PCT days 60-68: Old Station to Sierra City

Trip Start Apr 07, 2010
Trip End Jan 19, 2012

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, September 9, 2010

We are in Sierra City, CA today. We passed the halfway point on Shirley's birthday (September 5th). 1,465 miles completed and less than 1,200 to go. Almost there!
We had a chance to weigh ourselves on a scale in Old Station. Here are the results
YANNICK lost 5-lb after phase 1 (kayak), and another 7-lb half way through phase 2 (hike).
SHIRLEY lost 0-lb after phase 1, and 6-lb half way through phase 2.
Bottom line, we have to eat more. We are burning way too many calories every day.

Old Station to Beldon
Day 60 (9/1/10): After a wonderful breakfast at the Heitman's, we are ready to hitch to Reno, NV 140 miles away. We need to buy new shoes and get Shirley's trekking pole fixed and it will give a chance for Yannick to recover from his cold that is sucking so much energy out of him. On the road at noon, we get picked up by Steve in an 18-wheeler and get a ride all the way to Reno. We are dropped off a few miles from REI and decide to walk the rest of the way. We arrive at the store at 5pm after a bite to eat and finish our shopping by 6:30pm. It's starting to get late in the day to catch a ride back to Old Station, but we try anyway. An stand for an hour by the freeway on-ramp and spend another hour sitting at the gas station. No luck and it's dark now and we doubt we'll get a ride this late, so we decide to find a spot to stealth camp instead. Aah, another night in downtown! Yannick is running a fever...good thing we're taking the day off.

Day 61: We wake up early to avoid being found, then head over to Denny's for breakfast. After refueling our bodies, we try hitching again from the same spots as yesterday. After an hour or so, we figure we should try our luck at the truck stop a few miles away. We make it there and ask every trucker on the premises for a ride, but no one is going our way (we need to take a back road to Old Station). We then wait at the truck stop exit with a sign for at least 2 hours. We are getting frustrated and really hot standing in the sun, so we take a lunch break. Ugh, hitching out of a big city is always harder than a tiny town! Next, we stand on the side of the street and FINALLY get picked up by a snowboarder dude who says he didn't want us to get busted by the cops -- it's illegal to hitchhike within city limits...oops! He drops us off at Bordertown, the last town in Nevada, just before California.
    After sitting at the on-ramp in the direct desert sunlight for over an hour, we decide to walk along the highway. We have no idea how far the next town is, but walking is better than waiting. Hundreds of cars must have passed by us with no mercy...but it only takes one. We literally feel saved by our trail angels of the day, Samantha and Lee, who drive us all the way back to Old Station -- over an 80-mile detour for them! Any frustration we felt over the past 24 hours quickly disappeared once we hopped into their truck, were greeted with smiles, and were treated with stories about life's hard lessons (that we certainly take to heart). Getting back to the Heitman's Hideaway felt so comforting and safe. Georgi fed us a steak dinner fit for a king, then we go for a long, deep sleep.

Day 62: We sleep in, buzz off Yannick's hair, have french toast and bacon for breakfast, and do some chores around the Hideaway. It's Labor Day weekend and we have to wait until Tuesday morning to pick up our package from the Post Office in the next town only 65 miles away. So what's the rush? We finally get going at noon and put in about 20 miles.

Day 63: Since we have so much time to kill, we decide to stop at Drakesbad Ranch for breakfast. As we walk into the dining hall we feel a little lost, but soon we're greeted by the staff and Ed, who runs the place with is wife. Ed gives Shirley a big hug and immediately makes us feel right at home. Just as we are finishing our delicious breakfast, we see Jason and Cassandra being dropped off; guess we aren't a day behind them after all! They convince us to take a dip in the hot springs pool to relax a little before hitting the trail together. "Come on, it'll be Shirley's birthday and we have to celebrate." We play in the pool, we hike, we laugh, and we enjoy the company of our friends again.

Day 64: The alarm rings and Yannick wakes Shirley by singing "Happy Birthday." The morning starts out nicely with a gentle breeze blowing through the leaves of our first alder trees on the trail; Shirley loves watching the delicate leaves of alder dance in the wind and sunshine. We walk along the crests of hills today and enjoy the nice views.
    Jason and Cassandra hike a little faster than us, but we always catch up to them when they take their breaks. This time, we see Cassandra sitting in the shade and Jason standing in the sun on a rock in a manner that looks like he's got something stuck up his butt. No, really...what is that thing!? We walk behind him and start to shove him, but he jumps away from a trail marker stuck in the ground, and starts cheering and applauding. We've reaching the PCT midpoint!!!
    There are plenty of things to celebrate today, so we build a campfire and grill a whole package of chinese sausage for dinner...delicious!

Day 65 (9/6/10): There is a chilly wind blowing, but the sun is out and we can't figure out if we are frozen or warm...what a strange feeling. A few hours later, we figure it out...we're scorching hot! We drop from 7,000 ft in elevation to 2,000 ft and the temperature difference is dramatic. We get into Beldon at 3pm and catch a ride to the cafe. Aah, air conditioning! Aah, big, yummy hamburgers! Aah, chocolate malt milkshake! Can you say, "satisfaction?"
     We then head down the road to the swim at the little beach along the river and wash off the day's accumulation of dirt and sweat. Aah, cleanliness! Beddy-bye on the beach.

