September 9th, 2018
Mm 1216 to HWY 49 mm 1195.5, then hitch to Sierra City.
Distance: 20.5 miles
As I figured I might, I woke up cold around 1 am. My quilt has vertical baffles, which allows the down to shift to the footbox. I don’t like the design and can’t wait to get my warmer quilt. I put my puffy on and cinched things up tight. I was able to sleep the rest of the night but it was hard getting on the trail early.
I had anticipated an easy 18 miles into Sierra City, this according to my Halfmile app (A great, FREE app). What I didn’t know was that in between my location and town, a reroute had taken place and the app hadn’t yet been updated with the correct mileage. I’ve known that it’s been off this entire time but the relative distances from one point to another were always correct. This was where the 2.5 miles discrepancy finally came into play.
So I got into town a bit later than expected. In hindsight, I should have walked the old route. In addition to being shorter, it was more scenic and didn’t involve as much elevation change. Oh well. What’s another 2.5 miles?
Either way, the trail went around the beautiful Sierra Buttes, impressive and notable rock formations. I took lots of pictures. As the trail wrapped around the south-facing slopes, it became very sunny and rocky. It was a tough descent and I ran out of water on the way down. I wondered how on earth horses could do sections of the trail like this. The whole trail is open to them but there are some really sketchy parts.
Near the end, the switchbacks were all in the cool shade of the forest. A mountain biker came roaring up behind me and I let him pass. Bikes are not allowed on the PCT but people ignore the rules. It’s kind of dangerous for the hikers that aren’t expecting them. I had previously seen some tracks, so I was on the lookout.
Looking back at the very prominent Sierra Buttes.
At the highway to town, I met a new SOBO named Stellar. He was extremely friendly and told me some updates about fellow hikers. I learned that Taylor was in town and couldn’t believe I had caught up to him after all this time. Stellar had walked the 1.5 miles from town but I decided to try for a ride. I had to only wait about 10 minutes.
The town was tiny and most everything had already closed by 2 pm. I went to the store and was disappointed to see the small selection. There were tons of boxes on the shelves, all of them empty. It looked like a store in Miami when a hurricane is coming. I guess it was the wave of NOBOs, or maybe even all the SOBOs, that cleaned them out. Or maybe they just don’t bother with restocking this late in the season. I heard a rumor that the store is for sale. I should have bought more stuff in Quincy where there was a Dollar Store and Safeway.
I got just enough to last me 103 miles, or 4 days. I also got a burger and milkshake. This all cost me about $70…ouch! Four days is a lot but trust me, I probably didn’t get near enough food, plus I’m supplementing stuff that I didn’t consume on the last section. The prices were really high for what I did get. Luckily I found a few things in the hiker box.
The store closed at 5 pm but they were nice enough to leave the wifi on. I had no service, otherwise. A bunch of other SOBOs arrived just before closing: Lator Gator, Bella, Kid, Toad, and Suehenga. I also met a new SOBO, Comrade (or Anya from Russia). And of course, it was great to see Taylor again…it had been since Trout Lake in WA since we had split. He was full of information, as usual. His trail name is now News Feed…a good one but he is still not big on trail names. I like the original name we came up with for him: Grouse Bait, since he kept getting attacked by grouse in northern WA.
I took an icy cold shower at the public restroom and did some other chores. Later, we all set up at the empty lot next to the church. They allow free camping for thru-hikers. The neighbor invited us over for beers, while he blasted metal music from his truck. I wouldn’t have been surprised if meth didn’t have something to do with all this at some point. It was all a very odd combination and I was left with an interesting impression of this small mountain town. Always an experience!