There’s an alternate route that parallels the PCT and brings hikers to a series of lakeside cabins, restaurants, and convenience stores. I have been ravenous and already ate all my food, so I choose to reroute myself. Pac Man joins me. Buck’s Lake is surrounded by scrappy cabins and a couple of personality-deficient restaurants that clearly came from boxes marked “restaurant”. We get breakfast and try to rehydrate Pac Man. His hands and feet are still cramping up and he feels like crap. It’s over 100 degrees today. We decide to go ahead and do possibly the biggest no-no on the PCT, thru hitch (also known as yellow blazing). We want to get to Belden. To do this, we have to first make it to Quincy. After about an hour, we’re in a car on our way. When we get to Quincy, I’m hungry again. We head to a diner so I can get a cheeseburger. We then head over to the grocery store so I can resupply, then to Subway so Pac Man can get a sandwich and we can make calls and pillage their Wi-Fi. This is the first cell reception I’ve had in a long time. I have a message that an arts writer wants to cover Wild Times. I call her and she interviews me. If only she could see the scene from my side of the phone. Sweat encrusted, dirt spotted legs, stained and ripped t- shirt -I’m best described by the term “Trail Trash”. Mid-conversation, my phone is about to run out of juice. I hunt around Subway for an outlet and find one behind the soda cooler. I move a chair over, plug in, and continue. I now have the ability to make myself at home (or studio) anywhere.
After the interview, Pac Man and I hit the road again and get half-hitched to Belden. Once the car leaves, I realize that I don’t have the waist strap to my ZPacks kangaroo pouch – my most critical piece of gear that holds my camera, phone, lip stuff, snacks and earphones. The clips it uses are not standard size. I can’t decide whether or not to head back to Quincy to find it. After much hem and haw, I decide “yes, it’s important enough” and we hitch back. I retrace my steps and look everywhere. The strap has disappeared. Our Belden hitch #2 is with a lovely and friendly woman who is just returning from Costco. Her husband has a dental office in Chester and gives PCT hikers gift certificates to a local restaurant. She drops us in Belden (population 22) and gives us a bottle of wine. I’m not quite sure what Belden is. Yogi’s PCT guide calls it creepy, but Belden has nothing on Hiker Town in terms of creep value. As far as I can tell, Belden exists to hold raves and, from the posters stuck to the doors of all the porta-potties, it has them every weekend. There are generators running, people building stages and lots of rave-y remnants ground into the dirt. Hustler, Any Minute Now, Buffalo, V, and Namaste are all there. We set up camp in a tiny grass oasis across from the restaurant/inn/convenience store. We open the bottle of wine – which takes some doing and wonder, what the heck is Belden?