What a crazy day today.  I slept in slightly, made good time down to Belden and was not prepared for what awaited in town.  Apparently they were just wrapping up a 1600 person festival and the place was a zoo.  With much finagling, I got fed, bathed, laundered, but hiked out of town to camp.

The deer marched around camp all night and morning last night.  I spoke with other hikers that had the same experience in the area.  I still slept pretty well and lazed in bed listening to music until 5:30 and was on the trail by 6:30.  I was energized and ready to get to town.

I still had some climbing to do, and most of the morning was small ups and downs as we followed the ridge tops.  The trees were thick and the temperatures were nice and cool.  It was probably about 11:00 when I hit the leak that would begin the long descent into town.  And it turned treeless and hot as blazes.

I was not looking forward to a hot afternoon.  Luckily, after about an hour, the trees returned, but it was still pretty warm.  Belden is at about 2000 ft which is pretty low so it was likely to get hot.  I stopped at a campsite about half way down to have a peanut butter and nutella tortilla and a butter tortilla.  It always feels good to finish the last of something so you can throw it away.  I still have one day of food I did not break and not yet, and ended up with only one Belvita left over from the whole lot.  That’s pretty good.  Make room for new food.

The last few miles were nice switchbacks.  The picture is from the end of one of the switchbacks where you can see how gently graded most of it is.  Going downhill on these you can do about 3 – 3.5 mph, and uphill 2 – 2.5 mph.  It’s relatively easy hiking, but uphill or downhill for over an hour does start to abuse you a little.  It’s easier going up and down to even out the abuse.

I hit the railroad tracks about 1:30, a little earlier than I expected, which is a good thing.  What I was not prepared for, was seeing the entire road for a quarter mile lined with cars and people camping on every square inch of ground.  There were people directing traffic, so I asked them what the event was.  I never got an answer I could understand.  Based on the license plates, these were all people from the bay area out for a long weekend.  You would think a festival would end on Sunday, but this one was ending on Monday.

I made my way to the resort Lodge and there was as much commotion there as outside.  I found another hiker who had managed to get a table and sat with him.  An hour and a half later, I had a hamburger and a salad.  The place was a zoo.  I called the trail angel whom I had sent my package to and she said they were full but she would run my package out at 5:30 across the street.  OK something going right, even though I was not able to stay the night with them.

Shower and laundry were next priority.  I asked if the lodge had any rooms and their best answer was ‘I don’t know’ which I take as a no.  They did have laundry, and there was a fantastic river outside, so it was a bath in the river.  It was alot nicer than it sounds.  The water was the perfect temperature and the river wide enough and deep enough that I could do laps back and forth across the river.  It felt great to get some alternate exercise.  I wish I was still in that river right now (mainly because it’s a hot stuffy night).

The laundry took forever, but it finally finished.  I was able to fully charge my phone and the battery about half way with the long stop.  I asked the store keeper what time he closed, so I could pick up a drink on the way out.  He said 8:00, but at 7:25 he had already closed.  Sheesh.  A really disappointing visit in Belden.

The next stop is Drakesbad, which I was supposed to have a box shipped to since they have no store to speak of, but they do have great meals.  Their address is not a valid address, so the post office refused to ship it.  Nice.  I have shoes there, and it’s right on the trail, so I’m definitely stopping there, but I’ll probably have to stop in Old Town to pick up another day of food to make it all the was to Burney Falls State Park, where the last box will be waiting for me.  From then on, it’s all self resupply in stores all the way through Oregon to the Timberline’s Lodge, if I make it that far before having to fly home at the end of August.

Time for some shuteye for the long climb tomorrow.  For now, I will dream about that river and swimming in it.

While picking up the box, Mrs Braaten recommended a camping site only a mile up the road.  Score.  It would be well after seven before I got out of town, and long uphills rarely have good camping.  I am there now, and she recommended a good spot.  I got here right at 8:00.