For nearly the past month, we’ve had spectacular weather on the trail. It’s been sunny nearly every day, and the worst days were cloudy or had a tiny bit of sprinkle. This is not usual for the High Sierra, where afternoon thundershowers are almost more the rule than the exception. We’ve been delighted, however, as we got amazing views and didn’t have to worry about the weather. (Aside from some days where it was a bit too hot!)
Well, that all changed today. It’d been sprinkling on and off in the morning, but, just as we sat down for lunch, the skies opened up. At first it was just moderate rain, then really heavy rain, and then…hail. Pea-sized hail, and not the size of those little organic artisanal peas you find covered with truffle honey in San Francisco — no, those tasteless, giant peas you find frozen in huge bags in the grocery store. We had our umbrellas up and scrambled to put on raingear as we listened to the hail careening off the umbrellas and pelting our backpacks. Yow!
Actually, in a way, it was pretty good timing…we were headed into Sierra City for an evening in a hotel anyway, and were just five miles out when the storm hit. We hadn’t ever really had a chance to test our raingear thoroughly before this, and, if you’re going to have a first test of your raingear, having it be only a couple of hours before a dry hotel is a great time to do it. As it turns out, everything worked pretty well, and we managed to stay mostly dry through all of it.
We did, however, find in Sierra City a porch on the general store utterly packed with hikers, all hiding from the rain. Sierra City is a small town — it reminds me a lot of Independence in that way. There are a few hotels, an RV park, two restaurants, a church, and the general store. The general store is really the focus of hiker life: they accept resupply packages (and the stack of dozens of packages waiting for hikers in the back was truly impressive) and sell just enough stuff that, if you didn’t mail yourself a box, you can get enough food for the five-day trip to the next town. They also make an enormous, one-pound hamburger they call the Gutbuster that, judging by the comments in the hiker log, really is impressive.
We stopped by the store long enough to pick up our resupply package and enough snacks to tide us over until dinner, then checked into our hotel, which we’d reserved from Truckee. Showers made us feel a million times cleaner, and some sweet-talking by Bucket managed to get us permission to do laundry at the RV park — which helped a million times more. Food at the local restaurant (which served mainly Mexican food, although, as you might expect, it didn’t exactly compare well to Bay Area Mexican food) put us into a complete food coma…and we went back to fall asleep, hard. We’re leaving tomorrow, but, in the mean time, sweet sleep is what we truly want…