Miles: 24
Camping: Off the PCT by an old gutted out prison camp
Hikers seen on trail: 36

The morning started as I heard a few other people hitting the trail while it was still dark. I hadn’t intended on waking up that early, but the deed was done and I had gone to bed before dark. I felt rested and ready to conquer another day on the trail at 5 am sharp.

The moon was still bright enough that I didn’t really need to use my headlamp, and for the first time in a while the trail didn’t start out with a steep climb. I felt strong after 2 days of hiking less than 20 miles, and I aimed to push for 23 today. Not long up the way I caught up with the group I had woken up to, and they were discussing a hitch to a restaurant 2 miles up the road. I wanted no part of that, though secretly all I ever want is a hot breakfast served to me. I should have named my blog, “Will Hike For Bacon.”

With that, I headed onward. Soon they all gave up on the idea of breakfast, but Ninja and I walked faster and soon broke ahead of the group. I can’t hike with a lot of people at once, but it has been days since I walked with someone else, so I was happy for the company. We share the same mileage goals for the next couple of days, so we will likely walk together for a bit. It works with him, as we both like to hike alone, but can still carry on a good conversation from time to time. Sometimes he will put in headphones as we walk the same pace, but we spend that time with our own thoughts and chat it up on breaks. We have a surprising amount in common, including foot pain, so we hobble well together and laugh a lot. His foot pain is a bit worse at this time, but we have some good rest days coming up, and that has been my magic bullet as of late. I hope the same for Ninja.

We had to dodge so much poodle-dog bush today, it was a nightmare. It is this plant that grows in areas affected by forest fires and can cause some serious rashes and blistering if touched. At times it is nearly unavoidable, making for slow walking and crafty maneuvers. We ended up taking yet another road detour to end the day in order to avoid a bad stretch of it, though apparently we will be doing more dancing tomorrow.

Before the detour we had a long lunch with some other folks. Moonshine was there and he hikes with a guitar, so we had a nice sing along for a bit. This while we cooked up our various hiker meals lounging in the shade of a giant tree. Lots of people walked by, we are certainly among the pack. I hope to move ahead when they all get sucked into the party at the Anderson’s, as the trail is getting too crowded for my tastes. When we stopped for water at a fire station, we were practically a small village lounging in their shade.

Today we also met Buddy Backpacker. He is only 6 and did the AT last year when he was 5! He is full of smiles and energy, and I’m simply amazed by him. His parents keep a blog if you are interested…but I forgot to ask, so you’d have to Google him. Wow!, is pretty much all I can say about that.

We are hunkered down now by a gutted out prison camp at the Station Fire Monument. Ninja, Blisster and I are all cowboy camping and plan to get up early for meteor showers and a start on the day. We plan to hit the KOA tomorrow night for a swimming pool and rumors that a Chinese restaurant will deliver to us there. Sounds delightful. Sweet dreams!

Ninja battles around poodle dog
Ninja cooking up his dinner while Blisster looks on
None too pleased with the poodle dog