At the end of today I, Quiz, am tired but feeling pretty bloody good and proud of myself. Today was not flat, we spent a majority of it climbing over 1km of hight but I probably also feel good cos I swam twice and it’s one of my favourite things to do.
Back to the beginning, we all slept really well as the white noise of Squaw Creek was constant and comforting. We woke and like robots packed up and started hiking. We had given ourselves an ambitious 3 miles before breakfast to get us to the next water and we made it to a cute sunken campsite in a u bend of the trail for coffee. In Etna we brought a full size bag of local coffee and it was too nice to give away so we have been carrying it, and as a result making big strong cups every morning.
After breakfast we finished our first climb of the day continuing on through undisrupted forest, alternating between sparse pine and deciduous trees which cast eerie green light. We stopped for a break halfway down and within 30 minutes met Hamlet and Swedish Fish, our desert and Bishop and Echo Lake friends followed by the Canadian couple Shortcut and oh dear name blank! It was Hamlets birthday! And he was lucky enough to get sweaty hugs and some gummy rings, we first met Hamlet at Scissors Crossing day 5! Where he tried to give me the trail name sweetness because I was so excited. John another hiker came up just behind Hamlet and when he left tried to dish dirt on him but he had the wrong audience and as PC bluntly told him, “if you don’t care what people think then why are you telling me”. It was a pretty excellent break all in all but it did last for about 45min.
We descended through more forest catching occasion glimpses of a raging bright blue river in the gorge below. Our dreams came true when that was the river we were lunching by and the trail arrived at an old wooden bridge that saved us a hectic river crossing. Despite there being Day hikers around and 2 fellow PCT hiker on the opposite bank we all went swimming, me like always in the nude. I really don’t care anymore and it feels great. It was so hot that we ended up rinsing some of our clothes and they dried within an hour. Thanks McCloud River you made my day! We also saw a ferret on the river bank, none of us had ever seen one of them in the wild.
After lunch was our second hot hot climb for the day. I drank 3.5L in 7miles, my mouth was getting so dry. We all got rubbed in new places and to make our climb longer Mushy got to camp to find another hikers bagsing all 3 spots for her party. The map didn’t list any for quite a few more miles but luckily there was one spot at the next water source where we put our tent and Mushy is camped half on the trail. We had no choice as we are climbing on the side of steep ridges for the next 5 miles and we are hot and tired.
We felt a bit presumptive using the trail as our kitchen and sitting space but luckily only 1 hiker has passed up in our cramped little camp. I made everyone hot chocolate after dinner and it was pretty tasty, it’s nice having so much water around.