Pond at mile 1216 to mile 1238
Even with a very nice place to camp last night I didn't sleep well. I blame the moon, not the two dozen marshmallows I ate before bed. I was reluctant to get up-I knew Opus was up, even if I couldn't hear him moving around. While eating breakfast the sun came up enough for the mosquitoes to come out. Opus and I left camp while Portrait and FastLayne were still packing up.
They caught up at an overlook not too far the trail. I could hear people down at one of the lakes. It was easy to imagine the people down there having the day off for the holiday. I was pretty sure we'd be seeing a lot of people out enjoying the trail.
We stopped at the A Tree for some water and it was a little buggy so Portrait and FastLayne kept walking while Opus and I sat on a log and drank cold spring water. I wasn't in too much hurry to start a climb up.
Near the top of the climb I started to regret not eating a snack while drinking water. My breakfast seemed to stick around longer than usual, so I wasn't about ready to keel over, but I wanted the top of the ridge so I could eat. We stopped when we got there, but the other two had kept moving. The top of the ridge was cloaked in mint-smelt fantastic. I put a few leaves in my water bottle to lightly flavor my water.
We didn't linger too long-food bags get lighter that way and we figured the other two were getting too far ahead. We walked five minutes and found them sitting on rocks at a switchback. They had picked a spot with our first view of the volcano Lassen and we think Shasta was lurking in the haze to the right of Lassen. I was pretty thrilled-my first volcanoes ever. The trail doesn't go to them, but I'll be able to see a handful of volcanoes for the next several hundred miles.
The trail continued down form the ridge with an occasional volcano view until the trail dipped into a pine forest. It was lovely in there: cool and dark with soft trail from years of pine needles. There were a few down trees that hadn't been taken care of, but nothing like the days surrounding Mammoth Lakes.
My second breakfast didn't do the trick nearly as well as my first so by eleven I was feeling pretty hungry. Opus and I found the other two at a small creek, but I wanted to move on because I had just filled up. I wanted to have a relaxing lunch and there wasn't space where they had picked. We went down to a dirt road, and I almost didn't make it I was so hungry. We found some nice logs in the shade-although the shade kept moving. It was a lunch of musical chairs with the sun being the winner.
After lunch I hiked with Portrait. The trail went up in its usual slow way which is usually fine, but it was hot today. And humid. I was sweating like I was on the AT. Finally, near the top, a breeze kicked in. It dried the sweat on my face into a nice salty layer. Every time I touched my face my fingers came away dusty.
From the ridge I could see the next water source: Duck Soup Pond. The name cracked us up at lunch, but I wasn't laughing looking at the dark brown water below. When we got down there we found a sign leading to a surprise spring. Opus was at the junction and FastLayne had gone down for water. We waited for his return to find out if there was water, and then Portrait took my bottle and trail ran the .3 to the spring. It took him seven minutes for the round trip. I think if it had taken him eight I would have fallen asleep. I was tired from last night's poor sleep.
We left the spring with no clear end point for the day. There was water in 3 miles or in 10 and we figured we make it between the two. At the road crossing where the water was Opus went the .3 to collect water for us. We tired to look sad and hungry for any passing cars, but there were only 3 in the hour and a half we sat there eating and cooking dinner.
We moved on, with the vague goal of finding a place to see fireworks from. Nothing was looking reasonable. We didn't really know where the towns were and nothing in the area had much of a view. It was more pines or scrubby trees and undergrowth.
We ended up stopping at a forest service road that looked like it saw once truck since the last rain (probably months ago). We found an overgrown pull-off that was mostly flat. I pitched my tent after a pot of hot chocolate-the bugs were somewhat annoying, but I'm in need of a good night of sleep and I tend to sleep well in my tent.