September 18, 2016
Hwy 49 (mile 1195.4) to A Tree Springs (mile 1217.2)
Our total miles: 2574.5
The alarm went off at 5:30. Laurie had been awake for 30 minutes having to pee but not wanting to get out of her warm cocoon. She willed herself to fall back asleep and woke up again at 6:30.
The horizon displayed an array of purple, pink and orange. We could hear cow bells and mooing in the distance.
Around 7 we walked to the nearby hot springs and met Jeff and Chris as they were finishing their soak.
We liked the idea of soaking once more before hitting the trail but Laurie wasn’t too enthused about smelling like sulfur on top of the baseline hiker stench.
We discussed a plan to eat breakfast then return to the main pool (with a shower) prior to leaving.
We packed up as the sunlight spread across the yellow grassy field. The warmth of the sun felt amazing.
We returned to the fountain area and enjoyed a delicious breakfast of pie, tea and leftover pasta, salad and veggies. We all sat smiling, enjoying the taste of good food and the peacefulness of the moment.
We then walked to the main soaking pool and rotated through the hot pool, cold plunge and warm pool.
Our bodies tingled as our pores opened and closed. After 45 minutes our bodies felt limp and relaxed.
Andy continued massaging his right calf in the hot and warm pools, hoping it would alleviate the pain he’s been experiencing in his foot the last few days.
We were tempted to stay longer but we knew that we had a long hot climb ahead of us and we were already leaving 90 minutes after we had originally planned.
Jeff and Chris dropped us off at Hwy 49 a little after 10am and by 10:30 we were laced up and ready to hike.
Thank you Jeff and Chris for bringing us our resupply and driving us to the hot springs. We haven’t felt this relaxed the entire trail!
The trail climbed up 3000 feet toward the Sierra Buttes. We were grateful that initially the trail was in the shade. As we emerged from the trees the wind picked up and offered a cooling breeze.
We followed the zig zaging trail across some dirt roads and eventually dropped down to a dirt parking lot.
Around 1:30 we stopped for a lunch break in the shade near Sierra Buttes Spring. Once again we polished off a log of salami, not wanting to store it after opening it, we kept eating til it was gone.
The bees swarmed as we sat, making the stop most unpleasant. We thought maybe they were interested in our salami but even after that was eaten they stuck around. It was annoying and we didn’t want to get stung so we packed up and hit the trail.
We paralleled and occasionally intersected dirt roads for many miles. We walked on ridges with views down to many lakes below.
The Plumas National Forest seems to be a hidden gem. We are excited to do more research and come back to explore this region.
We hiked through the golden hour and reached the dirt road and A Tree Springs around 7:30. Just before the road we saw a sign that said Belden 70 miles, Sierra Buttes 23.nm
“There is no way we walked 23 miles today. We must have accidentally taken a short cut.”
Turns out this sign, like many, was a little off. We had indeed exceeded our expectations given our leisurely morning, but it turns out we had walked just over 21 miles, not 23.
It was getting dark quickly so we scouted potential sites and put up our tent. Laurie crawled inside while Andy brought clean water to a boil that we had carried from the hot springs.
We were not sure how far we would get this evening, nor were we certain that A Tree Springs would have water, so we played it safe and carried enough water to camp from the previous spring.
Turns out we had way more than we needed and ended up with 3 extra liters.
Carrying water to water – this can be considered a rookie mistake. But for us this is an example of choosing piece of mind rather than discomfort. And, we had extra because coming out of towns we drink less than usual as we are more hydrated.
The moon hadn’t come out yet and we fell asleep staring at the stars.
Tonight we are grateful for flowing springs and for our legs carrying us faster than we think possible.