16.5 miles (Miles 1273 – 1289.5)
PCT Mile 1273 – Belden
The morning was really nice, starting with a perfect sunrise. I peeked out the tent to see the mountains in different levels of shadow, but the sky behind them lit up in golds, pinks and purples, fading into blue high above. It wasn’t too long before a tiny pin-needle light pierced through a small crevice in the mountain’s silhouette, and that pin-needle light quickly grew brighter and bigger until it was difficult to watch. Sunrises are so spectacular – same with sunsets – they’re always just a little different, constantly changing, and a blessing to witness.
After some coffee, cookies and oatmeal for breakfast, we hit the trail hard. It felt so good to hike this morning, and the climbs rolled under my feet at the sweat bled through my shirt and the brim of my hat. My breathing felt great, the sky was blue, and my mind was quiet. I was surprised when Tears told me on our morning break that we’d hit a 10 x 10! We left at 7am and got 10 miles by 10am! Wow…
We hiked up to some open views again, where I was smiling for the blue layers of mountains again. It’s one of my favorite things out here, and I’ll keep talking about it and taking and sharing photos of it until I’m blue in the face! There is just something about overlooking a scene like this for me. Have you ever seen, heard or smelled something that just made you feel randomly super-comfortable? As if it instantly places you back in time to a miniature moment of peace? That’s what these crazy mountains dressed in blues does for me. It puts me back in time as a child… laying on the couch with my head in my mom’s warm lap, dad playing REO Speedwagon on the record player in the background, brother sitting on the floor eating a bowl of cereal out of a giant tupperware bowl… and I don’t have a care in the world because I’m a kid. It’s like a flashback, though. The moment lasts only a second or two, but it’s a really, really good moment.
Leaving my flasback-ing scene behind, next we walked into a meadow colored in a pretty sage-green, speckled with tiny flowers. I wished for a few grazing deer, but they must have still been asleep. Pine forest came quickly after the meadow, but the transition between the two left me walking through lush, bright-green ferns. Before we knew it, we were hiking downhill, fast.
As we switchbacked one way, then the next, then the next, and on and on, we started to hear music… we were on the steep descent to Belden Town. It’s a resort that we’ve heard hosts hippie raves. For real – that’s not my explanation for this, I guess that’s what it is. I hiked for a while to the bass beats – that’s all I could make out from it up on the hill anyway. We hiked down for a couple of hours. Hiking downhill has gotten easier for me since my legs and knees have strengthened out here, but this was a pretty extreme downhill stretch. My toes and legs were getting so tired! And I needed a bathroom. There was no way to step off trail because it was straight up on one side and straight down the other. I would’ve slid down the hill with my pants around my ankles… I held it. We finally got to a spot that flattened out, but there was poison oak scattered all over the ground. Sigh… bound to the trail.
Finally we came to a railroad crossing. We walked in circles a few times before realizing our trail followed the road. The first thing I saw was a porta-john! Woo-hoo!
Then we saw people. Lots of people in cute bikinis, fun swim trunks, carrying drinks and innertubes, smelling clean of soap and pretty-scented sunscreen. There were cars parked all over and tents put up in the most random places.
We walked our filthy, dirty, sweaty-stinky selves as quickly as we could through the crowd and across a bridge out of the resort hosting this “hippie rave” thing. On the river was a hundred people floating around on innertubes – one guy was even laying on a giant air mattress, floating amongst the mass of tubes as really loud music blared across the river. Okay… so this might’ve been a bit of culture shock just stepping out from the woods, but they were sure having a good time. I could see myself getting into that… floating on a river with good friends and some cold drinks.
We met Aloha across the road, and I started to come down from all the Belden excitement or something. I started to get emotional. There’s always so much that’s gone on while we were in the woods that I can’t wait to hear about, there’s so many distractions (usually good ones, like meeting up with other hikers or trail magic), and so many things that need to be done – eating, deciding where to stay, resupplying… it can be overwhelming sometimes.
Next to seeing Aloha, I was mostly excited to get my birthday present from my parents. Aloha checked in Reno (in person) and they showed it leaving there on the 13th. He also called the Red Moose to see if anything showed up for us, but the response was confusing – two boxes and a letter – we were only expecting one box and a puffy envelope. We decided to take a road trip to check it out in person.
I guess I’m going through a rough stretch emotionally, here. I started to hold back tears after we found out my package wasn’t there. I miss my mom and dad so much, and I was so excited to get my present from them, and it’s the one package that ended up in limbo somewhere in the postal black hole. It happens to every hiker at least once, I think… but why couldn’t it have been a box full of ramen and oatmeal!? I was really starting to feel sorry for myself. A hug from Aloha got the tears flowing, and I’ve been randomly teary-eyed since. There’s a lot rumbling around this little head of mine.
The great thing about our trip to the Red Moose in Sierra City was that PRT was there! It was like a ray of sunshine peeking through a gray cloud to see them jumping up and down and smiling as they saw the pickle jar roll into town. We visited for a bit, took care of some business on the country store’s good wifi, grabbed some dinner at a cafe, then head back towards Belden. Oh, and I did get a birthday card from Adam’s grandma – that was a surprise and another ray of sunshine that gave me a smile.
Back in Belden, Tears stayed at the town’s trail angel – the Braaten’s, but it was late, there wasn’t much room left, and Aloha and I felt funny squatting in the yard with the only tent. We decided to hit up a National Park campground. It worked out well. We set up our tent next to a little river, pulled out chairs and talked a really good talk as I ate a bunch of cottage cheese that I’ve been craving. We’re going to try harder to have more time like this together when we can out here. It was really nice.
Tonight I love hugs from Aloha. He timed that one just right today. ♡
Thanks for bearing with me on such a long post… here’s a few more visuals from today:
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!