On morning of July 31, my wife Linda and I drove to Old Station for the Volunteer Fire Department’s 35 Annual Chicken Barbecue, Raffle and Craft Show.
The craft show began at 10:30 a.m. and the barbecue began at 12 noon. A kind gentleman helped us set our canopy. Linda arranged her photo art, cards and artwork. We were looking forward to meeting a lot interesting people and enjoying the delicious chicken.
Just before 10:30 a.m., a curious, high-spirited man from Sacramento stopped by the booth to look at Linda’s cards. Why was he high-spirited?
Because he and two friends had just finished a 4-day hike of one section of the Pacific Crest Trail. Their trail names were Shady Lady, Head Heart, and TBD. They had hiked from Chester to Old Station. Normally, thru hikers do the hike in two days, from Chester to Drake’s Bay and from Drake’s Bay. However, since this trio was just doing one section they didn’t push themselves too hard planning so as to arrive in Old Station just in time for a nice chicken barbecue as a reward for their labors. The made friends with lots of PCT hikers and a friend from Sacramento came up to give them all a ride home.
Old Station is a stop for many hikers on the PCT. Many have resupply boxes shipped to the post office and they can rest a bit before the long waterless hike over Hat Creek Rim to Burney. As I meandered round amongst the crowd of fishermen, campers, hikers, tourists, and locals who had come for the barbecue, I met a hiker from Washington State. His trail name was “Walking Home” because he was walking home.
This was the second year that he was walking the trail. Last year he hiked as far as Chester. He ended the trek there because he wanted to take time off to visit his grandchildren. This year he hoped to complete the entire trail.
He had come into Old Station the day before to pick up a resupply package at the post office. The Post Office was closed but he thought it would be open today from 11 a.m- 2p.m.. It was just after 11 so I gave him a ride up to the Post Office. It was still closed. Other hikers were waiting there too.
Amongst them were “The Family” from Texas – Farwalker, Thunderfoot, Widowmaker, and Spinner. 13-year old Spinner is one of the young hikers on the trail this year. When I first met her mom, Widowmaker, I thought she might be Mama Bear.
“No,” she said, “I’m not Mama Bear,’ but I know her. She’s a little ahead of us. I think she might be in Burney today.” Alas! I missed Mama Bear. She is hiking with her 9-year old son, the youngest thru hiker of the year.
Widowmaker told me that she is happy that there are several families hiking the trail this year, amongst them Brit Family Robinson and Swiss Family Robinson. She said that many of the young hikers are “party hikers.” So it’s nice to have families too to socialize with.
She also told me that there are quite a few retirees hiking the trail. One recently retired man told her that hiking the PCT is the perfect thing to do right after retiring. It’s an inexpensive vacation, you get to enjoy tremendous natural beauty, and you have plenty of time to think about your life.
She told me about one pair of friends, aged 70 and 73 who were thru-hiking. One of them was wearing a diabetic pump.
There certainly is a lot of diversity on the PCT!
Most of the hikers waiting wanted to stay to see if someone would come to open the Post Office. Walking Home decided to go back to the barbecue to get some chicken and then come back.
I dropped him back at the fire station. I wanted to get away from people for a little bit so I took a short drive up to the Mt. Lassen vista point for a short walk.
On my way back, I stopped to see if the Post Office was open yet. It wasn’t. The Family was getting hungry. When I told Widowmaker that each meal had half a barbecued chicken, she jumped in the Jeep to drive down and pick up some to go meals for her family.
While she got her meals, I checked on Linda. Traffic at the craft fair was slow and Linda was suffering from the heat. I talked for awhile with Elaine Lainier from the Fire Chiefs Association of Mt Shasta who had a booth to recruit firefighters.
Widowmaker came out with five big to go chicken dinners and I drove her back to the Post Office. The Post Office wasn’t open yet but the postmaster had arrived and said it would be open at 1 p.m. The Family sat down to enjoy their meal.
When I got back to the fire station, I bought a huge chicken dinner for Linda and I – a gigantic half chicken, potato salad, green salad, baked beans and garlic bread! Then for dessert vanilla ice cream with really flavorful strawberries. Two cups of lemonade helped to cool us off.
I had to park in front of the vacant building next to JJ’s, When I did I notices a bevy of PCT hikers lounging on the porch.
One of them was Hawkeye from England. Another was Animal Styles from Israel. I didn’t get the other names. Several in the background were sleeping. They had deemed it too hot to hike the Hat Creek Rim and were resting till early evening. Then they planned to night hike to Burney. I gave them all a card and told them if they needed a ride into Burney the next day from the trailhead to give me a call.
Later, when I was going to move my car closer to the craft show. a hiker named Desert Steve approached and asked if I were the man from Burney. I said yes. He asked if I were going to Burney now because he could use a ride to Burney Falls.
I told him that I hadn’t planned on leaving yet because we were set up selling stuff. But then I went over and talked with Linda. She was really hot, but she said she wanted to go one more hour and then start packing up. I told her there was a man who wanted a ride to Burney Falls and asked if she minded if I gave him a ride.
“If you want to!” she replied.
I went back to the area where the hikers were resting but Desert Steve had already left to try to hitch a ride.
For more see Desert Steve goes to Burney Falls
See also Night hikers make it to Burney