Day 72: Monday, July 15

Sleeping on the porch of the Braatens at Little Haven, near Belden, CA (PCT mi 1289.5), walked 20.0 miles today

Slept like crap for some reason on the lawn last night. Woke up around 7 and got caught up on the news on my phone for the first time in awhile ... George Zimmerman acquitted, Andy Murray won Wimbledon a week ago apparently, Barack Obama elected president ... who knew? Left the house around 9 with the other hikers, we made the short walk to the Quincy main drag to an earthy "natural-foods" grocery store situated right next to a coffeeshop. I went to the latter for a latte and a breakfast scramble, they went into the store to buy quinoa paste or whatever it is one buys at such establishments. Left from there around 10:15 with local citizen and hiking enthusiast Steve who had approached me at the Safeway last night and given me his number for a ride out of town in the morning. He refused gas money, as is typical in these situations. At the trailhead itself, I was distracted for a while by a register book, the first one anyone has seen for about 500 miles. Despite the fact that I'm doing more consistent miles, everyone I know seems to keep widening the gap in front of me. What to do.

The 20 miles to Belden feel like they never even happened. They were so easy for the most part ... even though I started at 11 I was at the other end by 6, and comfortably. The last 7 miles or so were a huge, knee-lifespan-shortening descent down to about 2200 feet. Was unsure when I got down there whether I would push on or call for a ride here to the Braatens', the local trail angels. Yogi's guidebook had painted the Belden Town Resort, which the trail passes through, as some sort of druggy hell-hole because it hosts ravey music festivals all summer, but today was a Monday and there weren't many people around, and the place actually has a sweet restaurant setup overlooking the N Fork of the Feather River. Went into the bar and got an Asian chicken salad and a soda (I guess I wasn't feeling my usual bar meal of pork rinds and 5 shots of Jim Beam), and once that was over it was 7 and therefore too late to push on, I determined. Called up Brenda Braaten ... They live only a mile down the road, so I was picked up and delivered to their house within about 5 minutes. They have a small guest suite of sorts that hikers pretty much have the run of ... bathroom, small kitchen, a few beds, porch.

The other hikers at the house for the night are Robin Hood, who is great, and two unrelated fiftysomethings, Rodknee Dangertrail and Iceaxe, who are tough to share such a small space with. Iceaxe is so called because she is still carrying a 3lb iceaxe down the trail. She had about 2 hours of phone conversations, all with befuddled-sounding men, all on speakerphone (why why why?), and would literally follow me into whatever room I tried to escape to until she finally caught me giving her the death glare. Rodknee isn't quite at her level but he still talks an incredible amount, whether anyone's listening or not. Robin Hood and I both said no thank you to sleeping anywhere near those two and chose the porch for the night, which is less hot and stuffy than the house anyway. Tomorrow I don't know what I'll do ... I don't have to do particularly big miles to get to Old Station by Friday to meet Kristin. The first 15 are all uphill, so that might be all that gets done.