Day 96 – Rush, Roar

I’m up late – my body loves this whole “real bed” thing, and it doesn’t think consciousness is appropriate until 8. Yes. I delay being vertical for a bit longer by talking with Spesh about meeting up at the end of the month; I hear Pineapple in the other room doing the same with her boyfriend. Eventually, we can delay no longer – we wanna leave our stuff here while we go and do laundry down the street, so it’s up and at ’em in our puffy jackets and rain gear skirts, getting smirks from the locals as we pass.

I haven’t done laundry since South Lake Tahoe, so it is past time for this, even as bored as the prospect makes me; I split my time between eyeballing my phone and taking in the community board hanging above the folding counter. It’s about as I expected, given the stories I’d heard about this town – Lemurians and ley lines and crystal healing – but there are a lot of people actually looking to build community through groups and projects and helping each other out, too.

We notice with alarm that our dryer cycle won’t quite be done before we’re supposed to be checked out, and the folks who run the Travel Inn were quite adamant about checkout time – some unruly hikers had given them all sorts of grief a few nights back. So it’s back to the motel for our things and a quick rummage through the hiker box, where I happen to find Altra insoles that are just my size1. I’m stoked – the left insole always wears out way faster than the right insole because, apparently, something’s wrong with my gait. I’ve tried to fix it, but in lieu of being able to, this’ll do for now. I think to take both, hedge, and end up only taking the left one. I’ll probably regret that later.

We go back to get our clean laundry:


Clean, in this case, being a relative term.

And we’re changed and off to the Fifth Season, the local outfitter that might have the trekking pole tip that Pineapple needs. She’s off and striding down the street; I’m moving a little slower, playing Pokemon Go as I walk, though there’s not much to be caught here.

The Fifth Season is super hiker-friendly; it’s got a register, and lets us store our packs there during open hours. I see that Moses was here a couple of days ago – how the hell did he get in front of me AGAIN – and that Chili, whose full name is apparently Chili Cheese Dog, and Dirt Squirrel made it in alright. In between outfitting folks for the Shasta climb and taking back rentals from the Shasta climb, they put a new tip on Pineapple’s trekking pole. Sweet.

I walk to the store to do my resupply; Pineapple got a box sent to the hotel, but she comes with me anyway, and I buy too much food again find her outside when I’m done, sipping on a bottle of iced coffee. Good coffee is hard to find on trail these days. We talk about going to get Thai food, but don’t want to wait around until the restaurant opens – and anyway, there’s a pizza buffet adjacent to the grocery store. We stuff our faces; I videochat with my family, all in one place for some reason or another. I get the feels pretty hard but stuff them down – still, Bleu Cheese and Chili and Pineapple know what’s up.


Pretty rad views in this town, even from strange, unattached parking lots.

We head back to get our things from Fifth Season, get a note from Dirt Squirrel on our packs, meet MacGuyver back from climbing Shasta in the store. He says it was worth it – I say it’s worth coming back for, and don’t particularly regret not doing the trek. We all head across the street to the “park” that consists of a picnic table in front of the police station, and I explode my pack and my resupply to get everything together. Dirt Squirrel joins us, looking a lot better than the last time we saw her. No more fever, hooray! She and Chili are hanging out for another day to let some friends catch up with them, but Pineapple and I are both concerned about our dwindling bank accounts and the dwindling amount of time before October. We still have over eleven-hundred miles to go.

So it’s done with the resupply, and out to hitch because ohgodit’s4pmwherehasthedaygone.

We get a pretty good spot on the road to the highway; a lot of folks wave before a gentleman stopping at the RiteAid we’re standing in front of offers us a ride if we’re still here when he gets done shopping. A dentist from Ashland and his wife, headed back home from vacation, stop and pick us up, agree to take us back to the trail even though it’s south of here, not north. They want to see where the trailhead is. I’m worried about getting the right exit, but the trailhead is posted on the highway. Rad. We offer them gas money; they wave us off and on our way.

Pineapple rolls her eyes at me as I jog under the highway to where we were picked up yesterday, jog back to meet her. Continuous footpath, I say, even if it means being anal retentive. It takes us a minute to find the “northbound” path – it’s heading pretty solidly west from here – but once we do, it’s up, up and off towards Castle Crags.


I’m faster than Pineapple on the ups; I don’t make an effort to haul at first, because I know what’s coming, and I wait for Pineapple there:


This is one of my favorite photos from the whole trek.

Getting closer and closer, and yet sTILL IN CALIFORNIA so far. It’s about the walk, though, and today, the walk is quite pleasant.


We’re trying to get as far as possible this evening, to make tomorrow’s ups a little less unpleasant. Pineapple and I keep getting separated over and over at water – I’ll arrive, wait around for a while, then pack up to go, and she’ll arrive. Eventually, we agree on the first crossing of Disappearing Creek as our evening stop – 10 miles after 4, not so bad.


In addition to the views, there’s also a fair bit of amusing signage on this portion of trail:


Somebody’s really into the Imperial measurement system…


I’m not sure I want to know what happens to get a creek a name like Burstarse Creek.

I’m almost to the agreed-upon spot when I hear a crazy-ass noise that doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever heard before. And it’s LOUD. I pause mid-step – my first thought is mountain lion, my second thought is going back for Pineapple. When I fish for my headlamp, though – it’s getting dark pretty fast, and I’m likely to need it – I find I’ve left it in my sleeping bag. Shit. I decide to get to the spot, fish out my headlamp, and go back for her then.

When I get to the campsite, though, it’s full up; one of the kind gents in it tells me there are a couple more spots a little further down. I ask him if he’ll tell Pineapple when she passes; he says he won’t be up much longer, but if she passes while he is, he will. I go and drop my stuff in that second site, far enough from another nearby tent for courtesy, then I dig for my headlamp and head back for her.

She’s yelling my name when I approach the initial site – there’s panic in her voice, and I yell back to calm her, rushing back while trying not to break any limbs in the basically-dark. I give her a hug – apparently she had to go towards the crazy noise to get up here. We agree pretty rapidly that 8:30 is now too dark to stop; 7:45 seems more appropriate these days.

As we’re settling in, we find out it’s Sprinkler in the other tent – she’s got giardia, but she’s on the antibiotics and wanting to catch up to Neilbob. She doesn’t sound too great; I ask her if she needs anything, and she responds in the negative. We eat quietly, so as not to disturb her.

All my food won’t fit in my ursak, so I put packaged things like Pop Tarts and Snickers into ziplocks and throw my slightly-less-dirty shirt over them in an attempt to claim them through a weird form of scent-marking. I worry about it as I drift off to the sound of mice scratching at the outside of my tent.

Date: August 7  •  Start: 1498.7  •  End: 1508.6  •  Day: 9.9
Notable Accomplishments: Laundry for the first time since Tahoe • Resupply with maybe enough calories? • Did not get eaten by a mountain lion2

[1] A lot of people use Superfeet, an after-market insole, in their shoes to protect their arches, so they toss out the original insoles. So brand new insoles for me.

[2] I am a little disturbed at how often I have had to write this.

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