Day 89 (July 18): Mile 1,579 – 1,599.7

Entering Etna

Beginning Elevation = 5,800
Ending Elevation = 5,950
Elevation Range = 5,800 – 7,300
Weather: Sunny, high 70’s

I was the first one to leave our campsite this morning, getting going around 6:15am. I’d spent some time putting moleskin on as best I could, but wasn’t too optimistic that it was going to stay.

Right away the trail began going up, which I wasn’t super excited about. My feet felt pretty good, but I was going slow and paying attention to where I stepped.

I was pretty spent early on in the morning and just wasn’t very motivated. Unlike a few days ago when I talked about just cruising along the mountainside, today it seemed the trail wanted to go up and down and up and down. Needless to say, I was ready for my breakfast break.

JK Rowling had it right when she described for her characters the fact that, “a full stomach meant good spirits; an empty one, bickering and gloom.” I came up with my own motto for how to combat this truth. When I get discouraged and downtrodden, take a break and feed the beast. It worked wonders…post breakfast, I was a hiking machine again. I cruised right up the slope that I’d stopped midway upon and came to this brilliant overlook with near 360 degree views!

Poor filming and I left it unedited with I guess what must be my happy hiker dance. Today I believe I left the Trinity Alps Wilderness and entered into the Russian Wilderness Area. Yes folks, somehow I made it to the Russian Wilderness. Not too shabby I suppose…

It even contained Pride Rock!

I climbed up this amazing section and at the top took a break for the last several minutes listening to “The Flaw in The Plan,” the last chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Gets me every time!

After the hairs on my arms settled back down, I went through a former burned area…

I soon started seeing a valley with what I took to be farms. The hunter guy I’d seen yesterday said that Etna had lots of alfalfa fields, so I thought maybe that could be the valley containing Etna.

I stopped for lunch at a nice overlook, which had some cell service too.

My tent zipper had ripped at some point during this stretch, so here I began figuring out what to do about it. After a lengthy break, it was back on the trail. More beauty views…

And…the Griswold family Christmas tree?

Then, around 4:30pm, I made it to the Etna Summit trailhead parking lot. There were a few cars parked and one other hiker, Oliver from Australia waiting alongside the road. I joined him.

At 5:10pm, we had our first car go by. Then a few more. At 5:30pm, a car stopped but looked jam packed. The lady driver said we could fit into the trunk. Then repeated saying she way serious. My man Oliver took her up on it, I did not. And there they went haha…

I stayed and got a hitch about fifteen minutes later. I got to sit up front, not in the trunk. It was an old Ford truck and had the exact same red cushions and interior as one of my dad’s old work trucks, “The Four Door.” My driver was a nice guy, a road construction worker who did some occasional pack horse runs into the mountains to bring folks whatever food and equipment they requested. Not PCT hikers, but seemed like folks who want a more not-as-rustic an experience.

Once in town, I got dropped off at the Etna City Park where they allow hikers to camp for $5/night. I liked this town already! I set up my tent and then set out to walk to the laundromat. I took my pack and most of my stuff in it. I didn’t want a repeat of Wrightwood, having my stuff taken!

Laundry was a bit of a struggle, these places never seem to have detergent dispensers that work! I ended up getting some detergent from the next door gas station. Another guy was doing the same thing, but accidentally got fabric softener, so we teamed up to conquer our dirty clothes. With the power of Tide and Gain combined, I left with the best smelling my clothes have been all trail!

In addition to letting us camp in the park, they’ve built a shower station, so I took a nice shower before heading into my tent. It was super nice to be in town and know that tomorrow I’d be resting up!

Oh, and side note… there are deer just roaming around in this town.

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