Sorry for the delay. I actually had this whole pst written, but then my phone deleted it. I was pissed and it took me a while to gain the motivation to re-write it.
Day 72 (Wednesday, June 29): Packer Lake Trailhead (mi 1204.9) to W Branch Bear Trap Creek (mi 1224.12), 19.24 miles. (up/down: 3098/-4163ft)
I was up early to ensure I didn’t miss my generous ride. I packed up and headed to the porch of he store to finish up charging. My ride arrived promptly at 6:30 and we headed up the hill. He verified that I wanted to be dropped off at the lodge instead of the trailhead. After missing out on Red Moose Cafe, I knew I wanted some Packer Lake Lodge breakfast. I was near certain I’d be able to find a ride from another guest at breakfast as well. If not for some reason, the trail head was only 3 miles up a steep road (still better than 9 miles up a steep trail).
I got dropped off at the lodge by 6:50, but it didn’t open until 8. So I nestled into the comfy chairs on the porch for some rest and watched the hummingbirds. Just before 8a, a worker came out on the porch to water the plants. Surprised to see me, she asked if I need anything. I replied, that I was just waiting for breakfast. I was in dismay to her response: there was no breakfast on Wednesdays. The menu in Sierra City did list that there was no meal service on Tuesdays, but said it served on Wednesday. I guess this had since changed. Shit. The worker was quite empathetic and said she could rummage through the kitchen and maybe make some eggs and toast. I said it was quite alright, and that I had food (though I had no intention of digging it out of my pack). Instead I asked if she knew of a way I could get to the trail. Her best suggestion was to just wait until the guests started to get up and venture out and ask if one of them could take me. The maid or maintenance worker may also be able to give me a ride when they arrived.
So, there I was, sitting on the porch – waiting. After some time a gentleman walked into the parking lot and I approached him. I asked where he was headed today. Him and his family were going to Sardine Lake for some fishing, and claimed he would have no room in his Prius for me. I really think he just had no interest in helping out. Back to the porch I went. Was this a sign to not continue? I was tempted to use the pay phone to call my dad, but didn’t have enough quarters. Was this a sign to keep trying? A few minutes later, a couple visiting from Sacramento walked into the parking lot, heading toward the lodge. I met them half way. They too were coming up for breakfast and also disappointing to hear the news. I shared with them my predicament and they immediately offered to make me some oatmeal and take me to the trail. I declined the food, but happily accepted the ride.
I started back up at the trailhead (mile 1204.9) at 8:35a, skipping the 3000+ ft hot, exposed, and steep climb out of Sierra City. From here I saw amazing vistas, forests, and lakes in full 360 degree views. Being from MN, it was so nice to see “so many” lakes after coming from the dry desert of both UT and SoCal. For majority of the day, I saw no other people except early afternoon when I ran into a group of day hikers in the opposite direction and a SOBO hiker after lunch.
I was glad to be descending during the hottest part of the day. Though, not too much later, I went back to climbing. I had a nice little laugh and neature moment when I ran into a deer on trail. She was munching and really didn’t want to leave her munch spot. I waited. She didn’t move. So I kept slowly walking toward her. Still no movement. She then finally decided to walk ahead too, but not far. I followed close behind her for at least a quarter mile. A mid the climb, some hikers I had left in Sierra City caught up to me.
I closely followed behind them the rest of the evening as we dropped quite a bit of elevation. My goal was to make it to Bear Trap Creek, which I did and then continued further to another branch. I camped with Perma-smile and Rafiki. A friendly deer also joined us for more of the night, stalking us, and not afraid of Rafiki’s attempts at conversation with him. As I was settling in for bed, I heard a rustling of sticks and leaves crunching outside. I assumed it was still the deer, but I peeked anyway. I saw some movement in a tree. A black figure that looked to be a racoon or something. But then I saw mama bear! It was a little baby black bear cub practicing his tree climbing with his mom telling him to hurry up from the ground, about 30 ft from our camp. Cool! We stayed very quiet and they scampered off in the opposite direction.
Each day is made up of a million small goals. I may have an idea where I want to get but I really just look at the day a few steps at a time. Shade to shade. Water to water. Hill to hill.