When my wife Linda and I stopped at the Dollar General store today after lunch, I saw a young man and a young woman carrying huge backpacks.
“Hi!” I said, “Are you hiking the Pacific Crest Trail?”
They smiled and said “Yes.”
Every year hundreds of hikers from around the world stop in Burney to take a break and get supplies. Burney has a reputation as a PCT friendly town. These two hikers were named Mike and Hannah. They came from Toronto, Canada.
They said that it had been rough going so far and taken longer than they thought it would.
“There was a lot more snow in the mountains than we thought there would be,” Mike shared.
They started their hike at Donner Pass. Many of the areas they hiked over had eight feet of snow. Some nights they had to make their camp on the snow. They couldn’t build a fire. They used a little portable gas stove to cook and warm themselves. The temperatures were colder than they had expected and they hadn’t brought suitably warm clothing.
The reason that they were at the Dollar General was that Hannah’s flip-flops had been washed away crossing a stream.
Wow! What a mountain adventure. It reminded me of tales I heard of the mountain men like Jim Bridger when I was growing up in Montana.
After resting in Burney, possibly spending the night, they planned to continue on to Dunsmuir. Originally, they had hoped to hike all the way to Canada, but due to the slower passage and limits on their time they had decided not to undergo another mountain crossing into Oregon. There’s just too much snow higher up in the mountains.
Yet in spite of the hardships, both Mike and Hannah seemed to be in very good spirits. They were bright, friendly, and optimistic. They said that when they researched the hike they looked at the reports from the past few years. As we know those were years of sparse snowfall. This year’s El Nino blanketed elevations above 5000 feet with a lot of snow.
Mike and Hannah reaffirmed Burney’s reputation as PCT friendly. They said that they had been offered a ride into town immediately by a very nice woman. In other places along the way, they had had to wait for hours before someone stopped to give them a ride.
I love it when I meet the people who hike the trail. Most of those I have met are very adventurous and idealistic young people with a wonderful attitude and philosophy of life. Hiking the trail can be an experience of endurance, solitude, and communion with nature, but is also a rite of passage into a shared community. As the year progresses and more hikers travel the trail, there is a bond that developes and many lifetime friendships are formed.
I think it is wonderful that a lot of people in Burney welcome and help the hikers. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a camera with me so I wasn’t able to get a picture of this delightful pair. I hope they have a pleasant refreshing stay in Burney and a safe and wonderful journey.