6-19-17, PCT Mile:1195.4 , miles: 20.9
For most of the day it was more arduous snow travel. Fortunately the terrain is not as treacherous as the Sierra. Our batteries were constantly running low from using the GPS so often. After 10 miles or so the snow became patchy and soon it disappeared altogether, leaving a bare trail. In the first time in what seemed like forever, we were hiking again. We no longer had to spend all our mental energy on walking and it seemed like old times. Every Creek of any significance had a bridge across it. It was so easy we started our normal random conversations rather than always talking about where the trail was or what the best path towards it might be. We discussed why people were saying Wonder Woman was a feminist movie as a lot of her character seemed to revolve around her sexuality and she was somewhat defined by her relationship with a man and wore skimpy outfits. I said that was the way Greeks dressed in battle, then the conversation segued to how odd it would be to live in city states. We imagined what it would be like if Seattle was our country and we occasionally went to war with Portland. I invisioned a phalanx of unicycle flamethrower bagpipers on the Portland side, clad in utility kilts. Behind would be a front of mustachioed hipsters armed with flintlock rifles and locally sourced lead balls. As we came around the ridge a bear (the largest I have ever seen outside of a zoo) having heard and had enough of our praddiling, decided to move on and was cruising down a thousand foot rock slide effortlessly. I was very jealous. This bear was a very good hiker. Internet people might chastise him for not sticking to the trail but he can’t read, so he wouldn’t care. It was the first creature I can remember being excited to see. Soon after we arrived in Sierra City and set up camp behind the Methodist church. Everything except the general store and a lodge were closed. The store opened late and closed early. The post office was open four hours a day. When someone would comment that the store was supposed to open at 10 and no one was there a local said “this is Sierra City. It will open when it opens,” as if this is how small towns are. Coming from a small town myself, I can assure you that is not the case. We enjoyed an ice cold shower and sat in front of the General Store eating sundaes and using their WiFi. While we were there a man strolled in and sat down beside us. He was conservatively 12 feet tall and weighed a thousand pounds. He spoke with a thick South Carolina accent. The Hiker was, I assume, a scientific gene splicing experiment. He was half Matthew McConaughey and half Paul Bunnon. He wore a nose and glasses similar to Humpty, of Humpty dance fame. As he strode upon then wooden patio floor, it groaned under his weight. He lifted the Coke machine off the ground with one hand and shook a beer can out of it with sheer will and charm. He crushed the beer can with his giant hand and all the liquid shot up in a perfect arc to his mouth which he swallowed in one gulp. His trail name was Breeze. He had completed the 700 miles of desert in 30 days, entered the Sierra the first of May and, in 40 days, had completed the entire Sierra Mountains. In the worst year ever to hike the PCT, this man was in Sierra City in mid June. I was in awe. Sarah, never one to throw money at strangers, immediately offered to buy him dinner. He refused saying we were all hikers and he didn’t want us to waste our money, like Jesus would have done. Deciding it would be rude to leap to the top of the Seirra Buttes in front of mortals, he jumped in a passing Astrovan and was gone. The only thing that convinced me he was real and not an IPA induced hallucination was the rumors from hikers for days to come. “Did you meet Breeze?” they would say, their eyes turning suddenly glassy. We met a few old friends that evening. A Canadian couple we first met on day three and Bucket. He had decided to skip ahead as well. I had put deet on my legs earlier on the day as the mosquitos had begun to be aggressive. Sarah, objecting to the smell, issued an impromptu ban on the only solution. For the first time in forever, the night was hot. We slept without rainfly or sleeping bag. Soon the snow would be a memory. Soon we would be hikers again.