May 26, 2017: Hiked Miles 672.8 to 693.7 (20.9 total)
We slept great last night. I woke up and felt so well rested. It was a beautiful morning with the sun peeking over the mountain. I didn’t want to move, just standing there, letting the cool mountain breeze run through my hair with the warm morning sun beaming on my face. Everything smelled fresh and all I could hear were the birds chirping and the wind blowing. I thought for sure all the other campers would be gone, since they were all in their tents already when we showed up last night, but they were all still fast asleep and I had the gorgeous morning view all to myself.
We got packed up and Colton ate a million pop-tarts and I made coffee and attempted to toast a bagel. I had picked up a couple bagels back in Ridgecrest after getting so sick of eating protein bars for breakfast, and I smuggled a few butter and jelly packets out of our continental breakfast. Shh, don’t tell anyone. I sawed the bagels in half with a plastic spork which was pretty funny and decided to do one half of each for breakfast. I burned the plain bagel half, but smothered enough butter on it to make it edible. The other half was a cinnamon raisen, which I somehow managed to not burn, and covered with peanut butter and blackberry jelly. Mmmm. Almost tasted like a real breakfast. It’s funny the things you get excited about out here.
Our morning started with a long downhill walk to our next water source. It was an easy morning with views of lots of mountains and trees.
We filled up with water and took a little break to eat a protein bar. We then walked about 100 feet up the trail and saw a cardboard sign with the words Trail Magic, and an arrow pointing to a van. We headed over and found four guys sitting around outside the van talking.
Saunter introduced himself to us and asked if we wanted any food or drinks. I took a 7-Up and Colton couldn’t turn down a chili dog and a beer. Saunter told us he had been hiking the trail, but had recently developed some bad bone spurs and decided to take a break. So he rented the van and brought it out to give away some unexpected trail magic. We sat around and chatted with the guys for about an hour. An older guy was hiking the trail for the second year in a row and gave us lots of good advice and had us cracking up with trail stories. When another group showed up we gave up our seats, grabbed some apples for the road and thanked Saunter immensely. Unexpected trail magic is always the best, especially when you have fun people to share it with.
We had a good climb after that and it was already noon by the time we started hiking again, so we started sweating right away. But we felt good from our break and sped up the mountain. We stopped for lunch (second lunch for Colton) a couple hours later under a nice shady tree.
It’s the perfect little salty snack for when you’re just craving a little salt (thanks Jamie!). I had my normal crackers, cheese, salami, and an apple with peanut butter and Colton had his normal plain tuna, Cheetos, apple, and peanut butter, oreo burrito.
The apples were awesome. Having fruit out here is the best dessert. We relaxed for a bit and then got back on the trail to finish our day. We had another little climb and when we crested the last hill, we had a distant view of the snowy Sierras.
The rest of the day was all downhill and we cruised through it.
We crossed a road at one point and who did we run into, but the injured Saunter! We must have looked confused because he started laughing and explained how right before we had arrived at the van earlier, he and the real Saunter (the older guy telling all the trail stories) had decided to switch roles and trick us into believing it was this guy’s van. His real trail name is Bees Knees and he’s much younger than the real Saunter. Suddenly everything started to make sense of why they all seemed awkward when we were asking questions about the trail magic back at the van. They played it off well though and tricked us. Now I don’t know if I believe any of the real Saunter’s stories. We laughed as we walked away and applauded their acting skills. Never a dull day out here. We hiked on and took a little break on this perfect log-bench towards the end of the day.
Eventually we reached our stopping point for the night, a perfect spot in the middle of a gorgeous valley.
We set up camp, filtered water, and made an awesome dinner of mashed potatoes and top ramen.
We finished up just as it was getting dark and had a pretty sunset to finish off the night.
Colton made a protein shake with the protein he’s been carrying around since Day 1 and we snacked on the last of our fruit snacks in our tent. Now everyone’s asleep and all I can hear is Colton quietly snoring and the crickets chirping. Perfect night.