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City: Los Angeles
Begins: Apr 11, 2010
Date: Thu, Nov 4th, 2010
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Pacific Crest Trail Map
The Sacramento river was just a mile to the West and Tehama was just on the other side. Before the crossing was a private RV park. What I really needed was a shady, flat, clean place with water to be comfortable so I walked into it hoping to find a couple hours rest more than a campsite. I didnt see the office so I went to what must have been the camping area. A small bit of grass shaded by a large maple looking out on the river with a fire pit, sink and picnic table. Very idyllic spot. It turned out a public park bordered this private one just upstream but I had already gotten out all my junk and established myself. No one seemed to care that I was there and other than looking for the office on the way in and being plainly visible, I made no effort to alert the camp hosts that I was there. I did it all there ate, washed and lied down. I left a little before sunset.
I didnt stop in Tehama because I had no need except a campsite but what a difference from Los Molinos. This was a very pleasant town. Lots of houses and lots of trees. It had a park and a handful of small businesses. Very nice but I passed it all by and took a left on another road that would cross 99 west. Only a mile outside town as it is getting dark I find a nice walnut grove to duck into. It is unfenced and I see no houses and hear no dogs nearby. I have about a liter of water with me.
I sleep undisturbed once again and begin walking the next morning while it is still dark. In a couple of miles I reach the junction with 99 west where there is a closed store and a water hose and chair out front. I use both. What I really wanted was a bathroom which brings to mind another difficulty of hobo hiking which is finding a concealed spot for ones daily constitutional. This morning presented a challenge that was ultimately resolved but not in a way that I wanted to repeat.
I walked on and began to get a feel for this new highway 99 west. It seemed to me less hospitable that the 99 I had walked on yesterday. Perfectly flat, perfectly straight, it had few walnut orchards, few homes and every thing was fenced in. It paralells the major arterial, interstate 5. Around midmorning, I came to a wide river wash which the road crossed using a long bridge. Hoping for some rest, I followed a hundred yard access road that led to the river bed. There were no fences or signs impeding entry. It was a technically a good spot. More of a wash than a river it was covered by dry small rocks with occasional clumps of riparian life up and down stream. There actually was a thin stream of water flowing through. Shade was provided by the hulking arches of a grafitti decorated bridge overhead. It felt like the Los Angeles river and who wants to hang out in the LA river? Nevertheless, the place had what I needed and I rested, washed and ate.
I came to an open catering truck just after the river and while I was full from my breakfast minutes before I couldnt resist buying a taco or two. The morning was getting bright and hot. No walnut groves to provide shade but I did seem to be entering olive country and was able to find an unfenced orchard of olives for another rest which I needed only an hour or so after my previous rest. Even though I was excessively fatigued, the orchard was pleasant because gnarled olives are one of my favorite trees right up there with Oak, Birch, Willow, Pepper and Seman.
Once again this rest did not really satisfy but I walked all the way in to the next town, Corning, about one pm, where the road teed into the main drag but without any signs saying which way 99 west went. I went to the right thinking of the fast food resturants which probably would be at the intersection with interstate 5. It was Sunday and the town was deserted. The mile or so to the interstate was lined with stores but mostly closed. I didnt care though as I was set on fast food and I wasnt disappointed. The Burger King I went to had all you can drink, air conditioning and a casual air that matched my unkept appearance. This break really refreshed and when I left, my energy was high once again.
I walked a couple of hours before my feet hurt again although I felt good otherwise. Fortunately, I found a small dry stream with a sandy bottom that had access. I lied down there in the shade of the bridge till the sun appeared underneath it. I walked as the sun went down when a man, fat, fiftyish and dark skinned, man rode up from behind on a bicycle. He wanted to talk and we ended up walking together all the way to the next town, Orland. My feet hurt but the conversation took my mind off it. He was one of those people that like to help people and soon after meeting each other, he offered me a bicycle. With my feet feeling as they did and my anxiousness to get back to real life, this sounded like an interesting, even a good idea. I have no experience with bike touring other than knowing that it would hurt my butt but I figured I would come up with a solution for this. The San Juaquin Valley seemed like the perfect place for this mode of travel for its flatness and the distances between towns which were sometimes too far to walk not knowing the availability of water, etc in between. We arranged to meet the next morning at a doughnut shop to hand over the bike he didnt want money.
At his suggestion, I slept right in downtown by a seemingly empty building by the railroad tracks. I actually ran into a man there who said he was the owner and he gave me permission to sleep there. The next morning, my road angel showed up with the bike and, with much thanks, I rode off after filling up the tires with air. I wore my backpack like normal. I decided to go East to Hamilton City and go south from there on a less traveled route, hightway 45 which appeared to go all the way to Sacramento more or less following the Sacramento River. There werent so many towns on this route so walking would be a risk but by traveling at the interstellar velocity of ten miles per hour on a bicycle, these distances became much more manageable.
Unfortunately, my bicycle career was soon cut short. The front tire popped after only an hour or two. I quickly decided to give it away at the next opportunity, which I did, and was once again on my feet. This road had a lot of orchards on it so I found rest when I needed it although my feet were still recovering from the long night walk into Orland the night before. There were now almond orchards in addition to walnut and I had a little almond feast walking along for a half hour picking and eating as I went. This luxury was soon followed by a stomachache and nausea which fortunately didnt last too long. Now very worn out, I got to Hamilton City, very small and somewhat depressing. The only resturants were catering trucks. This seemed odd. A convenience store had a Subway and I had a sandwich there but the ambience was lacking.
I had only just left town, crossing the bridge over the Sacramento River when a guy stops and offers me a ride into Chico. I wasnt hitchhiking and I was walking towards oncoming traffic but I accepted the ride. When that front tire popped so did my resolve to continue walking back to Los Angeles. I was heading home.
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