The highlight, and most difficult part, of the day was set to be right out of town. To start the hike from Highway 49 there is immediately a nearly 3,000 foot climb up past Sierra Buttes.
Now in order to put this endeavor off as long as possible, Pie and I slept in until about 8:30am before walking the less than half a mile from our hotel to the main part of town. Then, we ate breakfast at the Red Moose Café where I got a breakfast burrito, Pie had a very American 2 eggs scrambled with bacon and hash browns and completed it with a less American couple of slices of French Toast (sorry, I mean freedom toast?). Apparently, that wasn’t enough for Pie so he decided to order the waffle donut that caught our eyes on the menu. Essentially, this thing is a traditional Belgian style waffle that is then fried in the manner of a donut and then glazed. This was a classic instance of Pie’s eyes being larger than his stomach. Fortunately my stomach has turned into a bottomless pit, so I ate the other half of this monstrosity.
After breakfast we had no further excuses not to go hike (save for maybe the pending sugar coma of the waffle donut), especially since the owner of the Red Moose drove Pie, 2 other hikers (Willy and Bobaroo), and myself up a mile and a half back to the trail. We started our ascent right at 10:30am, which is also when I remembered I forgot to get my water bottle filled at the restaurant. Luckily, there was a spring near a switchback (called switchback spring, aptly) in less than 2 miles where I filled up. We reached the top near Sierra Buttes about 2 pm (it’s 7 miles from the highway up to the jeep road we ate our lunches near). The rest of the day was a relative cruise. Even though we had over 11 miles to go from our lunch spot we managed to arrive at camp right about 7pm. That also included another couple breaks in there too. It’s easy to pick up time when the trail is nice and soft and you don’t have to climb nearly 3,000 feet.