On Friday July 21, as I was in the middle of writing about Burney becoming a Vortex of PCT activity, I got a call that three more hikers were waiting for me.
I drove over to Burney Lodging to find three strapping young men waiting for a ride to Burney Falls State Park.
One was Swiderman. Originally from Glenville, New York, Swiderman now resides in Taos, New Mexico. Skiing in the winter and hiking the PCT in the summer, he exudes the healthy exuberance of a year-round lover of outdoor activity.
His hiking companions were Clammy from Seattle and Stormchaser from Mount Vernon, Washington.
When we went to load their packs in the back they saw that it was covered with dirt and said, “Cool, we can see that you’ve been driving in the woods.”
I told them about my excursion up to Hat Creed Rim to find Dilly Dally.
As we drove out the park, I asked them what they were planning to do after they finished the hike.
“Go back to work!” said Clammy.
Then we passed a PCT hiker on the right side of the highway with his thumb out.
“That’s a confusing hitch-hiker.” one of them said chuckling. “He’s walking one direction and hitching the other.”
As we entered the park, I found out that one of the youths from Washington (I think it was Clammy but maybe it was Stormchaser) was a fellow Husky alumni. I attended University of Washington from 1968-1970, just about the same time as his parents.
I told them the story of how I drew number 1 in the first draft lottery in 1968 and then quit college to hitchhike around the country in 1971, giving up my 2S deferment. Because I was on the road and we didn’t have cell phones back then, I failed to receive a series of induction notices until I stopped to visit my brother in Silver Spring six months later.
Fortunately, because I had sent the draft board Christmas cards over the years and a post card when I dropped out of school notifying them of my decision, they had delayed declaring me AWOL. I hitchhiked back to Helena, Montana and passed my physical in Butte in late November. Because of my high school tom-foolery, I also had to have an interview with a sympathetic Army officer who declared me “morally fit” to serve in the military. I also had a hearing with the 3-person draft board.
Then, in the beginning of 1972, I was categorized as 4A when Melvin Laird declared that no one would be drafted for the first three months of the year. 4A meant “no longer being currently processed for induction.” Subsequently, Laird ended the draft as we shifted to a volunteer army.
They enjoyed my little tale and history lesson. I pulled over and dropped them off at the entrance to the park amidst merry farewells.
Driving back to Burney, I once again passed the confusing hitchhiker. He was on the other side of the highway so I couldn’t stop, but I turned around at the railway crossing and went back to pick him up.
His name was Fred Wilkinson. He was from Tucson, Arizona. He is 42 years old and is hiking the PCT northbound.
On this particular weekend, however, a friend of his was visiting Mt. Shasta. If he stayed on the trail, by the time he reached Shasta she would be gone.
Therefore, he had decided to hitchhike up to Mt. Shasta to meet her for the weekend and then hitchhike back to resume the trail at the 299 trailhead.
Someone had stopped to give him a ride to Burney Falls. However, when he got to Burney Falls he thought that it wasn’t a very good place to hitchhike.
That’s why he was walking back to 4 corners while he was hitching in the opposite direction.
When I stopped to pick him up he was in the process of reconsidering his options. Perhaps, he thought, it would be better to rent a car for the weekend. So we drove back into Burney to see if there was anyone who could rent him a car.
I went first to the oil change place because I thought that I had once seen something there about car rentals. The man at the car rental place referred us to Intermountain Auto repair in Johnson Park, Intermountain Auto had rental cars but only for people who were having work done on their cars.
Renting a car In Burney was no longer an option.
Fred was extremely nice and very grateful for my assistance. He asked me to let him off at the MacDonald’s. MacDonald’s has good Wi-Fi, so Fred planned to get something to eat, go online, and clarify his strategy for reaching Mt. Shasta.
It was still early and he had plenty of time to reach Shasta by nightfall, which was his goal. I told him that I was pretty sure he could get a ride to Mt. Shasta from 4-corners.
“Just don’t take a ride unless they are going all the way to Shasta. You might have to wait an hour or so before someone stops, but you will get a ride and then it’s only a little over an hour ride.” I advised.
I haven’t seen him since, so I hope all went well and he had a pleasant rendezvous. Perhaps I will see him again this week when he returns to resume his northbound trek.