444.4 miles hiked
We’re only 2.5 miles from the post office in Blue, where we sent ourselves boxes, and it doesn’t open until 9 a.m. so we let ourselves sleep in, but still somehow by 8 a.m. we’re sitting in the grass next to the dirt road, waiting for it to open. Blue is a handful of ranches along this dirt road, and that is the sum of it. The post office is in a small shed next to one of these ranch houses. Promptly at 9 the postmistress unlocks the gate and lets us in. She knows who we are, has known we’re coming, is a friend of Debbie’s who gave us a ride back to the trail yesterday. We show her the route on our phones and she gives commentary and advice, which we appreciate, as she knows this area like the back of her hand. We sort our boxes on the small wrought iron table outside the post office, marveling at the things we sent ourselves that we definitely don’t want to eat anymore. By 10 we’re ready to go.
The next 4ish miles are on the Blue dirt road, and then back into the wilderness with us. The route in this section will be just as faint, eroded and overgrown as in the last, unfortunately, although lower and warmer and not in a burn, which makes a huge difference. We have plenty of food and we know no matter what, in a few days we’ll see our dogs. This gives us strength.
The first 10 miles of the trail after leaving the road are actually really good. We climb steadily out of the heat into ponderosa forest on tread edged in poison ivy, gather water at a spring piped into an old stone trough, and stop often to space out and eat snacks while watching the leaves move in the breeze.
We reach a saddle and descend on a soft unobstructed path to a small creek born of a spring, and pitch our shelter before the drainage narrows into a canyon- in which the tread will dissapear and the going will get slow again. But that is for tomorrow.