Day 60: Catching up with myself…

Day: Thursday, July 28th 2016

Miles: 1195.4 – 1217.4

Sierra City, CA 1195.4 – Remote Site 1217.4

Casinos are strange places. I’ve always found the concept of sitting in front of a slot machine all day long staring at a screen of some sort, to be bizarre. But then of course that’s what I do for a living quite happily in front of a computer, so clearly it’s the outcome and not the activity itself that my brain gets a little stuck on. In gambling, my inevitable bad luck manages to coagulate with losing money in an activity that just seems like a lose-lose. In work, there’s at least a tangible expectation of a monetary outcome, if not always matched with the joy of being satisfied with how you get to that outcome (at least every single time). As I woke up in the Atlantis Casino/Hotel this morning, I lamented that the same guy seated at the “Celtic Fever” slot machine when I went to bed, was still at the same machine 6hrs later. But then life is full of all sorts, and at some point in my life maybe I’ll figure out what I was missing all along with casinos and slot machines, and I’ll realize this guy was having the time of his life. Who knows maybe he at least caught the “Celtic Fever” or perhaps caught a million along the way.

I checked out at 6:15AM to walk the short distance to Rays house. Ray lived in a pleasant suburb of Reno and we agreed a time to meet, obviously a time I was eager not to run late of. The cool morning light and green grassy lawns spoke of a pleasant and inviting suburban setting, in the distance a ski lift on a distant mountain reminding me that Reno really isn’t just about gambling but an enormous gateway to the entire Tahoe region and its mountains and wintersports beyond. As I arrived to an excited greeting by the dogs at Ray’s house, I had an excellent hot cup from his Aeropress and munched on some sweet huckleberries freshly arrived from Montana. The human welcome just as honest and warm as that provided by the hounds!

Ray and his wife gave me a lovely welcome as we prepped for the road trip about 2hrs to Sierra City. With the dog safely popped into the back of the car, and my back-pack in the bed of the Baja truck, we hit the road west on Interstate 80, back to the scene of the crime! The drive was beautiful, the conversation was great and the excitement of the pup in the back was obvious. As we got to Truckee we stopped for a quick bite to eat and a coffee fillup before the final push to Sierra City.

Arriving into Sierra City, I quickly retrieved my resupply package and my new replacement hiking poles sent from REI and jumped back to the car. Repacking could come later but first item of importance was dog walking-time! We hiked southbound on the PCT to the beautiful pools I had passed on Monday, and in the heat the water was very inviting for humans and dogs alike.

After much splashing around and lots of excitement from the doggie side of the show, it was sadly time for Ray to head back to Reno given some evening errands on his list. After this hugely generous gesture of driving me back to the trail, there simply was no way I could thank him appropriately but to plan to stay in touch and hope we get out on the trails around Tahoe again, either in the summer or for some winter fun! I bid farewell to my new friend from Nevada and wearily looked up at the huge climb ahead. The Sierra Buttes I had seen for a few days now, needed to be conquered and the sun wasn’t getting any lower in the sky.

The hike up the buttes was arduous in the sun but the views were hugely rewarding. I had the entire trail to myself with distant Mt.Lassen and the Sierra far off to the south glistening at times in the sun, but more ripples of low tree covered hills ahead gave a good indication that outcrops like the Buttes are worth taking advantage of when we have them.

Beyond the Buttes and the trail followed a meandering path up and down some low saddles and peaks with views of lakes to the east and west. Irregularly, forest roads crossed its path and many signs of high levels of human traffic from trash to bullet holes through to some graffiti in places. The trail at this stage is very accessible hence the levels of modern defacement and local stress around the trail seemed to be higher than some of the more rural and inaccessible sections we’ve covered. At one point I spoke to a local forest range named Elizabeth who gave me some water top-ups and told me of the forest fire suppression activities her team had to maintain throughout the summer with increasing difficulties of budget, climate and human activities.

A few miles beyond the last major road crossing and a large group of hikers passed me whilst talking to Ranger Elizabeth. As myself and Squatch, a hiker originally from Rhode Island merged with their group we all started to converse as they asked questions about the trail, the whys, the when’s, the what’s and the usual curiosity of people that we’ve enjoyed indulging since starting out. This gang of keen individuals was from a Romanian church choir based in Sacramento, all the hikers being from Romania or Moldova. Once we got to the intersection with the lake they planned to visit, they asked us to come back and hang out with them whilst they generously shared an enormous watermelon they had hauled a few miles along the trail! This was certainly some unusual trail magic and it came from an excited and generous gang of young people who really were a lot of fun to spend time with. They even sung for us and eagerly asked if they could follow our journey by Instagram.

After a nice break and with the sun beginning to descend in the sky, I watched the clouds settled on the horizon and over the Sierra Buttes behind, an unusual sight given we haven’t seen clouds in quite some time to any degree.

I eventually descended to a remote trailhead and forest road with a car park, and settled in for the evening on a small precipice, surprising myself that i was able to squeeze my tent into the space available. As I cooked my dinner, a curious deer munched on grass nearby and I couldn’t help but think of what a remarkable day, today had been!

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