PCT Day 15: Back in the Groove

Waking up after a restful night in a real bed, I went downstairs to the restaurant for toast and coffee. Tables filled up around me. People gathered on the porch, waiting for a chance to sit. A big hiker table formed in the corner, so I moved over to free up space for another family.

There I met Homegrown, Sprinkles, Outro (who got her name from a mispronunciation that she was too embarrassed to correct) and others, along with Sprinkle’s Dad who was visiting from Sonora. He owned a Mexican restaurant, so he sympathized with the staff here, struggling to keep up with the weekend crush.

Sitting in a chair with coffee and cream, I basked in the buzz around me, enjoying my last bits of civilized life before heading off into the wilderness once again.

Back in the room, I organized my bear can and packed everything up for the trail. Woody, my fabulous personal trail angel, had kindly offered to give me and whomever else a ride back up to the summit so that I could meet the girls at noon.

With time to spare, I went down to the store to look for a treat and found a cheap watch for Squarepants, who always wanted to know what time it was without wasting her phone battery to find out. I wanted to know, too, without wasting my own battery or putting something annoying on my wrist, so it would be a win-win for both of us.

Woody loading up
Woody loading up the truck, showing me his gas pump prop somehow used for pranking people.
Saying goodbye
The girls saying goodbye to one of their Bridgeport trail angels.
Leaving Sonora Pass
Heading up the trail, leaving Sonora Pass. Hard to believe we walked down all that just the other day.

Out on the back porch, I met Risky Biscuit. He had a posse of hikers with him looking for a ride back to the trailhead, and Woody had deferred all requests to me. Yes, I was a real power broker for a moment, there. You want a ride? You talk to me.

I knew about Risky Biscuit from reading someone’s blog.

In the desert he would sign all the trail registers with a tagline: you gotta risk it to get a biscuit. So they started calling him Risky Biscuit. When I told him he was internet famous, he played it off like, cool, no big deal. Then I later overheard him telling one of his friends with a lot more enthusiasm: Dude, guess what? I’m internet famous.

Party Boy, DDub and others who were part of the Wolf Pack Yoda blogs about, piled into the back of the truck. I’m guessing Yoda herself passed us on Dorothy Lake day. Too bad, as it would have been cool to meet her. But I did meet one more member of her crew out on the back porch yesterday, Zuul.

Woody dropped us all off at the trailhead, and we hugged goodbye. I thanked him for being such an amazing trail angel and promised to connect with him on Facebook when I got back to civilization again.

Looking East
Looking east toward Nevada. And yes, we still had snow to cross. When will it ever end?
Volcanic rocks everywhere
The trail ahead, volcanic rocks everywhere.
Hikers in Carson Iceberg Wilderness
Fish Nugget and Squarepants stop to chat with another PCT hiker they know.

As the hiker crowd dispersed, I waited at the trailhead by the bathrooms for the girls. They arrived about 20 minutes later, driven by this super sweet old couple who had let them camp on their lawn last night.

So happy to see my little trail family again, I hugged them both and thanked their hosts profusely. We set off up the hill, sharing stories about what we did yesterday.

Fish Nugget hadn’t remembered not shipping a box, so once she figured that out, she had to resupply at the grocery store. Lamenting the high cost of $70, she did enjoy choosing what she wanted to eat for once, versus suffering through all the same old stuff she’d dehydrated prior to beginning the trip.

They went to library for internet and met a girl who seemed pretty shaken up.

This girl said she’d been carjacked at gunpoint in Carson City and almost lost her dog in the process, but she refused to get out unless she could take the dog with her. The carjacker resisted then relented, they got out, and he took off with her truck.

The girls said she seemed like the real deal, not asking for money or anything. Wanting to help, Squarepants gave her the little book of meditations that she always carried with her, saying it had helped her in times of need.

I hope that girl, wherever she is, truly appreciated it, because for Squarepants, giving up that book was like giving her the shirt off her back.

Coming over the rise
Coming over the rise, leaving the moonscape of Sonora Pass behind us.
Carson Pass Ahead
Somewhere out there is Carson Pass and Highway 4, our next major milestone.
New views
New views coming into the Carson River watershed.

