Monday, June 17, 2013

Part 109 - Acting Like Yogi the Bear

Between the meal and dessert, I left the table to return to the washing machine to put my clothes in the dryer.  Back at the table, the waiter brought dessert, which was strawberry shortcake.
I enjoyed the ambience of the lodge and the dining hall, with its unique setting in the woods, surrounded by streams, hot springs, hiking paths and horse trails; and although the facilities are older – dating back to the 1950s, I could understand the attraction and allure the resort has for city dwellers who wanted a chance at roughing it in style. 

I used my credit card to pay the bill, and returned to the back of the dining hall to retrieve my clothes from the dryer.  My clothes weren’t quite dry, but wanting to be on my way, I stopped the dryer, pulled my clothes out, and returned to the bathroom to put them on.

As a side note, after finishing the trail, and resuming normal activities at home like paying off my Visa credit card debts, I found I averaged close to $600 a month in additional expenses over the initial costs of the trip, which wasn’t hard to do when taking into account the cost of three- or four-nights' motel lodging per month, restaurant meals, convenience store, and grocery store purchases.  I would gauge the overall expenses for the five-months' journey at close to $7,000, which didn’t include the cost of transportation, lodging, and meals for the three visits of my wife, Jodie.

I loved the smell of clean clothes that have the scent of laundry soap, and even though they were still a bit damp, I had no problem wearing less than dry clothes; it would be akin to stopping at a stream and wetting my shirt and putting it back on, in an effort to affect something resembling air conditioning.  The hard part about getting back on the trail was encasing myself in the pungent backpack that smelled as ripe as a horse blanket that had just been pulled off the back of a sweaty horse.

Leaving the area of the lodge, I followed the dirt road east as it skirted around the guest cabins nestled in the trees.  Within a half mile, I entered the Warner Valley Campground that had cement-vault toilets, picnic tables, campsites for both tents and RVs and potable water available from spigots. 

Camped just inside the entrance to the campground was a Canadian couple – Forget-me-not and her husband E-Path, both retired educators.

I stopped to visit with them for a few moments, and told them about my experience at Drakesbad Resort.  I hadn’t planned on spending the night in the campground, but when they told me that Pia was camped nearby and enjoying a bit of trail magic, I decided to stay.

I quickly set up my tent and stashed my belongings inside of it, and then went looking for Pia, hoping that wherever she was, trail magic would be present.  It wasn’t hard to find her among the campers, as she was sitting at a campsite which contained the only pickup truck with a camper shell loaded in the back of the truck.  She was sitting with two men and a woman who was section hiking part of the trail.  I said, “Hello,” to all and then engaged Pia in conversation, with the hopes that if trail magic were still available, I might be offered to partake. 

 I honestly felt like the cartoon character Yogi Bear who comes into a camp with the sole intent of sponging something from the unsuspecting campers.

Within a few moments the three strangers introduced themselves and asked if I would like a hamburger.  I had just eaten a fine meal at the Drakesbad Dining Lodge, and now I was fishing for anything else that might be available; without a shred of shame, I said,

“I would be delighted,” and made myself comfortable at the end of the picnic table. 

 Hamburger, chips, salad, cookies, fruit, and drink were placed before me, and it all disappeared without even so much as crumbs left behind for the ants to fight over.  Pia informed me that Bipolar had had to leave the trail due to stress injuries to one of his feet, for which I was genuinely sorry to hear.  Before Pia and I left the table to return to our tents, Yashinka showed up and he too was treated to the same meal that Pia and I have just enjoyed.

From Drakesbad Resort the trail climbed steep Flatiron Ridge that towered over the Warner Valley Campground, where I spent the night and continued across the relatively flat ground of Grassy Swale to a trail junction just beyond Lower Twin Lake.  At the junction, I had a choice of two trails that would take me to the same place farther up the trail.  

The official PC Trail stayed to the right and connected to an old pioneer wagon road heading west, named the Nobles Road, established in 1852 by William Nobles, as an easier road to Shasta City and the upper Sacramento Valley, while the left trail, which was the more scenic trail, passed by a series of lakes.  I chose the official Pacific Crest Trail; I had seen enough wilderness lakes and was more interested in investigating and experiencing what an old wagon road looked like.  The two trails reconnected at a wide spot in the road, labeled on my map as Badger Flat, which was just inside the north boundary line of Lassen National Park.

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