I didn’t get up super early, but got out early enough to get me within striking distance to town, had shorter stops than usual, met a trail maintainer, and then had a trail angel serve me dinner. The trail wasnt too rocky, it wasn’t too steep, it wasn’t too hot (in fact most of the day I was cold), and it was pretty well maintained in most areas.
The morning was very damp and cold. The picture is from about half a mile from the campsite at about 6:30. There were heavy clouds and fog in most areas around me. I knew even before I got out of my sleeping bag that it was going to be a cold day. The air was so thick with moisture and all my clothes were quite damp. That made it all the more difficult to get dressed and get going.
When a arrived last night it was essentially dark. And in the darkness I did not notice the PCT sign pointing to the left of the cabin. So when I set off in the morning, I started off on the wrong trail. I only went about two tenths, so it was not a big deal to backtrack, but when you have hiker hobble in the morning where your Achilles tendons keep you to a slow pace, even twenty feet can seem like a chore.
The morning was a little rocky and overgrown, so with the dampness in the air plus the dew on the vegetation, my legs stayed pretty wet for the first hour of the morning. My hands were cold, but I had already sent my gloves home, so I just had to tough it out. Once out of Marble valley, the trail returned to its usual ridge walks in and out of pines with moderate elevation changes.
I stopped for lunch at 11:30 at the last spring before the big climb. I needed another liter and there was a huge pine tree with cut logs for tables and benches. It was too perfect to pass up. I ate salami and cheese wraps again, and was able to water, eat, and get going right at noon. Yeah, finally a short lunch.
The next hour was steep downhill hiking. It battered my feet a little bit, but nothing major. Most of the forest was burned out, but it was still cool until about half way down, then it got noticeably hotter. There was enough tree cover to keep me cool, but I was definitely no longer cold. I took several breaks on the way down, but mostly quick ones five or ten minutes long.
The last campsite was six miles from town and was a developed state forest campground. I was due to hit it just after 6:00, so a town entry was still a possibility. The café would be closed, the store probably closed, and unknown if the RV park office would still be open. Still on the fence.
About three miles from the campsite, I ran across a man and woman packing gear onto two horses and a donkey. Bill and Peggy were their names and they had just cleared logs across the trail. I talked with them a short while then moved on. The trail kept getting easier, and even with the chat, I would still get to the campground by 6:15 and could be in town by 8:15. Still on the fence.
I ended up getting to the campground right at 6:15 and I was tired and my feet sore, but I still had six miles in me. Then the decision was made. At the campground was a trail angel named Legend who was all set up and ready to cook spaghetti dinners. I had seen this guy in Mount Shasta, so I knew who he was. Walk two more hours or eat free spaghetti. The mind was made up, and spaghetti it was. He made a huge pot and put a can of chili in it to add meat to it and it was quite good. Six more hikers rolled in a few at a time, and each time a new pot of spaghetti went to boiling. I think I ate five plates of it before I actually got full, but I did eventually get full.
So town will have to wait for the morning. But town might have to wait for pancakes, too. Legend is making pancakes tomorrow morning.
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