July 15, 2015
Tentsite before Buck’s Lake Road (1269.7) to Hwy 70 – Belden Town (1288.9)
19.2 PCT miles today
1323.3 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 2,449 ft, – 5,232 ft
Miles leading into town always feel longer. It’s the anticipation of eating non-trail food, seeing old friends, and getting a shower that does it. Today’s 19 miles dragged by, with more of the same scenery and a final descent that might take the cake for steepest and longest downhill since the High Sierras. We emerged from the oak-dense forest into the funky little roadside resort of Belden Town where we spent a delightful afternoon swimming, eating, socializing, and eventually resting.
Besides feeling long, our hike today was pretty uneventful. We have definitely entered a more desert-like environment, and the temperatures soared with every couple hundred feet that we lost in elevation. By the time we got down to Hwy 70, where Belden Town sits on the edge of the wide and lazy Feather River, it had to have been in the high 90’s. Which made it all the more tempting to drop everything and make a swim in the river our top priority. There is a great little swimming hole just off to the side of the resort, complete with floating docks and a nice little beach. At any given point there were about 10 to 20 hikers hanging out down by the water, and another group the same size up on the front deck of the resort itself. After our swim, which was perhaps one of the most refreshing river dips of our lives, we dried off and headed for the General Store.
With all the free time we have on the trail, and all the hiker hunger that never quite goes away, we do a lot of talking and planning for our food in town. This time around our plan was to eat all our normal hiker meals and to splurge instead on snacks. We gave ourselves a $10 per person limit, which can go quite far in a convenience store. Fortunately, Belden Town’s store was well-stocked (if not a little bit expensive) and both Pickles and I emerged triumphant. We brought our booty back down to the river and spent anther hour or two hanging out with friends and pigging out. I know you’re wondering, so I’ll tell you what we got. I went with chocolate milk, a banana, a full carton of chips ahoy cookies, and another full carton of crumb donuts (for tomorrow morning). Pickles chose an Arizona iced tea, knock-off brand Pringles, a full box of Swiss cake rolls and a full carton of glazed cake donuts (also for the morning). I’m sure just reading that list sounds disgusting, but trust me, it made for some divine snacking.
Our friends eventually wore us down and we agreed to join them for a burger (which we split) in the wide open, western style restaurant/bar. The food was good, but the real highlight of the entire afternoon were the many friends that we got to relax and hang out with. Many of them were hikers that we’d met within our first week, or at least in the desert, and they’re all people whom we respect and care for greatly. To put it simply, we really like the “bubble” that we currently find ourselves in.
The original plan was to stay at the trail angels’ house in town, but they were full, so after everyone parted ways, many of our friends deciding to hike on another 5 miles or so, Pickles and I set up our tent in the free campground here at the resort. We’ll let all the tasty food settle, get some good rest, and face the big climb back out of this canyon tomorrow morning.