Chester – North Fork Feather River
I had a late morning behind the church, talking to Foxfire and the Germans, who were very clean. We compared fingertips. I am still filthy. The dirt is permanent.
I had some breakfast at the place across the street. I went with the savory choice, then contemplated an order of French toast. I should’ve got French toast. I regretted not getting toast for many hours afterwards. The cafe was attached to an independent bookstore, which was fabulous. I wanted all the books.
Hitching in town feels weird. But I only had to do it for a few minutes before a lady pulled over and offered me a ride. She was wearing Dirty Girl gators so I’d know she was a hiker. There were a couple of greeters at the trailhead. They were shockingly excited to talk to me, I think because I was a woman hiking alone. “I moved here to be close to the trail. But I’m too scared to start,” the woman told me. Her husband nodded along. Then they gave me $20. This used to happen to me all the time in Japan. It’s a custom, to give money and food to Shikoku pilgrims. I feel like it’s not so common for PCT hikers. But I won’t complain.
I really wanted to get some miles in. And nature did not want me to stop. At every pause, I was mobbed by yellowjackets. Persistent but not aggressive. What do they want? Salt? Love? I walked for awhile after dark. I saw a little dark snake on the path after dark. It was either dead or too cold to move. I scooted around it. At yet another fork of the Feather River, I started looking around for a campspot I accidentally shined my light all over some guys sleeping on the ground. Oops. I wanted to camp there, but not after waking everyone up. I crossed the bridge and found another riverside spot.
One thought on “Pct day 92 – Does California ever end?”
I am enjoying your adventure and think you definitely have the right attitude for getting the most out of the experience. Not being obsessed with daily miles makes your blog more interesting than most. What does it matter if you do a through hike in one year or two?
Since you ask what do the yellow jackets want? I’m fairly sure the answer is food, specifically protein. The vespids are omnivores with meat-eating mandibles. This time of year, all the nectar and pollen has dried up and the wasps are looking for meat. Usually they eat other insects but they will come to your barbecues for a bite of steak. Due to the drought conditions all over the West lately, ground dwelling yellow jackets have had a high winter survival rate. Only the queens overwinter. The workers die in the fall and seem to sense their mortality and get very aggressive looking for their last meal. They can wipe out a weak colony of honeybees, eating everything but the wax.
Beyond long clothes, gloves, and a headnet there doesn’t seem to be much a hiker can do to discourage them. DEET doesn’t seem to bother them. Flea collars for dogs and cats contain a chemical that is toxic to wasps if they eat it but it probably doesn’t repel them although it might be worth a try if somebody wanted to experiment.
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