I will never do it again. NEVER. EVER. That’s what I told myself a couple years ago after I hiked to the lookout tower high upon the top of the Sierra Buttes. But here I was last week, grudgely agreeing to take our friends up, up, up to the top of the mountain, along the Pacific Crest Trail in Northern California.
The Sierra Buttes are a series of towering crags in Tahoe National Forest that loom above the Yuba River Canyon, Sierra City and Highway 49. The Buttes are also the gateway to the Lakes Basin Recreation Area, better known as the Gold Lakes Basin, which offers great hiking, camping, lakes and trout fishing. I live a couple hours away and it’s one of my favorite destinations.
Hiking has become one of my favorite activities, but this hike kicks my butt, and I couldn’t believe I was doing it again. But the hike, the view, the pain, the lightheadedness, the thirst, are not what I remember about this trip; it was two girls I met along the way.
They were loaded down with big backpacks, hiking poles and a stride of determination. I was taking a water break, no backpack and heaving and hoeing about my decision to take this hike.
“Hey, are you guys walking the PCT?” I asked, thankful that these girls stopped to talk to me and give me a break in the action. “Yea, we are.”
“Cool, did you start at the beginning or are you doing a leg of the trail?” I asked.
“We started at the beginning and are doing the whole hike to Canada.” They both smiled. I, too, smiled and clapped my hands in excitement for them. Then I started firing questions at them: “Wow, are you blogging about the experience? Did you read, Wild? What was the hardest part so far? How many pounds have you lost?”
They were delightful and just as excited to tell me all about their adventure: “We are from England (both appeared to be about 25). We were motivated by the book, Wild. Yes, we are writing about the experience. The hardest part so far was the dessert in southern California. It was so hot and we had to carry our water. Water is heavy. I’ve lost a stone (14 lbs). ”
I looked up at my friends who were quite ahead of me waiting. I paused briefly thinking I wanted to head down the hill with the girls to talk more about the PCT and their experience, but I was taking my friends on our own adventure, so I gave the girls a final wave and headed up the mountain.
I’ve had regrets that I didn’t go with the girls, or give them my nectarine, or invite them back to our campsite for a chef prepared dinner. I just didn’t think of it at the time. But I have thought about them and the other hikers of the PCT and the journeys, stories and memories they are building.
I goggled to try and find if they were blogging, but to no avail. I did come across a PCT hiking blog, http://awalkintheparkpct.wordpress.com/ who mentions two girls from England, and I wrote to him that if he see the girls to tell them hi for me.
I’m hitting the PCT again in Oregon towards the end of this month, and I’m hoping to see the girls from England again.
Gail’s hike synopsis: 2.5 miles one-way, roughly 2,400-foot climb, from 6,200 feet to 8,587 feet; 5-mile, 3-hour round trip.
Two girls from England hike synopsis: The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650 mile hiking trail (dirt foot path) that runs continuously from the Mexican border at Campo, California to the Canadian border near Manning Park, BC. It is a designated national scenic trail. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. It offers some the wildest back-country terrain to be found in the lower 48 states.
Each year ~300 hikers attempt to complete the entire trail (thru-hike) in a 4-6 month period. Hikers generally start in late April heading south to north. Many hikers practice lightweight hiking techniques as they must carry all their food and gear in backpacks finding water at natural sources along the way. Hikers will resupply every 3-10 days at trail towns close to the trail.