I heard someone walk by at 6:00 and wondered who it was as I closed my eyes again. I was too tired and didn’t get up until 6:38. While I ate my breakfast, the section hiker who started at the Etna trail head with us walked by. I was now the last of this group!
By 11:00, I came across Rabbit Stix sitting in the middle of the trail, eating a snack. I had to step around him to get by.
I later found a spot to sit along the trail for my ice coffee, snickers, and almond butter break. All of a sudden, I heard some extremely loud voices that startled me! I had no idea where they were coming from. After a couple of minutes, I finally saw a couple of men headed toward me, but they barely acknowledged me. It was so jarring to hear people speaking so loudly out here!
Nearly two hours later, I noticed SunDog, Giggles, and Elk sitting just above the trail, enjoying their lunch. They invited me to join them, but I had already eaten and wanted to keep moving. Giggles mentioned the long descent into Seiad Valley coming up, and I told her I was not looking forward to that! Fred had told me that it was a killer on the shins!
I grew more and more tired as the day wore on and had to stop often to take little breaks. Fortunately, the afternoon miles still seemed to pass by more quickly than the slower morning ones! And the downhill turned out to be not nearly as bad as I was expecting! There were lots of little uphills within the well-graded descent.
I caught up to Cookie and we hiked a similar pace for awhile. Soon after, Giggles and SunDog caught up and passed us. SunDog kept stopping to pick thimbleberries. I had never seen or tasted this kind of berry before, so I tried to stop at the same places that he had to look for them. Cookie and I both found some and stopped a couple of times to taste these red berries.
There was very little possibility for camping along this stretch and my goal was to make it to the third bridge, where Yogi had written that she had slept on both of her hikes. Cookie peeled off the trail to cook dinner and I continued alone, growing more and more tired. By the time I reached the second bridge, I had to stop, sit down and eat a snack. I felt exhausted! SunDog and Giggles came along and asked about the camping situation. They decided to check out the woods by the bridge to see if there were any possibilities there. They came back, still unsure. SunDog opened up a bag of Fritos and offered some to me. They were the first ones I had tasted on this hike and were so good! I told them I wanted to move on in order of having a chance of making it the Seiad Valley Cafe for breakfast, even though I didn’t know how early I was going to be able to get up. They decided to set up camp there. Before I left, I asked them which places in Oregon and Washington were good places for zero days, as they had hiked the trail before. It was interesting to hear their impressions of what was coming up.
It was now starting to grow dark, so I headed out and let them set up their camp. The taste of the Fritos lingered in my mouth and helped me get through the next couple of miles. At last, I arrived at the bridge, dropped my pack, and walked down the bank to collect water. I cooked my dinner and took out the toffee that Tanya had given to me to enjoy for dessert. I felt extremely grateful for these special treats. I almost felt undeserving of them, but as I thought about my life and lack of love, I started to change my mind. Above me, dark clouds covered the sky. It was an unusual sight.
While, I ate, Cookie walked by. I had told her about my plan to sleep on the bridge and she seemed to want to do the same thing, but I guess she had changed her mind. The next section supposedly contained a lot of poison oak and it didn’t seem like there were any camping options. As darkness descended, I hoped no one else would cross the bridge. It wasn’t the most comfortable of places to stay, but I told myself that everything would be okay.
Before I got into my sleeping bag, I heard thumping at the other end of the bridge. It was Runs with Elk, arriving here at 9. I told her I didn’t think there was anyplace to camp ahead. She asked if she could could join me on the bridge and set up at the opposite end. It didn’t feel as scary with someone else now around.