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Pacific Crest Trail attracts worldly visitors to Plumas


German Pacific Crest Trail hikers Stefanie and Sebastian Howler head into the Quincy Post Office to pick up care packages they prearranged for their epic trip. Photos by Mari Erin Roth

Epic adventures are experienced every year by hikers from around the globe as they travel through the Sierra on the Pacific Crest Trail. They are motivated by a variety of reasons to take on such a journey and the resulting experiences vary just about as widely.

“I hear everyone talk about seeking a big awakening as a result of hiking the PCT,” said Matthew Ryan Slider, “but I haven’t had one yet.” The 37-year-old from Holland, Michigan, was ready for a big change in his life, but wasn’t sure which direction to go.

Experiencing a gap in his employment obligations he decided to start the PCT at its beginning in Campo, very near the Mexican border, and follow the trail all the way to Canada.

From Campo to Bucks Lake he ran into about 12 rattlesnakes, but that didn’t bother him.

“What I really don’t like is spiders,” said Slider.

He had already had one memorable encounter on his journey by the time he reached Plumas County. A tarantula had parked right in the middle of the trail ahead of him.

“I waited and then I tried to encourage it to move along but it just wouldn’t budge,” said Slider. Eventually he decided to let the big spider have the trail and headed into the rough. “I just went around it,” said Slider.

Multiple pairs of hikers say there is still snow in the Tahoe area. Apparently, that makes the trail hard to see and slipping hazards make travel very slow.

“Without the snow, it’s easy to just follow the trail,” said Slider, “but when it’s covered up I spend a lot of my time looking down at my GPS.”

Przemyslaw Gumienny calls Warsaw, Poland his home. He planned things out so that he would have over three months to hike the PCT. Gumienny also started in Campo and similarly intends to complete the journey, walking all the way to Canada.

Gumienny has just finished his information technology education in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has been in the United States many times for a variety of IT internships. The 23-year-old said quite seriously, “this is the last break I will ever have. School is over and now it’s time to get to work.”

Stefanie and Sebastian Howler came from Germany to hike the PCT. They didn’t speak much English, but in German they relayed that they were enjoying their hiking adventure and they too found the snow challenging. They shared an opinion that the area near Sierra City was the most beautiful part of the PCT trail they had seen so far, even though it had 10 to 12 feet of snow in areas as they came through.

Looking forward to the drier trails ahead they trekked into the Post Office to pick up the care packages they wisely had prearranged for themselves.

Locals in Plumas, Lassen and Sierra counties have the advantage of having the PCT in their “own backyard.” The convenience of being able to take a day, a week or a month to explore the trail that others travel around the world to enjoy is just one of the many perks to life in the Sierra.

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