Mile 1498 to 1518
It is Independence Day and I will celebrate it by walking independently. In other words – alone again, naturally. I wake at 4:00am, drawn towards the beckoning light of civilization. It is attached to a building of significant convenience – the one with fixtures and indoor plumbing. After making a sizable contribution, I return to finish packing.
As I exit camp under headlamp Senior Whiskers wishes me well. It is possible we will see each other again on the trail, but I doubt it. Everything about the trail seems transient, especially the relationships. I have enjoyed his company and will miss him.
My mission, however, is not to miss my niece’s wedding, which requires that I get over this monster elevation known as Castle Crag and the Trinity Divide. I will climb from 2,200 feet to over 6,600 today. I work my way through various state park trails until I rejoin the PCT and start my climb. It is hot and humid, but I just put down my head and go. There are few water sources. One is the sight of a recent fire, which appears to have been bombed with red fire retardant. Now there is a sign saying DO NOT DRINK THE WATER. I notice it does not suggest what I should drink.
I eventually find a seasonal spring, which is really nothing more than a hole the size of a water bottle dug out under a clump of grass so the water trickles off the exposed hanging roots. It takes a while in the scorching heat, but I capture and filter 3 litres. It will have to get me through hiking, dinner, breakfast and hiking to the next seasonal source.
I find a tent site the required 20 miles in. My hike to first water tomorrow, however, will be over 10 miles. It’s funny how when you camp next to a stream you hardly drink anything, yet when you dry camp your mouth immediately feels like Death Valley and you want to irrigate it enough to grow rice.
Although I am camped in the wilderness I can hear repeated gun fire in the distance. I assume someone is illegally celebrating the Fourth, or I am closer to Oakland than I thought. Either way, I am tired enough to sleep without a care.