Elena and I are already nostalgic for the casual, relaxing days of central California. The days when we could swim at every lake and sleep in past the sunrise. Those days when we would take three hour lunch breaks with Leah and feast on spoonfuls of her peanut butter and Nutella. Since leaving my dad and Leah a week ago, we have walked 170 miles from Tahoe City to the community of Belden Town.
We began to hike sans Leah at Barker Pass. The trail took us up along ridges which overlooked Lake Tahoe and through Squaw Valley Ski Resort and many other ski areas. It finally felt like we were on the Pacific Crest Trail as we were walking along a ridge line instead of hiking in and out of valleys. Also, seeing ski areas in the summer never fails to remind me of the perks of winter, notably that of skiing.
Both of us started to return to the “zone” where we are able to walk for hours and not notice it at all. The day ended at a little creek and this was our first marathon day. The trail followed a ridge line again the next day as we slowly descended into the valley where Sierra City was located. The valley was located a little above 3,000 feet which gave us a completely different feel for the trail. Previously we hadn’t been this low since the desert. The valley was filled with creeks and leaves! Leaves were quite an inviting sight since we had mostly seen shrubs and pine trees up until now. Any reminder of home makes the walk much more bearable. A few miles before Sierra City there were some trail angels who offered us some beers which we gladly accepted. They told us that their daughter was hiking the trail as well. I was reminded of our parents because they are involved, interested and invested in the trail also. We reached Sierra City in the evening and set up camp at the Red Moose Inn. This mountain town is known to have many bears that wander through the streets at night and it turns out that one ran right over me and Elena in our sleep unbeknownst to us (another hiker let us know in the morning).
This sign explains why one of the main areas where people leave the trail is in Northern California. Hikers who reach NorCal realize that they are not even halfway and have been hiking for months, and then become bored or decide that they should rejoin the real world. I don’t blame a single one of them. Everyday, Elena and I battle with the ennui of walking from waking to sleeping. It is more taxing mentally than one would imagine. As Elena puts it, “I hate it in the morning when I think ‘so what am I going to think about today?'” I have created Gatorade Art to help ease the boredom of the trail. Here is a sample.
Although the mental challenge is becoming more noticeable, the physical challenge is as big as ever. Sometime during the day that we left Sierra City I started to have a pain in my shin. The problem with healing on the PCT is that the main treatment a doctor will prescribe is extended rest. The only activity a PCT hiker tries to avoid is a period of extended rest.
We skirted around many lakes and a thunderstorm without getting rained on much to Elena’s disappointment.
I have learnt that inclement weather makes walking exciting. It also makes the landscape look more awe inspiring.
In the past five days we have hiked 26, 28, 26, 28, and then 26 miles again; a perfect marathon sandwich. Our feet are swollen, but so is our excitement and motivation as we near the halfway point. We’ll reach mile 1330 in a couple of days and then Oregon and then Washington and then Canada. It sounds so easy when put like that.
Well, we’re off to climb out of Feather River Canyon and on towards our fourth national park; Lassen National Park. Thank you all so much for any support and good vibes sent our way, recognized or not. They make this trip far more enjoyable and push us northwards!