Cowboying at Grider Creek (PCT mi 1655.5), walked 27.8 miles today
Slept like one of the many rocks out here and woke up at 7:50, which is quite late by my PCT standards. That sort of time was completely normal on the AT; in fact, we used to set our alarms for 7:48 because of A-Game's ability to recite an OutKast skit that starts with a woman waking up at 7:48, but that's neither here nor there. My point is, it was an indulgent morning today and by 10 I'd barely made 4 miles. Got on my proverbial horse after that and set a much faster pace for the afternoon. This pace was aided by the fact that, after spending the first 10 or so miles climbing up and down in the high country, the trail started a 16-mile descent down to Seiad Valley. It was knee-cripplingly steep and relentless at first but the last ten miles were more gentle as the trail paralleled and sometimes crossed the Grider Creek. Right now we're a 6-mile roadwalk (the road is the PCT for awhile) from the town itself, which everyone is planning to do tomorrow morning to work up an appetite for the Cafe. Camping here with Redbeard, Halfway, and an old dude named Otter.
The trail seemed to have more wildlife than usual today--practically teeming with it, if I may say so. I was noticing a ton of birds and birdsongs that I hadn't seen/heard before, and I might have seen a bear in the thick tall brush once I got down near the river, but I never got a good look at it except to see that its fur was coarser and a slightly blonder color than a deer's, and it made a shitload of noise crashing away from me. Redbeard did see a bear loud and clear up in the high part in the morning, and he and Halfway both followed mountain lion tracks down the trail for two miles in the morning. We all saw a lot more deer than normal. We were talking at the campsite this evening and everyone agreed that the terrain and wildlife the past two days seemed even more unspoiled than what we're used to. Robin Hood had been saying before we got to Etna that the Russian Wilderness, which was a few days back, has the highest conifer diversity of anywhere in the U.S. All of this has been a really nice surprise, because I knew nothing about this part of the trail coming into it and wasn't really expecting much except more hot weather (which wasn't even the case) and a slog to the Oregon border.