Date: Sunday, 01 October 2017
Start: Camped by the trail at Mile 1175.5, 7621 ft
Finish: Where the PCT crosses Hwy 49 at Mile 1195.4, 4591 ft
Daily Miles: 19.9 PCT, plus 1.5 to Sierra City
Total PCT Miles: 2516.0
Weather: Mild and sunny
Accommodation: Cabin at Buttes Resort in Sierra City
Breakfast: Pop tarts
Lunch: Gorp and 1lb cheeseburger & fries
Dinner: Soup, corn chips, chilli con carne, ice-cream & fruit
Aches: Left ankle still a bit sore
Highlight: Getting to Sierra City at 3:15pm and confirming with the resort owner, where I have a cabin, that the general store/deli closed at 4:00pm. I had time to dump my pack in my cabin then hurry down to the store where I ordered a second late lunch and bought supplies for dinner and breakfast. The resort owner said there was only one place near town where I could get dinner (expensive) and that neither the town bakery, nor general store, nor any other food sources would be open tomorrow morning.
Lowlight: Having made a big effort to get an early start and maintain a good pace so I could be sure of getting to Sierra City by mid-afternoon, I somehow lost the trail in mid-morning and ended up on a disused track, covered in thorn bushes, following orange ribbons tied to occasional shrubs. Eventually I worked out where I should be from my GPS and hiked cross-country to rejoin the trail. Probably cost me 20 minutes or so of hard-earned time.
Pictures: Click here
I woke early and was hiking in the dark using my headlamp by 5:40am. Once again, it was cold, but not bitterly so, and I enjoyed walking under the still-bright stars as the sky gradually lightened in the east. Initially, there was a climb, but after that the trail followed the top of a bare ridge from where I could make out mountains and valleys through the pre-dawn gloom.
For most of the morning, the PCT worked its way to the northwest following ridges and gradually losing height. Sometimes there were views, but more usually the trail was in the forest. I didn’t see any other hikers all morning, but the trail passed through a national forests recreation area and crossed a number of roads and went by a campground, so there was plenty of evidence of civilisation. Apart from getting lost at one point (see above), I generally was making good time despite occasional rocky sections.
In the early afternoon I began to see some other hikers, and one couple told me there was another PCT hiker in front of me who was “flying” as Sierra City marked the end of his PCT thru-hike. I was envious, and think I probably saw him and his welcoming “committee” when I later reached Hwy 49. There was a small gathering of vehicles and obviously some celebrating going on.
I reached Hwy 49 at 2:40pm, and immediately began the 1.5 mile walk down the road to Sierra City, though I stuck my thumb out to all passing vehicles in the hope of getting a lift, but with no success. I reached the very small town, sited beneath the towering rocky crags of the Sierra Buttes, at 3:15pm and checked into my cabin with the friendly owner before rushing down to the general store (see above). I was back in my cabin in time to watch the final quarter of an NFL game while I ate my burger, and then took it easy for the rest of the day.
I now have 134 miles to go to finish the PCT and will take a week to do it. From here, I will hike three days to Quincy, my next resupply town, where I will have Thursday off before tackling the final three days to Chester, reaching there next Sunday night. The only public transport from Chester to Reno, or anywhere else of significance, runs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, so my timetable dovetails with that.
Given that there is nowhere to get breakfast in Sierra City tomorrow morning, I will try to get away reasonably early. I bought some pastries and orange juice at the store to have for breakfasf.