We woke up the next morning and “slept in” until about 630am when the sun was rising. It was great to have our first night camping be a legal one! The night before we were worried about crossing private property lines, and this morning we were stretching awake comfortably (though that comfort faded as we realized we’d slept through the best part of the morning!) We packed up and were on the road by 730 (remember, I said it was a leisurely morning) ready to climb the hill that had seemed terrifying last night. By the time we made it to Wilseyville we were hoping for donuts, but the gas station was closed (with an unlocked port-a-potty that Tim used with his pack on!) so we continued on, knowing we’d hit West Point soon anyway.
We had it in our heads that West Point was on Railroad Flat Road before we hit Highway 26, so when we got to the intersection we resigned ourselves to not having anything more than granola bars for breakfast. We assumed that West Point was maybe just a region that showed up on maps instead of an actual town. But as we turned the corner we saw the welcome sign and rejoiced, a little. We were running behind and didn’t think it would be a good idea to make any detours, so if there wasn’t a store on the road we would power through to Pioneer.
As we crested the hill into town we saw people outside of the church talking and we jokingly said we were sad we missed tea time (advertised on the side of the building). Tim even thought it was Saturday! But today was our lucky day and a stranger (who introduced herself as Cheryll) noticed us and inquired to why we were wandering through town on a sunny Sunday with backpacks and tired faces. With only a couple of sentences of description, she insisted on buying us a hot breakfast at the fundraiser across the road as she went to church.
Everyone in the town was so welcoming, Kenny (whose friend used to manage the Chicago Cubs) excitedly asked us questions about the trip, and many of the other breakfast patrons wished us well as they left. It was great to talk to someone who knew Chicago well. We were sad to have to turn down everyone’s offers of showers, laundry, and a bed, but it was still early and we have a whole country to cross! In fact, the previous night, Day 10, was our first of The Walk without a shower.
We stuck around to thank Cheryll after church and Rebecca spoke to the Sunday school class as Tim discussed the trip with a few people in the back of the church. So many of the children had great questions and everyone seemed excited and ready to help! One of the ladies even gave Rebecca really cute earrings with lady bugs on them that her and her daughter make (which she wore right away!). We asked trip advice from some of the townsfolk and decided to cut our trip to Pioneer short (but steep) by taking Defender Grade. Defender Grade was definitely steep, but it was about a half mile uphill followed by a half mile downhill instead of twists and turns along Highway 26 to Highway 88. It was rough going, but the top of the hill was rewarding.
We basically slid down the hill to Pioneer, a small town with a couple of thrift stores and shops. There’s even an elementary school which Rebecca was excited about (their sign anyway).
We were still glowing from our amazing breakfast and all the nice people we’d met when we stopped for lunch at almost 2pm. But it was a glorious lunch that we plan to repeat as often as possible. We’d packed tuna and tortillas and peanut butter for most of our meals, but today we went to a grocery store and got a salad and avocado that we added the tuna to and ate the whole thing (we doubted ourselves at first, but greens are a wonderful thing). As the trip goes on, it’s fresh greens that we miss the most, so this lunch seems more and more amazing every day.
Tim continues to be impressed with small town California every day as we meet friendly people, sneak into the back of places to fill water and see strange signs.
We planned to make 25 miles today, but at 20 miles Rebecca got tired and cranky so we found our first stealth camping spot down low from the road in the trees. We had to hang our food bag too, because the Sierras are bear country. This might be the best case of teamwork on the trip so far as it took us about 20 minutes just to get the rope over the tree! Basically it’s all a learning experience, and we’re definitely learning!
Today we walked through:
Rebecca: 52,004 steps
Tim: 47,455 steps
245 miles finished