I spent a little while massaging the sore spot on my foot last night, and in the morning it seems to have actually made a difference. I pack up, eat a bar, and head out around 7 again, walking through the fairytale forest.
The day is punctuated by lovely wide creeks with (relatively) big bridges over them, and by high rocky outcropping with views of trees and trees and trees and occasionally a mountain in the distance. Every break I take is wonderful, because I’m resting my feet and there are no mosquitos. I rest for at least half an hour at a little viewpoint I find twenty feet off trail, a cliff edge high above a river valley. There’s a little bit of breeze, the sun is shining, and it’s glorious.
I climb up for the first part of the day, then descend to my starting elevation again, to Snag Creek and Rock Creek. At Rock Creek, I collect four and a half liters of water — not quite my max capacity, but close. The next water source is in ten miles, and I’m planning to camp before then — at the top of another tough climb of a few miles. I heft my pack, almost ten pounds heavier than it was a few minutes ago, and start up the hill.
I’m slooooow. The sore spot on my foot is, mercifully, not giving me problems like it did yesterday (though I’m definitely looking forward to resting for a day — or maybe two — soon), but I’m kinda all-over sore and tired. One foot in front of the other, and then finally, I’m pretty much at the top. There’s a short little side trail to another rocky outcropping with a view of Mount Adams, and I drop my pack and sit for a few minutes. I think about cowboy camping there on the rocky ledge, but I have a hunch I’d regret my choice sometime in the night when I woke in terror of the dark woods on one side and the dark abyss on the other. Hah! I walk a few hundred feet further and find a small tentsite in the trees. A little sloped, but it’ll do. I don’t have any energy left to look for something better.
I’m only fifteen miles from the Bridge of the Gods. Just a little further from a cold beer and a hot meal at Thunder Island Brewing. I can’t wait.