2166 – 2187
A solid sleep night. That new big Agnes mat seems pretty good. Insulated. Wonder how it’ll feel on the ice mud? I didn’t know it would matter, but the square toe feels luxurious compared to the mummy shaped taper on the exped. So much room for my feet to roam.
The orange and yellow leaves coated the path now. The veins of the leaves made repeating intricate patterns. Eye catching and slippery. Determined to make some distance, I tromped over miles of fractal designs.
I saw two newts, the ones with orange bellies. Really cute little things, and deadly poisonous, I think. I seem to recall a story about three hunters camping in the woods who accidentally boiled a newt in their coffee water. The resulting brew of newt was toxic enough to kill all three full grown men.
I’m fairly certain my sister and I played with those little deadly amphibians all the time. Back in the danger 80s. They are irresistibly cute, like lizard puppies.
All day long, I saw no other people.
Night fell much too early. A full moon rose, the last one I was likely to see on the trail. I came to a real road, with pavement and residential homes. A pair of eyes twinkled at me from the woods. From the boldness and size, I could tell it was probably a cat. “Come here,” I called and a piece of darkness detached itself from the night. It shape shifted into a cat and meowed at me, walked over to allow me a tiny pat. Then the cat melted back into the forest. This all seemed entirely appropriate for a full moon night so close to Halloween.
At Panther Creek, I filled my water bottles for the coming climb and a night of dry camping. It was a good night for hiking, no mist tonight and the moon playing peek-a-boo through the trees. I wanted to knock out the five mile climb before I camped.
I started up the hill, podcast playing on speaker. Flashing lights in the trees ahead brought me to a halt. WTF? Was I coming to a road? Were they headlights? It looked like flashlights. A search party in the woods? The kids from Stranger Things? “AAAAAhhhhhh shit!” I yelled as the first mountain bike came crashing around the switchback. I threw myself against the face of the cliff. The rider sounded equally surprised. Four mountain bikers in all, each sporting a helmet light and a headlamp. Too well-prepared for that to be an accidental night ride.
I don’t know how riding a bike down hairpin switchbacks in the moonlight could be fun. But I guess I’m not one to talk, since I hike at night in the rain. At least now I don’t have to hit so many spiderwebs with my face, I thought.