Truckee to Sierra City

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Day 77 (Continued)

To get back to the trail from Truckee we started walking away from the supermarket and toward the trail with thumbs out. I don’t know if it was the hot weather, the presence of an interstate down the road, or the high-income bracket of the Truckee locals and visitors but we were having no luck getting a ride. Our experience has been that people in luxury cars NEVER stop to pick you up. People in trucks (especially), shitbox cars, wagons, and sometimes SUV’s, often stop and thus are our favourite people in the world.

We walked a mile, Cashmere hitched for another half hour and finally we called Ted. Ted was a nice cyclist who had talked to us when we were hitching into Truckee (see previous blog) and had said to ring him if we needed anything. Now we needed help and Ted came to the rescue. He drove up (in a wagon) with his two-year-old son who had come for the ride also. They dropped us at the pass, waved goodbye, and offered to host us or help us more should we return to Truckee.

Even though the first few miles of this section of trail traversed between a reasonably busy road and an Interstate  it was a cool trail with some good views. I am often amazed at how ‘bushy’ and natural so many places right next to roads look in America.

After a few miles we crossed under Interstate 80. On the other side there was a path to an Interstate rest stop where we went, ate left-over pizza, threw out a small amount of garbage (trash can!), and felt weird about hanging around an Interstate rest stop on the PCT.

Crossing under Interstate 80

Then we continued walking, climbing up a hill. We passed over the top as it started to get dark but wanted to reach a hut, the Peter Grubb Hut, to check it out and perhaps take advantage of the outhouse so we wouldn’t have to dig holes for our morning poo.  When we arrived it was obvious there were people inside and we didn’t want to wake them up so we just camped outside.

Day 78

The next morning we checked out the
hut and found our friend Papa Smurf inside. The hut was pretty cool and made us think of New Zealand.

The Peter Grubb Hut

The outhouse was and wasn’t so cool. The cool aspects were that it had a high ramp up to allow for snow and a ceiling light that ran on a timer. The uncool aspect was that they ask you not to throw your toilet paper in the long drop. This had resulted in a build up of used toilet paper, which was overflowing out of a bucket.

Sound advice on the trail

The toilet also had some extreme ammonia problems going on, which caused gagging and eye burning. Cashmere was suspicious the lack of toilet paper in the hole was to blame for the ammonia situation and that they should copy New Zealand huts.

The ammonia smell seemed to follow us out of the long drop all the way back to our tent – and we became convinced we smelled a little like the long drop. Papa Smurf was surprised we used the outhouse at all. He said, “I opened the door and was like, ‘no way’ and then pooped in the woods like a normal person.” I love hiker conversations, that pooping in the woods is what ‘normal’ people do, and our comfort with talking about it. Sorry if you don’t like all this poop talk.

Papa "then I just pooped in the woods like a normal person" Smurf hanging in the Peter Grubb Hut

From the hut, the trail started climbing up a hill with some good views, and once on top we had a little break and some snacks.

Laundry drying at the morning tea locale

Soon Papa Smurf joined us and the three of us walked together, enjoying the views and bantering away.

Cashmere, Papa Smurf, and a cool pointy peak in the distance

In the afternoon we were struck by how beautiful all of the wildflowers around us were and we took lots of photos and made little corsages and other ‘bling’.

Pretty purple flowers
Physio coming down the trail (with a little bling on his pack)
Look at these droplets

Cashmere had it in her head that we should go for a swim in a reservoir further along. It was 24 miles (~38km) from where we camped the night before and we wanted to go for our swim before dark. Cashmere hustled us along but Papa Smurf wanted to stop for a break so we lost him (too slow, sorry).

When we approached the lake we were pretty tired and it was a little way down but we went anyway. There were heaps of little kids and families in the adjoining campground but we strolled through and jumped in the reservoir with all of our clothes on (to wash them and not be naked around the ‘normal’ people). It was fairly warm. Afterwards we had dinner in an absolutely stunning sunset. As we admired the sunset we wondered whether the recent wild fire was responsible for the amazing light show.

Dinner after a reservoir swim
Wildfire-infused sunsets?

Originally we thought we might camp by the lake. However, when we discovered that it was crowded and expensive ($24/night) we decided to drag ourselves back to the trail.

On the walk back to the trail a van pulled up. It was the camp host from the next campground down. Her name was Julie and she invited us to come stay at her campground for free! At first we hesitated because we didn’t know how far off the trail it would be and we wanted an early start. Then she said she’d like to make us breakfast in the morning, the campground had flush toilets, and was really close. Our resolve melted completely.

Next thing you know we are setting up shop at Pass Creek Campground.

Day 79

We got up early for breakfast with Julie and it was so good! The eggs were even from one of Julie’s friend’s chickens. We all drank too much coffee and tea, ate way too many chocolate espresso beans and were buzzing. Cashmere also hung out heaps with one of Julie’s cats, which was reportedly not very friendly to most people. However, upon meeting Cashmere he almost immediately rolled on his back for some tummy rubs. Physio and Julie marvelled at Cashmere’s effect on cats.

Cashmere the kitty tamer

With cooked breakfast, coffee, and great conversation we failed to depart early. Once we finally did get moving we did move pretty fast, possibly partially due to all of the caffeine. There weren’t a whole heap of great views but we did get a few glances at what we would later learn were the Sierra Buttes. There was also an awesome looking river near the road we would hitch down but we felt too much pressure to keep moving to go for a swim.

Sierra Buttes

When we got out to the road we walked the 1.5 miles to Sierra City. We were hoping to catch up with Papa Smurf to do a pole exchange. Papa Smurf was carrying the same exact pole as Cashmere’s broken pole, except he was only using it to pitch his tent and wanted to buy a set of new poles soon.

Contrary to its name, Sierra City is in fact, a very small town consisting of a church, a general store, and a pub. There was a hiker trash convention at the general store, which was a bit amusing because we were seeing so few people actually on he trail. So we joined it and ordered a 1lb cheese burger and a Turkey sandwich. While we waited for our food the power in the store went out, causing widespread panic among the hiking community. What did this mean for our burger future?

While we waited for the power to be restored we made the pole exchange with Papa Smurf. Miraculously the cook had completed the back log of food orders while the power was out and we ate our burger and sandwich greedily.

Once fed we bid farewell to our friends and set off on our adventure to reach Bend, Oregon which we will tell you about in our next blog post, ‘The Intermission’.