Hello friends and family! I am in Sierra City now and have about 3 weeks to tell you about…
After a frightening thunder storm coming over Sonora Pass, I spent 2 lovely nights at the Kennedy Meadows Pack Station where I was treated with friendly faces and generosity. I ordered dinner and scarfed it down. Someone who saw me eating recognized me as a dirty, starving PCT hiker and bought my meal for me anonymously. It was a pleasant surprise to say the least. It is amazing how many people want to help us. This is what we fondly call “Trail Magic”.
Trail Magic is what happens when someone who is most likely not a hiker, but is inspired by what we do, helps a hiker in some way. The past 3 weeks have been filled with magic. People who do this are called Trail Angels, and I have certainly gotten to know how much of what these angels do really is like magic.
On July 3rd, my friends Eldon, Kathy, and Julie picked me up from Kennedy Meadows and took me to their beautiful cabin where we spent the evening relaxing and fishing at the river nearby. Another storm blew in so we had the awesome experience of cleaning fish under a tin roof with hail and rain coming down, it was so cool! Dinner was amazing and the next day we spent exploring Bridgeport for 4th of July. We watched the parade, looked at art, swam in the lower Twin Lakes, and watched an incredible firework show after dark. It was a great celebration! The next day, Kathy gave me a gift from her garden – delicious dried apricots which sustained me for days after my visit with them. Julie and Eldon hiked out with me on the morning of the 5th and we said goodbye after about 4 miles. I was a little sad for a bit as I hiked away, but that is expected now and I am able to cope much better than before. Julie and her family gave me something to look forward to and what came truly was trail magic!
As I hiked on I went up and down and up and down, which I have learned is pretty much the entire trail – go down just to go back up! It was beautiful but I was lonely. A fast hiker came by while I was making dinner and I talked to him as much as I could before he ran off into the woods so that he could get his 43 miles in. He was trying to break the world record for the fastest thru hike on the PCT – nonetheless he still took about 15 minutes to have a pleasant conversation with me, which I appreciated more than he knew.
Along my trek the following day I was lost in my earbuds – music makes my thoughts richer because I’ve thought about just about everything I can think of and I get bored thinking about the same things all the time, so music helps keep things interesting. I saw a group of people alongside the trail who called me over. They were past PCT thru hikers who backpacked in for some on-trail trail magic. They offered coffee, cookies, and good company. The same day, a few hours later, I saw a woman sitting by the creek in the distance and as I approached she placed herself beside the trail to greet me. Her trail name was Sleuth and she was happy to see a young woman on the trail. So of course I sat and talked with her for a long time. She also had a sweet german shepard doggy who made me smile. She gave me peanut butter granola bars and two packets of mango and guava Tang! She said you can only buy them in Mexico. They were delicious…. And that SAME DAY as the evening approached and I was looking for a place to sleep, I was greeted by a family near Ebbett’s pass who made me a garden burger for dinner as well as a huge plate of watermelon, cantelope, and grapes. It was the most gourmet trail magic yet!
The next day brought with it a whole new landscape of dark volcanic rock formations and beautiful wildflowers. After a long walk I finally made it to South Lake Tahoe where I was reunited with my friend Heather (aka Hot Tub) with whom I began the trail with. It was lovely to see her face after what seems like such a long time! In Tahoe I replaced my backpack and shoes due to my failing pack and the need for ankle support since I repeatedly rolled my ankles.
Unfortunately, after a day in my new shoes, my feet became unbearable to walk on and after 60 miles I was crying with every step until I reached Truckee where the most amazing magic happened! Whilst hiking, I met another female solo hiker named Mackenzie (aka Hitch) whose company I enjoyed and we went to the Truckee DQ together where we loitered for hours using their restroom, water fountain, and benches. I daydreamed of washing my feet because it might relieve some of my pain but I did not think it would actually happen…
A curious couple approached us with questions about our journey. After a bit of talking they offered to take us back to their cabin where they would cook us dinner, do our laundry, and give us a place to sleep and shower. It was an amazing offer and we could not pass it up. That night we ate a healthy salmon and vegetable dinner with the warm company of Barb and Ernie – our most generous trail angels! Their cabin was in a beautiful forest with lakes and friendly faces. Mackenzie and I felt like new women! It was a very uplifting and eye opening experience for both of us. We are very thankful for Barb and Ernie, and to all of the angels who help us along this amazing journey. Something I need to remember is that pain and suffering are temporary, it will turn out okay, and to trust that the trail will provide what I need.
To top it all off, Barb offered to drive me the 43 miles to Sierra City where my parents were bringing me my old shoes so that I did not further damage my feet. I was sad to skip 43 miles but it was what I needed to keep going. Barb saved me from the pain I was experiencing and the extreme desire to quit because of it. We had a beautiful drive through the forest and enjoyed chatting and having lunch together before we parted and she headed home.
Sierra City is an amazing little town! What a gem. I love it here. I slept in the backyard of the Red Moose Inn with tons of other hikers and spent a lot of time with smiling faces down at the swimming hole. It was soooo relaxing and it is amazing how different I feel just a few days after having the worst day on the trail.
My parents finally came and I spent 3 days with them doing tourist stuff in Sierra City and the nearby Downieville. We explored Big Spring Gardens (which were a bust), and went on an amazing tour of the Kentucky Mine where I unashamedly rode in the ore car with a bunch of kids! We had a lot of fun learning about the gold rush and how they harvested gold from the Sierra Buttes. Each night we cooked dinner in our room at the Herrington’s Resort and it felt like home. Spending a few days with my family was much needed and appreciated. I know it will be difficult to part, but they are both happy that I want to continue on. The next time I see my mom and dad will be when I get to Manning Park in Canada. I have that and a long road trip home to look forward to!
It has been a great trip so far. I have had many ups and many downs and I am learning to recognize the pattern and work through the hard parts with the knowledge that good parts are ahead. Each day I am a little stronger and I truly feel that I can make it all the way. Oregon here I come! I can’t believe I am almost done with the state of California – and what a beautiful state it is! I’ll always be a California girl, no matter where I am. I love this state!