I didn’t get to sleep until (very!) late last night — after midnight — so I didn’t set an alarm for this morning. I woke up a bit after 7, the sun already bright in the sky.
I didn’t really want to stick around town too long; so I opted to just have pop tarts for breakfast, rather than going to the restaurant. A hiker who had extra maple-glazed donuts offered me one as well.
I got a ride back to the trailhead from Lionheart with Bronco. We got there around 9:20. I could smell the smoke in the air. It wasn’t a very strong smell — more like a campfire from a good distance — and it dissipated not long after leaving the trailhead, but the smell of a wood fire was evident. The smoke from the fires was persistent in the lower valleys visible from the trail all day.
Very soon after hiking from the trailhead, I passed 1600 miles. I didn’t see an obvious marker, though, and I forgot to even look for one.
Continuing through a burn area, the trail was exposed to the sun, and even though it was 3,000 feet higher than Etna, it was still hot. Some clouds in the morning helped shield from the sun, but they didn’t last long.
I stopped for a break after 7.5 miles, sitting on the side of the trail huddled behind a burned-out tree. The burn area I was in made it difficult to find any reasonable amount of shade, so about the best I could do was sit with my back to the sun behind a tree that provided shade barely wider than I was.
About three miles later, I stopped in the shade near a creek (that, for some reason, was not listed in my guide) and got some nice cold water. The trail was still going through a burn area, so it was still hot and quite exposed, but at least there were some live trees and shade near that creek.
Around 3:30, I stopped for dinner at Fischer Lake, partly to beat the heat, but also because there wasn’t a campsite with water anywhere nearby. I picked a nice campsite near the lake that was mostly hidden from the trail, so a few people hiked past and didn’t even notice me.
Tired from the late night last night, I decided to only go to the next campsite, a mile and a half ahead. That’d put me at just over 15 miles, not bad for starting after 9 am on a hot day. Along the way, I passed a trail maintainer trimming bushes alongside the trail. (Thanks again for helping to make the trail better!)
When I got to the campsite, though, it looked full; there were quite a few people there. It appeared that they may have been a group of trail maintainers, but as I was tired, I didn’t stick around long enough to find out. Rather than trying to squeeze in, I opted to go to the next campsite, another three and a half miles further.
There were really only two spots for tents there, both already used, but I brushed off the ground a little bit and put my tent on a flat-enough spot. Later, two more people came, and set up on the other side of the trail, doing the same thing I did to make space for a tent where none had been before.
It’s about 38 miles to Seiad Valley, and I should get there in two more days; hopefully I’ll get pretty far tomorrow to make for an easy day into town.