Camping: off PCT mile 1159.26
Camp began to stir at the normal time this morning though we all headed out at separate times. I’m enjoying this group dynamic, but today we all seemed to have different agendas upon leaving camp. Some people are going to Truckee, a bunch of us are skipping straight through to Sierra City, and there is rumor of a trailside restaurant. To top it off, we were aiming to do 26 miles today. An interesting outcome was inevitable.
It was a humid day again. Sweat was dripping off of me like a faucet and I couldn’t drink enough water. It was wearing me down as I climbed and climbed the steep mountain that started out the day. 26 miles for me was looking more and more grim but I kept moving on. I decided to make it to Donner Pass by lunch where there was a rumored restaurant. If there was no restaurant, I would eat there and see how far I could go after that. I wasn’t feeling great, the humidity taking the wind right out of my sails.
I ran into a day hiker with his dog, and he told me that there was indeed a restaurant right off the trail. This perked me up, and I moved a bit more swiftly, assuming my friends were there already. I could see the picture in my head; the guys sitting in a booth, tipping back beers and laughing. They would greet me with big smiles, and we would all laugh about a 26 mile day not getting done after all. This was a great image to hike to, and I felt like the day was looking up already. The hiking was rough heading down, loose rocks all over the place requiring an attention to detail that further sapped my energy. I made it work, slowly. It was less than a mile after all, and rocks or not, I was headed to a restaurant.
I got to the road and walked the 1/4 mile downhill, the restaurant a beacon to the right. Walking in, I was surprised that there were only 2 other hikers there, and they were not a part of my group. I knew that CrackerJack, Danger Spoon and Oak were ahead of me, but they must have missed the signs for the restaurant. I was not deterred, I saddled up and ordered a chicken sandwich with fries. The guy even gave me a free Bud Light because I’m a PCT hiker. Somehow I would figure out where my group was later, this was just too good to pass up. As I ate, other hikers showed up, including Tin Tin and Smokey. I felt better knowing I wasn’t behind my whole group, and as we contemplated hitting the trail again, the sky darkened. Clouds gathered, rain began and thunder rumbled…we worried, and tried to figure out how long the storm would last. More hikers showed up, and the prospect of hiking very far quickly changed as we sat around staring at the big dark scary clouds.
In the end, our group had broken up and reformed. I made new friends in Doc and Michael, then we added Pockets and cheeseburger to our new crew and hiked out. We didn’t go too far, as the food and humidity lethargy kept its hold on us, but we were in great spirits. Doc played his ukulele, and we all laid about camp looking at the stars before going to bed. It turned out to be a great day, and I learned a lesson in letting go. I was holding myself to too many expectations of miles, and staying with certain people, when in the end it all worked out. I will spend more time trying not to plan too much, as it cuts into the experience of enjoying myself. I will learn to let go of my own self imposed rules.