Hi from Old Station...
We officially crossed the half way point a couple of days ago, just 1300 more miles to go! It's been a good week, lots of miles, reconnecting with old hiking cronies, and food filled town stops.
I left the good graces of the Red Moose in Sierra City with a mission in mind. To reach the Belden Post Office by Friday before it closed at 1:00pm. That meant 91 miles in three and a half days. Not an easy, but not an impossible task. I hiked 23 miles on Tuesday, 33 on Wednesday, 25 on Thursday, and 9 Friday morning to reach the Post Office by 11:00am. I had my first "zero human" day on Thursday. I did not see a single human being the entire day on the trail. When I arrived in Belden, I crossed paths with Indie in town. We celebrated another week in the woods with a giant cheeseburger, sodas, and ice cream.
Wednesday was a tough day for me. I was not planning on hiking 33 miles, it just happened to turn out that way. I obviously was feeling a lot of pressure to reach the post office in time. Unfortunately in the process, hiking was the only thing in mind and I was slacking in my other responsibilities. I rarely checked my map and data papers during the day. As a result, I accidentally ran out of water during a particularly dry stretch of trail, and hiked several hours without any water at all. When I reached camp around 9:45pm a rather disturbing event unfolded.
While preparing dinner, I cleared away a bunch of debris and cooked on what I thought was dirt. After eating my meal and doing my evening chores, I quickly fell asleep after an exhausting day. Around 2:30am, I woke up because my body was so sore. I couldn't fall back to sleep so I decided to go to the bathroom. After relieving myself I smelled smoke. "Who's got a campfire going at this time of night?" I wondered. As I started to climb back into my sleeping bag, my headlamp happened to shine on my cooking area. There in the "dirt" was a smoldering circle about 16 inches in diameter, filled with burning coals and smoke. I quickly grabbed my water bottle and tried to douse the burning circle. One quart was nowhere near enough to put out the black circle. I quickly scrambled down the hillside to the creek and filled several more quarts. After pouring them on the ring, I dug into the earth and realized that the heat was intense several inches below the surface and roots were burning deep down in the ground. I poured more water on the ring, a couple gallons total, and put out the potential fire. I was really angry with myself when I realized that what I thought was dirt was actually almost a thick layer of mulch. I didn't sleep well the rest of the night, constantly checking on the spot to see if it had reignited. Thankfully by morning, there was no heat remaining and I was able to continue hiking.
After Belden, the rest of the week was very enjoyable. Indie and I hiked together for a few days and we were able to process a lot of the adventures in the desert and the Sierra. We celebrated the trail's halfway point by getting a ride into Chester and eating two large pizzas. The next day, we hiked in Drakesbad and had an amazing lunch and a warm welcome from the staff there at the ranch. After lunch, we were given soap and towels for showers and were invited to spend time in the hot springs swimming pool. We also hiked through Lassen Volcanic National Park and the trail went right past a boiling lake, mud pools, and the Terminal Geyser. Today, we were taken in by the Heitman's, another amazing trail angel family. They have opened their house to thru-hikers for nine years now.
Just wanted to give a quick shout out to my former LA roommate Fabio who did an AMAZING job with resupply for the first half of the hike. Every package arrived in town on time. Thanks bro!
Thanks for reading and talk to you all soon...