Day 63, June 26th
Start: camp at mile 319
End: camp near drakesbad resort, mile 354
Miles hiked: 35
Carrot and I plan a huge day last night. She’s got a box in old station at the post office, and she needs to get there before Friday at 4:30. It’s approximately 59 miles away, but the miles are pretty mellow. So we plan to get to drakesbad resort, some 35 miles down the trail, a big day no matter how you slice it.
After the clouds moved in last night, it rained off and on consistently. We wake up to rain, but it’s not coming down heavy, so it’s no big deal. We hike out strong uphill, and after a few hours of hiking we reach the pct midway point. We’re halfway done with the pct!! I don’t know wether to be happy or sad. More than anything, I’m underwhelmed at how ugly of a spot the marker is at. It a clear cut opening in the forest, most everything around is long dead or hacked. Just a lot of dirt. It’s comical. Sochi is there, and I haven’t seen him since leaving Tahoe, so that’s cool. We laugh at how ugly and unceremonious this place is, and take a group shot. There’s an old ammo can with a register. So many people signing in. Tons of cliche posts from other hikers. I’m not feeling creative.
‘Yay. -twinkle, 6/26/14’, I write. Then we hike on, all downhill to highway 36. This highway will take you into the town of Chester, some 8 miles east of where the trail crosses. Carrot and I don’t have time to go in, as we’re on a mission to make it to old station in time.
But as we hike on, I think more and more about the tooth fairy there. She is the local dentist, and if you go into her dentist office, she’ll give you a 20 dollar gift certificate/coupon to a local restaurant. A free pizza, I think. And wings! But I told carrot I would help her in her quest to get to old station, and that means 35 miles today, still 19 miles past highway 36. I conjure up a magnificent plan in my head on the way to the highway. I can hike fast, especially if I grab a mountain dew. And if I go to town at noon, get a pizza, see coughee who’s in town resting a bum ankle, and then get back to the road quickly, I think I’ll still be able to get 35 in. That may mean night hiking, but free pizza is worth it. Like totally worth it. I’ll night hike through the entire night for pizza, damnit. So I talk to carrot.
“How would you feel if I went into Chester? I need new batteries for my spot, and I know my family is following it closely. I’ll catch up with you at camp, I promise!” I tell her.
“Enjoy your pizza, that’s a great idea” she responds.
She knows thru-hikers well. It’s all about the food, and I’m no different than the rest! She’s totally fine with it. Cool. I’m going to get that pizza! Pizza pizza pizza!!!!!
I rush to the road, getting there at 11:45. Mac, not a chance, diver, and big sauce are all there trying to get a ride. Woody is close behind me, and obviously he wants in. None of us planned to stop in Chester, but free food? We all stop. It takes about 45 minutes to get a ride. Dang, i thought it would be quicker. We get dropped off at the dentist, and meet the tooth fairy. She’s amazing! So excited to meet us all, and congratulates us on being half way done with our hike. She gives us each a few cookies, a tooth brush, tooth past and floss, the. Takes our picture to put up on the board. We’re one of the first 20 people to come through here this year. Cool!
We head to the bar and I get a large ham and pepperoni pizza, with a 32oz slushy. BAAAMMMMMMMM. All free! I shop at the grocery store, getting batteries, sun chips (French onion, hands down the best chip ever), some butterfingers, chips for carrot, and a mt dew. I make it back to the restaurant before my pizza is even out. This’ll be the most efficient town stop ever!
I eat the whole pizza less two slices, of which I give to coughee. It’s great to see him. I tell him he needs to hike with us more, he’s always half a day ahead! I’m in good company with him, sheriff, not a chance, Mac, JrSr, 10k, diver, big sauce, Sochi, and a few other hikers. It’s a good scene, and I couldn’t be happier stuffing my face with leftovers from other hikers. They all order several pitchers of beer. Shoot, I better get out of here before I don’t make it back to the trail. They try and talk me into staying, but I told carrot I would hike with her. Plus, I feel like we’ve been really doing short days, and I want to get back on the trail, do some big miles. So I catch a ride as they all heckle me.
They’re all in for a fun night, but so am I. I make it back to the trailhead at 2:45pm. 19 miles to camp. But I’m not worried, I just ate enough pizza to feed a family, and I know exactly what to do. I put in my headphones, crank an old Foals album, anecdotes, and start rocking. Heavy belly and all, I rocket down the smooth, easy trail. It’s been maintained recently, I can tell. It’s clear and soft, and its beautifully manufactured to smash miles. I oblige.
At 6pm, I chug my Mountain Dew, and race up the lone big climb of the day. As I reach the summit I cross trail with two sobos (Pct hikers heading southbound). I ask if they’ve seen carrot and Bigfoot. Not more than 20 minutes ago.
I do a little math in my head. If that was 20 minutes, they’re roughly 40 minutes ahead right now. At a 3mph pace, that’s 2 miles ahead. I’m roughly five miles from camp now, so they must be three miles from camp.
“Thanks! Gotta run!” I say as I take off down the trail. I’m going to catch them. I’ve already gained 4 miles on them since the start. I’m jacked up on Mountain Dew, so why not run? My pack isn’t that heavy anyhow. I book it. Literally running, fast. I kick up dirt as I turn corners, I propel myself off rocks with monster force. I pass a sign and read it as I run by. ‘Entering Lassen Volcanic National Park’, sweet! I’ve been seeing Lassen peak for a while now. I run back, better take a selfie here. Then I keep running forward. I even run uphill. I check my phone at the too of the hill to see how close I am using halfmile’s app. 2 miles. Woosh, back running down the hill.
I expect to see them at every turn, but I don’t. I reach a boiling lake. Another selfie. Another picture. Keep running. Eventually I reach camp. Damn, never caught them. I see them all sitting at the picnic table. Bigfoot and zombie see me, and I motion for them to be quiet. They pretend as they don’t see me. I sneak up behind carrot and scare her so bad. It’s hilarious, for us, maybe not her.
“What in the world?! Why are you sweating so much?” She yells.
I’m wearing my tank top, and shorts with my hat. Everyone else has all of their layers on, including their down coats. I’m still so hot from running 5 miles with a backpack on. I explain what I did and they all laugh at me. Stupid, but I wanted so bad to catch them. Failed by under half hour. Oh well, I’m just happy to be here before dark. And I got pizza in town. Happy, I am, even if I can’t fall asleep right now, 10pm, due to the Mountain Dew. Everyone else has been asleep a while. Tomorrow may be rough…