Buckhorn Spring to CS1655.9 (1632.0 to 1655.9)
Daily miles: 23.9
Up on this high plateau, next to the triple-trunk mossy tree, by the spring that’s barely-running on the hillside, the nights stay cool. A doe might wander through the camp at night, but the sleepers stay asleep because they’re tired and the air is neither hot nor humid, but perfect for sleeping. We stir in the morning and make crinkling noises as we pack up sleeping mats and bags and tents. Then we take off down the hill, hiking, going fast because all our joints and tendons are made of the strongest stuff on earth.
Way down in the valley is a small place called Seiad Valley, and very few people live there. It’s only 1300 feet above sea level. The trail goes through town, which is a cafe and general store and post office and RV park. But I’m not there yet.
These hillsides have all burned, shame, and I can hear water rushing. That would be Grinder River, which cuts a long deep gorge through the hills, making pools and chutes and shift currents. I walk along it for miles and miles. 5, 6, 10 miles hiking just up the hillside from from all this rushing water. I can turn my brain off at times like these, humming songs and thinking about who-knows-what. Miles and hours fall away, until it’s flat and I’m walking on a road that will take me to Seiad Valley and my resupply boxes and a new pair of shoes. Along the way are wild blackberry bushes and I eat pints of the fruit, ripe and juicy and warm from the sun.
I’m quick in town, eager to get back in the woods. It’s a 5000 foot climb out, back into the high cool country. I stop for the night after 1500 feet, vowing to finish the job tomorrow morning when the air is cool. I’ll sit on my little hill, eating my ramen, and watch yesterday’s mountains go dark.