Location- Forested ridge
Elevation- 6585 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 32.4 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1616 miles
Weather/Temp- clear 70s
Injuries- tight knees
Pain level- low
Days without shower- 5
Hit the trail at 7:30, feeling good and moving at a decent clip. The first half of the day passed in a blur before having lunch around 1 pm near another road that also lead into the town of Etna. I had no plans of going back in, but I decided that if someone offered me a ride while I was sitting there eating, then I wouldn’t refuse, because it was meant to be. Nobody did, so I moved on.
Only a couple miles from the road, I ran into about 5 horseback riders heading south. Some of the people were riding, while a couple were leading the horses on foot.
These were the first horses I’d seen on trail since the one I helped at the hot springs months ago. It’s so weird, because the trail is literally covered in horse shit, but you never see anyone riding; it must stay on the trail for a very long time.
I just so happened to be on a mildly rocky stretch when I let them pass by. Rocky enough, that I would think it would be challenging for a horse, although I have zero experience or knowledge to know what a horse can and can’t handle. All I knew, was that there were much rockier parts of the trail, and miles upon miles of them stretching all the way back to Mexico.
As the horses walked by, I noticed they were sliding and rolling a little on the broken rock. I asked one of the guys walking his horse “how do they do on the rocks?” He replied “Their hooves get sore if they’re not shod, which these ones are not, and that’s why we’re leading them.” I learned something new today…
Around mid afternoon I caught up to a familiar face. Not familiar from the PCT, but someone I’d hiked with and around on the AT back in 2014, from Georgia, all the way up through Vermont. His name is Rambler, and he’s a 31 year old lawyer from Atlanta Georgia. I’d heard he was out here, but hadn’t seen him until just today.
What a pleasant surprise. We hiked together for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening talking about old times on the AT, old friends, the PCT, stories from this trail, etc. Eventually we got on the subject of our animal encounters from this current hike. Rambler had already seen 5 bears, but no Rattlesnakes since leaving the desert. I told him I’d seen 5 rattlers just in northern California. I kid you not, within an hour of this conversation, we came across a small rattler in the middle of the trail. Rambler’s 1st northern California rattlesnake, and my 6 th. We joked that I must be a rattlesnake magnet.
Due to our slower conversational pace, I didn’t get my 36 miles, but I still got well over 30. I didn’t care; it’s just nice to see an old friend and have someone to reminisce with and talk to.
We had dinner in the dark, and are now encamped on the same forrested ridge. I have more than 37 miles to reach the town of Seiad tomorrow. It’ll be my 5th day out of Shasta, so I want to make it there no matter what. 150 miles in 5 days…another new personal record.