PCT Day 94 – Sunday July 16
Mile 1206.5 to Sierra City Mile 1195.4
PCT Miles Hiked Today: 11.1
Total PCT Miles Hiked: 1111.2
Feet Ascended Today: 862
Feet Descended Today: 3638
Current Elevation: 4171
I awoke with one obsessive thought on my mind this morning : GET. TO. SIERRA CITY. I packed quickly and was on the trail by 5:45 am. I did not eat any breakfast. Because you know what breakfast leads to? It leads to POOPING! THERE WILL BE NO MORE POOPING UNTIL I GET TO A FLUSHING TOILET! Or at least that was my rationale.
It was only 11 miles into town – all downhill – and I figured I could knock out those miles pretty quickly. Ok maybe hiking 11 miles on an empty stomach is a bad idea but it seemed like a reasonable idea to me.
I hiked over a ridge and was bowled over by spectacular views of the Sierra Buttes in the early morning sun. Wow. I’m so lucky to be here right now with this majestic scenery – even if I am pooping my pants with uncomfortable regularity. You see? I can’t go five minutes without thinking about pooping. Time to keep moving along.
Another mile or so down the trail I ran into Tetris, Spider Mama and Hitch who were camped at a trailhead with a tail angel who was cooking pancakes. I had heard about this trail angel from northbound hikers and I was sorely tempted to stop. I really really like eating pancakes before I hit the trail. I’m usually very motivated by The Pancake Power. But not today. I quickly greeted my friends and made a hasty retreat.
“Don’t you want to eat any pancakes?” the trail angel yelled after me.
“No thank you! I’m too sick to eat! I need to get to town” I said lamely as I hiked away as fast as my feet would carry me. I was almost running down the trail at this point.
After passing a junction to climb the butte, the trail headed through some woods and then broke out of the trees on the other side of the hill. I could see the trail stretching out for miles in front of me as it clung to the side of the mountain and switchbacked downhill. It was only 9:00 am and it was already HOT. There were no trees or cover of any kind and the trail consisted solely of sharp rocks. Ugh. So much for hiking fast – I don’t go very fast when I have to hike on rocks. I was powerfully motivated, however, and made good time despite the hill from hell. And the whole time I hiked down the hill, all I could think was “… thank god I didn’t eat those pancakes! There’s no place to poop here!!”
About three miles from the bottom of the hill, the trail finally entered a wooded area and the path became easier to hike. I filled up on water at Switchback Spring and raced down the earthen path. I made it to the highway, stuck out my thumb, and got a ride for the 1.5-mile hitch into town. I walked into the Red Moose Cafe at noon and sighed with relief. I made it!
I had booked a room for the night at the cafe and checked into my new digs. My room consisted of a queen-sized bed with an en suite bathroom (yay!) and a private deck overlooking the backyard. The cafe closed for the day at 2:00 pm so I got a table and ordered a club sandwich and a Sierra Nevada Ale. Ahh.
After lunch I walked over to the Sierra City Country Store to pick up my resupply box. I had several packages waiting for me, actually, including a new inflatable pillow (the last one sprung a leak) and my new Exped air mattress. This is my third Exped mattress and I probably should hike with a different pad, but it’s the most comfortable one that I’ve tried so far. And I had one sitting at home courtesy of Exped to replace my last defective pad. We’ll see how long the baffle lasts on this one.
I had no cell service in Sierra City and no wifi at my lodging. The only Internet in town appeared to be at the store. Hikers sat on benches outside the store and at tables inside, taking care of correspondence and other online chores. The store had a meager selection of snacks and food, but was pretty picked over. It didn’t carry any of the items that I was hoping for to alleviate some of my…issues. I needed to get out of this town to a bigger one with more services (drug store, pharmacy, cell reception) to figure out my next steps. Which town though? Should I just go home? I had no idea of what to do. I wanted to talk to my doctor but today is Sunday and the office is closed. So, there was nothing for it but to wait until tomorrow.
Later that afternoon, Tetris, Spider Mama and Hitch arrived. We hung out at the store until it closed, Interneting on our phones. Afterwards I invited them back to my room and we sat on my patio drinking beers and watching the mountain. It was a nice way to end my last day on trail for a while.