I walk through a highly managed forest. I’m bored. My attention is not gaining traction on any thoughts I try out. Even music isn’t working. I guess today is just about raw walking.
Maybe this makes sense. I’m at the halfway point.
I make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the middle of the trail. The only flat shade I can find. I hike a bit more and find Pac Man, Hustler, and Any Minute Now at a small creek. We all hike 10 more miles to highway 86 which leads into Chester. We cross the street and find trail magic (or rather “hella magic phudaze”, since I’m in Nor Cal). There are Little Debbie snack cakes and drink orange drank. So good! I peruse a binder filled with info pertinent to hikers going to Chester. I see a listing for Toothfairy and I call her for a ride. She arrives within seconds. We pack into her car and she drives us to the now closed dental office, goes inside and returns with $20 gift certificates for each of us, good at a local restaurant plus and tooth brushes and tooth paste.
We have an epic dinner of fried things, pizza, and cheeseburgers. Namaste shows up and we all get a hotel room, do laundry, take showers, and put together a quick resupply. Slowly, we learn that basically the entire West coast is on fire and the PCT is closed at various points, especially the points we will be walking through tomorrow and in the upcoming days. Eh, what’s a little fire…
The next morning, Pac Man and Namaste head out. I stay behind to catch up on blogging, write another grant application, and send 3D rock files. And look on Facebook. I find out that the trail Namaste and Pac Man are trying to hike is closed. I text them with the news. Hikers are ricocheting all over Nor Cal as they try to hitch or drive to a fire-free zone. Chester is filling up with refuge hikers. So is Redding and Ashland. I walk around Chester and realize that what I thought were clouds over Mt. Lassen is actually smoke.
Pac Man texts me about some bikes he saw at a thrift store.
When Pac Man returns to Chester, we start concocting a plan. Everyone is camping behind the Lutheran Church. We gather them and tell them what we’re thinking – find cheap bikes, outfit them with bucket panniers, and then ride on Highway 36 – maybe all the way to route 101 and head up the coast.