Day 60, June 24th
Start: Camp at middle fork of the feather river, mile 1251
End: trail angel Nancy Williams, bucks lake, mile 1266
Miles hiked: 15
I sit up in my bag, make myself some oatmeal. It’s only 5:50 am, and the rest of our clan is sleeping. I see a mysterious man stumble through our camp. He’s wearing jeans, skinny jeans, and a button up T-shirt that looks an awful lot like the ones Doug and Steve Buotabi wear in ‘a night at the Roxbury’. Yet he’s got a golite jam (an ultralight backpack) and other ultralight gear. He gets water from the stream, and then wobbles his way back to the trail. Weird, I think. He looks exactly like a thru hiker, yet nothing like one.
The rest of the gang gets up, and soon they’re all out before me. We plan a 30 mile day, and for me, that’s doable without rushing. So I sit and enjoy the scenery before taking off.
It’s a 4,500 foot gain out of this valley. That’s the same as climbing Whitney from Crabtree. But we’re starting from 2,900 feet, and there’s so much more oxygen. I put in the headphones, crank the new 311 cd (Stereolithic) and just start cruising. No dew needed, so it seems. I slept great last night, and I feel so strong. I pass all hikers… Carrot, sheriff, Mack, big sauce, even not a chance. Then I see another hiker. Possibly 10-k, I think. But this dudes walking funny. As I get closer, I realize it’s the man from this morning, in skinny (literally skin tight) jeans and a party shirt.
“Sup bro? You must be twinkle!” He says between deep breaths of air, tired from the climb.
“Sure am, how’d you know?”
“I’ve been reading your blog, trying to catch you guys since I started five days ago! Hiked a bit with your friend Guthrie last night.” He says.
Again, I’m confused. The dude clearly belongs, but he looks so out of place. I just can’t get a read on him. We talk a bit and I find out he’s a section hiker and has done much more of the trail than I have, just in 500 or so mile stints when he has time. He’s been reading mine and carrots blog, and knew about where we were at. A few minutes into talking not a chance walks up.
“Sup girl!” He yells
“What?! No way, get out! JrSr, I didn’t know you were out this year!!” She yells back, and they greet eachother with a giant hug and laughs.
Turns out they hiked a ton together in 2012. Carrot even remembered him from not a chances 2012 blog. It’s fun to see their reunion, as they clearly know each other well.
After a bit of hiking I put the head phones back in and continue to charge. I’m determined to get up this climb fast, beating the heat as we approach 10am.
I get to the top and break. I eat gummy worms, a snickers, jerky, peanuts, granola, and sun chips as the rest of the hikers gather. JrSr stops with us for a bit and socializes with us. This guy is rad. Knows all the hiker lingo, talks of chafing (did I mention he’s wearing skinny jeans on the trail?), and had no shame. He fits right in with us, immediately.
Eventually we hit a road, and there’s a sign for trail angel Nancy there. Not a chance has been emailing back and forth with her, they love eachother. Not a chance has stopped there every year… It’s only been 15 miles, but not a chance says we’ll have burgers, lasagna, and breakfast. We all want to stop now. Clearly it’s not hard to convince us to stop. Just mention burgers, game over.
We all walk the road for about a mile before getting picked up by a tuck. Awesome. Not a chance wants to walk, but the rest of us pile in the bed. She’s a badass. Moons us as the car drives by her. Not a chance wins. She always does.
We get to the house, 7 hikers, and nancy greets us all, asking for our names. After we all tell her, she recites them back to us perfectly.
“Well, who wants some burgers?” She says
An emphatic yes. She gives me a bunch of burgers and fires up the grill on her cabins giant deck. I get to grill them! Yesss. I love grilling out. A summer staple. The other hikers lay around on the porch and talk with Nancy. She’s so interested, and calls everyone by their name. Trail angels are really special. They take us in, ask nothing in return, and treat us like family. It’s so good. We’re so spoiled on the pct.
As the afternoon rolls around Bearclaw and dirtmonger show up, then Guthrie and diver. We all sprawl out on the deck. I get my ass kicked in ping pong by Mack. He’s good. We drink a lot of root beer and eat tons of snacks from the small store down the road. We throw the football, and just really enjoy ourselves relaxing here. We’re the second group of hikers to come through. Zombie, Bambie, and coughee were all here last night. Coughee got a ride that dropped him off at the wrong trail, he hiked north, realized he missed like 20 miles of pct and started hiking south to it before giving up and being picked up by nancy. He left us a great note, and I laugh thinking of his adventure. Coughee is hilarious.
It’s such an enjoyable night, fire, s’mores, guitar. Eventually we all lay out on the deck to sleep, stars shining bright above the pines. It was an easy day, an enjoyable day. I love it out here, you never know what you’re going to get. And today, we got a real treat, from a genuine trail angel.