I listened to music in the morning, headed out about 6:15, dealt with more rocks, passed up on an easy hitch I to Etna, and hiked until dark.  All that and I’m still 32 miles from Seiad Valley.  I’m not sure if I want to make tomorrow an easy day and roll into town early Wednesday, or try to push and make town late tomorrow.  I’ll let the morning tell me what to do.

The wind died down early in the night and when I awoke, the lake was mirror flat.  Leaving the lake, the trail was quite rocky and I did not make good time.  I took many short breaks and stopped at every peak trying to get a cell signal.  The town of Etna was to the east and did provide a good signal if you were faced in that direction.

The trail eased up on the rocks after a few miles and started to look like the trail has looked for the last 200 miles – nondescript ridge walking through dying pine forests.  There are so many dead trees on the forest floor and not enough young ones to take their place most of the time.

I hit the road to Etna at about 9 am and there was a truck there that pulled up and asked if I wanted a ride to town.  It would have been so easy to just stroll into town and eat breakfast and grab a coke.  But the road has so little traffic, I was worried I would never get back out to the trail.  I did not want to risk wasting three hours so I declined and hiked on.  That’s the third easy hitch I’ve turned down.  I must be crazy.

I met a new through hiker, Cougar, who is camped near me now, and two couples who I did not get names of.  I saw a few day hikers near the road to Etna, and there are several tents at this campsite that I suspect are short term hikers.  I got here too late to really see the place well.

I ate lunch at the top of a ridge in shady pine trees and thought I ate quickly, but it still took a full hour.  I need to figure out how to make lunch faster.  I wanted to eat quicker today since I took so many breaks this morning.  I had only gone 11.5 miles by noon today.  Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.  I try to do 12 by 12.  Some days I can hit 14 or 15.

There were lots of clouds in the afternoon, which was good because most of the terrain was barren either because it was rocky or burned out.  Between the clouds and breeze, I was actually cold more than hot most of the day.  But even though I was not hot, I sweated alot because the terrain all day was pretty hilly.  And more rocks, too.  The rocks really slow you down and pound your feet to a pulp.  The last  hour of hiking today, they were pretty sore.

Today was also supposed to be a dry stretch, so I had loaded up a full 4 liters this morning.  It turns out there were several undocumented water sources, so I could have done with two or three.  It did not feel too heavy because I am starting to eat the food down pretty low so there’s less food weight right now.  Three days of food is about where it shifts from heavy to light.  I hate loading up six days of food.

I ended up hiking all the way to Marble valley to camp, when I had intended to stop about a mile or two short of there so I did not have to hike all the way until dark.  But the last two miles of ridge were just too rocky or steep to pitch a tent, so I had no choice.  I was making good time despite the sore feet, so I guess it worked out fine.  I hate showing up to a camp full of people late and having to set up and cook while they are trying to go to bed.  I got everything done as quickly as possible and got to bed by. 9:45 which wasnt too bad.  Now to see what the feet tell me in the morning.