Stranded in Susanville

Part two of our fire detour.

I need new shoes. We’re only 80 miles from Reno which has the closest REI.  Could be fun to take a day to get shoes and watch a movie.  Birthday weekend treat.  I’ve been wanting to watch Brave for two months.  It’s playing in Reno!

Sticks continues on the journey to Old Station in the morning.  We plot our side trip.

A few hours later. Laundry done.  Car rental place found.  We discover that you can’t rent a car in California unless you have ‘personal auto insurance’. Backtrack and I look at each other. We’ve been walking for over four months. Neither of us have a car.  How could we have auto insurance?  Can’t rent us a car, but they can give us some cardboard to make a hitching sign.  (Also.  There is no public transportation to Reno on a weekend.  Only Mon, Wed, Fri.  It’s a weekend.  We have no options).

I’m about to cry.  We had this great plan.  It’s my birthday weekend.  And once again: I Don’t Get to See Brave!

I’m ready to throw a tantrum as we glumly march over to Starbucks to use wifi and come up with some kind of alternate plan.

I make hitching signs. “PCT HIKERS” “Stranded by Fires. Reno Please” “OLD STATION” “ITS MY BIRTHDAY”

I don’t want to give up on going to Reno. But as the afternoon drags on. It looks less and less likely.

Then the unexpected happens.

A woman walks by, sees my signs and says “Really? You’re PCT hikers?” (I realize I don’t look like it at the moment, I’ve showered and I’m wearing a sun dress and flip flops).  We tell her we are and that we’re dealing with a fire detour.  She says “I just read the book Wild! That is so amazing! Good luck!” And she hands me a $20 as she goes into the Starbucks.

We sit there surprised.  She didn’t even see my birthday sign.  This is the first time I’ve been handed money.  I happily accept offers of food.  I know I don’t look like a normal human after this long on the trail.  Well.  Maybe this will turn into a good day after all.

I finally give up on going to Reno for my birthday.  Instead, we see a flyer for a free musical in the park this evening. Sounds like a great alternate plan.  And someone comes out of the Starbucks and gives us some chocolate saying ‘Energy for the trail’ as she walks away.

No way out of Susanville today.  We walk across town to the local park.  to watch A Very Potter Musical.  Not often you catch free, funny, awesome theater in the park.  After the show a couple starts chatting with us and they drive us over to a cheap motel.

We have great plans.  We end up with great unexpected surprises and detours.  All part of trail life I suppose.  You begin your hike and all well laid plans go out the window.  This far into the trip, I suppose I should know better than to try to make great plans and expect them to go as planned.

Last leg of the detour.

Easy enough hitch out of Susanville, to the junction with Hwy 44.

And there we wait.

And wait.

3.5 hours in the sun.  Every one sees my signs (and my birthday sign, which it actually is my birthday today). And they all drive past.  Lots of them.  There is nothing between here and Old Station.  But they go past.

Our eventual ride is a really cool guy.  We listen to the soundtrack to Into the Wild and chat for an hour as he magicks us to Old Station.

The trail is just around the corner.  It is late in the day.  We don’t want to start the next stretch (29 miles without water) at this time of day.  Call an Angel.

Our angel is called Firefly.  She is a retired trail angel who has been helping hikers get around the fires this season.

Rescued.  And we get to sleep in her tree house.

Hat Creek Rim tomorrow.  Tonight we get to wonder at all the fast moving transport that got us back to the trail, and as fast as these vehicles move, it still took us three days to get here.

First fire detour complete.

More than ready to hike again.

About Natalie

Natalie Fisher is a dancer, teacher, silk aerialist, and choreographer. She is inspired by the wilderness. Her work involves finding the seam where her worlds of dance, aerials and the wilderness meet.

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