PCT mile 1416.5, 7-1-17, 8.8 miles
We called a taxi to take us from the ranch into the town of Burney. They would be celebrating the fourth early. There would be a parade on Main Street and, at 10pm, fireworks. We would miss both as we needed to put a few miles in. The cabbie dropped us off at the Safeway and informed us that he would be unavailable for rides as he was to be part of the parade in his capacity as a member of the volunteer fire department. He suggested we call his coworker as there would be no chance of getting a hitch. Everyone in town would be viewing or participating in the parade which would start shortly.
After resupply, we crossed the street to a greasy spoon diner and ate some underwhelming breakfast fare. Post breakfast desert would be a delicious strawberry milkshake. We watched out the window as Grams attempted to hitch with a sign he had made from my discarded mini pizza box. It was not going well. He had accompanied us in the cab and was hitching ahead to the state park where Joe Dirt’s family had come to visit. Grams was suffering from shin pain and was planning on taking a few days to recover. It seems like he might have a stress fracture. Possibly it was just shin splints. A pickup truck laid a vicous burn on poor Grams. It pulled over just in front of Grams. The occupant exited the vehicle, adjusted the load in his bed, then sped away. Things weren’t looking good, but he eventually got a ride.
After breakfast, I couldn’t help but think about going to a church for free coffee. The day before we had passed Sarah’s Tenderfoot Sister and her two hiking companions. They were sitting next to a large cardboard box. At first I just waved and continued on before my late to the party brain kicked in. Why would they be hiking around with a giant cardboard box dummy? It’s trail magic! I walked back up and peaked inside. It was full of pouches of baby food. Flyers were also inside and the words Book of Life were visible. “Uh oh, Cult.” I said. “Exactly what I thought” one of the hikers said. Behind me Sarah had opened a pouch and was eating it. “Is it any good?” I asked. “Yeah its great, try some” she replied. She was lying to me and I knew it. “It’s probably full of LSD” I suggested. “Why baby food?” One of the hikers wondered. “That’s a good question.” I replied. “If they are trying to recruit people they should really know their audience better. They should have beer and fruit.” “Yeah why would the be trying to recruit babies?” one hiket said “Babies are easier to brainwash.” suggested another “Hmm, true.” I said , perusing one of the flyers. “Oh look, free coffee for attending! I think I can probably resist their reprogramming and just score myself some free coffee.” I bragged. Eighteen years of Catholicism didn’t stick. What chance would these amateurs have? “Ah who am I kidding? In a week I’ll probably just be standing in front of Century link field with a sign full of hateful rhetoric, screaming at Seahawks fans about how they are going to hell through a megaphone.” I lamented. “That’s oddly specific” Tenderfoot said. “It seems like you have some experience with this.” I did. We have season tickets and, every home game their they are, spewing their hate. It is really disgusting and I wish the police that are all around could do something about it. At least there has to be some sort of noise ordinance against megaphones, right? It is the unfortunate side effect of free speech. I understand that. But I don’t have to like it. One guy in particular really gets to me. I have often daydreamed of the feeling of my fist sinking into the flesh of his cheek mid “God hates Fags” or whatever other vile thing he is yelling. It would be of no use though. One: that is exactly what he wants. Secondly, he looks pretty muscular and I don’t know if I could take him. Maybe now that my body is a little trail hardened, but then again he probably has some experience, which is the most important thing. Then, obviously, the cops. “Oh yeah” I said “I’ve been down that road and I ain’t going back.” “They could still be watching me now.” “This baby food is pretty good.” Sarah said. “I know it isn’t ” I replied. After breakfast we, in spite of what the taxi driver said, got a hitch rather easily and were shortly back on the trail for a easy nine mile jaunt to Burney Falls State Park. Sarah’s feet started acting up again though. This made her a little fussy. One mile in their was a bench with lemonade and candy. Three miles after that Sarah needed a break and laid down she became aggressive, then playful, then unconscious in rapid succession.
After her nap, we were on our way again. 6 flat miles later, we arrived at Burney Falls. As it was the holiday weekend, the park was crawling with “Townies”. There were probably a hundred people there. We took a short trail down to the bottom of the falls which were spectacular. It was definitely one of the nicer state parks I have been in. I claimed that I was going for a swim in the 48 degree pool below the falls, but changed my mind once I got up to my knees. “Enjoy your swim?” Sarah asked, eyeing my bone dry torso. She knew it was never going to happen.
We hiked back up to the top and I opened a beer I had bought back in town. A retired man who was waiting for his family to come back up from the falls called us over to his pickup and shared a beer from the bed of his truck. We sat on a rock and drank some beer and chatted in the parking lot of a State Park directly across from the park rangers. This is something I would not donin ordinary life, but there is something about being a thru hiker that insulates you from societal norms and expectations. Perhaps the authorities respect what you are doing and look the other way. Maybe they wouldn’t care anyway and it’s just your behavior that changes. I’m not sure. Shorty, his family returned and we went to the PCT hiker section of the large campground. It was as far away from the entrance as possible in a cougar frequented woods near a graveyard. The closest campsite to this area is where Joe Dirt’s Mom and Dad were. AGame, Valleygirl, Scoops and Grams were there. Joe’s dad introduced himself as Mr. Nunemacher. I Immediately recognized that this was a Joe Dirt reference. It was his trail name. For those who haven’t seen it, Joe Dirt is a 2001 David Spade flick. It is probably, objectively, not a great movie but I think it is hilarious. Joe Dirt had his fontanels stay open too long as a baby and the long mullet wig his parents fit on his head became permanent when they finally closed around it. He is a hopelessy optimistic simpleton who is on a mission to find his parents who “lost” him at Niagra Falls. In the movie he is being interviewed by a radio host played by Dennis Miller. “Why don’t you just look up the name in the phone book?” He suggest. “Dirt, that’s the handle right?” “No” Joe explains “My name was Dirt, they made my last name Dirt, for some reason.” Later he would find them and it turns out their last name was Nunemacher. I offered the Dirts some beer and we ended up crashing their dinner with pasta salad, marinated chicken and a home brewed pony keg of ale. For desert, there was a birthday cake AGame had bought for Valleygirl. After dinner we played a game where you had to pick up a paper bag with your teeth off the ground while staying on your feet. The two girls we’re the only ones who could successfully pick up the bag. It ended in a tie. We retreated to our tent at Hiker midnight where we camped with Mike, a man who was biking all the roads near the PCT.