Last night, just when I was about to fall asleep, I thought I heard some larger animal moving near my tent. I also heard sounds like chewing on leaves, but I wasn’t sure, so I tried to light up the surroundings and subsequently went outside to no avail. The sound stopped. Then at four am I was awoken by some commotion and heard a dog woofing at me and my tent. I grabbed my trekking pole, which was compacted and which I kept inside my tent. I wanted to have something in case I needed to jab at it or its potential owner in the exceedingly unlikely scenario that they had ill intentions. Moments later the owner called the dog bag and I saw some light from a flashlight or a lamp. Pew! I did kind of wonder why they subsequently stayed by my tent for so long, which made me just a little bit uncomfortable. Where they up to some funny business after all or just making camp? I didn’t know what time it was. Then they went away. I dug out my phone and saw it was four am. It wasn’t long until my alarm would go off so I didn’t fall back asleep. When I awoke a bit more I remembered that my campsite was thirty feet or so from a trail register (where hikers can write their name and when they were there). I looked in it and saw an entry for today by hiker and in parentheses a beagle.
Got going somewhat later and the nice scenery of yesterday continued, which as always was nice in the morning light. I didn’t see any other hikers that morning. The trail then went into a more mundane burn area and I took a break at the top of a ridge. During that a hiker cmae by. At first I didn’t recognize him, but as he got closer and I saw his face and the characteristic hat with a bandana sewn to the neck part to protect from the sun I exclaimed “Doc?”. Of course it was him, whom I had met the first day in the Sierras and summited Whitney with. I hadn’t seen him since then, but it turned out that he had been very close all the time. He was well and somewhat surprised to see me as he thought I was behind him, but we both had been pushing a lot of miles, apparently. I had never thought that I would see him again, but paths often cross on the PCT. On the other hand I have probably seen the last of Eon for a while as he went into Etna to resupply.
Later, I got out of the burn area and into a nicer section. With that change, however, the trail also became much more rugged and steep, which meant slow progress. There were also some sections with steep drop-offs where I wanted to take care with my footings.
Shortly after that change I encountered a trail maintenance crew for the first time. They are the (somewhat) unsung heroes of the PCT. I think this group were volunteers and I thanked them for their work as I passed them. They were cutting down large branches with loopers but leaving the small plants there. Possibly because the smaller ones would be back too quickly for it to make sense to try to remove them.
I dropped swimming today as I didn’t want to get dirty water on my wound and should probably have done the same yesterday. I felt a bit sorry for myself.
Later in the day the trail went by the namesake Marble Mountains. From a distance it looked like they still had a lot of snow on them, but once I got closer, I realized that it was actually rock. So it was as if someone had just slapped some tones of limestone on top of the mountains like a frosting on a cake. That was kind of cool.
Later in the day the visibility of the distant mountains dropped somewhat and I initially interpreted it as haze, but then I got convinced that at least some of it was smoke. It also started to smell slightly of smoke. I met a couple of local weekend hikers, who weren’t worries as ther would be people looking for us and helicopters in case the fire was close. They were smoking weed and drinking, but I still got slightly calmer. In Danish we have an expression that “the truth must be hears from children or drunk people.” This is definitely not a situation where that proverb would be appropriate, though. Another group of weekend hikers nearby were equally relaxed. I camped nearby and as the light died out, the smoke and smell seemed to recede concomitantly.
I have a ton of stuff to do tomorrow and want to get to “town” tomorrow in Seiad Valley as soon as possible to read more about the fire. I also have to resupply. It is bound to be a long and possibly stressful day.
This days miles: 1602-1629