Miles 1252.8-1284.3 (31.5)
Last night, with the full moon overhead, I heard a big animal moving slowly through the forest. Bear? I wondered. Big cat? Something smaller, a skunk or a fox? I left the tent and took a pee, making plenty of noise to alert the animal to its company. Later, wondering if it was moving closer, I played Poi-E loudly from my phone. Feeling upbeat and sure I had made myself known, I went back to sleep.
At 5:30am, I woke and started packing. My goal was to make it to Belden and stay the night at the Braatens. I thought I could make it if I hurried.
All day, I just kept moving. The morning was hardest, since I was very tired and had a few miles of steep climb to finish from yesterday. I was also paying attention to my water sources. It was hotter than yesterday and there was scarcely any breeze. I was sweating a lot.
Once I got to the top of the climb, even though it was barely mid-morning, I felt like I was home free. The rest of the day was ridge walks and gentle gain and loss of elevation. I could often see mountain silhouettes and sparkling lakes out in the distance. I had brief moments of cell phone reception, just enough to get the good news that Pat found a job in Sisters and was planning to arrive there next week. I was in great spirits and spent some time dreaming about visiting him and reuniting. Dreaming about our little nest together and going camping on weekends.
The end of the day mirrored it’s beginning with a steep descent down to the river town of Belden. I felt like I was going downhill for hours and hours, and though I was making good time, my feet began to ache. I have been nursing what I think is extensor tendinitis in my right foot since Tuolumne Meadows, and it was hurting again. Just something to watch.
I made it down and wandered around, looking for evidence of the Braatens. I saw other hikers in the distance and sped up to catch them but they disappeared. I walked across town to the forest where the PCT disappears again, and saw nothing. I returned to the Beldontown Resort and asked the bartender. He had the Braatens’ number on their fridge and let me use their phone. Brenda picked up and said she would be there in 10 minutes to pick me up.
So here I am at Little Haven. Showered and full, clothing rinsed and drying, with a kitchen to make pancakes in the morning and a big bed all to myself. I am exhausted and my feet are swollen, my skin itchy from mosquitos and whatever else. Mostly, I am extremely grateful to the Braatens for the little apartment they provide for hikers. Many thanks!