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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.