Total Miles: 1198.7
The bulk of the day was spent getting into and out of the charmingly small town of Sierra City for a resupply, a couple of town meals, and whatever attempt to clean ourselves up that we could cobble together. Only a mile and a half from the PCT, it’s a convenient stop in a one street town comprised of only a restaurant, a general store and grill, a church, and a post office tucked at the foot of a towering and jagged set of peaks called the Sierra Buttes.
The calorie loading, as usual, was indeed breathtaking, with breakfast platters followed shortly thereafter by ice cream and half-pound burgers followed by ice cream yet again. It’s become quite predictable. More than mere gluttony, though–which, make no mistake, it also is–there’s an actual science to it. The eating habits and caloric needs of thru-hikers have been modestly studied, and the prevailing wisdom seems to be that this kind of binge eating, particularly heavy on fats, is the body’s natural response to running at a calorie deficit on a daily basis. In simple terms, the body is trying to stockpile as much as possible of the most calorically dense fuel available: fat. Science or not, it feels right…and delicious. Consider that in the roughly two pounds of food I eat on trail each day, I consume between 3000 and 3500 calories–a least a couple of thousand fewer than I burn. With this very thought in mind, I passed by a 1-pound tub of Crisco in the general store and noted that it contained over 4000 calories. Pound for pound, it packs more calories per ounce than just about anything I’ve ever seen. Ah, the power of fat. Alas, I will not be spooning Crisco into my mouth anytime soon, unlike the days of cake frosting consumption on the Appalachian Trail that I’ve promised Emily will not be repeated.
Minutes after sidling to the shoulder of the road to start hitchhiking, a local man in a pickup truck pulled over to offer us a ride back to the trail. Just about the easiest hitch imaginable.
Hoping to squeeze in only a few miles before dusk, we settled into a site right where the forest dissolves into the sub-alpine, leaving Beardoh to attempt a challenging setup for his hammock between the few remaining trees.