We gave ourselves the luxury of sleeping in until six the next morning. It felt glorious and indulgent. That day we had plans to hike to another road where there was camping. That day we began to see a ton of other thru hikers. We were clearly entering a bubble.It made us a little nervous about camping, sometimes the campsites listed are only a fraction of the ones out there, but lately the terrain has been such that there aren’t a lot of stealth spots. Most of the time you are walking along steep slopes or rocky ridges. With so many people around it was possible that we would get to a campsite at night only to find all the flat impacted spots had already been taken.
However, other pesky powers were at play. We had our first run in with hornets (or wasps or yellow jackets?) at our first break. It started out as just one, but pretty soon it went and got its friends and soon we had a small swarm of them. We moved across the creek, which seemed a little bit better, but still they buzzed around, interested in our sweaty salty packs, Kyle, and our food. We thought it a fluke and didn’t worry about it much. But when we got to our intended camp that night we found it swarming with hornets (or wasps or yellow jackets?). We tried to stay, we stretched and shooed the bugs as they swarmed our packs, but finally it was too much and we walked the 1.4 miles to the next camp. We got there just in time to claim one of the last spots and set up our tent. Turns out there were hornets (or wasps or yellow jackets) there too, just not as many.
The reason I am indecisive about what exactly they are is because everyone thinks they are something different. At this point we have attempted to google the different variety of yellow and black striped bugs and we still can’t tell. That night we ate dinner walking around camp in order to confuse them. They were content swarming our pot so we got to enjoy a new flavor of Mountain House (Chicken Fried Rice, it was fabulous) on our feet. In our tent that night the buzzing din was practically deafening. Mosquitos swarmed our mesh, hornets zoomed by, flies hovered. And then suddenly, some time after dark, it was quiet. Blessed quiet.
The next morning we had another monster climb. Northern California is suddenly the land of huge descents and massive up hills, springs, off trail water, forest service roads, and ridge walking. That is what Northern California is right now. First we had to go all the way down to the North Fork of the Feather River. It was a steep downhill and at the bottom we were greated by a gorgeous aquamarine river, flowing underneath a beautiful steel bridge. It is always amazing to find such a huge feat of construction out in the middle of no where. How did it get there, who built it? Across the bridge we took a quick break and then began our uphill. I don’t know why Guthook would mention the climb out of Sierra City and fail to mention this climb. It was just as long and quite a bit steeper, especially at the top. We climbed through hot scrubby oaks, into shady pines and finally out of the trees all together onto a ridge. From Look Out Rock we had incredible 360 degree views. We carried water to the campsite we were heading to up on the ridge, where we ended up camping alone. Quite a few people passed us and there had been a few other campsites earlier on, but someone we ended up being the only people at our gorgeous little spot. For dinner we had Chicken Tikki Masala, a homemade dehydrate meal, which was incredible. The only problem with it was that we needed about five more servings of it.