Friday, August 1, 2014

Halfway there!

Day 80-87:
After a hearty breakfast at the Truckee Hotel, I departed with Rock Ocean, Kimchi, Avocado and Shrugs. 

We stopped off at an awesome health food shop enroute to the trail and I packed out a delicious veggie sandwich. The tragic, ill fated Donner Party story fascinates me and I took a photo of the memorial plaque to them at the trailhead. 

I commenced the hike with Avocado and Shrugs and it took us over Castle Pass and to the quaint stone and wood Peter Grubb Hut, a Sierra Club cabin in the woods. 

I departed from my friends here and traversed up and down hills, through forests and meadows and over creeks. 

I had lunch at White Rock Creek, continued past ancient pahoehoe lava flows on the crest of a hill and down into more forests where I finally camped near Meadow Lake road beside the dry Lacey Creek which had a small trickle 0.3 miles downstream. 

Here I met Hustler and Any Minute Now and we talked story for awhile. 

The following day I hiked 24 miles up and down hills, along switchbacks and I took an emotional toll. 

I was almost halfway, but not quite and I keep wondering what I am doing on the trail, walking from dawn till dusk, day after day, often in complete isolation. I often wonder how this decision is going to impact my life in general. 

It did not improve when I reached Sierra City, a small ex gold mining mountain town with no T-Mobile cell phone service.

 I camped behind the Red Moose Inn and the next day had to wait until after 10am to be able to draw out cash from the only ATM in town situated within the only General Store in order to pay for my food and shower. 

A major wildfire had erupted in the Yosemite area and the sky here was filled with smoke. Any Minute Now and Hustler had to leave the trail as her property was at risk in the area of the fire. I had heard of so many people abandoning the trail for different reasons which makes it harder to continue. Some people run out if money, others just get tired of it, or injured or sick. One hiker was even hallucinating that he was seeing dead bodies but when he got to them, they were just logs. 

I've been out here for so long already and still have so much ahead of me. Josh has been so amazing with his daily support and encouragement and all the other messages of support and encouragement I get from so many different people are much appreciated and really help me get through these difficult moments!
Like magic, two trail angels emerged in the form of Terrible and Horrible and helped make me feel positive again. 

They offered to 'slack pack' my backpack up the steep climb of Sierra Buttes. With this random act of kindness and their positive vibe it made everything seem possible again. After I had hiked up the mountain which would have been awful with my heavy pack, they were waiting up there for me with Pippin. 

Tarzan and Jane joined us too where we had a great time talking story over a beer and some camp supper.

Trail magic is one of the best types of magic there is. I felt like I was able to continue emotionally. A beautiful deer wandered around our camp at sunset, a good end to the day.

I started and ended the following day with Pippin, Tarzan and Jane, who are all excellent company. 

We hiked 24.5 miles today, a substantial distance and camped at Duck Soup Pond which lives up to it's name, it's very 'soupy'.

 I filtered and boiled the water before drinking it, however we had a very pleasant evening and it was peaceful listening to the ducks having an evening swim. 

The ridge traverse today had remained high and as we hiked we looked down upon lakes but did not have immediate access to them. 

It was a relatively dry hike and I obtained water from a trickle at  A Tree Spring and should have filled up at Bear trap Creek as the pond was so murky. I noticed a few mining side trails as people still mine and pan for gold around these parts.

Day 84 -87 The next day consisted of a mind numbing, hot, dry hike until the Middle Fork Feather River which was beautiful. 

It has a very elaborate arched foot bridge high above the river and numerous pretty campsites along the bank. 

I stopped to take some photos and fill up my water supplies and continued on to Bear Creek where I found the most beautiful secluded campsite along the river bank where I bathed in the river and enjoyed Thai noodles, Miso soup and my last small tortilla wrap with almond nut butter. 

Life is good during moments like this.

The switchbacks out of the canyon and the days that ensued to the halfway point were hot with temperatures in the 90's-100 degrees F. At Lookout Rock the epic vistas that continued forever were gorgeous.

 More forest meandering and an encounter with a mother deer and her two beautiful fawn followed and when I reached Big Creek road, I decided to take the alternate route which was two miles longer to Bucks Lake, which turned out to be a fantastic decision. 

I saw Waterbug here and we enjoyed pizza and a glass of Pinot Grigio out on the deck overlooking the marina. A lovely sojourn and then back to the trail to continue the journey through Bucks Lake Wilderness towards Belden. 

I followed deer tracks and bear scat on the trail and almost stepped on a rattlesnake, then hiked down the plummeting switchbacks to Belden, a small resort situated along the Feather River.

 I was rewarded with a great overnight stay, camping along the river bank with Waterbug and being able to experience a little bit of the music rave festival that was being held there, with DJ's, cool vendors selling amazing art, funky clothes and jewelry and yummy organic food.

 I loved the colorful array of people and they were all super friendly and interesting. 

A big thank you to my ultra runner friend Richard for sending me a resupply packet of goodies.

 This was a most enjoyable stop followed by the journey to Chester which is basically just over the halfway mark.

 The weather was brutally hot and dry and I've learned a lot about the gold mining activities in this area past and present. A lot of people still pan for gold as a hobby and always come away with something when they go prospecting in river and creek beds. I also learned about what happens to a person if they get bitten by a rattlesnake and the cost involved which is making me nervous since I don't have medical insurance. 

Now that I'm halfway there I have mixed emotions. On one hand I feel like it's an accomplishment but on the other I feel like I still have such a long way to go, which is daunting at times. Taking a nero to recover in Chester and hopefully that will energize me again. It's been tough not having cell phone service for days and weeks on end sometimes and then hiking solo and often not seeing anyone else for days

 I'm looking forward to finally reaching the Oregon border and found out today that there have been more wildfires, the nearest being near Mnt Etna which has caused some trail closures and detours. I'll have to figure that out when I get nearer to that area. In the meantime I'm going to celebrate the  halfway point by eating fresh food.... That's what PCT hikers do!