September 21, 2016
Bushcamp (mile 1272.2) to equestrian trailhead in Belden (mile 1284)
Our total miles: 2641.3
*our total miles is a little short of the 2650.1 due to trail closures, alternate trails taken and potential calculation errors over 6 months.
It was a cold night, so cold that Andy’s feet never got warm.
Laurie procrastinated getting out of her sleeping bag this morning..again. We ate the remaining bit of granola as the sky lightened. We could make out the shapes in the clouds near the horizon.
We can feel the shift in the weather and Andy has been seeing clouds which suggest a low pressure system is coming in.
We are glad to be hiking out before the weather turns – it would make for a more sour ending to this long journey if it rained on our last day.
The wind was howling as we packed up. Our tent transformed into a parachute as we tried to shake it out and fold it up. It is crazy to think that this is the last time we will be packing up our “home.”
At least for a while.
Staring at the stars last night we both realized we need more of this in our lives. We made a commitment to attempt to get out more often than we have the last 3 years.
Even if car camping for only one night. The fresh air, feeling small in the presence of thousands of stars, the quiet, the absence of distractions – these are the things that feed our souls and keep us grounded.
We were walking at 6:25. It was starting to get light but we hiked with headlights to start. After 15 minutes or so we turned off our headlights and walked into the cool morning air in silence.
Birds started to chirp and we could hear the wind rustling through the tree tops above us. The ground was soft as we hiked up and down small rollers.
Around 7:15 we stopped to take off our fleeces and gloves. It was still chilly, Laurie could see Andy’s goosebumps through the hole in his shirt, but we didn’t want to sweat in our fleeces.
The gusts of chilling wind continued all morning. At times we had to reach up to grab our hats so they didn’t fly off of our heads. But as we dropped in elevation and into the trees we were more protected and thus warmer.
The trail carried us out on a sandy ridge. It was wide and we admired silver boulders amongst the green manzanita bushes.
Near Clear Creek we ran into Deven. He was one of a SOBO group of guys that our friend Nikki was hiking with in Washington.
We stopped to chat and hear about his hike thus far. It is fun to see how people change, their beards get longer, their eyes a little brighter and their smile deeper. He was excited about the Sierra and mentioned 2 more of his friends were a few hours behind.
We ran into one of them – PeaceMan – about 90 minutes later. He was charging up the 3000 foot climb that we were about to go down. We talked with him also, wished him well and continued on.
We started the final descent into Belden, steeply at first, then on gradual switchbacks. The trail was sandy and the bushes low. The wind howled until we dropped low enough to be protected by oak trees.
As we got closer and closer to Belden Laurie felt herself getting sad. This adventure was actually coming to an end.
We were both so used to thinking about the “next backpacking trip” after making it to town that it felt weird there wasn’t going to be another one.
Within 1 mile of the equestrian center Laurie saw a dog. It took a moment to realize it was Lacey. Then Laurie saw her godmother Joanna.
Laurie called to Lacey who ran up to her. Joanna came walking up moments later holding a PCT blaze glued to a wooden post with our names and finish date written on it. So sweet.
We embraced, cried tears of joy and hugged some more.
We did it.
All of us together.
In many ways we did the easy part – the walking. Joanna helped hold down the fort in Oakland and Andy’s parents were diligent about sending our resupply boxes to every stop.
This adventure would not have been possible without the support of our families. Thank you so much.
We walked the remaining mile together. Once at the trailhead we took a few photos, hugged again and made a beeline for Joanna’s car. It was full of surprises – Thai curry, salad, fruit and best of all a carrot cake.
When Laurie was young Joanna made her birthday cakes decorated with the theme of what she was into that year.
Today, she made a delicious PCT cake.
We ate some of the yummy carrot cake with cream cheese frosting then went to the Feather River to clean off.
Eventually we found a spot to get in the cold water, but neither of us lasted very long.
Once ‘clean’ we threw Andy’s hiking clothes in the trash and drove about an hour to a rest stop. Here we enjoyed a second lunch and a little break to stretch our legs.
For us, hiker hunger isn’t about eating extra large sandwiches or whole pizzas by ourselves, although sometimes Laurie made comments that she was so hungry she could eat a horse.
Our hiker hunger manifests as getting hungry an hour after a sizeable meal. So, whenever possible we eat multiple smaller meals.
Andy drove the 3.5 hours home. We had been in cars enough times over the past 6 months that driving didn’t seem out of place. Neither did the speed.
However Laurie did feel the urge to stick her head out the window to breathe fresh air.
We stopped in Davis for milkshakes and walked around the farmers market. Food and cooking have always been essential parts of our lives – and even more so now – so we picked up a few essentials to compliment what Joanna had generously placed in our refrigerator.
We got home around 7pm and Laurie quickly went over to see her mom while Andy showered and relaxed.
Our bodies are tired and we look forward to resting.
Our new challenge will be to find ways to relax as we move into our new home, go back to work (Laurie) and look for work (Andy). At least we get to do it together and support one another, just like we did on the trail.
It’ll be an interesting transition to say the least, but we believe we can create a routine and lifestyle that fulfills us.
Tonight we are grateful for you, our blog readers. Thank you for following along on our journey. Your comments and encouragement helped us more than you will ever know. At times, they even helped bring the smiles back to our faces.
Thank you again.
Shuffles and Dribbles – signing off (for now).
Eventually we will post about re-entry, an epilogue, gear reviews, food review, cost breakdown and anything else we think is worth sharing.
Please feel free to keep the comments coming and contact us if you want to ask a question privately.