With a long day in mind, I started hiking this morning a little after 6:30, to fairly nice weather. The early morning trail wound into and out of forest as it continued on its way north. Smoke from the fires continued to hang in the air, adding color to the morning sky.
I took my first break after seven miles at a pond. A conveniently placed wooden platform large enough for a few people to sit on made it easier to stretch out and relax without getting more covered in dirt.
The only wide-open view today came a bit later, as the trail crossed a clearing on the east side of the valley Ashland was located in. The smoke largely filled the valley, making it hard to see anything of interest.
I took my second break at the outlet to the Little Hyatt Reservoir, six miles from the earlier pond. The water was nicely flowing, and I got enough water to make it another ten miles to the creek where I planned to have dinner. It was nice out, with a light breeze, and not quite as hot as it had been in previous days. Jelly and Verde were both there, and were both considering going to the South Brown Mountain Shelter, another 22.2 miles ahead. I also started the day considering going there, which would make for a 33.4 mile day for me. The shelter has a water pump and, I was hoping, plenty of space to sleep inside so I wouldn’t have to set up my tent. The elevation profile looked to be pretty nice, so I didn’t think the long day would be much of a stretch, even though by the time I left from my break, it was nearly noon.
I abandoned the plan to get to the shelter when I rolled my ankle about 16 miles into the day. It hurt, but I slowly hobbled another quarter of a mile to a dirt road crossing, and stopped and sat down to rest. I hadn’t been planning on stopping for at least another mile or two, so the injury and earlier than expected break threw my cadence for the rest of the day completely off. With another 17 miles to go to the shelter, it seemed that would be pushing too far on an injury, to say nothing of the extra time it’d take to get there while I was going slower.
I stopped for dinner at a campsite between an aqueduct and Grizzly Creek. The aqueduct water was flowing quite briskly, but was apparently unsafe to drink from due to the possibility of chemicals in the water. The water from Grizzly Creek was pretty good, though.
Today was mostly a green tunnel (or rather, a green corridor; I don’t think there was really sufficient tree coverage above the trail to make it a tunnel), so there wasn’t much in the way of views after the morning. I did, however, catch a glimpse of a butterfly and a bee snacking on the same flower, and a large caterpillar crossing the trail.
Somehow, in spite of the pain in my foot from rolling my ankle, I managed to go another nine miles from that point, making it a 25.1 mile day. All things considered, I’m pretty happy with how far I got today.