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North Texas


On the way out of Sierra City, a SoBo hiker had told me about the best Trail Magic he'd seen, at Bucks Lake, a couple days away.
"You get to the road, and there's a sign, 'Trail Magic,' this guy lets you stay at his house, he cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner, he drives you back to the trail. Best day I've had on the trail. Easily."
I hadn't planned on stopping there at all, and passing it would come in the middle of the day. With this knowledge, I reconsidered. Maybe it would be worth a stay. At this point, I had a clear finish location and time, and making it was a lock. I could afford to make some of the better stops along the way.

I pushed two consecutive long days, one of them over 50 km, only to give me the opportunity to get to Bucks Lake in the afternoon and have a worthwhile stay. When I got to the road, there was no such sign. But after building it up in my mind, as well as busting my hump for the past few days, part of me still wanted to go into Bucks Lake. besides, I heard there was a place that gives you your choice of free beer or ice cream.

I managed to hitch a ride into town with two other hikers and we went to the lodge. Both of them ordered lunch right away. I just asked for ice cream.
Once the orders were taking and I'd gotten my ice cream, the guy running the place asked, "You guys wanna beer? Hikers get a free beer!"
So maybe it's free beer and ice cream? Sure, why not?

While I was drinking my beer and eating my ice cream, one of the two people working there kept asking what I was going to order. After enough times, she successfully guilted me into it. I ordered a $12 chicken sandwich. I guess I felt bad taking their beer and ice cream and running. Which is, I'm sure, precisely why they offer it.

As I finished my sandwich with the other two hikers, who both ordered cheeseburgers, it came out that this was my first purchased hot meal since Cajon Pass, roughly 900 miles ago, and only my second total. One of them said I was doing the hike wrong. The other one said I was doing it right.

The one nice thing about the strong push was it got me into Belden a day earlier than scheduled. Belden is an anomaly for the area, over 1,000 meters lower in elevation than anything around, and as a result, many degrees hotter. The descent into town was as impressively steep as it was long. It was the same story climbing out. I arrived in town at noon. I had no desire to climb a monster hill in 39 C heat.

Fortunately, there were places to stay in town. Almost everyone was headed to Caribou Crossings RV Park, in large part because you could buy a burger and a shake. Instead, I stayed with a Trail Angel, in large part because alcohol and dogs were not allowed. Finally, a chill place to stay.

Brenda Braaten and her husband lived in what appeared to be something like a duplex, and stay allowed hikers to stay in one of the units. No air conditioning, which made it a hot day even sitting inside. A cool shower and a chance to do laundry in a washtub, complete with laundry soap, still made it luxury. Three other hikers stayed the night, all of them the more subdued type I prefer. I whipped up some pancakes for dinner and raided the hiker box for a full resupply. I left a satisfied man.

Jul 13, 2018
from PCT South

I am a carbon-based life form.


Read about Coyote's adventure with his father in Central Texas. Music, food, wheels, family, all the finer things in life.

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