From Belden (the Braatens’) to the Williams cabin site
I went to bed radiating aches, and hot, then slept the uncomfortable sleep off the overtired. This morning I wake up groggy, tired… and surprisingly ok. Namaste, 3D, and Pacman come in, and we all head to the diner at the RV park down the street (caribou crossroads RV park? Are we in Alaska or something?).
The food is surprisingly good -we order biscuits and gravy, three egg omelets, breakfast burritos, French toast, milkshakes. We pay for a load of laundry, then I put together a box to mail forward to Portland. I’ve decided to send forward the shirt top of my long johns, my rain pants, and my extra handkerchief. It’s tough saying goodbye to my rain pants – they keep me so warm – it’s just that keeping cool is the problem lately. Probably close to two pounds there, no longer on my back. I’m happy about that. I’m getting tired of carrying things around.
Back at the Braatens’, Pacman, Namaste and J take off to go swimming in the river across the street. 3D and I stay in and blog – chores. (3D is an artist doing a super cool project on her hike. Check out her site HERE.) I’m halfway through this hike, and I’m not going to quit now, but keeping this blog up has been (and continues to be) a difficult thing to do. One extra thing to do, every day. Especially now that I’m three weeks behind after not blogging the entire High Sierra. The solar panel from Dan has solved my power issues, but it did not magically write my posts for me. “If I only do two posts a day,” I tell myself, “eventually I’ll catch up.”
A couple of south-bound section hikers also come in, Mimi and The Dude. Mimi is heading home, so The Dude is reworking his whole setup for a solo trip. He passes on his three liter platypus bag to us, so we have a way to filter water again. Hallelujah. It’s actually a bounty of food and goods at the Braatens’. The Braatens are trail angels for just one month. If you miss the window, you’re outta luck – and tonight will be their last night. Everyone who resupplies in Belden has to send their own food, so the hiker box here is the best I’ve seen since the Saufleys’. There’s no one to leave the food for, but the stuff in our boxes is better. I’ll take my chocolate covered macaroons over their dehydrated chicken any day.
Meanwhile, we discuss our plans going forward and possible mileage plans to finish this trail before winter. “You know, I tell 3D, “if we hike just 22 miles a day, every day, we’ll get to Canada by October.”
“With no zero days?”
“No zero days.”
“Well, that won’t work,” protests 3D.
“If you do 23, you can take five zeros,” I proffer.
“That might be doable.”
For those of us hellbent on finishing a complete thru-hike this year, time is no longer our friend. It’s taken me three months to do half the trail, but I only have two months for the second, if I’m really trying to beat the snow in the north cascades. I run the math all the time – “so, if I hike 30 miles a day for this section, then I can take four fifteen mile days in that section, or….”
All the math always works out the same: I have to get up and hike, for a long time, every day.
J comes back from the river with a hat full of blackberries. We sort our food boxes into our food bags. Seven days of food means we’re walking out of here heavy. There’s a scale here, so we know. Both our packs weigh 30 lbs each. Not bad for seven days of food for hungry hikers.
After five we’ve waited out most the heat, so we sling on our packs. Brenda gives us a ride to the trail head and sees us off.
The descent into Belden yesterday means there is a mirror image waiting for us. This trail goes uphill for miles from here. Even at five it’s hot, but J and I, 3D, Pacman and Namaste get started.
North fork of the Feather River, ascending from Belden. It’s too bad we haven’t figured out how to leave our rivers alone – rail on one side, road on the other, then powerlines overhead.
Six miles, it’s getting dark, and we’ve found a spot we can all camp. J and I get in first, and set up on the side of the creek closer to the trail. When everyone else shows up, I tell them: “there’s more flat spots over there, but there’s also a bunch of junk. It was a little creepy so we camped here.”
3D comes back from across the creek – “a little creepy? There is a bucket of knives! Bottles of bleach and gasoline! A cauldron! A tarp full of who knows what!”
“Yeah, a little creepy,” I laugh.
“What was in the tarp, dead babies?” Pacman deadpans.
“Oh, definitely,” returns 3D. We all end up camping on this side of the creek.
It’s nice to be camping with people again. It seems like a long time since we had a little crew. Uphill for breakfast tomorrow, for all of us.