more magic!

tree houseDay 107 7/11  – Back in Old Station! We stayed at the amazing Hiker Hideaway run by the Heitman’s. Unfortunately they were out of town for a PCT hiker’s wedding, but volunteers Frodo, Tadpole & Lightshine were keeping the show running brillian

tly. The place was amazing, we a huge garden featuring 2 large fire pits, multiple tents for hikers and even a gorgeous tree house.

And the next day Marty, our friend from Redding hosted us before driving us to Castella on Day 109. Since we’d already done the PCT section from Old Station to Castella in May, we were now jumping ahead 130 miles. At Castella we were interviewed by a local newspaper doing an article about PCT hikers and the post office there as we sorted out our resupply. Then we thanked Marty for her stupendous hospitality, bid her good-bye and headed up to the granite outcrops of Castle Crags. Like a stegosaurus’ spikes they rose and soon our forested path opened up, affording us  brilliant views and oppressive heat. Amongst vibrant wildflowers and the sweet water of a spring we chatted with section hikers Colin & Pat and that evening as we read by firelight Frisbee stopped to chat before continuing on.

been searching for a heart of gold…

Day 102 More magic! We stayed with the Braaten’s in Belden, who have a whole little flat for hikers. The next day 103 7/7 we were enjoyed a delish b-fast complete with homemade muffins and met thru-hikers Buckwheat & Joel. Buckwheat’s been living in the Ukraine for 6 or so years now and Joel’s moving to Germany (where his wife is from) after completing the PCT. A Euro-Trash duo.

The Belden Bridge
The Belden Bridge

We were map-less and bogged down with sorting out logistics, laundry, etc when thru-hiker Cjell biked up to the Braaten’s in his multi-coloured neon shorts and redneck ‘tash. He immediately offered us his maps (“I never use ‘um!”) and told us Highlander’s folks were in town and we were welcome to join their BBQ. Hallelujah!  To celebrate our new found fortunes we swam in the Feather River. We’d struck gold. Not in the mineral sense, but certainly in the hiker sense.*

We greeted Gingersnap & Highlander who’d been living the hiker high life as Highlander’s fam supported them in their McMansion RV. Seriously this RV was enormous!  Mom grilled up unlimited burgers and that night we slept with full bellies.

*There are plenty who still do search for mineral gold in the Feather River

buttes & bucks

Day 99 We faced a major climb up to the Sierra Buttes but were rewarded with this view: Sierra Buttes

Day 101 Down to the Middle Fork of the Feather River for a swim, then back UP and UPmiddle fork of the feather river

where we were thrilled to discover NEW Trail Angels near Buck’s Lake. Nancy & her family are rice & walnut farmers in the Central Valley. They were so friendly and hospitable… you’d never know they’d only been Trail Angeling for a few days! Ice Cap, a friendly young Swiss thru-hiker, was also there. We enjoyed a fantastic dinner, s’mores round the fire and great conversation.

Pooh, Grub & Yuba

thumbnailCAZZOAPJDay 96 Pooh Corner was sweet. And it was the beginning of a magical portion of trail where Trail Angels abounded. Glory be!

Bill & Molly, a retired couple, open up their gorgeous home on Donner Lake to hikers at Pooh Corner. There house is complete with hot tob, extensive dock and a 2 story-high climbing wall in their living room. Yessssss please!  There we feasted on an grill-tastic spread along with thru-hikers Stinky Butt (who we’d met way back at the Andersons) and Road Runner.  Stinky Butt had some crazy stories to tell about travelling solo through the stormy & snowy High Sierras.  But enjoying our ice cream with hot fudge, coconute, walnuts and fresh fruit for dessert those difficult days seemed like a lifetime ago.

Peter Grubb Hut
Peter Grubb Hut

Day 97 Back to the trail we hiked with Road Runner to the Peter Grubb hut, which we oohed and ahhed over before continuing north. and Day 98 arrived in the charming little town of Sierra City where we sunbathed and swam in the Yuba River with section-hiker Snowdog and his outstandlly obdient dog Dora. Then, to our delight, we discovered another section-hiker named Sleuth had rented out a flat for hikers for the week.   We stayed up till midnight swapping trail stories, drinking freshly squeezed lemonade and beer and munching on Oreos.  It really is summertime!

