Day 76 | mile 1572.1 - 1599.7 | 27.4 miles

Opened my eyes at 5:30. Late! I slept like a rock. The only thing that woke me up was a hiker coming through shining his headlamp right on my face. I’m pretty sure it was Cheap. That guy is on a weird schedule.

Incredible 360 views on this ridge I slept on. When I got up to pee I noticed there were deer tracks all around me. I didn’t even hear them. I slept on a sandy rock, basically. So, there were no twigs for deer to snap and scare me.

My stove lit! Yay! Oh wait, it ran out of gas 5 seconds later. I just drank the cold water from the pot and spooned the instant potato powder into my mouth.

Just kidding. (I did think about it.) I had an English muffin, cream cheese, and salami. And a raisin snail while I was packing up.

Moving at 6:10. A little later than I would’ve liked. I’m trying to get to the road by 4, so I have time to hitch to USPS by 5.

For some reason I thought today was going to be pretty easy. It wasn’t. When you zoom out in the elevation profile, it doesn’t look too bad. One section in particular just looked like a nice well-watered downhill. It was actually a roller coaster of steep ups and steeper downs.

It was hot. The grade is just as bad as in the Sierra if not worse. And a lot of the trail was rocky.

Passed Cheap at 10:30-ish 13 miles in. He was sleeping in his bag with his sunglasses on. Hahaha. Such a good look. I wish I had gotten a picture.

I kept extending where I was going to stop. Finally stopped at 12:50. I told myself i could sit down but I’m leaving at 1. Polished off the cream cheese and salami on my English muffin. I ate the sandwich alternating bites with the apple I’ve been saving and it was surprisingly good. Insects were all around me and crawling on my skin. I’ve long stopped expending any energy to shoo them away. (Unless it’s mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can fuck right off.) I’m so used to having them walk all over me that I didn’t notice there were bees on the backs of my legs. When I started getting up, backs of my calves touched my thighs and I got stung twice. It hurt so much that I got goosebumps.

The climb out of there was daunting but I was fueled up and ready to hike the 10 remaining miles to the road. Holy shit. Cascades aren’t fucking around. It was really tough. Did I mention that? I was in such a rush that I kept stubbing my toes. Agh.

Finally got to the road at 4:10. It was hot hot hot. Not much traffic but I heard it’s still an easy hitch. Two cars passed me, no luck. Some guy going the opposite direction stopped and cheered me on. Finally got a ride when a hiker was getting dropped off at the trail.

It was 4:55. No chance of making it to USPS before it closed. I can’t even describe how exhausted and bummed I was. I tried really hard and it wasn’t enough.

The guy driving me is an older gentleman named Christopher. He moved to Etna from Washington DC in 1990. He used to be a computer engineer so we talked about that. He is long retired. It was fascinating to hear about his career.

Slowly walked over to Alderbrook Manor (Hiker Hut for PCT hikers). Talked to Vickie  Vickie and Dave run this bed and breakfast. Vickie doesn’t deal with hikers though, that’s Dave’s job. :) He said there was no room, but I’m welcome to camp in the backyard.

I took a shower. It was like mud running off my legs. And that’s just 3 days. I love it when places provide loaner clothes. I get to clean all my clothes, wear something whacky, and no one can make fun of you because “hey, these aren’t my clothes. They’re loaner clothes.”

This place has a beautiful cat - Sally. And they provide bikes to ride the 0.3 miles into town. So so nice.

I chatted with a hiker staying at Hiker Hut. His name is Unchained. He is 70 years old and started at Campo end of March. He used to be a software engineer also.

After doing all my chores, I took the bike to town. Got a salad and a burger with avocado at Paystreak. Tahini dressing was spicy and delicious. It felt so good to be full.

Everyone seems to know each other in this town. I didn’t bring my phone, and I was alone, so I was just eavesdropping on conversations. The waitress/owner was talking a lot about god and how everything is his plan. It’s so strange to read books like Sapiens and The Better Angels of Our Nature and nod along to their commentary about religion and then come to a place like this where (good) people still believe this nonsense.

Quick trip to the grocery store for ice cream. It was getting dark and finally cooling off. Etna is so friendly, quiet, and beautiful. I love it here. I biked back to the hotel with 3 ice cream bars, 2 yogurts, a banana, and corn removal patches for my callus.

Back at the Hiker Hut, I was delighted to see Rick and Morty was on - the Unity episode. Some guy was talking shit about the show and trying to find something to change the channel to. Nobody was voicing any opposing opinions, and finally said “what the fuck are you talking about? Rick and Morty is a brilliant show.” His girlfriend passively agreed with me. He changed the channel to This is 40. Yea, that’s an improvement.

I left the hut to go across the creek to sleep on the lawn. I can barely get any WiFi there. Just as well since I’m dead tired. I’m drinking tea out a ceramic cup while journaling - like a human being. (I don’t actually know how to use “-“. Pretty sure I’m not doing it right.)

There are a ton of frogs here. I like frogs because they eat mosquitoes. The neighbor’s dog heard me rustling around here and now it’s running along the fence and barking at me. Hope this doesn’t go all night.