While doing a little research before the trip I learned that of the 5 sections of the trail (the desert, the Sierras, NorCal, Oregon, and Washington) there’s not much information about Northern California. I’m not even 100 percent where the Sierras end and NorCal begins. One thing is for sure though, I’m in it now and this mysterious section is unfolding pleasantly before my eyes.
The overwhelming scenery of the Sierras is behind me now but the trail is still awesome. A lot has happened in the last week. I saw a bear. A good sized black bear from about 30-40 feet, it took one look at me and jetted into the woods. It was about ten minutes after I left camp one morning I came across this beast just chilling out in the trail eating berries or something. It happened to be the day after I sent my bear canister home. We’ve still been putting in some big miles but also checking out some unique towns. On the summer solstice, Schemes, S+M and I hiked 44 miles and the timing was perfect. Any slower and we would have been evacuated from the trail by the ‘Washington Wildfire’. The smoke was visible the night before but luck and the wind were on our side. We got to a road crossing about 20 miles into our day and heard rumors the trail would be shut down, but some hikers coming in our direction told us it wasn’t so bad so we made a push for it. It was a good move. We hiked into the night, dealt with some big time winds along a ridge and could see heavy smoke a few miles away but lived to tell the tale. Once we got to South Lake Tahoe the following day, we heard from other hikers the trail was closed shortly after we passed through and they had to spend the day hitching around the closure.
I’ve stopped in a few interesting towns lately; South Lake Tahoe, Auburn and Sierra City. I went into SLT for a night and it had everything you needed but it was big and spread out. I won a salad bar challenge at this pizza place but only because I declared myself the winner of a contest I invented. Schemes won an unofficial breakfast contest the next morning at Ernie’s Cafe when she ordered two gigantic breakfasts back to back before I could finish my pancakes. After leaving there we hiked along Echo Lake, through Desolation Wilderness and over and along some sweet ridges. Once we got to Squaw Valley there were lots of runners on the trail getting ready for the Western States 100 mile trail race going on that weekend. S+M had been living in Auburn before the trail and a few days after Tahoe we stopped there and stayed in the house she was living in with Bill and Debi. It was fun and relaxing, the first time I stayed inside a house in months. We checked out the town, ate massive burgers and sweet potato fries at the Club Car and the girls went to get foot massages. Since I had been whining about my feet for a few days and felt a little peer pressure I decided to get a foot massage myself. It was not an enjoyable experience, let’s just say it was the last time I pay somebody to tickle my feet for a half hour. My feet have however felt fantastic ever since. We devoured about 40 more miles of trail before coming within a mile of the tiny little town of Sierra City and I wasn’t passing up an opportunity for real food. We had a quick stop here and I ate breakfast and lunch in succession at the Red Moose Inn before getting back up into the mountains.
I’m almost halfway through this trail and things are still going really well. I feel like I’m getting the hang of it, enjoying myself, and my body is holding up well. Food has become more important to me then ever before and I often find myself pretty hungry. If my food stories bore you well I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry.