Day 63, 24.5 miles
Plumas National Forest
The morning was a couple of hours hike down into the town of Belden. Not really a town, but a lodge and a few cabins in a valley beside a wide river. It gets very busy here with vacationers in the summer, but now is deserted. It was getting quite warm when we arrived around 9am. Sweet felt the pull of town vortex immediately. She tried to coax me into staying for the rest of the day to float around in the river and chill. We had breakfast in the lodge. Bacon, egg, and cheese, of course. We dilly dallied around and it was 12:30 when we finally got back on the trail.
Out of Belden it was switchback torture. 5000 feet elevation gain in 11 miles. It was warm, and I got a bit sweaty, but the breeze and the shady trees made it a great uphill hike. Soon Sweets disappeared behind me. She will catch up. She is fast and great on the flats and downhill.
It was getting late in the day and we still had several miles to get to our spot to camp. We started hiking/jogging fast. Trotting? It was downhill. I promised myself I would never jog or run. I always seem to get an injury when I do. It was almost dark as we quickly set up our tents right beside the trail and made dinner. We also had a small campfire to keep the bugs down.
When I first left the Sierras and jumped 500+ miles north to hike, I didn’t feel like I was on the pct any more. There were hardly any other hikers on the trail. Everyone had spread out in search of dirt. Some went to the Oregon Coast Trail or the AT, some didn’t come so far north. Some quit altogether. The ones we did meet looked lost too. I missed the pct community.
The last few days have been fun. I have been meeting trail friends I met in the desert and the Sierras. There is a handful who have made it the whole way through the Sierras and are still northbound. Sprocket, Dirtmonger, Legend, K2, Atlantis, Gisele and….Skippy! All young men in their early 20s. Hardy and fearless. They tell us tales of the 350 miles of hiking and camping in the snow. Days of only getting 8 miles in 14 hours. Terrifying river crossings. Atlantis watched in horror as K2 almost got swept away. Skippy told me several rivers were waist deep and rushing. After crossing they would have to climb back up onto the snow and get their cloths back on. It was terrible at times, but they are all glad they did it and survived. I am glad I didn’t do it and survived.