[Ok, if you're following my GPS posts, you may be like "dude, you're hiking so fast!" and I'm like "Yeah, I'm hiking so fast I smell burning rubber!". But really....no. That's absurd. I'm trying to get to home (Bend, Oregon) by my birthday (September 2nd) because I can. It's in the realm of possibility and- because I'm hiking for the experience and not for the purity of the hike- I'm going for it. I jumped from Gold Lake Lodge to Buck's Lake and I will be jumping from Highway 3 to Etna later. This should put me on track. Now, back to our "regularly scheduled" (pssh) summaries post...]
7/25: (2.5 miles) Woah, big day! Just kidding. I spent the morning hanging out at Gold Lake Lodge. I stayed there "taking care of things" (they had WiFi and it was a decent speed...just not reliable at all) until about noon. Once I got frustrated with the WiFi and decided I had used it to its full extent, I made a sign that said "PCT Hiker to Quincy" out of the box that I received my next shipment of food in. I stood next to the Gold Lake Highway (not a very busy highway at all) and waited. After about half an hour (and about 3 cars going my way) one pulled over and gave me a ride to Graeagle (the next closest town). I went into the tiny store, bought an ice cream, Cock n Bull ginger beer (booyah!) and lunch: a banana and king-size Snickers. Then started hitching outside the store with the same sign and after about 45 minutes (and way more cars- but none stopped) the guy that gave me a ride was the Graeagle pastor going to see his in-laws in Quincy! They insisted I stay for dinner so I got steak, salad, bread, and more ice cream! Then I decided if I'm going to get to Ashland by the 18th (and Bend by my birthday- see bracketed statement above), I should take advantage of the opportunity (the in-laws house was about halfway between the Buck's Lake and Quincy access points). So I had him take me up there and I did about 2.5 miles of hiking before it got dark (and skipped about 52 miles today).
7/26: (16.3 miles) Lower day, but in to Belden! Lots and LOTS of downhill. Seriously, if you have the capability, look up the PCT descent into Belden (northbound). The elevation vs. PCT mile graph looks like it dropped off a cliff. Belden is a tiny, tiny town in a canyon. The hike to the canyon was beautiful and full of lush forest but the hike down alternated between forest and exposed desert. Belden's main building is the Belden Resort and I got a soda at their tiny convenience store. I was expecting to stay with the Braatens trail angels that call their place "Little Haven" but they have closed early this year. They have closed early because some [pardon the crude, but very appropriate, expression] asshole hikers were rude and not grateful (I heard a rumor that one hiker got drunk and started yelling at Mrs. Braaten in the middle of the night). So they brought me the box I had sent to their house but I had to find somewhere else to stay. A biker (as in motorcycle) couple saw me sitting outside the Resort and invited me and another hiker couple to camp with them. So we got "vortexed". They bought us beer (I got a 2-liter of root beer), made us pork chops, veggies, and salad. It was marvelous. A little later some other hikers joined the party and marijuana and mushrooms were passed around. That's when I went to bed.
7/27: (21.3 miles) Alright, the plan: get to Chester (46 miles away) by tomorrow night. Why? Well, there's a place with really good milkshakes but the main reason is that I didn't get to stay in a real bed in Belden so I want to do that (also I forgot to charge my external battery pack so that needs to be done). I was trying to do 26 miles today, but 26 miles up the other side of the canyon (not as steep but still daunting) was not happening. I finally made it up there and was exhausted. So I hiked a bit farther and compromised for just doing over 20 miles.
7/28: (25.1 miles) Well, because yesterday didn't go according to plan, that means that today I have to make up the difference. 25.1 miles! A new record! I hiked as quickly as I could but it was agonizing up the hot exposed ridges (here it's more like the desert again). I only made it 8.9 miles before lunch at 1:30pm. Shameful. But I powered up the hill to get to the halfway marker (FREAKIN' HALFWAY TO CANADA!), then it was all downhill from there (which means 3.2+ mph). I barely made it to the highway before dark but there was a trail angel dropping off hikers 5 minutes after I got there and I'm staying in the RV that they have parked in front of their house. These people are awesome! Milkshake tomorrow, then back on the trail.