July 1, 2017
Donner Pass – Mile 1153.89
I slept in past 7am this morning, and didn’t leave the tent until 9. It was quite glorious. We had a plan today to get into town, get everything done, and get out, all in one day. Since it’s the Fourth of July weekend, we couldn’t find anywhere to stay in town that was reasonably priced, so we decided to just head back to trail today. This is the first time we’ve made a town stop without staying overnight.
Cougar and Dr. McDirty headed up to the road a bit before me and Gummies, figuring it would be easier to get a hitch in smaller groups. By the time Gummies and I made it up to the highway, they were still standing there trying to get a ride, and there was another hiker waiting there as well. Within a couple minutes of our arrival, a guy in a large van pulled up and said he could take all 5 of us into town. Our hitchhiking luck continues. He had been living out of his van, so there was a bed in the back that we got to lie on for the ride into town. It was super comfy, and as I lay there I couldn’t really believe that this is my life. Hitchhiking is my norm now (and it’s actually really fun), when before the trail the very thought of it terrified me. How did I end up here, laying on a mattress in the back of some dude’s van with four other smelly hikers, getting a ride into a small town in the middle of California? Life is weird.
Once we got into town, we made straight for the laundromat, to try and decrease our stench at least a little bit. I hadn’t fully thought this through, and was wearing several clothing items that I wanted to wash, which meant I had to change in the middle of the laundromat. This is what it means to be hiker trash. While we waited for the laundry, we headed over to the bakery next door and I got a coffee and a bagel with egg and cheese. So good. We loitered for a while using wifi, before heading over to the grocery store to do our resupply.
Being Fourth of July weekend, the store was an absolute zoo. The line ups for every cash register extended down into the aisles. It was quite overwhelming, but luckily we only have a 3 day section to the next town, so we were able to get in and out fairly quickly. I headed over to the outfitter afterwards, after an incident yesterday left me in need of new pants. I ripped a small hole in my tights within the first week on the trail, and have continued wearing them ever since. Several other small holes had formed in the meantime, and yesterday, while trying to put on my microspikes, I guess I sat on a rather sharp piece of vegetation which caused the initial hole to increase in size dramatically. It’s kind of sad, because I really loved those tights, but my new ones are really nice (although a bit painful on the wallet). Hopefully I’ll be able to avoid putting any large holes in these ones and/or setting them on fire.
Once we were done all of our shopping, we headed over to our classic hiker haunt, McDonald’s. We loitered for quite a while, using the WiFi and outlets and eating various shitty food items. Cougar and Dr. McDirty attempted to take advantage of so many coupons and promos that the manager cut them off from using any more. Hiker trash life.
Finally, it was time to get back on trail. Cougar and Dr. McDirty headed back to the highway to try to hitch, while Gummies and I made a brief stop at Subway so I could pack out a sandwich for dinner. When we got to the highway, they had just secured their hitch, but there wasn’t room for me and Gummies so we started trying to find our own ride. The magical thumbs prevailed again, and we actually ended up getting two hitches simultaneously and had to decide which one to take. One couple actually looped around out of their way to take us, and they had more room, so we ended up going with them. They were super excited to meet PCT hikers, which is always kind of surreal. It feels weird to have people be that excited to meet me. I’m just a normal person that chose to be homeless for a summer.
When we got back to the trail, Cougar and Dr. McDirty were arriving at exactly the same time. As much as I had thought I wanted to stay in town, with a real bed and food and a shower, it felt great to be back on trail. We only walked a half mile on some really nice trail before we found an awesome place to camp for the night. Our tents are pitched in an open area amongst the rocks, with really great views of the mountains all around. Since we didn’t get a shower in town, we went for a dip in a small pond nearby, which felt amazing. Getting to wash with actual soap would have been nice, but at least the initial layer of filth is gone.
We sat on a rock for a long while as the sun went down, and I ate my sub, which was amazing to have out on the trail. I’m so happy to be out here. We’ll start hiking for real again tomorrow, and hopefully reach Sierra City in three days (just in time for the Fourth of July proper). We’ve heard there’s a ten mile stretch of straight snow just ahead, so that will probably take most of the day tomorrow for us to tackle. It’s past hiker midnight now, so I’m ready to pass out.