Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Day 73 : Respite In Little Haven

16 miles today
1366 miles to go

I awake with the orange horizon staring me in the face. This campsite is perched on the edge of a ridge with nothing blocking the eastern horizon. I lay in my warm bag, comfortable, not ready to start walking. I could lay here for least a few more minutes. I open the valve on my mattress slightly. Pfsssssst. I slowly descend from my comfortable zone floating above the ground. Back down to the real ground. Two inches of comfort, two inches to hard, uneven, ground. Now I can get up. The magic is gone. Breakfast in my tent, then I pack, then I'm hiking. Fourteen miles, ten less than I'm used to. Mostly down hill. 

I am surprised that the trail is climbing. Not significantly but enough for me to be disappointed. The more I climb the more I have to climb back down. All in fourteen miles. Finally the trail levels off and follows the ridge. Lassen can just be seen peaking over the ridge to the north. The ridge I probably have to climb up tomorrow. I'm glad I'm breaking this into two days. The climb down and up yesterday was tiring enough. I'd rather not have to do that two days in a row. The trail meanders through meadows and forests in relatively flat terrain. There are enough trees that it's hard to tell I'm at the top of a ridge about to descend. The trail goes through the trees and suddenly I can see I'm on the edge of an abyss. Way down there is a nicely paved two lane highway, a railroad track, and a river. None of which I can hear from this high up. It looks like one misstep and I'll quickly be at the bottom but it's only an illusion. It's really no that steep, and least not where I'm standing. I follow the trail through manzanita bushes. The entire hill is covered in manzanita. The trail is smooth and without rocks, almost sandy, down through the manzanita. Down, down, down. I think to myself, “this is only half as much downhill as Mt San Jancinto. That doesn't really help. No matter how much down I hike it doesn't seem like the bottom is any closer. The trail switches back and forth through the manzanita. Long drawn out switchbacks across the face of a steep hill. A hill that looks like you could slip off of and fall to the bottom. You probably could fall without the manzanita but with it I think it would slow you down and even stop you. It certainly wouldn't be very comfortable. I keep my eyes on the trail. These are the worst kinds of trails. Amazing views in every direction tempting me to look up. The moment I do I kick a rock or a stump and then have to try to catch myself before I fall. It's painful and not worth it. If I want to look to see my progress I have to stop and then all progress ceases. So I don't look. Watch the trail. Good steps, no missteps, no stumbling. Down until I'm in the shade. Down in the trees it is a lot cooler, it's pleasant. My knee is performing flawlessly. I am able to walk down the hill without slowing down and without my knee feeling weak and wobbly. The switchbacks in the trees are shorter and steeper. Back and forth, back and forth, over and over and over again. I pause and look down into the canyon. Have I gotten any lower? It doesn't seem like it. I don't seem to be very good at judging though. I must be making progress. Just like the climb yesterday. Eventually it ends there is a bottom, as long as I don't stop I'll reach it. Ignore the apparent lack of progress and trust the trail. It is taking me down to the bottom.  Hours and hours go by. A loud rumbling breaks into my thoughts and a train horn blasts so loud that I almost swallow my Oreo cookie whole. I stop and look down and about one hundred feet below me a four engine freight train is rumbling up the canyon. I think I've made it. I follow the trail down to the tracks, vacant by the time I reach them. I stare at my map looking for instructions. Cross the tracks and follow a road east. I do, there it is, a narrow country road in the trees, it's a pleasant temperature under these trees. The road leads me to the Belden resort where I see three familiar packs. Obiwan, Big Hunk and Heaps are inside. I drop my pack next to theirs and hop inside. I see them sitting at the bar. Heaps has an awesome looking burger in her hands. “I will order one of those, and a root beer.” I sit with them. They plan on climbing out today. They hike long days and thirty plus miles. I may not see them after this. I ask the bartender the best way to contact the Braatens. Where I sent my package and hope to stay tonight. She says she'll call them for me. Great! I eat my burger and drink my root beer. So good, so amazingly good. I'm not sick of my dinners yet but they just don't have that satisfying finish that a burger and fries does. In my pre-thruhiker life that finish was a stuffed uncomfortable feeling. Now it's a full but not stuffed feeling. I talk to Brenda Braaten on the phone. She's spells out the house rules. It sound just like the quiet place I was hoping to stay. I agree to them unconditionally and she says she'll be down to pick me up within the hour. Yay! A place to stay. Time to celebrate, I buy a Butterfinger ice cream bar and sit on the bench outside in the shade to wait. 

Brenda shows up and I throw my pack in the back of her pickup. Another Thru-hiker is hoping to go to Caribou Crossing. She takes him too. It's only a quarter mile walk from her house to there. I'm staying in the Little Haven PCT hiker house, Yay! Currently I'm the only one. Most of the hikers I spoke with on the trail were pushing through to Chester. I like the peace and quiet of this Haven. I wash my clothes, well just rinse them actually, I don't want to lose the Permethrin coating yet. I take a shower. I sort my food and repack my pack. I'm getting much faster at that now. Brenda comes in and asks if I need to go to Caribou Crossing. “Yes, in fact I do, I need to get some fuel for my stove.” She has some packages that need to be shipped out and that is the nearest Post Office. The Thru-hiker shows up, he just walked back from Caribou Crossing. He hops in the track and gets a ride back to where he just was. I buy my fuel and order a Coffee Milkshake. A PCT Famous Milkshake. It's well worth going there if you can. I get mine to go because I have no interest walking on a hot road during my Nearo. It's funny to me that walking fourteen miles to get here and I still consider it a nearo. Brenda drops me off at Little Haven before taking the other Thru-hiker and some packages down to Belden. I sit on the porch and soak my feet. I help her husband Laurie move a cover for a truck he just sold. My clothes are almost all dry. After dinner and a good night's sleep I'll be ready to climb background out of here.

No comments:

Post a Comment