I woke up a little demoralized. Choosing not to pop the blister last night, as the idea of walking 23 miles with a massive area of raw skin wasn't very appealing, I would have the chance to take good care of it in Sierra City, if I could make it there by tonight.
I carefully put my shoe on and started at a slow pace, still nervous about popping it. After 30 minutes or so of walking, the pain started to subside and I felt comfortable walking closer to my normal 2.5 mph pace.
By midday I was struggling. Having made it to a campground with a paved road, I sat soaking my feet in a small river, contemplating if I should try to hitch into Sierra City from the campground. It is the only time so far I've thought about skipping part of the trail.
Not being in the best of spirits, I decided to relax, do some laundry and eat lunch at the river. After an hour, I felt much better... recharged! During lunch I studied the maps and saw a couple campsites 2-3 miles prior to Sierra City. If I didn't feel I could make it to town, I would at least have those points to stop early.
Upon reaching said campsites, I sat down and rested while eating a late afternoon snack. I came very close to setting up camp. The mosquitoes were starting to come out and I wasn't up to the task of fighting them off another night. So I saddled back up and pushed on. I put on Ocean by JBT, gritted my teeth and moved as quickly as I could while limping awkwardly. That song usually puts me into a better mood where I can move with rhythm.
I also realized while resting that I could make it to town before the general store closed at 7:00 pm. The only thing I could think about was eating a nice juicy burger and having a raspberry milkshake. Those were also good motivation to move quickly to town.
This area was beautiful, but the trail wasn't the easiest to walk on and I was in a lot of pain which made it difficult to enjoy it all. Once at Highway 49, I would have to walk 1 mile along the road to town... unless I could get a hitch. I walked maybe 500 feet before I was sitting in the back of a pickup truck, on my way to town. The feeling I had is near indescribable. A combination of sweet relief and ecstasy came from pushing myself further mentally than I thought capable.
Sierra City was filled with many hikers, and though I arrived shortly after 7:00 pm (when I thought the general store would close), there was so much business that not only was the store open but the small restaurant inside the store was open as well. A juicy bacon cheeseburger and raspberry milkshake was exactly what I ordered.
Many of the hikers in town where feeling similar to myself. Most people had some physical issue with their body were mentally tired of the snow. Also having started the Northern California section of the PCT, the scenery, though pretty spectacular, is becoming more dense forest walking than open ridge walking which we all had become so use to.
Everyone had their own reasons for being out here and their own reasons for staying out here. For me it was the happiness and appreciation I felt at the end of the day for my family, friends, burgers, milkshakes, showers, a calm night without wind or a windy night without mosquitoes which are unshakable feelings that I began to crave.
That all said, while in Sierra City, I met more hikers leaving the trail than anywhere else on the trail. It was a tough place for everyone to get to.