Beldon to Sierra City
Day 66: We wait for the Post Office to open, get our box promptly at 9am, and are on the trail by 9:30am. The holiday is over, lady and gentleman...you've got an ambitious goal to achieve! Our mission is to cover 92 miles with over 25k ft of elevation gain in less than 3 full days. Why, you might ask? To make it Sierra City by dinner on Thursday for the all-you-can-eat rib dinner, of course! Yannick's been dreaming about the ribs since we first heard about them from some Northbounders at least 500 miles ago...and we're gonna get them even it means record mileage days. So, here we go...the clock is ticking.
    The first 9 miles out of Beldon are steep, so we take it easy and complete it in 4 hours, careful not to burn ourselves out early in the day. It's partially cloudy, which is perfect as it helps with all the uphill we have ahead of us. The nice thing about climbing up is that we usually have great views, so that's something to look forward to. We want to cover as many miles as we can, so we don't look for a camp spot at dusk like we usually do. It gets dark at 8:30pm, so we night hike with headlamps. We are at 7k ft and start a big drop to 3k, which worries us...anything below 4k means we have to watch for poison oak. Luckily, we soon find an okay spot to pitch the tent among the steep terrain. We don't know it at first, but someone is camped nearby and we wake him up with our loud talking. We apologize, he is forgiving, and we set camp very quietly.

Day 67: We get up at 5am and take off in the dark. We never see our neighbor and he might wake up wondering if we dreamt the whole thing! We start dropping in elevation and get into poison oak territory, but it's still dark because it's overcast. We try to be really careful for the next half-hour, until it's bright enough to move a little faster and still avoid the poisonous leaves that Yannick is so allergic to.
    We crank the miles and limit the amount of time we take for breaks. Yannick wants to cover 36 miles today, which would be a personal mileage record for us. At one point, we get to a dirt road with a water source 0.25 miles away. To save time, Shirley keeps hiking and Yannick goes to get the water and will catch up to her down the trail. He takes longer than usual to catch up, so Shirley slows down. When he finds her, he is really frustrated. It turns out that the water source was just a tiny trickle, so he didn't want to waste too much time and only filled a 1/2-liter, then went back to the trail. As he started hiking, he realized he left his hat back at the water, so he dropped his pack on the trail and ran back to fetch his hat. On the way, he saw twigs on the ground along a second road that spelled out "H2O" with and arrow...the real water source, but now he didn't have the water bottles...ugh. He gets his hat, decides it isn't worth it to fill more water, and is now over 20 minutes behind Shirley. No wonder he is frustrated!
    We lose another 20 minutes later when we get to a confusing trail/road junction and wander up the wrong road, go back, then down another wrong road, and back, before finding the trail. Ugh again!
    Even with all the mishaps, we end up doing 33 miles by dusk. We start up some big switchbacks in the dark and hope to find a campsite at the pass. We get there, but have a hard time seeing anything campable in the dark, so we keep moving forward. It's 9:30pm and Shirley's ankle is feeling wobbly when we start heading downhill. She starts getting discouraged, but Yannick gives her a little pep talk and makes her feel better. Yannick starts down the trail first, then Shirley walks another 10 yards and sees what might be a spur trail. She takes it, gets excited and yells, "caaamp!" It's perfect here; there is a flat spot, protection from the wind, and a little fire ring to cook a big hot meal. In bed at 11pm and a whopping 38 miles covered.

Day 68: We sleep in a little and get going at 7am; we only have 24 miles left to cover and are on schedule to make the rib dinner tonight. The weather is cool and we are able to move quickly...so quickly, we decide we want to try to make it to town before the post office closes at 4:30pm. New goal, more motivation!
    We travel fast and make it to the highway at 3:45pm with only minor problems along the way. Now, it's 2 miles along the road to town and we are torn between hitching and walking it. We stand there and try to hitch for about 10 minutes and are about to start walking when someone finally stops. We get to the post office at 4:10pm and complete the mission...yeeehaw!
    We find Jason and Cassandra in town, who are surprised to see us so early in the day. We exchange stories, hang out, and have a celebratory dinner together. It's also Cassandra's birthday today, another cause to celebrate.

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Frank on

Awesome guys !!!

Yannick, mon capitain !!!
Great look yah got going brah !!!

Tina on

I'm so glad you got the rib dinner!

frank on

Great read Shirley !
sucks about the water and 38 miles in one day !!
Dang !!

Selene on

Wow! Like reading your stories and those pics are awesome! Keep posting!

Johnston on

Awesome! 38 miles in a day; WOW!
Belated happy birth day Shirley! Did you take any pictures of the famous rib dinner? I want some. Give me call when you get a chance. Hope to see you guys soon!

C Eyler on

Hi you two! The five of us equestrians came upon you during your lunch stop Tuesday.(9/14) We are hopeful you will reach Tuolume Meadows by Saturday as planned. I hope you found the peaches a welcome treat for the day!

karissa on

They made it Tuolomne on Sat evening! :)
Shirley and Yannick - glad I got to spend the weekend with you guys in Tuolomne!

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