111. July 30: Mile 1591.50 Paynes Lake to Mile 1597.20 Etna, CA
You know how I was hoping for an easy hike into town? Yeah that didn’t happen. I never really look at the elevation profile because if it’s mostly flat or downhill, I’ll be happy anyway, but if I know a climb is coming then I immediately get in a sour mood and dread the climb before even getting to the climb and being miserably like I was going to anyway. Of course, Glowworm loves to look at the elevation profile and seemingly always fails to give me a spoiler alert before revealing that there’s a massive climb ahead. So it’s not like my efforts to ignore reality are very effective.
Anyway, it was like 2.5 miles up and 2.5 miles down to town. Mostly rocky and arduous, but we eventually made it. At the trailhead there was a ton of cars and people. It was a bit overwhelming. We eventually figured out that they were all part of a day hiking club. It was funny because they all had their trekking poles and day packs filled with healthy snacks with their leather boots and counting each other off so they wouldn’t lose anyone and then there’s us. We have 20-30 lbs. packs filled with the bare minimum of stuff while eating cookies, candy, and other cancer inducing items. On top of that, all thru hikers wear trail running shoes and do a sub par job of keeping track of each other.
We walked up to the road to get a hitch and there was another hiker there who we had never met before named Fat and Sassy. I just really wanted to mention his name to be honest because it’s by far the best I’ve heard. Well, maybe French Pussy was better actually. It took a long time for a car to pass us, bit the first one that did stopped and gave us a ride.
Once in town we went to Dotty’s, a local burger place, for lunch. I had a burger, chocolate malt, and sweet potato fries. I shouldn’t have gotten the fries. After downing the malt and devouring the burger there was simply no room for the fries. At least it was really good despite my bloatedness.
The Dollar General and laundromat were next to the restaurant so we did our laundry and resupplied at once. I’ve been really keen to change things up so I wanted to make “pizzas” for lunch. I could only find canned tomato sauce so I also bought baby food that had a lid on it since it was the only small container I could find.
I also bought some Chicken in a Biscuit crackers. My grandma always has them at her house so when I saw them I began craving them immediately. Back at the laundromat I was so eager for Glowworm, who is a vegetarian, to try this delicacy. I offered her one and then suddenly realized that I’ve never really checked to see if it actually contains chicken (it does) as she’s munching on it. Woops. My bad.
Walking to the city park where would camp was a chore. Everything in the town is spread out and that was exacerbated by the fact that it was over 100 degrees. I just felt totally drained with every step I took. It was awful. Aside from that the town is actually really catered for thru hikers. The town park is set up with wifi (probably the the best we’ve had on trail), power outlets, camping, and a shower all for $10. It really feels like they want us here which isn’t the vibe in all of the towns.
We’re finally at a point on trail again where it really seems like we’re in a traveling community again. People come and go, but we’re seeing familiar faces day after day. A lot of the people that we’ve been seeing on trail are here camping in the park with us. It’s great because you can start building friendships with these people and getting to know them so that when you do see them on the trail it’s more than just saying hi.
While we were chatting with everyone at the picnic tables, the sprinkler system (which is apparently in the are where the city told us to camp) turned on and completely soaked our packs and other gear that was laid out. Glowworm and I frantically praced over to our gear while dodging the sprinklers and retrieved our things. Ugh. So yeah that wasn’t a pleasant experience.
Then on top of that when I went to dispose of the baby food so I could use the container for my pizza sauce I somehow lost the lid. The lid was the whole point of buying the baby food. Oh well. I just put the sauce in a double zip lock baggie. Despite those late day events, it was available pretty good town day.