Day 86: Monday, July 29

Cowboying on a shady saddle (PCT mi 1570.1), walked 27.7 miles today

Woke up at 7 and was out by 7:30, was the last person to leave the campsite except for Banjo who was still so sound asleep I went to check if he was even breathing. Reminded me of Eva telling me about how she and Ben found a dead hiker in his tent next to a shelter in the Smokies on the AT in 2011, when they noticed that he hadn't woken up by 9am. Fortunately for all, Banjo was still alive and he caught up after a few hours of hiking.

Spent most of the day either hiking or breaking with him and Halfway. The trail was plush this morning--very flat, very high and cool, and until about 10am the air was even clear enough to see things farther than a few miles away. That all changed when more smoke/haze eventually blew in, but it was a treat while it lasted. The trail itself stayed pretty gentle and pleasant until the late afternoon, when there was finally some notable elevation loss/gain getting down and up to/from Hwy 3. We had spent a long time before that highway fantasizing about the trail magic that we hoped would be waiting for us in the parking lot, but all that was there was two empty RVs and Robin Hood, plus a Swedish hiker named Laptop whom I hadn't met before. Laptop said that the next water source after the road, which had been our goal for the evening, allegedly has a cow carcass floating in it, so we broadened our target destination to "anywhere that looks nice after the saddle in 3.7 miles." The saddle itself ended up looking pretty good so me, Halfway and Banjo are camped here. It's cool for the second night in a row, which is so so nice. The 36 miles to Etna will probably not all happen tomorrow, but we should be in heavy nearo range by tomorrow night.