Days 53-56: Truckee to Sierra City

Day 53: June 25th

I woke up in my lonely hotel room in Bishop. The night before, I had come to the decision to skip north and continue my journey. After walking to get some breakfast, I realized how uncomfortable in town I was.  I was craving to be back on the trail and in my tent. While eating, I made a post on the PCT Facebook page that I was hitching north and if I could join others that were doing the same.

A woman named Haiku had replied, so we met in a coffee shop in town. We talked about our experiences and what our plans were. After enjoying a couple cups of coffee, we decided to grab our packs and try to get out of Bishop.

We stood outside of the Chevron station on the main street for almost 2 hours. We made a sign, that we were PCT Hikers heading to Reno or Truckee. A car was filling up and offered us a ride to Mammoth Lake, about halfway to our destination. When they were done, a pickup pulled around and said he’d give us a ride all the way to Truckee.

He was towing a glider behind the truck. Apparently, Bishop has a large gliding community and he had been in town all week. He stores the glider at the Truckee airport, so figured he’d pick us up since he was heading there.

Truckee was a five hour drive away from Bishop. He talked a lot about gliding and we told him about the trail. His nephew had hiked the trail a few years ago and he was excited to be part of our journey. About halfway to Truckee, he pulled over, stating that he was buying all of us ice cream!

As we got closer to Truckee, he asked if we had plans to stay anywhere. We really hadn’t thought that far ahead and were going to figure it out when we got there. He mentioned that the airport had a nice bunkhouse that we could stay at. It sounded cheap, so we were ok with that.

Just before town, he pulled into a grocery store, stating that he felt like having a bbq. We walked around the store with him, throwing in tons of fruits and veggies. Haiku and I stared at each other. This hitch just kept surprising us, should we be fearful? The guy seemed ok.

We pulled into the airport and parked the glider. A couple of his flying buddies were still there and they came over to hang out with us. He cooked for all of us and poured us beers from the airport’s keg.

It was an amazing hitch that just kept getting crazier. Haiku and I couldn’t believe our luck!

Day 54

The bunkhouse was comfortable and both of us slept in until 7am.  When we came downstairs to the picnic benches, our host had coffee made for us. I had to go to the post office to send home all of my gear for the Sierra, as I no longer needed it. He had dropped us off downtown and we parted ways. After mailing my bear can and warm clothes home, we found a hitch out of town, to the trail.

The first half mile of the trail was clear and we happily strolled along. As we continued, however, patches of snow kept growing, covering more of the trail. Eventually, we were completely surrounded by snow and had to use our GPS to navigate.

It took us a long time to cross through all of the snow, so we did not make as many miles as we had planned. After 7 miles, we decided to make camp on a small wooden bridge. This bridge was the only dry piece of ground for miles around us. The creek under the bridge was flooded and you could see some of the trail underneath. The rest of the area was snow.

We decided to cowboy camp, since there was little space on the bridge to tent. It was fairly peaceful as I drifted off to sleep, listening to the slow water underneath of us and gazing at the stars.

At 2am, both Haiku and I woke suddenly, for no apparent reason. She mentioned how amazing the stars were. Even without my glasses on, I could see the stars blazing. After putting them on, I was blown away! Just about then, we heard a loud explosion and the earth shuddered. Then a minute or so later, it shuddered again. We both sat upright, me looking around wildly.

What was that? What do we do? It felt like an earthquake, but that noise, was it an avalanche, was it a rockslide? I tried racking my memory for an area close by that could have had an avalanche and couldn’t think of one. We continued to feel shaking throughout the night. “What do we do?”, we questioned again.

There were two rocky, steps that we thought we could fit on and moved our stuff there to sleep. We weren’t sure if the bridge was going to collapse or if there was going to be a surge of water. I was really out of my element and I had no idea what to do. Had I been alone, I would have questioned what I was doing there and may have walked back to Truckee in the morning. Thankfully, Haiku was there and we were in it together.

Day 55

We continued to feel shaking throughout the night. The steps were also uncomfortable, so neither of us slept well. After the sun came out and we felt a little warmer, we trudged forward through the snow.

We used the GPS all day. I would check our location and tell her our general direction, then she would charge forward, blazing our trail. There were some steep slopes that we had to navigate up and down. When there were switchbacks, we cut across them when we could. The entire forest covered in snow that was 3 to 8 feet deep.

At the end of the day, I was tired and downtrodden. This was the first time I actually considered quitting the trail. If the rest of northern California was like this, I was done. Staring at my phone all day is not how I want to hike my hike.

On our navigation app, someone had left a comment about a possible dry tentsite. Happily, this was the case.

Day 56

There is a saying that “the trail provides.” Today, it provided a clear, snow-free trail; convincing me to keep going. I was so happy that I felt like running.

Haiku and I got into Sierra City and hung out at the small market. We ate some food, charged our electronics and did all the usual Internet and phone chores. She also looked up earthquakes for when we were on the bridge. We were 5 miles away from the epicenter of a 4.1 quake!


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