Day 83: Friday, July 26

In a room at the Dunsmuir Lodge (PCT mi 1506.5), walked 25.0 miles today plus at least two more around town

Left after Egg and Spark did, around 7:30, but was only alone for the first chunk of the day. Ran back into both of them at my first break, the gorgeous Squaw Valley Creek, and thenceforth they were my trail buddies for the day. The six-mile climb out of said creek was much more pleasant with company, as was confronting the oppressively hot conditions ... At one point in the middle of the climb we all stopped in a shady spot and plopped down in the middle of the trail for what turned out to be a 30-minute break, during which we commiserated over the heat and also did some reminiscing about the AT, all three of us being veterans. It's the type of break I would've never taken on my own--I would've just pushed up the hill and wasted myself--but it turned out to be very helpful in keeping me fresh for the last 10 miles or so.

Those last ten miles were much gentler, and clouds rolled in and thunderstorms threatened, which dropped the temperature to a more manageable level. Spark got a little ahead and Egg a little behind and I never saw either of them again. Instead, I got to the interstate with a third hiker, Coincidence, whom I'd just met today. I hadn't even taken off my pack yet to change out of my rancid hiking shirt when a pickup hauling firewood came up to the on-ramp ... I stuck my thumb out and he squeezed both of us in for the 3-mile ride up the freeway to the town of Dunsmuir (the PCT comes out of the woods at Castella, which doesn't really have anything). Wasn't sure what to do in Dunsmuir itself, other than the obvious--eat pizza and go to the grocery store--but I decided to splurge on a motel room for the night, under the logic that I might only be staying in one or two more proper motels for the rest of the whole trail. After Ashland at the beginning of Oregon, "trail towns" become less of a concept and it's more like "outposts of civilization that happen to be near the PCT."

Aiding my decision to hotel it was the sky, which was actually beginning to drop rain. Walked into downtown after settling into the room and on the way caught the most spectacular double rainbow I've seen in my life outside of YouTube. It made a full arc ("All the way!" as they say) but my cameraphone's lens wasn't wide enough to capture it all. Nonetheless I got good pictures of each end. Then I began to laugh and cry hysterically. Once I'd recovered, went to the town pizza joint and met up with a LASHer named Pumped, who was the only hiker around. Chit-chatted with him as I knocked out half of an XL Greek pizza (I wasn't feeling especially hungry), then retired to the hotel, which is way too far from downtown, for the night.