Day 108: mile 1545.9 to mile 1572.3

8.1.18. 26.4 miles.

Today started out kind of slow. The winds must have shifted overnight or the smoke just settled in more, but it was so smoky when I woke up. It smelled like I was sitting in front of a campfire all night. It was also odd bc it was actually chilly this morning! It wasn’t cold like the Sierra but it was brisk enough that I didn’t really want to get out of my quilt, and I even put my puffy on once I got into my hiking clothes. So it took me a little while to get ready.

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I was finally hiking by 6:15. The morning started with a bit of an uphill, but then was pretty much downhill/ gentle roller coaster for the next 12 miles to highway 3. Even though the trail was fairly easy, there were tons of loose rocks, my least favorite terrain. I was struggling a little bit mentally today. I put on podcasts beginning at 8:30 in the morning. I haven’t been seeing too many people on the trail. Only 4 today, and 3 of them weren’t until the late afternoon. Yesterday, it was only 3. I think a lot of people are probably just a half day ahead/ behind or skipped up ahead bc of the smoke. And I don’t seem to have the same hiking style as any of these people I’ve seen since it’s only been in passing, or briefly at a water source.

 pretty butterfly & flowers bear a water source

pretty butterfly & flowers bear a water source

I took my lunch break halfway up the first climb of the afternoon, right after highway 3. I’ve been enjoying my new lunch of a plain bagel topped with honey PB and strawberry squeezable smuckers jam. It’s heavier, but nice to mix it up from the cold soaking for both lunch & dinner, which I got sick of on the last stretch.

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There was a really nice water source at the bottom of the second climb, where I met and chatted with Backtrack for a bit. I was still trying to decide where to camp for the night, so I took a small break and pulled out guthooks to look at potential options.

Still undecided, I started the next climb, changing my entertainment to Harry Potter, now on the Chamber of Secrets. The climbs haven’t been too difficult, but I was just pretty tired. I wish the climbs had been earlier in the day, when I had more energy. The views were really nice though, and I can only imagine how beautiful it would be without all the smoke. The smoke does add a sort of cool ambiance, but I think it would be prettier without.

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I got to a water source that had campsites nearby but they didn’t look so great, so I collected some water and pushed on one more climb to a site about another mile away. I set up camp immediately and ate my ramen in my tent, as usual. No one else is here, and tonight may be the first night I camp alone on the trail.

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I’m debating what I’m going to do tomorrow. There’s a ton of elevation gain and loss, but it’s 27.4 miles to the road to Etna, which is definitely doable in a day, but I’m unsure about the feasibility of getting a ride in the evening. I’ll just have to see how I’m doing along the way tomorrow with time and how my body is holding up to see if I could make it to the road at a reasonable hour.