Monday, October 4, 2010

Cannibalism on the Trail, With a Side of Ketchup

A two-story outhouse?!
July 13: I was the last to leave Benson Hut. Shroomer started up a small fire in the stove, and it was nice having real chairs to use. It was comfortable, and thus, I lingered....

The trail passed some ski areas, where I had to walk around a significant chunk of snow that blocked the trail. Normally, I'd just cross over the snow, but it was pushed up into a bank that dropped about 15 feet straight down on the far side, and I couldn't find any way down it. No, I had to go around the snowbank, which was a remarkably long detour for such a small section of trail being blocked by snow.
Then the trail headed downhill, faster and faster, until it hit Donner Pass--infamous for the Donner Party getting trapped in the winter snow and resorting to cannibalism. The Pacific Crest Trail did not exist at the time, of course, but it did provide some thought-provoking what-if scenarios about what we would be willing to do to survive.
The beautiful views continued in the morning!
I arrived at Highway 40 by myself and sat down on some steps of a skiing academy to eat a few snacks and rest, watching cyclists and cars whizzing over the highway. I was amazed at the number of cyclists, and couldn't help but notice the thick muscles on their legs. "I bet that would make a tasty morsel," I thought, horrified I'd even think such a thing. I need to get out of this place. It was having a bad effect on me, turning my thoughts to morbid scenarios. "I wonder what condiment goes best with human flesh?" A-1 steak sauce, I bet. Agh! I need to get out of here!

A vehicle pulled off at the parking lot, and GQ got out having hitched a ride to Soda Springs and back. He joined me on the steps, complaining about how much it cost to resupply food in Soda Springs. I had plenty of food and other supplies and had no intention of stopping to get off the trail. GQ told me that he also caught Little Engine, Plain Slice, and Shroomer heading the wrong direction at the snow bank I went around. They didn't realize that the trail actually went over the snow bank and started following a side trail to the top of the ski area thinking that was the official PCT. For the third consecutive day in a row, they got lost, and I promised to harass them about the next time I saw them. =) Nothing near as bad as the day before, but still....
I suspect civilization is getting near....
Must... do.... miles....

The trail was positively packed with day hikers. I deftly navigated around them as quickly as possible to avoid the questions I knew they would ask when they realized I had walked in all the way from Mexico. A few of the people managed to stop me with questions, however, and my progressed slowed considerably.

Just before crossing under Interstate 80, I could see a sign on the highway of the rest area at the next exit, and another one saying that the rest area was closed. Drats. I was hoping to stop at the rest area to check out their vending machine selections. A cold soda would have hit the spot. I'm glad I could see the closed sign from here, however, and didn't learn of its closure until I walked a bit off trail to get to there first.

Later in the afternoon, I realized that I was hiking too fast. I was scheduled to meet Amanda at Sierra City in two days, but at the pace I was going, I'd blow right past it. So I stopped at North Creek for a couple of hours to lay out and read a book. (A Purple Place for Dying by John D. MacDonald, if you must know.)

I continued moseying along, losing the trail again in the snow near White Rock Creek. It was only a small patch of snow, and I started following the banks of the creek upstream for the trail. After five or ten minutes, I forded the creek and started walking back in search of the trail. I knew the trail crossed this creek--I just wasn't entirely sure where. I figured if I followed the banks long enough, I'd have to find it.

Now there's an ominous sign! I think
it just applies to skiers, however. =)
As I got back close to where I lost the trail, I heard Little Engine, Plain Slice, and Fully Loaded coming up. They lost the trail too, for all of about ten seconds before Fully Loaded found where it came out from the patch of snow. I forded the creek again to join them, complaining about the snow.

Little Engine and Plain Slice took the opportunity to harass me for getting lost--revenge from my teasing about losing the trail for three hours the day before. I decided that now probably wasn't the best time to harass them about losing the trail earlier today at the ski area. Anyhow, I'd only lost the trail for all of about five minutes and was nearly about to refind it before they intervened. It's true, too. The trail followed along the creek for another minute or so before crossing on a bridge. A friggin' bridge! My cold, wet feet didn't appreciate the fact that I forded the creek twice and it turned out there was a bridge across it the whole time. But undoubtedly, had the others not shown up when they did, I would have found the trail anyhow by following along the creek. I just followed it in the wrong direction when I lost the trail, but I had already turned around again by then.

Looking down towards Donner Pass.
We stopped at the bridge to cook dinner--I usually wait until I was in camp, but I liked the company and stopped for an hour to cook dinner and chat before we pushed on.

Ultimately, we camped on a high, exposed ridge, well away from water, but the mosquitoes found the place anyhow. They were thick, but there were there in enough numbers that I felt it necessary to put on my head net and crawl down into my sleeping bag. And, I thought, it was the perfect place to watch the sunrise on my birthday the next morning. =)

The trail crosses under I-80
through this culvert.

I found this little chick sitting on the
trail. Not really sure what kind of bird
it is, though. Funhog? =)

I found this balloon hanging in the middle of the woods
from a tree. No idea why it's there or what the
special occasion was, however. It's looking a little
deflated too!


Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that bird is NOT a Funhog.

Anonymous said...

Glad you asked about the bird, not naming it dinner!

Grumpy Grinch

Okie Dog said...

That balloon looks pretty spooky, kind of like that evil eye business..;)

Anonymous said...

ive been waiting for this post, i found the other letterbox at the judah loop on 9/4 and saw you had been there months ago, we have a cabin at soda springs

Unknown said...

Looks like a baby Ruffed Grouse
I had one attack me on a trail once followed me about 1/4 mile squawking and beating my legs with its wings... Had very bright feather patches that flashed on its head as it puffed up its feathers..

Dave (NOBO wanna be)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

What did someone have against poor Elmo, ditching him in the forest, hanging him upside down like that?

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers