Day 69: Friday, July 12

Cowboying near the W Branch of Nelson Creek (PCT mi 1223.9), walked 25.2 miles today

Woke up at 6:45 to some apparently very early risers walking around me on the trail. Hadn't expected anyone to come out of town so early, but they had started hiking at 5:45. Crazy oldsters. Sky Eyes came by later as I was packing up, still sitting in the middle of the trail, and gave me a fist pound because "Fuck it dude, I fuckin love sleepin in the middle of the fuckin trail." Got hiking by 7:45 and climbed up over a couple of miles to the Sierra Buttes, which everyone could see from down in town yesterday. Really stellar views, and if I had had enough water at the time, I would've run off trail to the fire tower at the tippy top of the peak ... Alas, I was pretty parched and had to push on to the nearest spring. Water is back to being an issue, something we have to constantly be aware of and plan for. It was a nice 450 miles with water everywhere you looked, but those halcyon days are over.

Rolled through some very easy-on-the-eye terrain all the rest of the day ... If it wasn't a shady hemlock/fir forest, it was a lush verdant hillside covered in wildflowers and lamb's ear. Walked alone and had a genuine struggle for motivation in the middle of the day, one of the first times it's really happened to me. I had just taken a long break and was alone and was tired of being alone and wishing I could catch up to the people I like in front of me. But I kind of eased out of that low mood after walking awhile, and by the end of the day I was back to being very happy with just about everything.

Got to a mildly famous water source, the A-Tree spring, at 6 pm and had to endure a little too much lecturing from an older section-hiking couple about not treating my water. Normally I will take a brief tsk-tsk, counter it with "I understand, but I've spent 6 months in Sri Lanka and have 2000 miles of treatment-free hiking under my belt now, and I haven't gotten a serious intestinal condition yet" and then we can leave it at that. But these people wanted to go on and on about it, so I actually left early without taking my planned longish break there. On the last 5-mile stretch, Red Beard caught up to me ... On Monday the 1st he left the trail from Bridgeport for 5 days because of an issue back home in Seattle, got back on on Saturday morning, and has since hiked 200+ miles to try and catch up with Blast, Orbit and Slack, his trail friends. A pretty epic week of walking ... Today he did 30 including a trip into Sierra City. He's the type of person I like to point to when people accuse me of moving fast. He and I are camped at this water source, which is _barely_ running. It's listed in Yogi's book as "usually has water," so it stands to reason that it's dry enough this summer that any water source with even the slightest chance of failure should not be counted on. Tomorrow should be a 26-miler to a swimming hole.