Day 56: Making up for lost time…

Day: Sunday, July 24th 2016

Miles: 1159.3 – 1190.75

Remote Site 1159.3 – Remote Site 1190.75

“You see here, this tent is different. They use hiking poles to secure the upright and make the shape of the tarp…”
After a late night of hiking, I awoke to something I wasn’t entirely pleased about this morning. A running commentary about the design of my tent at around 7am in the morning. It seems that an overly excited day-hiker with his lady-friend had seen my tent from a distance and walked to my tent site, before he started giving an introduction to her on tent design fundamentals. At least somewhat irritated, I fumbled about on my noisy sleeping pad, unzipped the tent and peered my bear-like head out the door, with a grimace that must have been truly notable for the recipient. “Oh. I didn’t know there was someone still sleeping”. I grumbled something about it being 7AM and maybe some other pleasantries before zipping my tent back up (and realizing that it actually was time for me to be up and at it). My new day-hiker friend carried on hiking and chattering as I raced into packing mode as I was late-for-work in PCT terms.

Today was catch-up day. Catchup for what you may ask. Well, I had to get as close to Sierra City as I can today, as tomorrow I have a flight booked from Reno to New York in order to surprise my parents there, who are visiting my sister. This would require me to hitch the distance from Sierra City on Monday and hopefully have a smooth day of easy connections and seemless transfers. In a word, the plan was doomed to fall apart multiple times form the start, but I think that’s half the fun of things at this point. Other than generally working my way successfully from south to north, not much else has seemlessly worked on this endeavor since the get-go and I suspect it wasn’t about to start now!

Hitting the trail, I rose to a pleasant view at Castle pass and shared some rest-time talking with a Search and Rescue team practicing missing persons drills, a really interesting conversation that opened up a huge world that I’m very interested in learning more about. The trail then opened up to a series of huge grassy meadows below low ridges. The enormous change in the topology has been abrupt and staggering – the snowy peaks are but distant heights on the horizon at this point and the hilly terrain represents more of a volcanic scene than the granite landscapes of recent weeks.

The difference in terrain has certainly included a more moderate series of rises and falls through the day. The searing sun is still and impediment but the miles seem to come a little faster, if without the momentous landscapes that helped ensure a varied and interesting day. As a result I indulged myself with some music today, listening to podcasts as well as some somber tunes that melodiously matched to the gentle views. Early in the day I dropped into the Peter Grubb hut, another Sierra Club lodge primarily used for snow sports but also open in the summer as a shelter. A lone guitar with the words “play me” was hanging on the wall. Piles of wood in the corner pre-empted the coming of winter, thankfully by many months. It was a little eerie to see this all-but-abandoned hut in the forest. A Marie-Celeste-like view, a place absent of the life but showing all the signs of a meeting place.

The day was hot but he miles rolled by easily and I passed many day hikers and a few thru-hikers including Mozart, whom I had met intermittently since Sonora Pass. As the evening wound on I was given the pleasure of some more views to Mt. Lassen and the Sierra Buttes way ahead. Imposing mountains that would form a big part of my viewscape for the next three weeks.

As the evening dragged on, I passed a huge dam and forest recreation area including a closed camp area, horse paddocks and lake landing. All were closed and looked like an area of huge activity and use on the past, all but descending into ruin currently from abandonment and encroachment of the forest. Time and time again I’ve been reminded of the Forest Service status as chronically underfunded, where areas like this are simply closed and forgotten. Only viewed by those eager enough to wander far enough into the forest.

As the sun finally set, I descended into a steep River valley that would carry me the final 8 miles to Sierra City. Camping close to the rushing river I was serenaded by a chorus of frogs as I cooked and jumped into bed. A big day of miles and some excitement about the day ahead!

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