Road walking around a wildfire (Posted 6 August 2012, 02:20pm)

Road walking

My last week has been dominated by the Chips wildfire. I first got word of the fire in Seirra City. I heard that it had closed a section of the trail up ahead but should be under control in a few days. I was still four days walk away from the affected town of Belden and it seemed it would be contained by the time I got there.

The next I heard was a couple of days later when I passed a southbounder at a road crossing who told me the fire had gotten out of control in high winds and that Belden was under threat, to be evacuated, and that the road out of Belden was closed. This created quite a dilemma. Spins and Baboon decided to hitch to Quincy and then on to Chester, north of the fire. This was probably the sensible option but I am determined to WALK from Mexico to Canada and I couldn't bear the thought of skipping a section. There was not much traffic but they eventually got a ride. I was suddenly on my own again.

I had no map of the way to Quincy but luckily a woman passed with a good forest service map. I took some photos of the relevant section and lay down in the shade to wait for the heat of the day to pass before the punishing 26 mile road walk into Quincy.

The past four days of road walking to Quincy and then beyond towards Chester have been a real journey within this journey. Parts have been along the busy and narrow highways 70 and 89. When this became too dangerous and exhausting I found a railway track to walk along and then an old quarry road. This led me over a derelict bridge bridge across Indian Creek. I found a group of locals there swimming and jumped in for a quick swim myself!

To avoid as much highway as possible I have been following old forest and gold mining roads. These have been almost totally traffic free but often straight up and down. All of this has been with full capacity of water because I have been unsure where I might find it next - even so I ran out twice but never dangerously. I changed course today when I heard nearby gun shots in the forest - probably my quickest miles of the trail so far!

I have had a lot of friendly interactions with locals, pointing me in the right direction and telling me about smaller roads to avoid the bigger ones. I have even been offered a few rides without sticking my thumb out. I am however very much looking forward to getting back to the trail which has become like a dear old friend in the three months I have known it.

AKA the forest is on fire!


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