Sierras L

Sept. 11, Sun.–Zero day in Sierra City

Sun. Sept. 11            No miles today       Zero in Sierra City

Well, when we planned our PCT adventure, we THOUGHT we’d be headed home today from Canada!  But I guess we’re not Ray and Jenny Jardine, and being ‘seniors’ takes its toll–we just can’t tear along the trail like the younger people.  We’ve NEEDED our “zero days”!  This morning we were just getting up from our “camp” by the church lawn, when Jim, who lives in a trailer next door, hallooed to ask if we’d like to come up for coffee.  Well, we sure would, and ended up having a great visit.  Jim is 78, retired, and he lives up here in the mountains “till after the second snow”, then goes down to the San Joaquin Valley to live on his boat, or else he goes down to Baja in Mexico.  He’s sort of a handyman, and told us about his latest projects, including repairs on the church.    We told him we were going to church later, and chided him a little when we found out he never attends.  But we did get to talk a little bit about the difference between REALLY knowing God and just knowing ABOUT Him and going to church as if it were a social club. 

Then we all trooped down to the Mountain Creek Inn for a big breakfast.  Jim showed us where a bear had come down and broken into the ice cream case several times till the owners got an electric fence set up!  The restaurant is great–they either compost or feed the chickens all their scraps, just like we do when we’re back at home in Petaluma.  Then Bill and I went for a walk and I did some writing, till time for church.

Church was totally cool.  The pastor turned out to be a REAL “circuit-riding Methodist minister”–he’d already preached at two other churches, starting at 8:00 this morning.  We really enjoyed the service–good hymns, and an “object lesson” that set the stage for a sermon on forgiveness, based on the parable of the unforgiving servant, which was prompted by Pete’s question to Jesus, “Lord, how many times do I have to forgive somebody if they sin against me?”  Looking at the visitor register, we noticed that a number of PCT hikers have been here.  The church folks told us that on the last Sunday of each month, they have a potluck after the service, and if it’s PCT thruhiker “season”, everybody brings PLENTY, so they can feed all the starving hikers!

Well, it wasn’t the last Sunday of the month, so we headed for fish & chips at the Red Moose restaurant, and discovered a lot of church folks there, so we had more great conversations with them!  The church building is very old, and it reminded me of the one where our Awana Club meets back home.  After totally stuffing ourselves at lunch, we rented a nice cozy room at the Buttes Resort (all the motorcyclists had left!) and I went down the street to do our laundry.  The store next door to the laundromat kindly let me sit inside at a little table, since it was a cloudy, cold, windy day, and the store was nice and warm.  Pretty soon, it began to drizzle and rain!  Yikes!  a constant stream of people were in and out of the store, all complaining about the unseasonable weather…”Can you believe this?  RAIN, in September!  And it’s snowing higher up!  What’s going on?”  I listened to them and was ENcouraged at the thought that the weather was unusual for this time of year, but DIScouraged at the thought of “snow higher up.”   I asked some of the folks about what was “normal” for this time of year, and they all said that normally, this is one of the nicest, most pleasant times of year around here.

Tonight Bill and I had dinner at the Mountain Creek Inn, where we met another thruhiker couple who’d just gotten into Sierra City a couple of hours before.  They were SOBO’s and said they did 28 miles today in order to reach Sierra City and get out of the cold, wind, hail, and yes, SNOW they’d been walking through for the last few days!  But the people at the restaurant said that the latest weather report is for improving conditions, so we went to bed quite encouraged and cheered up.  Tomorrow, as soon as the post office opens, we’ll get our box and hit the trail again!

Sept. 10, Sat.–28.8 miles–Sierras L Sierra City

Sat. Sept. 10             Miles today: 28.8       Total so far: 2,111.6 miles        Sierras Section L    Sierra City

The sky was so covered with thick, dark clouds when we got up at 5:30 am, that it was hard to see, and it was so cold that we wore all our “woolies” as we carefully followed the trail through the early morning dimness.  At White Rock Creek we filled our water bottles for a long day ahead with few water sources.  it felt more like October than September with gray clouds overhead, occasional sun, strong, cold wind, and trees/plants turning fall colors. 

