Stalked

Day 121

With the intent of an early start on the day, we woke up a bit early. Of course our snooze buttons were pushed, so it wasn't all that much earlier. Last night we got into Etna, California. The town was a ghost town, and even looked like something out of a wild west movie. We walked around and found a spot to pitch the tent behind the high school. Stealth camping like this reminds me of the Appalachian Trail and all the crazy places we camped!

We were to head to the grocery store so we could do a small resupply and put in a planned 22 miles. Of course, the little coffee shop in town took out the grocery store for first stop. After some good coffee and awesome bagels, we did our resupply. As we were walking out, a guy asked if we needed a lift to the trail. Shocked, that someone randomly asked US if we needed a ride, we unfortunately said no because we had to get our food stash.

Preparing for our hitch, we set off on the road towards the trail. The very small, quiet town didn't have much traffic. At first we were worried, but the first car going the opposite way stopped, asked if we needed a ride, turned around and drove us to the trail! At long last, a truly kind town to us hikers. No folks, we are not bums. I apologize for the smell, however...

Dave -- the former mayor of the town -- was generous to give us a ride out of his way, and a nice way to start off our day hiking. Our second stop was at a very small lake. We kept looking down the mountain for it, then it popped up above us. These mountains have pools all around them, so it makes for nice camps, and breaks! Todays was filled with bathing and washing clothes. Hetch-hetchi (our new hiking buddy) and Andy were shocked to see how my hair changed many shades lighter after it was washed -- it's nice to be clean.

After our break, we hiked on to finish out the day. Unfortunately not as quickly as we would have liked. The water source we had planned to camp at, was trickling to the point of uselessness. So we trucked on. We though a mile, then a mile and a half, and then realized it was two miles away. Well after dark, our headlamps illuminated the trail. As we stop to check our location, we hear something rustle in the bushes. Unable to find anything, we trucked on. Andys headlamp died, so I had to go in front and soon after I heard something else and looked to my right to see two, low, glowing eyes. I quickly recognize it as a cat, and start making noise. Unafraid, it approached a little closer before lazily turning to walk off.

Walking the next mile with Andy gripping his Hoodlum (our 10 inch buck knife) was frightening. To make it worse, we were walking in five foot flowers and plants overgrowing the trail -- if something wanted to hide, it could do so right in front of us.

Finally, after a 25-mile day, we arrived at camp, made a fire, got our water and relaxed. Our swollen feet and toes ache, and tired bodies don't realize we haven't even started our planned two weeks over 30+ mile days.

-- Ian