office kept it, so I had to run across the street to grab it before they closed, then I was at the hostel bar having a beer when Dead Animal called and said he had gotten to Truckee and rented a car and was coming to pick me up.

When he did, we picked Hop-a-long up from the busiest Safeway ever and drove around listening to loud car music in the extra awesome rental that had gotten upgraded because the rental car guy didn’t feel like cleaning the economy car.

While driving and blasting music, we decided to opt for AYCE Sushi instead of splitting a motel room.  We ate a massive amount and I almost had to pull a Swanson move of throwing up in the bathroom and then finish eating.  Afterward, we found the trailhead and slept in the woods by the rental car.

In the morning, after caffeine we bought a map and figured out how to get to a forest service road at mile 1174.2 and slackpack sobo back to Truckee.  We got there late and started around 10am.  We ran into one of the Japanese guys and Camillion who we hadn’t seen since the Anderson’s.

The trail cruised up and down, up and down.  At the first water, we ran into G and Swanson and I offered some of the vegan brownies my awesome resupply mom sent.  Hop-a-long and I chilled and cruised listening to music the whole time since we could charge it that evening again.

We soon ran into a number of other hikers, a lot of whom we hadn’t met yet.  Dancing Feet, Not-so-bad, Funk, and Trooper.  After the big “climb” which was so switchbacked that it didn’t seem like much, we ran into Snow Turtle and Aggassi on their way up.  It was actually really cool going the “wrong way” because we got to run into everybody.

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Dead Animal picked us up and we went to Reno since we had talked about it for about 500 miles or so.  We went to REI first where Hop-a-long checked out packs, but didn’t find anything since it was pretty picked over.  I got a Sawyer Squeeze filter to try out.

After that we found a cheap room in a casino, got pizza, and hung out.  We managed to get back to the trail around 3:30 and hike by 4pm after hanging out with Hollywood, Drop Zone, Lorax, Chow Down and I’m Fine.

Hop-a-long, Drop Zone and I made it about 10 miles that evening but couldn’t find any flat spots, so we camped right smack in the middle of a side trail figuring it wouldn’t get any traffic.

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