Days 75 & 76: Of Monster and Men

Date: June 23 & 24, 2017
Miles: 1261 – 1284.3 & 1284.3 – 1296

“Pack Heavy. Hike When It’s Hot.”  ~ Team motto

Of the times to meet a trail angel, I would not have guessed that it would be outside of the Haskins Valley Campground at 6:30 in the morning, but there we were, having coffee in the backyard of a house across the street at the invitation of ‘Uncle Bill’, a man whose family has lived in the area for generations and who regularly hosts hikers because he genuinely enjoys doing so. 

Matthew lost his spoon, and luckily Uncle Bill had two replacements.

After coffee, Uncle Bill gave us a ride to the trailhead and we walked some snowy, boggy trail until we hit the thigh-burning downhill trek into Belden, a town that consists solely of a privately owned, slightly creepy motel that hosts hikers, bikers and some pretty crazy concerts from what we heard. Sock Changin’ John had caught up to us on the way in and we all had burgers before he and Roi headed off to stay with a local trail angel. 

I didn’t feel like going anywhere so I stayed behind. Matthew was afraid I might get murdered if he left, so he stayed behind as well.  So both of us could get murdered, I guess. After we showered in the spider-infested stalls and while we were doing laundry, we sat on the porch in the late-night, sticky heat and became acquainted with a 6’6″ German man with an imposing confidence, the hair of John Mayer on the Battle Studies album, a 60 pound pack and the trail name of Monster.  I learned later that Monster is a bit of a trail celeb, since he and Breeze were two of the first thru-hikers to make it all the way through the Sierra and the news of this traveled fast throughout the hiker and trail angel communities, but that night Matthew and I just enjoyed hearing his stories and looking through his photos. At the end of the evening, we all walked down the road a ways and found some spots along the river to camp. 

Matthew woke up the next morning to infected blisters in his heels, poor guy. He made a last minute decision to try to hitch a ride north to Chester to see if he could find an urgent care clinic or just spend a few days healing while waiting for the rest of us to hike there. John had to wait for his brother in law to arrive in Belden, so just Roi, Monster and I hiked out around 10:30 am and headed up the first stretch of a 13 mile climb up 5700 feet. 

We just started hiking and we were already sweating.

 The high temp for the day was predicted to be 100 degrees and about a million percent humidity, so we probably should have started about 6 hours earlier, but when your team motto is ‘Pack Heavy.  Hike When It’s Hot’, you don’t aim for comfort. It got really hot fast, even for Roi. I realized about two miles up that I had only filled one liter bottle with water before we left and I had just about drained it, so I started to panic a little. Thankfully there were streams everywhere and I was soon able to fill up fast and drench my whole body in freezing spring water. We met two section hikers, Sunshine and another gal from Spokane, Washington who were hiking back down to Belden after running into some snow they didn’t feel comfortable crossing. We figured it couldn’t be any worse than what we had already been through, especially Monster, so we kept going. 

Super cute ladies.

 After five miles of exposed, EZ Bake Oven temp ridge walking, we entered Lassen National Forest, at which point, as its name promised, the landscape turned abruptly to forest and we had shade for the rest of the hike. We had plenty of streams to cross throughout, which helped mitigate the whole body sweats from the steep climbs and humid air. 

We ran into a few other hikers along the way, like Cactus from Centralia, Washington and some others who had skipped the Sierra like us, and a couple German lads whom I hadn’t seen since Hiker Heaven, who had ended up skipping to Ashland and were in the process of hiking south. We ended up camping a couple miles short of where we intended in order to avoid camping on snow (here we go again) and crashed at 7:30, exhausted.

A big change from the desert.
A note in the trail register box warned us about tweakers in Belden. Our experience was tweaker-free, however.

A look back at the Belden Resort.

The trail goes through here.

One Reply to “Days 75 & 76: Of Monster and Men”

  1. You always mention trail angels. Are there also trail demons? I’d like to hear more about those.

Comments are closed.