Jacob Leistra / "Game Boy" / PCT 2019

Day 80: Burney

Mile 1390.7 -> Mile 1411.3 -> Hitchhike into Burney

Today’s is going to be a single photo post. Partly because the scenery was just meh for most of the day, partly because I’m feeling introspective and I’d rather write about the jumbled thoughts in my head.

But here’s what actually happened today: I closed out the Hat Creek Rim section by doing just over 20 miles to HWY 299, and then hitching into Burney thanks to an amazingly friendly local. I went straight to Safeway for Clif Bars, a beer, and a donut, knowing full well that Dollar General next door is cheaper and has a better selection of carbs and bars. A lady tapped my shoulder while I was waiting in line at Safeway and told me to go to the next checkout counter over. I realized when I was walking over that she didn’t work there, so I was confused. “I’m buying your groceries, I love doing this for PCT hikers,” she said. I protested, especially since half of what I had was non-essential. She insisted, made the cashier ring up my items, and told me she does this because she’s a caring mother and wanted to remind me to call my mom. I had already called my mom on the descent down to Burney, and k told her as muchz but I still thanked her profusely. She thanked me for chatting with her, told me to be on the lookout for a hiker named Everest (who she bought groceries for and more), and wished me well.

I left Safeway stunned by her generosity but also puzzled. Why me? I have money, I don’t need charity, and I’m certainly not deserving of a gesture like that. Still, I was very grateful. I slugged my beer and got over to the Word of Life Church, which allows hikers to stay in their multipurpose building and take unlimited showers. They’re truly awesome people and again, I’m not deserving of their kindness.

I did all my standard chores: resupply, laundry, shower, and huge meals (this time I made a salad mix and pasta in the church’s kitchen). I saw some hikers I hadn’t seen in a while at the church, and flipped through the pages of their trail log. I recognized many more people I’ve met or started with, and many are far ahead of me.

I feel like I’ve finally found my stride going solo, and I’m happy with the pace that I’m at. But I also feel a little left behind as I see people I know far ahead of me. The trail is not a race, at least against others, but I still feel farther away from where I want to be.

But the familiar platitudes are all true: steady as she goes, one foot at a time, etc. So I’m just going to keep up my pace–which I feel great doing–and see if I can jam through Oregon. Partly because I’ll have new shoes by then, partly because I hear there’s a ton of mosquitoes, and partly because the terrain and elevation will be the easiest thus far.

Sidenote: Sorry for all the typos. I’m doing this all on my phone (which sucks), so thanks to Dakota (and anyone else who wants!) for submitting pull requests with typo fixes.

Main Photo: Cassel Fall River Road on July 30. Someone painted footsteps to warn drivers of crossing hikers.