I didn't sleep in, but I didn't get up at the usual time this morning. Had I known I'd hike 26 miles today perhaps I would have gotten up sooner. We left camp just before eight-we had uphill miles to finish.
I hiked with Portrait while FastLayne was just up ahead. We were a pretty silent trio. I know I was just day dreaming and didn't really feel like carrying on a conversation. The uphill was getting to me some, but mostly I was just enjoying being in my own thoughts.
The trail crossed Chip Creek three miles into our day, and then it crossed the creek again .4 miles later. We joked that if it was the AT we'd cross it 7 times and walk up the middle. One of my favorite jokes out here is to say "if this was the AT" and finish it with some slight exaggerations. After the two crossings I ended up having one wet foot-which didn't dry very well with so many little stream crossings.
We had a couple of snack breaks and were counting down the miles until we hit 1300 miles (or 100 miles for FastLayne). Portrait had his GPS out to make sure we didn't miss it (and to be accurate to the one hundredth of a mile) and then we saw that somebody beat us to it. Someone had made the marker out of sticks in precisely the right spot. We looked at it while being chewed on by mosquitoes for a minute a little disappointed that someone had beaten us to the mile marker making. Then we moved on happy that we didn't have to linger longer in a mosquitoes heavy spot.
Finally, after climbing all morning, we were at the top of the ridge. I don't even know the name of what I spent two days climbing. It seemed like on the AT I knew the where and what better. I was just happy to have some down hill.
While hiking I heard a chain saw not too far away. Minutes later I was watching two men roll a one ton section of a log out of the trail. There were four men with horses doing trail magic and the hikers clustered around to watch. We talked for a couple of minutes about our hikes, thanked them for all their hard work, and hiked on...
But not too far. It was time for lunch in the shade. I had a rather large lunch--I may have eaten tomorrow's lunch today and it was tasty. The sitting in the shade was a lot nicer than the hiking in the sun, but we still had nearly fifteen miles to hike that day.
A mile after lunch was the last water source: Clear Springs. Water flowed out of a pipe into a bathtub sized trough (that none of us took baths in). The water was wonderfully cold; nice and clear. We filled up our bottles and ourselves. The next water wasn't for 13 miles and then it was a half mile off trail. We planned to get to the next water source so we didn't have to dry camp (and we also wanted to be close to Chester).
The trail rolled up and down over the ridges. It was good walking for doing a 26 mile day with a late start. The miles seemed to slip by nicely. It also helped that I had extra food and didn't crash like I did a few days ago. I did sip at my water sparingly.
I was hiking with Portrait, FastLayne was somewhere behind us, when we came to a dirt road and a women out with her family. She said if she were ever to strike it rich she'd hike the PCT; we tried to tell her she didn't need to be rich, just unemployed--she didn't believe us. She did have sodas and water. We each left with a soda in our pack and a half pint of new water in our bottles. Then we started passing signs for springs that weren't listed on our maps or in our guides. It's kind of rough carrying extra water that we could have gotten else where.
From the top of the ridge we could see smoke a few ridges away. The pinkish brown cloud filled a large amount of the western sky. When the sun sunk into it the sun looked like a Fireball candy. It turned the hills not gold as usual, but a fiery red for nearly a half hour. Lassen was also looking rather pink in the setting sun's glow. Thankfully the smoke was too far away to smell or taste from our ridge--it only gave us a show to look at over our shoulders as we hiked.
From the ridge we had about three miles left. I lagged behind some. Not exhausted like before going to Maggie's, but feeling the last 23 miles. I was looking forward to camp and dinner (of course) and my soda.
We made it to camp just before eight o'clock. Camp was sloped, it was cooling off nicely, the bugs weren't an issue, and food was plentiful for the night before town. While I wrote in my sleeping bag deer prowled around camp looking for places where hikers had peed making a racket. They sounded like clumsy bears. I'm also pretty sure that a space ship went by overhead--I've never seen a plane like it.