August 16 (~07:40 – ~09:55 / ~16:20 – ~20:35)
Before Silver Lake Junction – between Lookout Rock and Bear Creek (15.9 mi / Total: 1257.6 mi)
Total PCT miles: 2110.0
Weather: It’s very hot but I’m in town for most of the day so I don’t notice it that much.
My alarm goes early, and I watch the movement of light outside my tent, the range of colours changing, the wakening of chipmunk along with the rising of sun. It’s a beautiful morning, and I’m so happy I’m here to enjoy it. I want to camp somewhere amazing every night from now on, stay and watch beauty unfold, and begin my day slowly – forgetting about the rush of morning and early town intentions. Today will have to be a half day, town will take longer than anticipated anyways. It always does.
I hike 5 miles to the road, a quick dash through the forest, and position myself along the empty road. It’s supposed to be an easy hitch into Quincy, except there are no cars. I wait for the first car to appear and tentatively raise my thumb, and it stops.
The woman tells me she owns the campground at Bucks Lake, and that she picks up PCT hikers more often, enjoying the stories they tell. I tell her about the snow I encountered and then she drops me off in town, where I head straight inside a coffee shop for drinks and some food, while I wait for my batteries to charge. I work on the blog and stay for hours, then walk over to the natural food store and the grocery store. I meet some other hikers while I pack up my food outside of Safeway, most notably a hiker named Rabbit Rabbit, a great name and one I’ve heard before, and then it’s time to go. It’s late already. I’ve been in town practically all day.
It takes about 10 minutes to get a hitch back, and the older man is able to take me all the way after he calls his wife to tell her he picked up a PCT hiker who he wants to take back to the trail. He tells me how he saw another hiker in a coffee shop this morning who he’d never offer a ride to – she stank, he said, she looked awfully dirty. It makes me laugh – clearly there are positives to being the cleaner hiker on trail.
It’s after 4 when I’m back at the Bucks Summit trailhead, and my dreams of doing another 15 miles are swiftly shattered. But the terrain is easy, and I walk through the forest, further and further, and meet a tiny hiker with the best name – Terminator. We chat about the animals that scare us and manage to freak ourselves out even more. It’s too bad she’s going in the opposite direction.
Then it gets dark, and I pass a lookout rock with a man in a tent coughing constantly, but the views are wonderful and I’m so tempted to take one of the other spots with the colourful views of the sunset, which is everything I said I wanted this morning – a beautiful tentsite every day. But I can’t. I already booked a hotel for South Lake Tahoe, a week from now, and I need to average 27.5 mile every day to make it. Every single mile is going to make a difference. So I walk. I walk into the fading light of that ridge and then the forests that are quickly devoid of light altogether and all I think about is my fear. I run. Just a few more miles. Down to that stream, and then another half mile to a tentsite, supposedly. It’s a long few miles, I see just the path in front of me – my headlamp is out of batteries and the torch of my phone is doing the best it can. My body slowly drains of power until I find the spot in the forest and set up in the exhausted light.