Miles: 1278.8 to 1305.3
Today was the hottest day I can remember on the trail so far. It is certainly summer now. I can tell because my face is caked in salt at the end of the day and my clothes are pounds heavier from the sweat that’s soaked into them.
We started with a cool retreat from the morning mosquitoes down toward the North Fork of the Feather River. The trail was overgrown with poison oak again, but I was more distracted by the new pain in my right ankle. At the bottom it was slightly swollen but nothing terrible. The pain was a little scary though. With our new deadline, one injury could mean we won’t finish the trail this summer. Not a huge deal, in the scheme of things, but still a disappointment.
Richard pushed on my ankle in the few places most concerning for serious injury and it held up. I took some ibuprofen and we kept walking.
The trail took us right through Belden, California. We stopped at the first place that looked like it served food and sat down. The menu was full of things fried and battered. We ordered mozzarella sticks, a veggie burger with mushrooms and cheese, a grilled cheese, fries and a salad. The waitress brought us all that and WATERMELON. It was such a welcome surprise, I felt like hugging her.
After all that, we ordered ice cream.
And then we headed up a 15-mile climb in the hottest part of the day. Fortunately, only the first five miles or so were open to the sky. Once we made it under tree cover, it was better but, overall, that one wasn’t thought through.
By 5 p.m., we were still climbing and I was getting annoyed. Poor Richard got to deal with me as I felt my energy draining and my emotions flairing like they’d caught fire from all that direct sunlight.
Once the terrain flattened and the heat stalled as the sun lost its purchase in the sky, I calmed down. The setting sun cut its way through the standing pines covered in so much moss their bark looked green. The whole forest glowed gold.