Decent day of hiking for a burger and a beer near Bucks Lake, California
- Date: Wednesday June 24, 2015
- Miles hiked: 20.56 PCT, plus some for the off-trail walk to Bucks Lake Resort
- Miles covered: 1247.25 to 1267.81 PCT
- Weather Report: Low 57, High 95. Sunny and hot with very few breezes, and a touch humid. Most of the day was hiking in the mid to upper 80s with half shade.
- Wildlife seen: chipmunks, lizards, deer
- Mood of the day: Content
It was such a mellow night last night--we sat around cooking dinner, then all scooted off to our beds in the warm evening, with the sound of the nearby river rushing by lulling all of us to sleep. It was so warm I slept half inside my sleeping bag and didn't even bother to wear the beanie on my head, pulled down over my eyes and nose, like I usually do.
As it turns out, the beanie would've been useful last night: not for warmth, but to cover my eyes from the hiker that decided that 10:45pm was a good time to arrive at camp and shine his bright headlamp around for 15 minutes as he tried to decide on a place to camp, walking a foot away from my tent several times and making himself a little dinner once he decided there was a tiny level spot near the campfire. In the morning, Sage commented that it was like someone shining a car headlamp in his face, and I agree--every time I thought I could ignore Rude Hiker and started to get back to sleep, I'd get a blast of light. Grrrr. In the morning Rude Hiker nonchalantly boasted at 6:15am that "I hiked forty miles yesterday. A good day." and then he quickly shoved his sleeping gear in the pack and took off. We all wished he would've just hiked forty one miles so we'd never have to see him and his headlamp again.
The three of us got a kinda late start, and started climbing out of the canyon, a slow steady climb through live oak and black oak and--surprise!--poison oak, which we hadn't seen for many miles. It was getting hotter and hotter, and we stopped at Bear Creek for water where we caught up with Flying Fish. There isn't a lot of water on this section, so we overfilled a bit, and I tended to my foot woes. The blisters are fine and taped (again, I vowed to get shoes earlier), but the inside of my left arch is weirdly sore or crampy, I can't decide which. I massaged it a bit, added the hard plastic cup part of my Superfeet inserts back into the shoe, and made some fizzy electrolyte drink just in case it's something to do with that, plus it's a hot day. The real solution though, was taking two naproxen pills, which dulled the pain in about 10 minutes and completely eliminated it in an hour. Whoo hoo. I don't like taking that stuff, but it sure does work, and I topped myself up with one more naproxen around 3pm. Much better than ibuprofen for me, plus naproxen doesn't give me a sunburn like ibuprofen does.
And the trail just kept on going up and up, taking its sweet time, without much of a break. We found a topic we hadn't discussed yet--movies--and rambled on about that for two or three hours. Sage likes older movies from the 40s and 50s, Junior (his new trail name, the hiker formerly known as Taylor) likes action movies. A very distracting and fun discussion from the too-hot trail, which while shady was warming up into the mid 80s.
We stopped at Lookout Spring for our first water, and was disappointed, just a trickle, so we spent a half hour laboriously making water... then got up to go, and saw that if we'd just walked 50 more feet there was a decent flow from a pipe that would've been super-easy. Doh. From there, we stopped briefly at Lookout Rock, then headed across a few miles of noble fir and manzanita forest, easy walking. We dropped down a dirt road to Bucks Lake, where we were all craving a burger.
Bucks Lake Resort was great--power and wifi, yes, but also the owner, Louis, welcomed us with a free beer, which was delicious and cool after the hot trail. I'll remember that glass of Pacifico for a long long while. Lunch for me was a shared plate of nachos supreme, which went quickly, then a bacon blue burger with fries and a Sierra Nevada Summer Ale, which was OK, but not as good as the Pacifico... so I just had to order another Pacifico. Hey, I'm not driving anywhere! It's actually been a couple of weeks since I've even been in a car or any vehicle. The store was OK, and I had a frozen Snickers ice cream bar for dessert, and bought a couple of Pop Tart packs for breakfast.
Heading back to the PCT at Bucks Summit was an easy walk filled with meadows with great displays of wlldflowers, including a few that I hadn't seen before. Then it was just a bump up a thousand feet to water and a campsite, and sleep. Yep, we did our twenty miles today even with that detour, which was goodness.
Tomorrow is a lot of ridge walking, then a mid-afternoon drop from 6500 feet to 2300 feet elevation to get to Belden, and we'll camp somewhere beyond Belden at 3500 feet or maybe 4000 feet to break up the climb. I've been told Belden is an odd town, a resort town known for holding rave parties, which sounds curious and maybe even quaint these days. From Belden it's just about 40 miles to Chester on the trail, so we'll be in Chester on Saturday night. That's good by me--it's a day ahead of where I'd thought I'd be, and gives a little more buffer for later in the trip.
About the only things I'm worried about are making sure my feet hold up, and the possible change in weather for the weekend. It looks like there's going to be dry lightning in the next few days, with maybe even some sprinkles. That could cause some forest closures and fires through the areas the PCT traverses, so we'll need to pay close attention. For now, though, it's time to sleep.