We awoke next to a beautiful lake. Sometimes it takes a few elongated seconds to piece together where you are and how you got there, walking of course. Paradise lake looks it’s best when the cliffs are illuminated by the pink dawn light. What a special place, I’m so glad we got to spend more time there.
All the memories of yesterday come back and I remember we are taking a side road out. The road isnt fully on our pct maps so we hope that it’s not too longer walk down. We just can’t fathom the notion of taking that steep 5000ft drop back to Seiad Valley. We hit the road by 7am. It’s a quick 3 miles down to the Paradise Lake Trail Head. We eat breakfast in the car park hoping someone might drive by. Mushy joking says, maybe if we hitch in time we can get a second breakfast in town!
We start the long road walk. I think it’s 25km in all. The tall pines keep the road cool and shaded and we all go into autopilot and mindlessly walk as speedily as we can. I think to myself how funny and lame we must look, hikers decked out with walking poles, ice axes, crampons, racing down this dirt road. We see no cars, but we do cross a few flooded road ways that were pretty exciting.
At 9:30am We finally reach a confusing intersection. Daves gps is telling us to take a forest service road for a more direct route, however I argue that there will be no traffic on the service road. In the meantime a car rolls up. Dan, had just dropped his wife off for a 3 day hike at Lovers Gap Trail Head. The road we have been walking on has apparently been closed down near the highway due to landslides. Dan is driving out the service road and is happy to give us a lift! We pile in and he takes us into Etna giving us the town tour.
We decide to stay at a BnB called Hiker Hut. It’s a beautiful house with a lush shaded lawn area to camp on. We dump and packs and head out for that second breakfast after all! We are all happy we didn’t have to walk all 16 miles of that road and can’t believe we are already in town.
The rest of the day is spend drinking and cooking and chatting and chillin 😎. We properly meet Pickels, Apothecary, Rambo Juice and Stretch who we met up near Paradise Lake a few days ago. It is so strange flipping and walking south, being surrounded by totally unfamiliar people, but we have met some lovely folks!