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City: Los Angeles
Begins: Apr 11, 2010
Date: Wed, Nov 3rd, 2010
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Pacific Crest Trail Map
I leave at dawn as planned and walk all the way into Dales getting there about ten am. There is no water or place to rest till then. A nice creek runs through Dales with an unfenced, flat shady area around it near the road. I dont stay there as I should have feeling antsy to continue. I needed the break though because my feet began to hurt soon after and there was no place to rest for several miles after. It seems that road walking is a little harder on my feet but the problem is excasperated by the dearth of places to rest.
Dales old name was Dales Station and was once a stagecoach stop on the way to Old Station. Its always interesting for me to walk on an abandoned route of some sort. This area was once much more populated and Manton, the previous town, even had its own jail. I asked for some water at a house that had a restaurant coming soon sign but made the mistake of filling up without drinking anything on the spot and not even filling up completely. There wouldnt be any water till late that afternoon when I got to Red Bluff with the only opportunities to rest at two trail head parking lots. The trails went north though and I didnt have any way to purify water so I continued on the road. The scenery remains mostly unchanged rolling hills, Valley Oaks scattered and sometimes quite thick, waves upon waves of tall brown grass, all fenced off, crossed every so often with dry stream beds that had little riparian life in them. Some of the streams showed up on the map and I had hoped to drink from them.
My road ended at highway 99 and immediately felt at a loss because the stores and town were all to the right over the next few miles and I wanted to go to the left or South. I would have preferred the ambience and food of the fast food joints two miles North but hunger and thirst won the day and I had lunch, or really breakfast since I had eaten all day, at a Barbeque joint that was right there. I had a second meal an hour later at a Mexican restaurant nearby and then, very full, I walked south on 99.
It was sunset and I immediately found a potential place to camp on a dry river bed, very sandy, flat and clean that crossed the highway at the edge of town but descending into it I my intuition said no way. It felt like it could attract people and I was truly stealth camping now. I found a plum orchard not much later and ducked in. It was a beautiful place. Each tree had a spinkling of light purple on the ground underneath from a couple dozen rotting plums. I think these were the type that is used for prunes as they were small and oblong. The trees had a little fruit on them as well and I ate a few. Very sweet, too sweet really. It seemed that the fruit had already been harvested and what I was seeing was the leftovers. The bible has a word for this I cant remember exactly, the gleening perhaps.
A light layer of grass grew in this orchard and my bag got a little dewy because of this but I slept undisturbed. I got up even earlier and was walking before first light wrapped up in my fleece poncho. This reminds me that I had made an important discovery a couple weeks back giving this garment another important use. I had had pain and some numbness on my right collar bone from the pressure of the backpack strap for the entire trip up till this point, always walking with a thumb slung there to reduce the pressure, often walking with the strap worn over my bicep for a time, when I discovered that if I put a generous amount of padding under the strap in the form of my poncho it dramatically lessened this problem. Sometimes I used socks when the weather was too hot for the poncho. This had been physical problem number four for me, number one being my feet and number two being just general fatigue. Problem number three, knee pain, pretty much hadnt bothered me in a long time.
I walk along highway 99 in the dark, past what seemed like walnut orchards. As it began to light up I noticed a lot of people were smiling and waving at me. This was the beginning of a trend. I received multiple acts of kindness from the people of this part of California. I imagined that I would be seen as part of migrant worker population problem but this wasnt the case. In the next few days I would receive, from different people, an apple, three pomegranites, a coffee, a breakfast burrito, a soda pop and if you, believe this, a bicycle. More on the bicycle later.
The morning went swimmingly. It was now easy to find a rest spot because the highway was lined with walnut orchards which were not fenced and a walnut orchard has a very park like atmosphere very shady, flat and clean. Their really more like gigantic camping spots more than parks. They also had a lot of walnuts on the ground. I ate some but soon grew tired of them. I passed what I hoped would be the first of many roadside fruit stands and bought some apple and some excellent, cheap heirloom tomatoes. I ate them as I walked.
I stopped at a convenience store in Dairyville and had a hot beverage which I hoped didnt contain caffeine and had a donut in the warm interior which had a table. This is where I was offered a coffee by the store clerk and the breakfast burrito from another customer as I was getting ready to leave outside. I took a rest later in a walnut orchard and another rest at a convenience store in the next town.
This next town, Los Molinos, didnt exactly give me the warm fuzzies. I came into the store in a very upbeat mood and the store clerk must have felt free to speak because he said that all the people in this town were happybecause they were either stoned or drunk. That was the first red flag. Next was the swastika drawn on the picnic table outside. Then, the guy on the bicycle who gave me the stink eye, meaning he stared at me without greeting me in some way. Lastly, the bathroom was in bad condition. This was all at the convenience store but it was my first stop in town and prejudiced me.
There was a junction to the West that led to a town called Tehama by way of a bridge over the Sacramento river which wasnt on the map. People in town were indicating that the next seventeen miles to Chico on 99 might be difficult as there would be no services so I decided to change plans and walked towards Tehama. From there I would go to 99 west which had a series of towns not too far apart leading South. I bought a sirloin steak which I hoped to eat raw and headed towards Tehama.
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org