Mile 1251.5 to mile 1265.5
The mosquitoes keep me up again, off and on (dang, I’ve got to fix my tent) and then I’m awake at 5 a.m. Goddammit.
Still, it’s good to be here.
We climb 4,500 feet in 9 miles leaving the feather river, and we are racing to the top. Twinkle, Woody, Big Sauce, Notachance, Mack, and me. And this hiker named Jr. Sr. who does a big chunk every year and who Notachance hiked with in 2012. He works as a dog trainer in San Diego. He hikes in jeans! His chafe is awful.
“How does one not have chafe?” He asks.
“Get the shortest shorts you can find,” we say. “Get rid of the jeans.”
“Nah,” He says.
At the top of the climb we sit next to a spring flowing from a pipe in the ground and I inhale half a bag of fritos. I’m so hungry! Then ridge walking through the hot bright forest (alternating with fields of mules ears) and suddenly we’re at Bear Creek road, where one can road walk into Bucks Lake. I did this road walk last year and it was brutally hot- this year I was planning on skipping it, maybe hitching in just for a burger.
“There’s an amazing trail angel in Bucks Lake,” says Notachance. “Nancy Williams. I’ve stayed with her every year I’ve hiked.”
Food, showers, laundry, rest. It doesn’t take much to convince us.
A pickup truck stops and six of us pile in the bed, jostling down the road with a bunch of loose lumber. Then a short walk down a wooded drive and suddenly we’re in paradise.
The feather river, then this? Where even are we? I literaly feel like I’m dreaming.
Nancy’s family farms walnuts and rice outside of Sacramento, and this is their summer cabin. She comes up every year for about six weeks and hosts hikers- and man, is it incredible. A beautiful cabin with a huge wooden deck, the sun coming down warm through the conifers, the most comfortable deck chairs ever. A little building to the side that says “hiker hut”- a shower, laundry, loaner clothes, a bedroom.
Beers are drunk. A massive grill is fired up and in a matter of minutes there are burgers. We walk to the store, a quiet place around the corner, and I buy half a watermelon. I eat the watermelon on the deck and grow sleepy- I take a nap in the back room, it’s warm and I put in earplugs and a t-shirt over my face. Twinkle wakes me up an hour later and I return to the deck, fuzzily read people magazine and watch the others play ping pong. Guthrie appears, and then Bearclaw and Dirtmonger. Yay friends! Suddenly it’s time for dinner, and Nancy produces a pan of lasagna, a huge amount of crusty bread, and massive salad. We eat off of paper plates, sitting on the deck, watching the sun set. What even is this? Nancy is sassy and smart and she’s already memorized everyone’s names.
“Trail angels feel like home,” says Notachance.
I think I know what she means.
Photos on instagram.