Wednesday, Aug 30th, 2023, 0600-2015
6 miles past Belden to Middle Fork Feather River
27 miles, Gain 3230′, Loss 6110′, elevation 2980′
I was so relieved to pack my stuff and escape the wind in the morning. The site was scenic but the exposure sucked. This is why I almost always prefer to camp low in the trees. Out Here camped next to me and was ready to go promptly at dawn, as well. I don’t usually find other hikers that are as motivated to get such an early start. He was trying to push big miles to make it to Truckee in time to meet up with a friend. His schedule pretty much aligned with mine, so we ended up hiking together this day and most of the next few. Having some company, the miles flew by. This was a good thing, since the smoke was still lingering and there weren’t very many views to keep me preoccupied.
We reached the road into Quincy/Bucks Lake just in time for brunch. I had planned to go to nearby Bucks Lake for a quick resupply, but we figured we’d hedge our bets by trying to hitch both ways, going with whichever option came first. A truck soon came by going the Quincy direction, and the driver turned out to be a Trail Angel, John. He picked up 5 of us, 3 SOBOS (Out Here, Atlas, and me) and 2 NOBOS (Waldo and V8). Quincy was one of my favorite trail towns in 2018 and was even better this time around. John first gave us a tour of all the hiker hotspots in town, then dropped us off at the Safeway shopping center. We all went to the pizza place to cut down on our hunger, then went shopping for our resupply. I bought a little too much food, recalling the scant options available in Sierra City. It was better to be on the heavy side when an affordable and good selection of food was to be had in Quincy.
While we were all repackaging outside the Safeway entrance, Keys and Slingshot got dropped off by another Trail Angel. Multiple people also stopped to chat with us and wish us luck. One lady, Peggy, offered us a ride, since she was on her way back to Buck’s Lake…perfect timing! I was amazed by how friendly everyone in town was. I regretted not spending the night, but I had a timeline in place now (more on that later). Peggy had one more shopping trip to make, which gave us just enough time to walk over to the toy store to claim our free ice cream cones. This was a new treat since I was last in Quincy. I got a couple big scoops of peach ice cream in a waffle cone…just for being hikertrash! It really hit the spot on a hot day. A big shout out to The Toy Store, which also has a cool selection of, you guessed it, TOYS! Thank you to the store and all the amazing trail angels in town!
Peggy picked up Atlas, Out Here and me as promised, and even took us to the far trailhead on the other road to Bucks Lake. This cut out about 4.5 miles of hiking, which I didn’t care about. The savings also made it possible for Out Here and me to reach the Middle Fork Feather River for a nice campsite that night. Otherwise we would have been stuck in a burn area with no good sites. We reached the river just as it became completely dark. Luckily I remembered the side trail leading down to many nice campsites along the river, right where I stayed last time. I even navigated the steep, rocky trail in the dark without my headlamp…now how’s that for memory recall?
We each packed out sandwiches from Safeway and ate them next the river, enjoying the Super Blue Moon light filtering through the trees and the white noise of the water rushing by. I was able to sit there without adding any layers, feeling very refreshed from an earlier dip in a stream. I dried as walked the remaining miles to camp, which is my perfect strategy for freshening up each night. Not one mosquito buzzed us as we ate. I remarked that it had been a nearly perfect day, despite the bad campsite the night before. Between walking 27 miles, spending hours hanging out in town, and not the best sleep beforehand, I knew this night would be very restful. And I was right.