Miles: 20.57
Camping: Elk Lake 1.2 miles from PCT mile 1959.10

Waking up to the sun rising over a lake again made me feel delightfully spoiled. Once again enjoying cold oats and coffee with a beautifully painted view. I don’t know how I will ever adjust back to waking up to walls every day again. I don’t even remember what that’s like. This is a dream I never knew I had and it makes me feel content to be living it.

The others were stirring as I walked out of camp so I knew they’d catch me before long. One thing is certain, I’m still not the fastest of hikers. I don’t mind taking my time as I’m getting the most out of this experience before the time is gone. I no longer stress about making it to Canada before the snow falls, it’s the journey that counts for me. Thus, I began walking alone into the morning. I was soon amidst dense huckleberry bushes that were full of ripe berries. I began nibbling as I walked, soon finding myself hunched over a bush eating the sweet berries by the handful. I couldn’t seem to control myself and my fingers were becoming stained by the purple juices. It was a delightful addition to breakfast, and I hoped that there would be more berries by the lake I was destined for tonight so I could put them in my oats tomorrow.

The hiking remained fairly easy all morning, the air was quite cold. I didn’t stop much, as the chill went straight to my bones. It really feels as if winter is on its way but it is still August! The cool air is great for hiking though, so I savored the ease with which I walked. There were many lakes today and it seemed as if there were a hiker at every one, simply enjoying a break on the shore. There was a lake I had aimed to eat lunch by and it had a beautiful spot in the sun where I could sit as well. It was a big lake, with a bluff on which I sat enjoying my mid day meal (which Switch nominates to be called “noonsies.”) I decided that another leisurely lunch was in order as it did wonders for my day yesterday. I’m going to test the theory today by taking my time. I walked to the shore and washed my body and socks in the surprisingly warm water, wishing the clouds would give way to the sun so I could swim. I knew the swimming would be fine, but I abhorred the idea of getting out into the chilly air. Dust Bunnies hate being cold and wet more than just about anything.

As I was winding down my break, Biscuit, Birdbath and Karma all showed up. The guys went swimming while Biscuit and I drank coffee. We all ended up sitting for another 20 minutes talking and laughing before heading off to hike. While we sat the same group of older folks went marching by in a line. Biscuit revealed that she’d spoken with them, and one of them is the founder and CEO of Whole Foods. I was impressed, as I end up shopping there a lot back home. He is the man who gets almost as much of my paycheck as I do! We let them pass on and we began walking too. Biscuit was a bit fast today, so I let her go ahead and I listened to some podcasts. We leap frogged with each other a bit as she was having hip pain and would stop to stretch regularly. I just kept moving along at my usual steady pace, thinking about afternoonsies and the news as told by “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me…”

We came upon an open bluff overlooking the surrounding mountains. There was the Sisters, Jefferson, 3 fingered Jack, and some I didn’t know. We sat in awe of our first big vistas in weeks. We’ve been in the woods for so long we don’t really see what else is around us. It was stunning. We began nibbling on our hiker snacks and were soon joined by Birdbath. We happened to be sitting at a trailhead that would lead 1.2 miles to a resort and restaurant. The idea was tossed around to hike down and eat but we all decided that we would use restraint. Still sitting there, the group of 6 appeared at the trailhead too. They stood around debating on sneaking off trail for dinner as well when one of them looked at us and said, “do you want some trail magic?” We all looked at him and each other “we’ll buy you dinner,” he said as they walked down the trail to the resort. The three of us smiled big at each other and agreed that we could not say no. It was written in the stars.

The trail down was easy, and we excitedly talked about hot food and cold beer. How lucky we felt in that moment and even more so as we approached the resort to the sound of live music. There was a live bluegrass band playing, and people were everywhere enjoying the scene. We were filthy which I’m more aware of when we get around general society, but that’s just how it is. It’s been 10 days since Ashland, since clean clothes and showers. I could feel my funk like a second skin, but wasn’t going to be shy about eating dinner among the cleaner folk in town. The resort had a main lodge with several outlying cabins for rent, all situated around beautiful Elk Lake. The band was outside of the main patio people dancing and sitting about, merrily eating and drinking. We walked into the lodge and found a large table where we all sat eagerly eyeing menus.

The night progressed as we ate and drank with our new friends. They are a lovely group of people and their generosity was so appreciated. We had great conversation, great food and great beer while listening to live music. It was a lovely evening and when a friend of the group arrived, I recognized her from home. She turned out to be the manager of my local Whole Foods, where I went almost every day before work for snacks and Kombucha. Small world! She took the group off to a hotel, and we stayed to enjoy the fun atmosphere. Switch showed up, and we all drank some more beers on the patio by the lake and under the stars. Before long it was after hiker midnight and I felt as if I’d over indulged on the libation. We found a place to stealth camp, and I drifted off into a drunken sleep…an unexpected turn of events.

Brahma Lake
Cheers to trail magic!