September 20, 2016
Middle Fork of the Feather River (mile 1247.2) to bushcamp (mile 1272.2)
Our total miles: 2629.5
We climbed from the get go again this morning – 800 feet in 1.3 miles. There was no wind other than what we created by moving through the thick, warm air.
Laurie found herself wanting to enjoy the last full day on trail but she was feeling hot, annoyed by bugs and irritated that there was poison oak.
And it wasn’t even 7 am!
We ran into a SOBO named Wide Load. He asked if the trail ahead was rocky. He kept commenting on how nice the soil was between here and Belden.
It is funny how we each care about different things. When asking for trail intel soil quality is not generally what we ask about. But hey, it was nice to know that good soil and good trail lay ahead.
We dropped down a bit and climbed again. This was the long climb of the day. We put our heads down, mentally dropped gears and took it one step at a time. It wasn’t steep, just long. And there weren’t expansive views or lakes to keep our minds occupied.
Near the top we took an early lunch at Lookout Rock. We sat in the sun – there wasn’t really anywhere else to go and Laurie slowly got more and more uncomfortable.
Andy often jokes that Laurie’s internal radiator needs upgrading. She gets overheated very easily and when she does every action becomes uncomfortable.
After leaving Lookout Rock we bumped into a SOBO named Hiking Mantis. We ended up chatting with him for about 15 minutes, helping him create a resupply strategy for the Sierras. It feels good to help other hikers.
Hiking southbound is definitely harder. The Washington hills are a brutal intro for a hike, one is constantly in a race against the clock as resupply locations shut down and there is less and less daylight to make miles.
We parted ways with Walking Mantis and walked up and down a few rollers, then dropped down across a few paved roads that go to Bucks Lake and Quincy.
We sat in the shade by the Bucks Summit sign and ate the last of our cheese and one bag of trail mix. A light breeze restored all chaos in Laurie land, cooling her down and helping her feel better.
For most of our hike we have had extra food. We typically role into town with an extra tuna packet, some bars and tea bags. For the first time in 6 months we had to ration our food. We underestimated our appetites and didn’t ask for sufficient food this leg.
Let me correct myself, we had enough to make it to Belden but we were hungry.
After another lengthy, relaxing break we continued on. Our plan was to either camp high t0 have views or hike another 1.6 miles to make our last day even shorter.
It all depended on how we felt, what time we got to the first camp and what it looked like. As we climbed we decided to make the first camp work and enjoy our last evening of the hike relaxing instead of pushing.
When we reached a flat plateau Andy spotted a snug flat spot surrounded by manzanita bushes. It was just big enough for our mansion of a tent and the bushes would protect us from the wind.
We set up our tent and with everything we needed to make dinner in hand, we walked 20 feet to some large flat rocks overlooking a big lake and the town of Quincy in the distance.
We enjoyed miso soup, dinner and tea while wearing flip flops and watching the sky turn from orange to pink.
We are so close to the end.
How did we get here?
All we did was wake up every morning and hike.
The magnitude of it all baffles us. It seems surreal. It feels as though we haven’t been out here for more than a week or so, yet we’ve walked across the western United States!
We finished our dinner and tea and headed back to the tent. It was downright cold! Having worn flip flops for over an hour our toes were frozen, but it was worth it.
Andy stayed out to play with the camera in attempt to capture the beauty of the night sky. Laurie meanwhile crawled inside and, for the last time, cleaned off her feet before putting on her sleep socks.
The stars here are better than in the Sierra. Who knew?
It’s been a blissful last evening on the trail. We appreciate the fact that we are here together – an even stronger unit than when we embarked on this adventure.
What a blessing to share this experience together. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
While taking a 60 minute star trails photo, 4 SOBOs hiked past our tent, their headlights dancing in the darkness. The small speckles of light dancing toward us first surprised us, then annoyed Andy (because they may have ruined the photo).
The last hiker stopped after seeing our tent.
Andy sat up and responded “hey”
“Oh sorry man, I thought you were someone else.”
We chuckled and fell asleep to a glorious clear sky full of stars, the milky way and shooting stars.
Tonight we are grateful for the Pacific Crest Trail and starry skies.