Tehachapi Trail Angels

Day 54, May 19th – Getting a hitch on highway 58 did not look hopeful. Cars were whizzing past us at 70 mph and most just switched lanes upon seeing us. But after only 15 mins a car pulled over for us. As soon as we climbed into the car we could tell the driver was a fellow hiker. His name was Vincet and he’d rented a car to go to REI for some gear and was headed back to the trail today. He was a great chauffeur, giving us the grand tour of Tehachapi (what everyone said about Tehachapi is true – it’s a lovely town but very spread out) and then dropping us off at the post office since there was no one around at the motel we were hoping to stay at. But it seemed providential when a kind PCT enthusiast at the post office offered to host us for the night. He dropped us off at the Village Grill in town so he could sort out a few things and pick us up a bit later. After a breakfast of a tub of ice cream followed by eggs, french toast, bacon & sausage we sorted out our food for the trail.

We phoned our host to get an update only to find out he’d forgot he was going out of town that day so we couldn’t stay there. Dismayed we began walking to the library and discussing whether we should just get back on the trail immediately or if we could afford a motel. As we were walking down the main street a yellow car pulled up beside us and a lady named Heidi asked if we needed a ride back to the trail. “Maybe,” Dan responded, “We’re trying to figure out if we’re going to stay in Tehachapi or head back to the trail.”

“Oh, well if you need a place to stay you could stay with us,” she offered. Hmmm……

tehachapiSo that’s how we ended up being hosted by Heidi & Jerry… two amazing new Trail Angels in Tehachapi. We spent the afternoon in their beautiful home drinking raspberry juice out of dainty vintage glass cups and chatting with Heidi. She let us shower and use her laptop, set a gorgeous fruit spread before us and we had a wonderful time talking about everything from stink bugs to Obama to faith to prison to organic gardening. It was such refreshing and stimulating conversation and Heidi knew lots of interesting tidbits about the biology and history of the area.

Dan cooked up a delicious dinner just in time for their son Jon, a senior in high school, to join us but unfortunately Jerry had to work late. Then they took us out for cheesecake at the new Al Pacino restaurant in town and we watched Doubt before cowboy camping in their plush lawn.

Day 55 Then in the morning we met Jerry and then insisted on taking us out to Mama Hillybean’s, a cool organic cafe in town where we ran into Get Out & met Atlas. We enjoyed a delectable breakfast and then they dropped us off at the trailhead. Wow… the kindness of strangers! But we’re so thankful they’re not strangers to us anymore!

Casa de Luna!

skeletonDay 39 – We met 2 thru-hikers – Mosa & Boon – as we left Hiker Heaven that morning. Then Anna got a migraine and it got unthinkably hot. Talking about our first days of school (middle, high, uni) distracted my pounded head a bit, but it was miserable hiking in the blazing sun with what felt like a jackhammer aimed at my left temple, so we only hiked a measly 10 miles.


Day 40 – The next day I was feeling a bit better but my mood REALLY improved when we spied a curious site in the bushes nearby. There was a small fake skeleton hanging by a branch, a pink flamingo standing by a cooler filled with cold drinks and a furry parrot perched in a tree. The whole oasis was in a little cave-like shady spot walled and ceiling-ed by low arching trees and we knew it must be an Anderson cache! We sat in the lawn chairs set up and enjoyed a refreshing Cactus cola as our excitement grew about arriving at Casa de Luna, home of the Andersons, Trail Angels who lived just over the hill. Terry & Jo Anderson run “Hippie Daycare” for hikers. Yes, it’s true, 2 amazing trail angel locales are located a mere 26 miles apart from each other.

We had met the Andersons briefly at Kick-off and were pleasantly surprised when they remembered us as we pulled up to their yellow house. A whole “lunatic lounge” are was set up in their driveway and their neighbor Doug gave us the grand tour of the Magical Manzanita Forest (with lots of prime camping spots), the house and extensive yard.

Doug also served as a tour guide as we went around all of Green Valley. We visited Jay, a metal worker who does awesome art and had just finished doing work on Johnny Depp’s house, saw strange rock houses an eccentric older lady has had built and searched the 2 general stores for sourdough pretzels for Dan.

Back at the casa Terry & Jo entertained us with hilarious tales of how they met, how they started hosting hikers and different pranks they’d played on hikers. We also met Boots, “The Ultimate Trail Hiker.”  He’s quite a character. He hiked 1,500 miles of the PCT last year but had to stop because of an injury. He’s planning on trying the whole thing again this year but after the first 20 miles had been distracted by various computer work & entrepreneurial ideas, and had been hangin’ at the Lunatic Lounge for a few days. Every day he says he’s leaving to hike, but gets sucked back into “the vortex.”

We also met thru-hikers Josh & Wendy, who arrived in time for Terry’s famous taco salad. It was delicious… we stuffed our faces and then went back for more. Wendy is tall & skinny and is carrying a 70 lb pack! I couldn’t even lift it. Josh is carrying a bit less, but still, I don’t know how they’re managing!  We had a great night chatting and stayed up way past our bedtime before finally retiring to the Magical Manzanita Forest for some deep dreamless sleep.