July 3, 2016
Bushcamp (Mile 1655.8) to bushcamp (mile 1676.8)
Our alarm went off at 4 am. It was still dark.
At 5 am it was still too dark to see the poison oak plants clearly and we didn’t want to take any risks.
So we sat, fully dressed, inside our tent hiding from the mozzies and waiting for dawn to creep into our foresty area.
At 5:45 we were walking. Speed, Fixie and Cardinal had taken off around 5:15 am.
The trail climbed but the cooler morning air and shade made it bearable. The poison oak was abundant but there were only a few places where we attempted to contort our bodies to avoid contact.
At 3,800 ft we saw our last poison oak bush and the day greatly improved.
We walked through a burn area with Fireweed and Mountain Lilies. The flowers are a true highlight of this section. There always seems to be one beautiful flower that makes the poison oak sections feel worthwhile. Today, that was the Mountain Lily.
We caught up with the rest of the group when they stopped to get water. We had enough and we all continued on together, marching one after another up the hill.
The climb never really ended but got much more gentle after a few miles. The rest of the morning we hiked up a small hill then dropped into a little valley and gradually climbed up again.
We were suprised and wowed by the green ponds and grass amongst the rock and sand. Around every turn there was more beautiful scenery. This trail is truly amazing.
We stopped for lunch at 11:30 at Cook and Green Pass. We chatted with day hikers and campers and secretly hoped for some trail magic.
We spread out in the shade and relaxed. Shoes off, minimal bugs and cooler temps made for 5 happy hikers. Laurie, Fixie and Cardinal took luxurious naps. Turns out food bags make excellent pillows!
Around 2 pm the sun had shifted and we got ready to hike on. Two mountain bikers came over to chat and offered to house us for the night near Ashland. The generosity of strangers continues to amaze us!
It was hot as we began our last 1500 ft climb. The scenery was still beautiful but Laurie struggled with the heat. She kept her head down and played the alphabet game to keep her mind occupied.
Around 4:30 we got to a spring only 3 miles from camp. We filled our bottles for the night and tomorrow morning and hiked on.
We talked as we walked, which always helps the miles go by faster. Cardinal is starting medical school at UCSF and is moving into the neighborhood that Laurie moved out of. We talked about favorite restaurants (a dangerous topic on a thru hike with no good Vietnamese food in our forseeable future) and other neighborhood highlights.
After climbing over 15 downed trees in the last half mile, we got to camp around 6 pm. This is the earliest we have made it to camp in a while and it made us giddy.
We enjoyed happy hour with nuts, cheese and DANG coconut chips. We all made dinner and enjoyed the feeling of being sedentary after a long day.
The air turned cool and then cold as the sun dropped towards the horizon. We again, got the best spot since we have the largest tent and two people. Thanks Speed, Fixie and Cardinal for being so generous!
It is now 9:15 pm and we are cozy in our sleeping bags listening to the birds sing.
Tonight we are grateful for trail naps and cool nights.