mile 1185 to mile 1197.5
I love Sierra City! I just gotta say. My third favorite trail town. Stehekin, then Etna, then Sierra City.
I wake up too early in the campground- goddammit. I wish I could sleep past 6 a.m. As it is, if I stay up late I’m just fucked. We only have twelve miles today, though, and it’s nearly all downhill. Down, down, down into the lush forests of lower-elevation northern california. Switchbacking down through the ferns, the salmonberries, the doug firs! There’s a footbridge over a stream and we take a break, sitting on stumps in the sun. We almost don’t get up again- this place is as good as it gets. We’ve come this far, right? Let’s live here forever.
Except we don’t have anymore food.
We roll into Sierra City around noon- it’s hot! I’m falling over from hunger and I stand in line at the tiny store to order a gutbuster burger- a pound of ground beef! The burgers here are incredible, some of the best on the trail.
“Are you carrot quinn?” Says a woman, also waiting in line. Her name is Becky and she recognizes me from my blog- she’s here with her husband and a friend, who are both hiking a section of the PCT. Another blog reader, met in real life! She buys lunch for both me and Guthrie, who happens to wander up at that moment, and we sit and eat with them- my burger is massive and grease runs down my arms as I attempt to consume it. Afterwards I am overwhelmed with sleepiness and I stumble back onto the porch to try and figure out what to do next.
A shower at the red moose inn for $5, loaner clothes, laundry. Notachance and Mack are here, camped on the grass behind the little white church. They got in at one a.m. after their 42 mile day! Last year we all camped behind the red moose inn but the stories and drama from there get worse every year- Notachance says that today, when she went to pay her tab there, the dude said that she could settle it “with a blowjob”. So we’re camping behind the church this year, and as Woody and Coughee and everyone else rolls in they decide to as well.
Twenty people on the grass behind the church in this one-block town, drinking beer. Twenty smelly hikers with their shoes off, telling stories and laughing, stretched out on their sleeping pads. Eating doritos and things from their food bags, skin fried from the sun, calf muscles twitching. Twenty humans experiencing summer in a way that feels so real as to be almost impossible- who are we and why do we get to be here right now, stretched out on this grass- so happily exhausted, so full of purpose, so overly exposed to the elements.
A million dollars couldn’t buy you this feeling.
Photos on instagram.