Cowboying a sight north of Delate Creek (PCT mi 2420.9), walked 19.2 miles today
Slept better than expected in the bunkroom and woke up with about ten minutes to spare before Kara, the Mostel proprietress, gave her one-time-daily ride 2 miles over to the trail/Summit Lodge area. Hitch was already up and Burrito Grande staggered down at the last minute to catch the hiker shuttle. Before we left we saw Kara's kids (they might not be hers, just kids in her charge) playing a bowling game with empty MSR and JetBoil fuel canisters, which is the type of game that kids who don't live downstairs of a hiker hostel don't usually get to play. Got first breakfast with Hitch and the recently arrived Tea Time at the pancake place, but much like last night the portion sizes were weaksauce and I was not full after my meal. Decided that my hiking could benefit from waiting around til the Aardvark food truck opened at 10, so Grande and Tea Time and I resolved to do just that. Hitch left.
The Aardvark did open, but at more like 11, then our food came at more like 11:30, then I had to eat that boatload of rice and curry and that took some time, so it was more like 12:15 before I actually got walking. On my way out, I stopped at the trailhead outhouse and observed some delightful non-sequitur graffiti, pictured below. Powered by all the fats and carbs and spices, I did feel like Scott Freaking Williamson for the first 10 miles or so ... I flew uphill the whole way, passed day hikers like they were standing still, and didn't even get a whiff of hunger for more food for about 4 hours. The trail got hella scenic, as everyone had said it would, within 5 miles of leaving town, and stayed that way, nonstop beating you over the head with it, for the rest of the day. It was also much more difficult than anything since the middle of California, which I'd also been expecting based on hiker hearsay. The word is that this is the M.O. for the rest of the trail--very hard, but very rewarding and beautiful, like on a High-Sierra scale.
Hiked alone the whole time--I leapfrogged Burrito Grande twice, and I last saw Tea Time about a mile in, sprinting back down the trail without his pack asking frantically if I'd seen a green hat (I hadn't). Never caught up to Hitch ... I thought I might, but when I got to the area near this campsite, which was my minimal goal for the day, a southbounder told me (as southbounders often do, and they are NEVER right) that there wasn't any camping ahead. He also said that the site 3 miles on, which was my long goal for the day, was already filled up with weekenders when he went by. With darkness drawing on and options ahead sounding marginal (he also mentioned a river ford--not happening in the dark), I decided I'd camp at the next place I saw, which ended up being here, 1/4 mile past where I talked to him. A Henry Shires TarpTent was also here, which said "thru-hiker" to me, so I asked who was inside and of course it had to be someone I've never met before and she had to be female (her name is Goodall) and probably totally freaked out by me asking if I could camp next to her in the near-dark. Maybe I'll actually get to meet her in the morning and smooth things over. In the meantime, sleep ... My climbing muscles got worked pretty hard today, more than they have in forever, so I want lots of rest.