Mile reached: 617.9 (+29.7 + 0.4 bonus)
High: The weather made what should have been hot and dry cool and wet instead.
Low: There are people that are relying way too heavily on the caches. This creates a bad feedback loop and is a significant part of the reason that the caches are no longer maintained.
I woke up early, but my bag and gear were all wet. Forget that. It was not a hard sell to decide to go back to sleep and wait for the sun to come up and dry things out a bit. When I did finally wake up around 6:30, I discovered that I was in a mist. Somehow, my gear dried out, but I didn’t have more than 30 feet of visibility.
Marissa passed me as I was just starting to pack up camp, and it would take me seven miles and a steep hill to catch her. I’ve also noticed that in general thru-hikers are faster now, so I guess people’s trail legs must be coming in.
The terrain became much more aesthetic like pleasing as the trail climbed an arm of Piute Mountain. Grass and oaks appeared slowly giving way to pine forest at the highest elevations. After 20 miles, I reached the last natural water source for many miles. It was a beautiful meadow, so I took a long break to eat lunch.
So far, the going had been quite easy. Due to an unusual cold spell, the temperature was 30 degrees lower than the seasonal average. Then, combined with the wet weather it wasn’t arid at all. Two liters were more than sufficient for a 20 mile carry!
The afternoon was consumed with a lengthy descent off the mountain into Kelso Valley to the east. Out of nowhere, the wind appeared and threatened to carry my hat away repeatedly. The clouds also opened up, and I was treated to my first views of the High Sierra to the north.
After some time, I crossed Kelso Valley Road, the major artery for the area and the site of a water cache. Reports indicated that it was on the verge of running dry, but I found it completely replenished! Though, my enthusiasm was a bit soured to find people camping at the cache and treating it like it were a spring. If it keeps running dry too quickly, the custodians give up on refilling it.
Anyway, I put in a few more miles hoping to get out of the wind. I didn’t really, but I did find a herd of cows. The best spot to camp appeared to be a dry wash frequented by said cows. So, hopefully they don’t trample me in my sleep.