Today's miles: 23
Total miles: 1592
After yesterday's flat and cruising terrain, today involved more climbing. Though Northern California was relatively flat, it still involved elevation change, and after six miles of climbing I was falling behind and exhausted. A snack break gave me the energy to keep moving and after nine miles we stopped for water and then stopped at fourteen miles for lunch. The terrain was very beautiful today; sun-blasted rock cliffs and sweeping views of the rolling hills, but it was also difficult to traverse. I spent great spans of time walking by myself. This can be lonely at times, but it was also less stressful, for I didn't feel like I had to keep up with others. But I get stuck in my own head, rolling thoughts around and around until I am tired of the voice of them. In these moments I get lost in my podcasts, listening to RadioLab and TedTalks and This American Life so I can hear someone else's voice in my head, instead.
After lunch we discussed doing more miles: we ultimately wanted to cover 26-27 miles again today, but the terrain was more difficult than imagined and as evening approached we were falling short of our goal. I was growing hungry and frustrated, and we were entering an area where wildfires were affecting the PCT. Smoke clouded the air and everything smelled like campfire.
I finally caught up with the others around mile 21 as the sun was setting over the hills. We decided as a group to only go two more miles, to the top of the mountain where Sweet Tooth, Hot Tub and their friend Watson were camping for the night. The campsite turned out to be a beautiful one, with an open view of the surrounding mountains and the lingering smoke caught between them. We were too tired to set up tents, so we cowboy camped on top of the ridge, snuggling into our sleeping bags as we watched the night engulf us. When I woke up later that night I rolled over to see the whole Milky Way stretched above me like a blanket, and the beauty sang me to sleep again.