Day 71: Sunday, July 14

Cowboying in Mark and Jenny's backyard in Quincy (PCT mi 1269.5), walked 19.0 miles today

What comes down has to go up ... Woke up down in the river gorge and had to spend the first 11 miles climbing back out of it. It was shady and very peaceful all the way up except for a few exposed areas near the top, and the ascent was never too steep. Poison oak reared its droopy, waxy, tripartite head again for the first 5 miles or so. Got up to the top right around noon and just as I was starting to get concerned about my water, a spring with ice cold piped water--so cold there was mist rising off of it--was pouring out right next to the trail. Made the most refreshing liter of Tang that's ever been made and moved on.

By 3 I got to Buck's Summit, with the road to Quincy and its 24-hour Safeway, a welcome departure from the shitty overpriced small-town general stores that we've all been struggling with for the last 300 miles. It took an hour and 15 minutes for someone to give me a ride, during which time Hummingbird showed up and tagged along into town with me. He and I had no plans other than the grocery store and the pizza we ended up eating for dinner ... Motels were expensive and it was looking like stealth camping somewhere in town for the night. But then I went into the Safeway to buy a Haagen-Dazs pint for dessert, and the guy in front of me in the express line (which was taking 10 minutes--some things don't change about Safeway) asked if I were thru-hiking. I said I was, then he said that he and his wife liked hiking and had read some books about the PCT recently, and had considered becoming trail angels because Quincy didn't have any, as far as they knew. He asked if Hummingbird and I would like to camp in their backyard for the night, and take care of laundry and showers and whatever else we needed in their house. Of course we accepted that incredible offer ... Hummingbird later dragged in Uncle Famous, Miss Maggie and Ain't Nothin Wrong, who were just arriving in town.

Got cleaned up and spent a long time chatting with Mark and Jen about the trail, about law school (which I'm still not planning on, don't start any rumors), and about our respective travels abroad. Their pets, Boris (dog) and Ivan the Terrible and Catherine the Great (cats) took too keen an interest in my tent during and after setting it up so I took it down again and decided to sleep out. People, especially crabby old hiker people on certain online forums, sometimes like to say, "All those hiker feeds and coolers by the side of the trail aren't real trail magic! You don't know what real trail magic is!" Well, does this count? This has been some perfect storm of serendipity and generosity in a town that I didn't even plan on being in as of last night. The trail provides.