Trail magic is a tradition of charity along the trail. Its often unexpected and can be anything from a cooler full of snacks to people who provide rides or take you into their homes. The folks providing this are usually called trail angels and I can say that they are truly part of what makes the trail amazing. I still remember all the rides I got, the lovely people who let me stay in their homes and the amazing cold sodas and snacks I occasionally stumbled on. So when I heard that some other PCT hikers from 2012 were thinking about doing some trail magic at Sonora Pass I got pretty excited.
I'll admit I wasn't so sure at first. I actually didn't know the hikers who were organizing at all, they were behind me on the trail last year and I had never met them. But I only live about 2 hours from the pass and I still remember Sonora Pass as some of my very favorite scenery on the trail, so after one vague text message I found myself planing for a weekend at the pass.
As usual I was running late on Friday but as I finally headed out I couldn't help but be excited. Afternoon thunderstorms rolled over me and green valleys spread out around me as I headed down 395.
That sure is one beautiful drive, when I finally turned onto 108 and started to climb to the pass I was stunned. Even prettier than I remembered, and so much more of the mountains than I had been able to see when I was hiking on the PCT.
There was quite the crowd when I got there, already over 50 hikers had been there that day. Bounce Box, Major Upchuck, Cherry Bomb and Huff-n-Puff were the key trail angels and after introducing myself I was quickly drawn into the chaos. Plenty of food was cooked, trail talk was overwhelming and overall everyone was just ridiculously happy and thankful. A great first night.
I stumbled off into the trees and rolled out my sleeping bag, so content to stare at the stars and enjoy the mountains. My night shift brain had some trouble with sleeping so I even got the chance to enjoy some reading, I love reading but 2 am fiction time is a bit silly in the woods. Although I did scramble up a nearby peak to enjoy the sunrise.
Huff-n-Puff was up early making pancakes and the day just went on from there. So many people and so much food, a drive into Bridgeport to help out an injured hiker and restock and then back to the trail head. Another great day.
Dr. Tom was a lovely surprise. He showed up at the trail head with no knowledge of our presence to provide some trail magic of his own. So the hikers ended up with even more food. He's never hiked the PCT but had heard of thruhikers and has spent plenty of time in the woods (only he seems to prefer llamas for extended adventures). Great stories there I assure you. Plus he managed to wrangle Kaiser into providing some goods, not too shabby.
Bear Cans are required for this section of the trail but not after Sonora Pass, most hikers hold onto them another 80ish miles until they hit Echo Lake and a post office that's actually on trail. Bounce Box and Major Upchuck had the genius idea of offering the hikers the chance to leave their bear cans with us and we would mail them wherever they needed to go, saving the hikers those bulky 2.5 pounds a little earlier than expected. They take up a ton of room and I ended up with 15 of the suckers in my little car. The postmistress smiled with the first one, not so much when she saw the rest...
The weekend was amazing, some of the angels had shown up as early as Wednesday, I was there just for the weekend and saw over a 100 hikers. The long distance trail family is truly spectacular and seems to welcome everyone with open arms. Such a great time, although it made me miss the trail and thruhiking even more. And I assure you spending an hour talking to a former CDT hiker sure had my brain whirring. I still don't know about this work life balance thing but thruhiking is where I feel most at home and I love that I know that.
One last look at the beautiful mountains. I loved this section of the PCT and am so glad I got to see a bit more of it, definitely worth visiting if you ever have the chance.
Oh and if you are ever near the trail and see a rather scruffy looking individual maybe consider a piece of fruit or a ride, I assure you it will be greatly appreciated.