These sections were a controlled blur that passed quickly while we scrambled to the Red Moose Inn in Sierra City. Here are a few highlights:
-Richardson Lake (mile 1121). Met a member of the White Trash Brigade who demanded a photo of us disposing of our hiker garbage in his garbage bag. Evidently, he likes to prove to the "Sierra Club Nazis" that he does a better job of cleanup than they do. He chased off some target shooters by yelling at them, then was saddened that we didn't want to camp with him. Big surprise, jackass. I'd rather camp on a sloped hillside with my head on the low end than spend further time with you.
-Barker Pass (mile 1126.1). There was a senior center group out walking this beautiful area at the same time we passed. The all-female group was fascinated to see two women on this crazy trail alone, and I felt a bit inspirational. Certainly, this was one of the easiest passes and a lovely part of the trail.
-Southern Mirkwood (somewhere in the 1130s). Very uninviting 5 or 6 miles that just naturally makes hikers uneasy. If there is evil in a forest, it is here.
-Headwaters of the Middle Fork of the American River (1142). My favorite water source. After a series of brutal switchbacks, long carries of water along the Tahoe Rim Trail confluence, and close encounters of the grouse kind, I stepped out onto a stunning ridgetop view. Lake Tahoe below, a gurgling stream very near. I followed the water sound to where the spring ran below the trail, then drew liters out of a little rock cave there under the trail, almost directly from the source. Best tasting water yet.
-Squaw Valley Ski Area. Granite Chief wilderness sounds way friggin cool, right? Except for the goddamned luxury vacation homes, ski lifts and snowmobile signs everywhere.
-Donner Pass (1154 or so). I had a great meal at Donner Pass. No, really. Having given up cannibalism, I settled for a chicken sandwich and fries and pie at the lodge. Highly recommended. Cool place that gives hikers a free beverage and allows camping nearly anywhere (though we pressed on a few miles up past Hwy 40).
-Peter Grubb hut (1162.8). Sierra Club constructed this shelter long ago, and it's still used by hikers. According to the register, many folks I knew stopped in there and enjoyed the rusty water after so many of the preceding seasonal streams had been dry.
-Haypress Trail (1195.2). Alternative route to Sierra City. It took us down into a large campground and up a fairly well-used road to where we hitched into town in a BMW (now THAT'S a hitch). Nice and quick route. Ended our first 27 mile day at the Red Moose Inn.