The girls also enjoyed some restaurant meals and saw Stoner Guys from Dorothy Lake. Squarepants even roped them into mailing a bounce box for her at the post office the following Monday, which they agreed to do.

Later that afternoon, scouting under a bridge for a potential stealth camp (these girls have serious homeless skills), the couple pulled over and asked if they needed a place to stay for the night. They offered up their lawn, which the girls gratefully accepted.

Another hiker, seeing tents pitched in the yard, asked the couple if he could camp there too. The lady of the house, protective of the girls, checked with them first to make sure they didn’t mind, asking them more than once to be absolutely certain they felt safe.

Thank you, trail angels, for watching over my girls.

We hiked uphill for a couple of miles, then downhill for rest of the day. I thought I might be finally getting my hiker legs because they didn’t hurt so bad, but where were my hiker lungs? I had to stop regularly to catch my breath.

Amazing Wildflowers
The wildflowers looked amazing every step of the way, but I couldn’t seem to capture any good shots of them.
Shadows on Trail
Shadows on the trail, late in the day.
Carson Iceberg Wilderness
Heading deeper into the canyon, my feet and back ached once again. But isn’t it beautiful?

The scenery morphed from moonscape back to granite. Descending into White Canyon, we ran into Ducky, part of Squarepants’ other trail family, the one that got her through the toughest passes of the High Sierra.

Surprised to see her, Squarepants thought she was miles ahead by now.

Ducky said she took time off to heal a calf injury but could do 25-mile days, so she was pushing to finish from here on out. But she decided to cut a couple miles off her plan tonight to camp with us and catch up with Squarepants. We’d meet her down the trail.

Further along at a creek crossing, we stopped to chat with a dad carrying what looked like a 60-pound pack, hiking with his young son from Carson to Sonora. He was impressed with how far we’d gone. I was impressed with how far he’d gone!

Ah, the things a parent will do to get out into the wilderness with their kids.

Fish Nugget and Squarepants had a pretty intense conversation today about the physics of energy, impressive given Fish Nugget’s aversion to science as a child. They sometimes even stopped in the middle of the trail, so that Squarepants could draw pictures in the dirt to help Fish Nugget understand.

They discussed energy in relation to enlightenment and reincarnation, wondering if it exists, dwelling on the frequency of energy component, which frankly sounded fascinating. I made a mental note to google it when I had internet again.

trail physics lesson
Squarepants explaining the physics of energy through pictures in the dirt.
The biggest bunch of Snowflowers I’ve ever seen in my whole life.
East Carson River
Following the east fork of the Carson River in Carson-Iceberg Wilderness.

We caught up with Ducky and camped at mile 1026, nine for us, 20 for her.

Ducky turned out to be an aeronautical engineer. She develops software for airplanes and took a 5-month sabbatical from work to hike the PCT. Amazed at the diversity of people who tackle the trail, I asked how she was able to arrange it with her employer.

She said she had been there many years, saved up vacation, worked hard and took advantage of a lull between projects that lined up perfectly. She also had logistical support from a boyfriend who could meet her to resupply along the way.

When asked about her trail name, she said she was named after the dinosaur in Land Before Time. At the beginning of the trail, she hiked with a guy and his girlfriend who wasn’t doing so well. She coached the girl onward with such a perky attitude, they started calling her Ducky.

We talked about tents. Ducky had a Big Agnes like the girls and loved it, except hers had the side entrance, which looked even better. She said the side entrance changes everything. Yeah, still nursing my tent envy.

Fish Nugget dove into her tent early to meditate, but I hung around outside for a while, listening to Squarepants and Ducky swap stories about all they’d been through since they last saw each other before Mammoth. I enjoyed hearing about their adventures.

As darkness fell, I said goodnight to them both and retired to my tent.

My pains were back with me, but so were my girls.

30 Days on the PCT
Day 15: July 17, mile 1026
douche droppings
Thanks douche-bag who left this mess behind the big tree at mile 1026.

PCT Day 15: Back in the Groove—Trail Angels & Hiker Friends
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PCT Day 15: Back in the Groove—Trail Angels & Hiker Friends
On my 2016 PCT section hike from Mammoth to Truckee, I met some amazing trail angels and saw first hand the power of hiker friends hiking from Sonora Pass into Carson-Iceberg Wilderness.
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