Day 85: Sunday, July 28

Tenting by Deadfall Lake (PCT mi 1542.4), walked 26.0 miles today

My tent spot was dark and cool and clammy so I didn't really wake up til 7:15 and didn't start walking til closer to 8. First order of business was to climb 2500 feet in 4ish miles ... It was wonderful, didn't feel particularly hard and it was over before I knew. Once up there, we were in a different world than we've been in for the past few weeks--high, dry, not very hot, cool in the shade even. Also stunningly beautiful and open ... the only problem was the level of smoke in the air muddling a lot of the vistas. Saw a whole bevy of thru-hikers at the first water source, which was also the last one for 15 miles, but everyone trickled forward alone from there for the most part.

Around 11am I could see a small wildfire burning about a mile across the valley, probably started by lightning from last night. I tried to call it in to 911 but this stupid phone wouldn't do it, even though it had 3 bars of reception. Comforting to know that it would screw me like that in a real, personal emergency too. Turns out two other hikers had already phoned it in, because a plane flew by to scope it out 20 minutes later. The PCT actually went right above the burning area after about 4 trail miles ... Robin Hood had left a note by the side of the trail explaining what to do if the trees were "torching (i.e. on fire)" and signed it "R. Hood, ex-wildland firefighter." None of that proved to be necessary, the trail was just kind of smoky where we crossed. I took a lunch break a little further ahead and got to watch smokejumpers jump out of a plane and parachute down onto the fire. They were close enough that I could hear them yelling to each other as they floated down. Couldn't really get any pictures as the view was mostly through the trees, but still it was really neat to see. Caught up to Uncle Famous a little while later, he'd been a wilderness firefighter for a few summers and he said he'd never gotten to see smokejumpers in action until now.

After such a pokey morning I spent most of the afternoon bustling along, mostly by myself, but there were many others in the general vicinity. There was a small spring after 20 miles that I expected to be crap from the description in Yogi's guidebook, but it was actually an awesome piped ice-cold affair flowing at about 3 gallons per minute (this is the type of thing that gets hikers, including me, really excited). Walked the last hour or so with Coca and Sailor Moon, whom I just met today. Got to this lake without knowing if I was going to camp here, but one look at it answered that question pretty conclusively in the affirmative. Halfway and Banjo were already here, Coca and Sailor Moon were in tow, then a couple named Dandy Greens and Oatmeal pulled in shortly afterward. Miss Maggie and Uncle Famous stopped by for dinner then pushed on. Good crowd in a really good spot. It was, dare I say it, chilly as I was eating dinner, and I'm gloriously having to wear all my layers to bed.