Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 95-Dirt Magic

Trail t-shirt in Etna
Mile 1600 to Etna at mile 1606

Leaving the lake I didn't look at any maps or the profile for the miles into town. I knew I had to climb up towards Etna Summit so I figured the trail would do one of two things:  go uphill for half of the six miles and then down for half or it would go up for all six and the road was at the top of the mountain. I had to hike it to find out.

The trail took us along the side of a ridge with panoramic views of the day's young sun in the east.  Shasta towered over the other mountains and all of them were silhouettes against the blue sky. The valleys were filled with fog that blurred the mountains.

I could see the trail stretching out along the ridge for a mile ahead of me-all up for that mile. My usual going to town pace was a little sluggish with all the morning uphill. I wanted to go my usual fast pace that I use almost exclusively for going into town hungry, but it wasn't up to the challenge.

Snow patch with trail on the far side
After three miles of uphill the trail topped out and we started going down the other side. The other side of the ridge felt like a different mountain:  it was treed with pines, cool, dark, pine needles were under my feet instead of stones. I saw one tiny  blob of snow, then another, and then coming around a bend in the trail I found a large patch of snow that swallowed the trail. Footsteps lead up and over the snow and then back to my lovely dirt trail. It took a couple minutes to cross, but most of that time was pausing for pictures.

After that the trail continued down. Portrait and I talked about pie. According to the guidebook one restaurant was supposed to have fantastic pies. I wanted grasshopper pie knowing full well that chances were slim that they would have such an obscure pie. I don't why hikers talk about such topics when they are in the woods unable to have anything but what's on their back and day dreams.

From just under a mile away we could see the road. It was a long gray ribbon cutting through the pass.  Not a single car glittered in the sunlight. It looked lonely.

Just before the trail head I saw what looked like a white cooler next to the trail-a little trail magic while waiting for a hitch I imagined. Turned out it was a sign for the hiker hostel being propped up by a five gallon bucket which turned out not to have sodas in it, but dirt. I know I'm not the only hiker who opened that bucket and been very disappointed. I hope they have a hidden camera somewhere catching the excitement and then disappointment of the thru-hikers over trail magic dirt.

After an hour of waiting and not seeing a single car going our way we were joined by Yard Sale (who was also tricked by the bucket of dirt). We continued to wait in the sun as it slowly grew hotter. We waved to the cars going the wrong way (perhaps one would turn around?). 

Had a Lime Ricky soda at the old fashion soda counter
We could see the road stretching out along the side hill looking like the trail had earlier that morning. We heard a car coming long before we could see it. The minutes dragged by as the anticipation of a ride (and dreams of pie) grew. A little green pick-up with three loggers in the cab told us to pile in. We found room among the fuel jugs, coolers, diary crates, and Bella the dog for the 45 minute ride downhill right to the doorstep of the restaurant with pie (I had lemon and was less than thrilled, Portrait had pecan and said it was great). 

1 comment:

  1. Dang Castle you are doing great! Havent checked in for a bit, have to catch up. Wheelchair John