Mile 1221 to 1195
We wake 26 miles from the road to Sierra City. Our goal is to hike about 20 miles, then nero into town the next morning. Plans, however, do not always work out.
I am still amazed that Terri found me, following a tiny dot on her cell phone. It’s got me thinking about dots. Anyone who has been to a professional baseball game in the last 10 years has probably seen some form of dot racing. Three colored dots, one red, one white and one blue, race around a track on the scoreboard, with fans randomly rooting for their favorite. What causes a dot to speed up or slow down is completely unknown to us. The whole thing is ridiculous, but we watch anyway, and in the end two-thirds of us are disappointed for no logical reason.
Hiking, I sometimes feel like one of those dots. On my GPS maps I appear as a red dot. On the elevation profiles I appear as a blue dot. On the SPOT map I appear as a black dot. And just like dot racing, watching gives little to no indication of why I speed up, slow down or stop completely.
If you happen to see my racing dot suddenly appear to crash into a guard rail, it may be I am simply tired or lazy. It may, however, be one of many other reasons. Downed trees are blocking the trail. A large rattle snake refuses to give way. Bodily functions are being tended to. Water is being filtered at a spring. A deer is demanding to be photographed. Other hikers are being grilled for news. The correct trail at a trail split is being determined. Snacks are being snacked. A snow field is being navigated. A spectacular view requires attention. A water report is being read. A turned ankle is being yelled at. You get the idea.
Today, my dot stops to fix a rip in my pant leg. I drop my pack, unzip my pant leg, take out my sewing kit, thread a needle and stitch away. So the next time you wonder what that darn Rick is doing, remember that he may actually be darning.
Today my dot is slowed by probably the most spectacular views of the entire trip. Given the combination of high bluffs, rock outcrops, the Sierra Buttes, the lookout tower, 360 panoramas and crystal clear lakes, it’s a wonder my dot moves at all.
My dot is also delayed by news from northbound hikers Crow and Ladybug. They jumped from Lone Pine to Echo Lake, the furthest south we have heard from. They came through snow and soaking trails. The north sides are clearly the worst, but seem doable. We still have not heard of hikers coming through from further south.
After 20 miles, our search for a campsite is now in vain. We are on a massive downhill of huge sweeping switchbacks, through treeless brush. The views again are dot stopping, but there is no where to camp. We hit the road at 26 miles and fail to acquire a hitch. A fire truck stops, but could not fit all three, so we just keep walking the mile and a half to Sierra City. We camp at the United Methodist Church, which provides a grass area for tents, bathrooms, a picnic table and a power cord to charge electronics. Everything in town is closed by the time we arrive. We will check out Sierra City tomorrow.