Pct day 135

October 23

Gillette Lake – 2166

As usual after a day off, it took me a long time to get going. My new mat felt super comfie but it was hard to roll up and stuff. On the path, I ran into a parade of fellow hikers and their dogs. I played leapfrog with one dude, all the way to the turn off for Tabletop Mountain. We kept passing each other when one of us was paused to take photos of mushrooms. Because the mushies were poppin!

I dragged myself back up into the mountains. That’s the price of days off. There’s always a climb to get back into it. Only 3000 feet over 10 miles. So many reasons to stop and enjoy the foliage. It was another spectacular fall day, overcast but good light and no rain. 

At least, I tried to tell myself it wasn’t raining. Until it was. By then I was up on a windy ridge, negotiating another pass in the night. The swirling mist got progressively wetter until I could no longer deny the rain. My headlamp beam bounced off gallons of floating water droplets. Usually I’m pretty comfortable finding my way in the dark, but here I nearly lost the path a few times.

In the middle of the path, I met the largest salamander I’d ever seen. It was longer than my hand and girthy. Strange wet creatures in the dark.

I stopped for the night next to a river. The bridge was unbearably stank with the stench of creosote. The tarry scent was nauseating. Did someone carry out too much stinky oil and decide to use it all instead of carting the excess backdown the hill?

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