August 3, 2017: Hiked Miles 1611.2 to 1639.1 (27.9 total)
It took me forever to fall asleep last night. My Starbucks venti iced coffee might have helped for hiking, but not much for sleeping. Eventually I fell asleep looking at the stars. I tossed and turned a little in the morning, but was able to sleep in until about 6:30 when Colton’s third snooze alarm went off. We finally pulled ourselves out of the tent and snuck over to the lake to watch the sunrise over the water.
We even found a guy with only his shorts, sandals, and coffee cup out walking his dog on the trail. We ran into his tent a little ways after seeing him. He looked like he was staying for awhile. Not the worst place to live.
We passed by a southbounder at one point and he must have overheard us as we were walking down to him talking about how the trail was non-sensibly going up and down a lot today. He hollered out “PUDS,” and told us it stands for “pointless up and downs.” Now we feel very smart that we learned a new trail term.
We met Dutch, another hiker, along the trail this morning and ended up hiking with him for a couple hours. He hiked the Appalachian Trail last year so we picked his brain about it… in case we ever decide we want to torture ourselves again. I mean thru-hike, yea that’s what we’re doing.
We passed about a million boyscouts throughout the morning. They told us the fires had caused them to detour to the PCT and were asking us for info about the lake they were planning on staying at. I’m not sure they understand how little room there is for camping around mountain lakes because there was seriously about 100 of them. Looks like they will be getting cozy tonight.
We saw a few different helicopters hauling buckets throughout the day so it looks like they might be finally working on putting out some of these fires.
They flew pretty close by us so hopefully there’s not any new ones popping up that we don’t know about. We wondered whether or not they would send people out to pluck us off the trail should a new fire pop up near to us. I really hope so. But I’m also gonna want a ride back in when the trail is ready to hike again.
For lunch we stopped at Paradise Lake, which was ironic since it was about the ugliest lake I’ve seen out here. It was only about a foot deep and the lake bottom was soft mud that made the water look like a toilet when you walked in it, but I didn’t care, I got in anyways. I layed down and tried to float without sinking into the mud and was instantly cooled off. It might not look like paradise, but it definitely felt like it. I was probably dirtier when I got out than I was before, but feeling cool is much more important than feeling clean out here.
We ate lunch with Dutch and Silverfox, a 61 year old from British Columbia, who we camped next to last night and had a nice, entertaining, relaxing lunch.
After lunch we all took off separately and we hiked into even thicker smoke than this morning. It was kinda cool hiking through the haze, I felt like we were in some kind of Armageddon movie or Lord of the Rings. We walked through a big burned area and I was amazed how many flowers and butterflies could thrive in such a devastated area.
We hiked alone for awhile until we caught up to Radio, a hiker we met yesterday from Sutherlin, Oregon which is cool because it’s right next to the town Colton’s grandma lives in. We hiked with him for the rest of the day. We swapped stories about the Sierras, he told us all about his job working at a winery, which was pretty interesting, and we sampled lots of berries we found along the trail. We found a few different types of berries. We think they were blackberries, salmon berries, and maybe one more kind. Radio said he has tried them all before and hadn’t gotten sick, so we trusted him and ate a few. They all tasted good, sweet and not too tart… hopefully we don’t come to regret our berry picking.
We were almost down to the creek where we planned on camping for the night when we heard a crashing noise below us and looked down to see a big black bear crashing through the bushes down the hillside. We must have scared him because he took off like a bat out of hell. I don’t think I’ll ever try to outrun a bear after seeing how fast he moved.
We made it down to the creek unscathed and set up our tents, filtered water, and attempted to fight off the million mosquitoes. Dutch and Silverfox joined us and everyone piled in their tents quickly to avoid the bugs. Except us. We like being eaten alive apparently. We took our time eating and relaxing and had a fun evening chatting with everyone inside their tents. We have a good little group here and we all seem to hike about the same pace, so I think we might be seeing more of these guys.
We got in our tent before it got dark. Everyone else is already asleep. We’re snacking on candy, I’m blogging, and Colton is listening to his audiobook on his phone at the same time, which surprisingly can run two apps at once. We’re hoping to pass out soon so that we can get up early tomorrow to make it down to Seiad Valley early since we have a fun little road walk we don’t want to do in the heat of the day. And hopefully my new phone will be waiting for me there. And maybe a river to jump in… before we start the climb from hell.