a journey of 2,652 miles
THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL 2018
starts with a single step.
Miles 1195.4 to 1207.3. Sierra City to cowboy camp next to Packer Lake Lodge.
I slept well last night with my ear plugs and eye mask. Dario on the other hand didn‘t. He was woken up in the middle of the night by a loud noise in the neighbour‘s backyard. He didn‘t see anything but it sounded as though a big animal was looking for something edible in the trash cans, throwing the cans around noisily. Others apparently woke up too and it was confirmed in the morning: it was a bear. Our first bear! None uf us saw it of course, so I am not sure it qualifies as our first bear encounter.
We go for breakfast at 9am in the Red Moose cafe and have a delicious meal there. I love that the coffee is always refilled in the States, we surely could use that back home!
We are all hesitant to leave but eventually decide to get going. A huge climb awaits us, there is supposedly hardly any shade so we aren‘t too excited. The four of us leave with Sarah, a German girl who just started hiking a couple days ago back at Donner Pass and is suffering from a painful achilles heel and many blisters. We will take it slow today.
The climb is brutal, it‘s hot and neverending and I feel sick most of the time. We are soaked after a few minutes only and keep jugging down water. Finally we reach the top, there is forest and a spring there and we take a lengthy break and camel up. The rest of the day will be downhill and we are kind of hoping to make it to the so-called Packer Lake Lodge, a secret tip on Packer Lake and off trail. We don‘t really know what to expect but for a PCT hiker a 10min detour to a promising dinner is always worth it.
We reach the road around 6pm and follow it uphill for 5 minutes and then turn right towards Packer Lake. In another 5 minutes we reach the Lodge and outside the restaurant we are greeted by an elderly woman in a very welcoming way. Even though we surely must be smelling very bad and don‘t really look very decent in our dirty clothes she invites us to sit on the beautiful porch. We happily sit down and she gets the cook, Krista, to explain us how it works. 4 courses, 25$ per person. And it‘s Pasta night. Main course: Spaghetti Bolognese. Well, nothing short of MY FAVORITE FOOD IN THE WHOLE WORLD!!! I can‘t believe our luck and neither can the others. This place looks like heaven, is right next to the lake, the staff is so friendly and OMG THE FOOD! First Minestrone, then a delicious salad with tomatoes followed by the largest plate of pasta I have ever seen. And I have seen many. And eaten many. There is no way I can finish this one. And the others feel the same way. Except for Dario who asks for a second round. We just sit there and dwelve in our food happiness. This place is so cozy, warm and genuinely hospitable, it really touches me. It turns out the manager is Swiss and she comes out to greet us. She is from Basel! And she asks me to take over management when she retires in a couple years. :)
When it‘s time for dessert we go inside the hut-like restaurant to eat it there with the other guests. The dessert buffet is out of this world! Chocolate soufflé, apple and berry crumbles, carrot cake, ice cream...
We are so very full now. And then we are invited to Bingo night! I have never played it but surely it will be so much fun! We all have 2 or 3 charts in front of us and I might actually be a little too excited! Dario is in a food coma next to me so I take over his charts too. I might even get a double Bingo with this many charts!!! But no luck! Both Flamin Hot and Sarah win at some point and then they all tell me that if I get a double Bingo, then „Double Bingo“ should become my trailname. And I like it! Better than Khalysse, Yes Mum, Sticks and Reject (the named me the latter because I keep rejecting trailnames). But yeah, no luck, no double Bingo. So Bingo it is they decide. Someone who plays Bingo so overly motivated deserves that name.
What an amazing evening! We are all so happy and well fed and getting tired now. It‘s 10pm, waaay past our bedtime. We are the first ones to leave the restaurant (even though the average age in there is approx. 60 years) and go find ourselves a flat spot to cowboy camp. It takes a while but we eventually find a good spot, quickly crouch into our sleeping bags, all next to each other. Flamin Hot asks what the best and worst moments for everyone were today and we each tell our stories. Then we get one wish for tomorrow. „Less smoke in the air“, I say. „No Sweatheart farts“, someone else says (because sorry Babe, but you know it, they really are the worst!) And then, eventually, we all fall asleep cuddled up, under the stars.