(We are in Belden, CA, next stop on 8/7 Old Station, CA)

David Copperfield may have made the Statue of Liberty disappear, Houdini pulled some sweet stunts unlocking himself and getting out of underwater coffins, but trail magic may well be the most powerful form of magic imaginable.

We rolled out of Sierra City five days ago with tired feet and worn down spirits. It didn’t help that we knew we had to slog up 2,700 ft with heavily reloaded packs. While in town George from Lebanon announced he was quitting. Coyote (Jody) mentioned that she might quit a week before so her sister (now code named “Hook” after one drunken night in Sierra City) came out to the trail to buoy her spirits and hike with her for a few weeks. Other folks in Sierra City were talking a lot about “trail doldrums.” Our amazing trail friend Journal had just left the trail to go to a family reunion and although he’ll be back we likely won’t cross paths with him again because we’ll be five days ahead of him (it’s possible to not see someone for weeks who is mere hours ahead of you). All the wildflowers seem to be fading and at lower and hotter elevations are replaced by poison oak.

Here’s a shot of Buckwheat on the way up the trail. Note it is hot and steep and you can’t buy an inch of shade.

What can get someone through tough times like these? (Other than cookies I mean? Thanks Karen and Emma Sue for the Belden drop box!)

<Cue drumroll and superhero mega anthem, building into a crescendo of hippie, folk music>

An anarchist free tea party came to the rescue at 7,000 ft on a lonely dirt road at the Packer Saddle.

We came up the hill tired to arrive at “Edna” the solar powered converted school bus now “Tea Wagon.” Guisepe and his Tea Wagon and his friend Ally and her Tea Van were hosting a party complete with a parachute big-top sun canopy and persian rugs and pillows tossed out on the dirt. Hibiscus sun tea and chocolate mint no bake cookies awaited weary hikers.

We’ve run into other trail magic before, but mostly of the “Hey, I’ve got some extra grapes, you want ’em?” variety. The answer is always “yes,” but our response to tea, cookies, sharing food, conversations about social change, movement building, breaking free from the money system and radical financial independence was, “Hell yeah!”

Later, five other tired hikers showed up: Pippen (eats a lot, “don’t they know about elevenies?”), Coyote (the most popular trail name by far), Hook (there is a long drunken story), Roadkill (she almost got hit), and Marshall (resists all trail names) and, of course, a movie night ensued.

Now that’s the way to recharge the spirits. For west coast folks: if you ever have a chance to create trail magic and meet PCTers on their way north/south, you will bolster morale and serve people who need it (kinda like a soup kitchen, see below), earn amazing amounts of gratitude and likely have a bunch of fun. Shout out to Rain who just served some hikers south of us a few weekends ago. Thanks!

So where does that leave us? We pulled into Belden, CA this afternoon after a modest 17 mile day. Resupplied, picked up new shoes for Jen, new tent poles and the clutch cookie shipment and we’re headed back out and north again tonight. We have a feeling that we might not sleep soundly with the Harley rally taking over the town (we might wind up partying with them ’til the break of dawn!)

And now for something completely different. Here are some things I didn’t know I’d be doing on the PCT:
– Neither one of us realized Jen would be rubbing diaper rash cream on my behind (the back of my hips actually, but that still seems like a bit of a technicality when there’ve been no showers or lakes to swim in in days)
– That Rog would have a man crush on an itinerant anarchist peddling free tea out of his school bus home.
– Licking candy bar wrappers squeaky clean with all the fervor of a homeless man working every last calorie off a MacDonald’s Big Mac paper fished from the bottom of a trash can.
– How grungy our toes would get and how stinky the rest of our bodies are. You can’t wash this funky smell off. After five soap ups of my armpits in the shower, I still smell. Worse yet, we’re starting to not be able to smell ourselves. All this is a bit scary to us, who as a general rule consider ourselves to have reasonable hygiene standards.
Let’s see: don’t have a place to live and wearily toss down an encampment in a different place every night. Check! Have nasty sores. Checkity check! Smell bad. Really bad. Mega check! Wear the same clothes for months on end? Checkarooney! Unshaved and look as if still sporting bed head at the end of the day? Check! not proactively contributing to society and continually asking friends, family and anyone else for (cookie) handouts? Way check! (BTW, here’s the link with beta on how to do that: https://wherearejenandrog.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/postal-love/

Willing to chow on other people’s leftovers or handouts from charitable strangers. Check! Blindly pursuing pointless and insanely self-destructive quests like tilting at windmills or walking all day. Check!

Okay, the facts have been laid out. We’re homeless vagabonds, but you already knew that.

Now for some more photos:

Looking back south along Granite Gap in the Plumas National Forest:

Earlier today, near Spanish Peak, Mt. Lassen in the distance:

Inspirational “Trail Mail” that someone randomly left for all those in need. Applies equally to those on the trail as off: