Five skip-hikers rendezvous in Burney

Linda and I had the opportunity to meet five delightful Pacific Crest Trail hikers on Monday, July 10 and to host them for several hours in our back yard.

Front row: Mushy, Quiz, Pinecone, and Princess Layers, Back row: Linda, Alex, Little, and Trapper

The hikers consisted of three young ladies from Australia named Quiz, Pinecone, and Princess Layers; a young adventurer from London, England named Little Spoon; and a young gentleman from North Carolina named Mushy.

The three Australian hikers are posting blog on their journey named Mental Snakes.

Pinecone and Quiz are sisters. Princess Layers has been a friend of theirs since childhood. From what I understood, they began the hike together at the southern terminus of the trail in Campo and hiked north through the desert to the Sierras. Along the way they met Little Spoon. The took a side trip to climb to the 14,505 foot summit of Mount Whitney.

Little Spoon told of how Pinecone turned blue from cold and oxygen deprivation on the Mt Whitney ascent. Pinecone told us about how her frostbitten lips burst and she had to lace them with tons of lip balm to stop the bleeding at night.

As they went further north they faced the same dilemma as thousands of other hikers this year. There was so much snow in the Sierras that most hikers decided to skip hike. This year the PCT is a melee of skip hikers and section hikers pursuing different strategies according to their whims and timetables.

This little band decided to split up. Little Spoon and Princess Layers hiked a little further up the trail and then skipped to Quincy to resume their northward trek. They also had a rest break to recuperate.

Princess Layers and Little Spoon at Burney Falls Park

Pinecone and her sister decided to skip to Ashland and then hike south. Before leaving for Ashland or on their way south, they met Mushy who began hiking together with them.

Pinecone, Mushy, and Quiz at Burney Guest Ranch

Burney is where they met for a reunion as they crossed paths.

This is where Linda and I had the pleasure of entering the story. On our way to lunch at the Senior Nutrition Center, I mentioned to Linda that I had forgotten to bring my camera in case we met any PCT hikers.

After lunch we stopped at the Dollar General Store for cat food. I waited in the car. Linda came out really excited saying that she had met two really nice hikers (Pinecone and Mushy) inside. I went in to meet them and ask them if they needed a ride. They were undecided whether to go to Burney Falls to meet friends of theirs or to go to Burney Guest Ranch for showers. Also they still needed to go into the Safeway for some more supplies.

I told them that I would go home and get my camera while they shopped and then be back to give them a ride wherever they had decided to go. I left Linda at home and headed back to the Safeway. On the way, I thought I would offer them the opportunity to cool off in our pool and shower before they went on their way.

And so I did. Pinecone told me that her friends had made it into town and were at the Post Office. She asked if it would be okay to use our back yard as a place to spend some time together for their reunion. I thought that was a wonderful idea.

On the phone, Little Spoon told them that they would need about 10 minutes to post mail. Pinecone said they still had more shopping to do. So I headed to post office and introduced myself to Little Spoon and Princess Layers and watched their packs while they took care of business. As well as posting mail, they had also received some resupply. Princess Layers had a new pair of hiking shoes and walking stick replacement.

When we arrived at the Safeway, Quiz was there too so we now had five PCT hikers and their packs to fit into the Jeep. Fortunately, we only had a few blocks to go.

When I entered the living room, I told Linda, “I think that I have picked up all of the PCT hikers in Burney.”

She was amazed as the five of them trundled through to the back yard with their packs. They were amazed when they saw the little 25 foot long twelve-foot deep pool. Nice and cool. 70 degrees. Just right for bringing the body temperature down.

Cherries, blueberries, olives and drinks emerged from their packs. Four of them transformed into swimming attire and leapt into the pool.

Then amidst the laughter, chatter, and screams of delight emanating from the pool, a friend of mine Trapper, appeared. Trapper joined in the conversation listening to their stories, asking questions, and informing them about the local fauna. Trapper has been trapping muskrats in Fall River for more that thirty years.

Trapper entertaining hikers by the pool

PCT hikers in general are a fascinating group of people. Generally, young or old, they are very positive, adventurous, well-educated, and idealistic folks. Each of the five hikers relaxing in our back yard was an outstanding person with their unique talents and tales.

Little Spoon grew up in the inner city in London. He quit school when he was 16 and became a model. His modeling career took him throughout much of Europe and even on a shoot to South Korea. By the time he was 18, he had earned enough money to take some time off and decided to go to the Andes in South America. He visited Machu Picchu. He worked for a month in an orphanage in Peru and then spent two weeks in a mountain town in Bolivia.

A friend of his spent time in a monastery in Thailand and he is thinking of going there himself.

“If you go to Thailand and go to a monastery, they will take you in,” he told me. I told him that back in the 1980’s I traveled around the world in a program called Youth Seminar on World Religions and we had a four hour meeting with the Supreme Patriarch of Thai Buddhism. When he learned that I had written my Masters thesis in the seminary on Sufism, he was fascinated and asked for a fairly detailed explanation.

He also told me that his father likes cycling and they may go cycling together in the Himalayas.

Hiking the PCT trail is his first experience hiking.

Little Spoon said, “Life on the trail is challenging but easy. Life in town is easy, but complex and stressful.”

His hiking partner, Princess Layers is studying psychology. She has attended several universities in Australia and already has three degrees. She said she is about half way through her plan of study. Her study in psychology has been diverse, embracing behavioral studies, depth psychology from both a psychoanalytic and Jungian perspective, and cognitive psychology. What she hoped to do when she finishes her studies is to develop a therapy that gets people in touch with the healing energies of the earth and nature and also  uses animals therapeutically.

Quiz is a nurse. Pinecone has worked in Australia in urban landscaping. She would like to move to the United States and do work in that field helping to design parks and urban landscape.

Mushy is a graphic designer. In addition, he is fascinated by crystals, so I gave him a small orange calcite pyramid that I had. Something not to heavy for the hike.

When Little Spoon asked me what kind of music I played, I brought out my guitar and sang two songs for them, “Hiking in the Trail of Love” and “Don’t Think About It.”

When I finished, Quiz asked if she could sing a song so I passed the guitar and she sang a love song named “By the Falls.” Then she and her sister together sang a camping song.

After we had sung, Linda brought out and showed some of her photographs of animals which everyone enjoyed. The young man North Carolina said he had a pointer very similar to the dog in one of her pictures.

It was all a lot of fun and time passed quickly. Little Spoon and Princess Layers needed to get to the park because they wanted to hike to Rock Creek Falls before dark. Pinecone, Quiz, and Mushy wanted to get to Burney Guest Ranch for the night so they could get up early and begin the hike over Hat Creek Ridge to Old Station.

I drove Little Spoon and Princess Layers out to Burney Falls Park first and then returned and took the other three to the guest ranch. When we arrived they saw another hiker they knew. Several more hikers and packs were on the porch. The owner Linda came out to welcome them.

After hiking south to Chester the trio plans to skip back to Ashland to reunite once again with Little Spoon and Princess Layers and continue their journey north to Canada together.

Happy trails!

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