Then about 9:30 am, it really got weird.  Though the sun was shining at the time, it began to HAIL, about quarter-inch-size white pellets, at first only a few, then more and more.  We stopped under a tree and put on raingear in case the hail became rain, and kept on going, thanking God that thre was no lightning/thunder to go with the hail.  The hail just kept coming down, and pretty soon it looked like it had been snowing!  Finally it stopped and we took off our raingear and said, “That was straaaange!”

The PCT did a lot of moderate ups and downs this morning, plus a “walk to the edge of a lava cliff” that was pretty amazing.  We also did a lot of “crest walking” with great views of all the pretty lakes and reservoirs around here.  The trail was easy going, and we were able to move quickly.  Every now and then it would hail some more (we found out later that it RAINED down below…I prefer hail–it’s nice and “dry”!)  At noon we had stopped for lunch, all bundled up because of the cold, when along came 2 SOBO’s, headed for Mexico, and full of questions about the southbound trail.  They even took notes on what we told them!  Then along came two more people who were RUNNING the PCT, northbound.  All they carry is lunch and water, while friends take care of everything else.  So there we were–a whole crowd of six PCT-ers out in the middle of nowhere!  And the funny thing was, none of us knew where we were, except that we were all on the PCT!

Well, less than an hour later, Bill and I had reached big Jackson Reservoir, and a road with a trail sign that said, “Sierra City 11 1/2 miles.”  It was 2:00 pm.  IF the trail stayed easy, we could make it before sundown.  I began to think about town food–steak, fruit, veggies, bread and a warm room with a shower, vs. Clif bars, dried fruit and a sleeping bag on a cold night in the forest.  So I guess I developed a case of what’s called “town-moto” because Bill says I really started to charge ahead!  And it’s true–since the trail was mostly down and mostly smooth, I was actually able to almost half-run at times!  Moving faster also meant we got warmer, and by 3:00 pm, we were warm enough to take our jackets off.

By late afternoon we were on the big downhill to Milton Creek, but before that we’d had occasional glimpses of an extraordinary mountain up ahead, Sierra Buttes.  Bill said he thought it looked like Mordor in “Lord of the Rings.”  Besides admiring the Buttes, I was also looking at the fall colors along the trail and thinking, “We have 500 miles to go.  Can we make it before the snows come?”  But I cheered myself with the thought that we crossed the 2,100 mile mark today and said, “Thankyou, Lord!  I know You will help us make it through, all the way!”

At last we were walking along beautiful Milton Crek, crisscrossing it on cute bridges, and finally, there it was–the turnoff for Sierra City!  We happily walked along the road, admiring the VARIETY of houses (all sorts: old 1800’s style, log houses, modern cabins, everything!) and the large number of SNOWMOBILES parked in front of them.  One house had two cars and SIX snowmobiles!  When we got to town at about 6:30 pm, we found “no room at the inn”.  The motorcycles parked everywhere explained why.  It was some sort of motorcycle convention, and every room was taken.  But some old guys sitting in front of the hotel told us, “Go ahead and camp by the church lawn–the church folks like hikers.”  Good!  Now we could go find FOOD!  We went to the Mountain Creek Inn, and found other PCT hikers there!  They were headed north, and leave tomorrow.  We sat by a roaring fire in the fireplace and enjoyed a fantastic dinner while talking to the other hikers.  One of the guys had met and taken hiking classes from the famous Ray Jardine.  Wow!  He said that Ray is a real “no-nonsense” guy.  While we were all still busy talking after dinner, the lady who runs the restaurant came by and said, “I love hikers!  You guys really clean your plates!”  We all looked down, and sure enough, all our plates were totally bare–not a scrap of food left!  We all had a good laugh over that one!  Then the other hikers (who were with friends) hopped in a car to drive to a campground, while Bill and I put our woolies back on and went out into the dark and cold, over to the church lawn around the corner.  The old guys had warned us to stay well away from the lawn (“Those lawn sprinklers come on at midnight, and you don’t want to get wet!”), so we snuggled up next to the propane tank and went to bed under a mostly-CLEAR sky with lots of stars.  Tomorrow will have to be a zero day, because the post office won’t open till Monday, but hooray, we get to go to church!   Man, I have missed being able to do that!