Sierra City was a neat little town, and I took advantage of the massive hiker breakfast the town’s only restaurant offered. The center of the hikertrash community was the general store, a tiny shack with a deli attached. They’re famous on the trail for serving one pound (450g) burgers, and I inhaled mine before also ordering a milkshake. This hiker who is a Debbie Downer seemed upset I ate mine so easily when he’s way bigger and could barely eat half, and tried to tell me it’s because I’m malnourished. It was kind of funny, though I almost feel bad for him because he seems miserable on the trail and talks all the time about how he wants to go home. I would feel worse if he hadn’t already tried to talk about how I’m doing my hike wrong a few times (I wrote in a trail register I was having a slow day because I’d taken six hours of breaks by 2pm; he read that a few hours after I got there and it seemed to really upset him for some reason). Hike your own hike.
Sierra City to Belden has been pretty uneventful, other than running into a woman with whom I took the bus from San Diego to the border and hadn’t seen since day one. She is now Smiles And Miles, having been rechristened from Smiles Not Miles after she blazed ahead super fast from the herd. I told S&M about the hilariously awful gay Amish romance novel I’m reading and she said, “How the hell has that gotten through all the hiker boxes?! You’re the third person I’ve talked to who’s read that thing! That book is doing a thru hike of its own.” Apparently it’s popular on the trail. One of her hiking buddies found the pamphlet I got from the crazy End Times woman and placed in the Reds Meadow hiker box with a “What the hell is this?” moment. I’m glad to know that thing is still kicking it somewhere out there.
S&M’s other hiking buddy has a thick Boston accent, and was telling us about the guy at Walker Pass in the desert who picks up hikers to drive them to Lake Isabella in a seemingly stolen car. He didn’t cry about how Peter was crucified upside down when Endless rode with him, though the hiker’s stories about Lake Isabella as creepy seem to be a common theme on the trail. He was told by a local he should be wearing snake boots, and that the same local started imitating a snake so Endless would know what it sounded like when he encountered one. That guy was apparently so fat he couldn’t get up off the floor of the post office when he bent down to pick up a penny.
I did take the Buck’s Lake alternate on the PCT, which adds about an hour of hiking but lets you stop at a small store in the middle of nowhere with ice cream. Needless to say, it’s a popular alternate. Some guy came up to me and said, “When we get these skinny people coming in here eating tons of ice cream, you know it’s a thru hiker.” He’s a local who did the Appalachian Trail in 1988 and the PCT in 1995. Cool guy. He’s half Japanese and was able to talk a bit with Mechanic, a hiker from Tokyo.
“Belden is the creepiest town on the PCT,” is what my town guide said. Apparently there are raves on the weekends with massive drug use. An elderly couple has opened up their home to hikers. They seem kind of quirky, but quite nice.
I found out right when I got to Belden that my application for my Spain job somehow got switched from high school to kindergarten. I don’t think I can teach kids that young, so I’m trying to switch. Lots of other people have the same problem. If it doesn’t work out I don’t know what I’ll do after the trail, but I’ll have plenty of time from here on out to think about it.
The woman who owns the house I’m staying in just came in to say, “Does anybody want to see a fine specimen of adult male bear poop? If not, I have some mountain lion poop, too.” Should be an interesting night.
This all seems fairly mundane to me. I’m not sure if this is just a semi-boring update, or if I’ve become accustomed to the bizarre out here.