09 Jul Fourth and half a trek
With Kevin in our wolfpack, we got a lift out of Quincy to the trailhead. As we got our packs ready, his car engine began to steam. We stopped the packing and popped the lid. Finding the coolant leaking, we decided there wasn’t much to do and closed the lid. The problem would still be there when we got back and his car probably wouldn’t explode in the meantime.
It was piping hot out, though. But Canada wasn’t getting any closer. We hit the trail and climbed away from Bucks Lake road towards Chester. When it began to cool, the mosquitoes took over and hounded us for miles. With tree branches and debris littering the ground, we struggled to find decent camping and ultimately cleared some spots in some clear woods.
We broke bread and shared some Jameson as Kev and I caught up on all the happenings back in San Francisco. Slapping mosquitoes off of us as we ate and the night darkened. Eventually we’d run through all the friends, parties, and adventures back home. I retired to my tent, Kev to his hammock, and Bird Man to his zpack shelter.
The next morning it was the 4th of July. Well Freedom Ain’t Free folks. It was earned with blood, sweat and tears. So, that’s pretty much what we had planned for ourselves.
It was 10 miles downhill to Belden Town and the North Fork of thr Feather River before we’d have to climb back up. The ten miles downhill were quick but punishing on the knees.
The trail runs right next to the Belden Town Resort where a crowd was milling about. There was an electronica festival gearing up. I recognized the sf city neighborhood tags on the new priuses and jettas that rolled in. Glossy eyed party goers in Burning Man uniforms stumbled around trying to finish set up of tents and stages before the real crowd arrived.
We beelined to the restaurant and Kev took the initiative to get us some red white and blue Budweisers from the bar. Belden town locals with their methy undertones leered at the scantily clad ravers.
We enjoyed two big meals and more beers while waiting for the heat of the day to pass. We waited a few more hours than expected. Kev decided he should check on his car instead of hiking further. So we said our goodbyes.
The music was bumping now and more cars were lining into Belden Town. Birdman and I, very out of place amongst the high partiers and the high townies, decided to make a charge at the trail.
It was brutal. The climb wasn’t terribly steep but it was incessant for 10 miles and exposed due to a fire the year prior. We trudged up to Myrtle Flat and called it a day. Sweat covered and breathing hard. We were just happy to be away from the chaos of the festival. And so, without fireworks, cannonballs into the pool, or bikini clad beermates, I celebrated the 4th by climbing a hell of a climb and passing out with light still in the sky. It was alright by me.
The next two days we charged towards Chester. We decided to get there Saturday morning, the 6th, so we did. Passing the halfway marker, we stopped briefly for photos, and continued down to Highway 36.
There, I had the camera ready as I knew my folks would be waiting with their own trail magic setup. Not only were we greeted by them, a table full of fresh fruit and Gatorade, but Piper’s Mom was there! It was great to meet such a supportive and involved member of the PCT family. What a treat. She was as delightful as I imagined and insisted on taking some photos of us. I obliged looking as hiker clean as possible with my filthy hair and healthy neck beard.
Inspired by trail magic along the way, we decided to deliver a bit of our own at this half way mark. So, we set up a grill and got sodas and cold beers ready. We made double cheeseburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches for they few hikers who came in behind us: Julian, Gnome God, Stedosaurus, and his lady, and the Executive Director of the PCTA hiked through! It was a good lazy afternoon and felt great to pay it forward a bit.
Afterwards we enjoyed a big dinner and vegged out in front of the TV for as long as we could until we passed out in our comfortable Best Western hotel beds.