Last night the almost solstice moon rose almost full and so bright I actually went outside to be sure no one was shining a spotlight at my tent. By 4:30am the horizon was blushing an orangey-red, too pretty to sleep through. So, I lay in my cozy best of nylon and feathers and watched from my little perch on the hill.
After two nights camped alone seeing only a handful of hikers, either south bound or speeding ahead, I am starting to feel pretty lonely. So I find phone service and call Stephen and take care of work related email. But mostly I wish for a giant “RESUME” button that would bring back all my friends and my trail legs.
And then I make a new friend! His name is Speed. He also made it to Burney last year, just got back on trail and plans to go all the way to Canada. He has a PhD and is retired from a career as an environmental toxicologist and his daughter is near my age. We might even camp at the same place tonight. Hurray! Also, last night Speed had a bear charge into his camp, stopping just six feet away! He decided to pack up and walk a bit more. So I bet he really wouldn’t mind some company either.
My own animal encounter today is much tamer. A snake strung out half across the trail that refuses to move, even when I throw things. There’s no way around so of course I decide to poke it… and… nothing. It appears to be a dead snake. Or perhaps is merely sleeping. In either case I take a precautionary (*unnecessary) leap over the (dead) snake.
I meet a trail crew of two, cruising around had on off-road mopeds with chainsaws strapped to the back. I learn that they alone are responsible for 120 miles of trail. This week they cut through 120 blowdowns, in a section I walked yesterday afternoon, but still they feel the need to apologize for all the brush so far and for what is too come. “It’s pretty rough up ahead,” they caution.
I also hit my first snow today. There were a few remnants of on steep Northern slopes, a reminder that this section would have been very different or even near impassible only weeks ago. Today it is hot even at 6,000 feet and I chop off bits of grainy old snow to wipe my neck and face.
The trail is much more interesting than yesterday and I don’t think it’s just the chance of friends. For most of the day it follows a spectacular ridge with huge views, weaving around the hills alternating between views of Lassen behind and Shasta ahead.
Taking it slow just doesn’t seem to be working out. After and extended water break chatting with Speed and washing socks, we make plans to head to the primitive campground on the McCabe River nine miles away but mostly downhill.
June 22, 2016