Mile 1597.5 to mile 1617
We wake in the morning with a mission: 9.5 miles to Etna, and food. I’m the last one out of camp, at 6:30, but it’s blessedly overcast and cool and I’m cruising. What a difference a lower air temperature can make! This last climb would’ve felt like hell yesterday, in the heat, but this morning it barely registers. Soon I catch up with Twinkle and Guthrie. We walk along the narrow, rocky trail that clings to the mountain, marveling at the view below. The valley way down there with its green fields, the sunbeams shooting through the clouds. And Mt. Shasta, still, just hulking on the horizon like the magical mountain that it is.
We reach the highway at 9:30. Woody’s there- Chance and Mack and Bearclaw and Dirtmonger (who I really really want to call Bearmonger and Dirtclaw) already got a hitch. Within minutes we have one too, and we’re speeding down the winding, car-sickness inducing road towards Etna.
Etna is just a few blocks long. Etna has more deer than people. They’re tame and dull-eyed and they wander the main street, which is entirely devoid of humans. I shower and wash my clothes at the Hiker Hut, buy romaine lettuce, a can of chili and an avocado at Ray’s food place. Exact same lunch I had last year, and it’s so good I’ll do it again. I find Twinkle and Guthrie at the deli, each working their way through a large pizza. I eat a piece of Twinkle’s pizza and it tastes euphoric, like drugs. Ah, PMS. I then discover that my resupply box never arrived at the post office and I have to go back to Ray’s food place and figure out how to resupply from their limited selection- but by this time I’m in too much of a glutenfog to focus, and it feels like it takes an hour. I do buy a peach though, so that’s good.
Back at the Hiker Hut Woody has cracked a half-gallon of rocky road icecream, and I eat some of that. Now my stomach is really upset, and I know I’ll pay later. I can’t eat gluten or dairy. No way. But fuck. I just want to be a regular hiker sometimes, you know?
At 3:30 my chores are finally done and Woody and I are the only ones still left in town. There’d been talk of ten more miles- we get a hitch back to the trailhead and start hiking at 4, hoping they didn’t go farther. It’s this morning in repeat except I’m tired. I reach camp at 8 and everyone’s there- it’s a regular hiker party. I sit on the ground, tired, and eat some chips. Success!
Photos on instagram.