06 Jul Hurtin’ in Golden Hills
I was in rough shape out of Truckee. My right ankle still hurt, my left knee was swelling, my chafing was taped and gauzed but made for uncomfortable walking. My energy was also surprisingly low. We inched out of Soda Springs at a snails pace.
Crossing under highway 80 was a cool feeling. A road that had taken me on many road trips out to college and back home, out to Idaho, out to see family in Wyoming, Summer trips to Lake Tahoe and Winter ski trips. I recalled as many crossings as I could as I passed under with semi’s making the ground tremble as they passed above.
We kept moving slow and steady. It was labored for me and the mosquitoes were driving me nuts. Before long though, we were miles away on a gorgeous ridge with no civilization in sight. The only indication we were close were the bars of service on my phone. As the sun set, I elevated my feet and caught up on my journal and blog. When I have the energy, this is a great part of my day and so very peaceful. It was a gorgeous sunset and the first warm evening in a while.
It would get hot. Right after the cold front, a heat wave moved through. Highs of 105 were predicted, it felt that hot. With all the moisture from the storm the humidity was terrible for a couple days and the mosquitoes seemed to love it all. They chased us down to Sierra City where we stopped for a “quick” resupply.
Breakfast and errands turned into beers at the Red Moose Inn where we listened to owner Bill, tell the history of the mining in that area and his own exploits. He shared that we should be panning the creeks and slrings we come across in Northof Sierra City as many were nearly virgin since the original rush. We’d be certain to get an ounce. He also told us that only 60 hikers had come through his Inn to date reassuring us we’re staying ahead of the herd. We did see some friendly faces and catch up with Double It, Gumby, Cowgirl, Texas Grit, and Spoons.
We waited for it to cool for hours. Deciding it may never, we got a hitch to the trailhead with the thermometer reading 95 in the shade.
As you’d expect we had a climb ahead of us. It was covered and shaded most the way but we’d wince as the sun burned our skin between trees. On one of the many long narrow switchbacks, a rattler startled us before sneaking under a rock. Birdman, ever the Biologist, got closer and closer trying for the National Geographic caliber photo. We saw a gopher snake and another black with yellow striped snake on the climb.
Still, physically, I struggled in pain although I was a bit uplifted that my energy was returning. We had 72 miles to cover from Sierra City to Quincy where we had plans to meet my buddy Kev. I struggled mentally to get into it the next day. We started early and I just put my head down and powered through the aches and discomforts trying to correct my form as I walked and using breaks wisely to elevate my legs and stretch. I don’t recall a lot from that day, but three things stood out. First, I do remember we had done 10 miles before 10 am. Second, at about 20 miles we came across three guys at their truck on a dirt road. They turned out to be from Sonoma and they gave us each a beer and we shot the shit a bit before we went our separate ways. Third, I was dog tired as we set up camp at 31 miles for the day.
The next day, surprisingly, my body felt better. Not great but better. I was inspired and we hiked early again to race the heat of the day. We had nearly 16 by 11:30 when we descended to the gorgeous clear Middle Fork of the Feather River. We dropped our packs and kicked off our shoes before stepping into the cool clear water. I laid between rocks and let the fast water run over me. At least 45 minutes, I laid there letting my body cool. Laying in that water was such sweet relief that a smile was stuck on my face the whole time from the joy it brought me.
That afternoon, after having washed our clothes in the river, we immediately soaked them through with sweat as we climbed out of the canyon. Up and back and forth on switchbacks to the ridgetop. We walked the ridge looking for good camping but tree debris and steel grade kept us moving all the way to Big Creek Road. Here we found a quiet green meadow and were able to set up tents before the mosquitoes began to swarm. We had walked another 30+ miles and were spitting distance (4 miles) to Bucks Lake Road and a hitch to Quincy…