July 10, 2013
Rose without incident and directed myself toward Sierra City. Followed the course of the river and picked up momentum with it as the geography tilted. Shortly, a side trail presented itself that would allow a direct hike into town minus a hitch. I veered. Dropped through a campground and found myself next to you yet another river. Came upon a swimming hole that Mark Twain would have had Tom Sawyer dive into. Then through a neighborhood of cabins with front yards decorated with ore carts and giant sawblades. After a steady diet of pines, such variety was an eye treat.
Turned onto Main Street of Sierra city population 225. Too small for AT&T to respect, but I loved the place. First thing I saw was a piano free to one who would haul it. How would Twain have worked that in? Reined in when it when I came to the Red Moose Inn which is hiker central. Following my third breakfast, I picked up my bounce box at the post office and settled to details. Necessary but tedious beyond repeating.
My office was half the bed in Tortuga’s room. Ice to my knee. I plugged away on my I whatever. But my true position was gatekeeper to the shower. The inn has but two rooms. The majority of hikers camp for free in the backyard. Their use of the restaurant and bar provides economic input to the trail angel owners. The owners in turn knock the sales tax off the room if the occupants allow hikers to use the shower, there being no others. Thus the curious sensation of a stream of hikers passing by the foot of my office to bathe. All looking to me to keep order and state rules. This I did so amongst the rising humidity.
Lunch was a pizza in front of the general store which followed a fruitless search for couscous. Hikers milled about. Say what you will about hiker trash, but for a couple of summer months they drop a serious amount of money in the small towns along the trail. Then a return to my office as the cello concert commenced. The soul calmed as the notes floated about the packed house.
Veggie had earlier passed on some unwanted and unloved couscous to me so I owed him a beer. He was bellied up to a bar down the street, so Slack, Orbit, Tortuga and I walked down main street, once laden with stagecoaches, now devoid of cars. The bar was full of hikers and the party became their own. Orbit and I took over the pool table. I am an average pool player at best, but tonight was my night. We played doubles against a couple of confident locals who were without that confidence following several losses. Then I took on all comers finally losing after eight straight wins when I sank my own eightball. The margaritas having taken their toll, I sat back and bathed in my luck.
But the real show was on the dance floor, where hikers pounded the floorboards mercifullessly to the jukeboxes pre-1990 tunes. As the drinks flowed the splinters flew. Most of the hikers were not born when this music was being made but their embrace of it was passionate. Journey, Blue Oyster Cult, Patsy Cline —they danced to it all. The grand finale, which coincided with last call, was a group reenactment of Bohemian Rhapsody which rendered the pool table molested. You had to have been there. As Track Meet said when he danced by at the height of Freddie Mercury’s efforts sometimes along this trail we’re just killing it.” I replied “pure homicide” in complete agreement. Lights out.
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde
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