Day 82: They’re Baaaack!

Mile reached: 1781.5 (+37.2 + 0.2 bonus)

High: I caught “Gandalf”!

Low: So many mosquitoes

Mosquitoes killed: 100+

Disconcertingly, the first thing that I noticed in the morning was the smell of smoke. This immediately raised concerns about forest fires and possible trail closures. Since I was in the trees, I had no way to even guess which direction the smoke was originating from. So, I got my gear together and just continued on hiking.

The terrain encountered throughout the morning was fairly easy, but it was also rather boring. The dense forest obscured all views. Though it did provide shelter from the sun, so I couldn’t complain that much. It was also extremely quiet in the trail.

Despite having a fairly dense forest, this stretch of trail was quite dry, and there were regularly 8+ mile water carries. Fortunately, and almost 20 mile dry stretch was broken by a well at a cabin. The cabin also had a register, so I could see that there were other people out here. But, I just wasn’t seeing them yet.

An aqueduct for irrigation with non-potable water 🙁
2/3 of the way there!
A hand pump for well water, though the water tasted like rust.
The cabin in the middle of nowhere

The afternoon had me wind slowly around the western flank of Brown Mountain. Interestingly, I actually skied off the summit a little over a month before I started the trail. At the time I wondered what I’d be thinking when I returned. Well I now have the answer: “I hate lava rocks.” The trail repeatedly cuts across talus fields, which have unstable footing and hurt to walk on.

So many lava rocks
At least sometimes the trail is nicely graveled through the fields

As soon as I crossed OR-140, I ran into a large group of thru-hikers. A few of them I knew, because they had hitched around the fire closure, but others were part of a bubble that I didn’t know existed. After filling up with water, I decided to push on to finish the day with 40 miles.

The climb up the arm of Mount McLoughlin was uneventful until right as I neared the top. Whether due to location or time of day, mosquitoes descended upon me in hordes. Yosemite was still worse, but I had to hike and kill mosquitoes for hours. Eventually, I saw a beautiful, albeit crowded, camp area a few miles short of my goal. But, I figured there was no way the mosquitoes could be worse in the morning, so I opted to set up camp.

As I walked in, I heard someone call out, “Hey, is that you, Chihuahua?” Immediately, “Gandalf” popped up in his tent and expressed his surprise at seeing me. Apparently, he didn’t even realize that I was behind him. The mosquitoes, however, were indifferent to our reunion and continued to prey on me. I set up my tent and dove inside for cover. Though, it did turn out that I had camped on top of where “Gandalf” had flung his unwanted tortellinis. Oh well, at least I was safe from the mosquitoes for the time being.

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