Day 21, Saturday, May 25

Cowboy camping on a ridge (PCT mi 331.7), walked 33.4 miles today

Slept kind of poorly, too cold and damp right by the water and not very tired from the previous day. Felt like pushing pretty hard today, which I clearly did ... my longest day of hiking til this point had been 26 somewhere in PA with Perro on the AT, now I've got a thirtyburger to my name.

Everyone had left by the time I woke up at 7:15ish, so I packed up alone and hit the ol' dusty trail at 7:45 or so. Caught up to Lenny (now Captain 'Murrica at my suggestion) and Becca after five miles, passed them, made it to the Deep Creek Hot Springs an hour and a half later. Whatever the opposite of wholesome family fun is, this was it, Saturday of Memorial Day weekend at the hot springs. There was a lot of skin and an overpowering and diverse array of smoke aromas. I was ludicrously overdressed and my tan was put to shame by most of the people there, many of whom I guessed were regulars judging by the absence of tan lines on their bodies. When I walked out, I passed an older gentleman hiking in on the PCT who, aside from his sandals and his backpack, was naked as the day he was born. Probably won't see that again until June 21, if then.

Not wanting to hang around much longer, I pushed on and very nearly shredded my right ankle in about 5 places on the footbridge pictured below, specifically that part with the missing panel. It was by far the hardest I've ever rolled it hiking, and the shock of it was so intense that the rest of my body apparently couldn't keep its composure and I got nauseous and almost passed out right away, which is a stupid and unhelpful reaction to have to a rolled ankle. I've rolled that ankle a bunch of times, but that's never happened to me before. I had to sit down and fight off the nausea/blurred vision feeling for about ten minutes, even as my ankle stopped hurting for the most part. It didn't swell up, and was a little stiff for the next few miles, but after an hour or so I had forgotten it had even happened.

Took a 1.5-hour hide-from-the-midday-sun break at a shady water cache after 16 miles or so, then decided to cut loose. Was feeling strong and a marathon would have put me in what I thought was a decent camping area. My first test was dodging a hail of gunfire (literally), as I got to a point where I could look down at a road and see two Californian rednecks skeet shooting, with live rounds and an alarmingly powerful-sounding rifle, aiming right up at the trail. Halfmile had warned about this exact place in his notes, so I wasn't surprised, but it wasn't comfortable being up there as they were actively firing so I got a good quarter-mile of trail running in before the terrain shielded me. Eventually got to my 26-mile point at dusk. Turns out it wasn't so great, and the next five miles or so either didn't have good camp spots or were way too close to the crowded car-camping areas around Silverwood Lake to be appealing. I felt good even around the 30-mile mark, and only started to feel tired in my legs once the trail began to climb after that point. Didn't have to turn on my headlamp for a lot of the night-hiking because the moon is so bright tonight. The temperature is ideal as well, maybe in the upper 50s. I didn't like night-hiking on the AT because it's all in forests and really the only thing you can see is what's in the beam of your headlamp, but on the open parts of the PCT, with a full moon at your back, it's a pretty bitchin way to get around.