Destination: Forest Highway 93
Cumulative Miles: 1346.5
The morning started with a beautiful climb up and over a ridge red with iron rich mafic rock. As we approached the ascent, we were offered a brilliant display of color, from the rich green meadow below to the soft blue sky, with a rusty red mountain between the two splattered with patches white snow reflecting the sun leaving the hillside looking like silver gilded rock. Forest green trees held infrequent bursts in this menagerie of color.
After our ascent over the ridge, we dropped into the shaded forest, where firs offered us reprieve from the generally unrelenting sun. Occasionally the trail would hit a small saddle, where expansive views of the valley below were offered.
About a week ago, while hiking in the Desolation Wilderness, Psycho rolled his ankle a few times in the day. This is a common occurrence, and the reason he chooses to wear boots rather than shoes. This time, however, he seemed to hurt himself a little more than usual. Taking a break from hiking while traveling north from Echo Lake back up to Castle Crags seemed to help a little, but to be safe, he is wearing ace bandage around the ankle.
Yesterday he noticed a little pain on his achilles tendon, and blew it off as just a bruise from the ace bandage. This morning walking was just fine, easier than yesterday. However, just before lunch he started experiencing pain in his achilles, sharp shooting pain. We took lunch at a refreshingly cool stream, after covering 14.5 miles. When we started moving again, the pain was present, sharp, and frequent.
Psycho trudged slowly up the mile ascent to the forest highway, and upon arriving explained his pain to Apricots. This time the road had a new meaning:
1. Do we hike past
2. Do we hitch to town a day early
Apricots said that it was better to hitch down and rest the foot, better than hiking on it and perhaps injuring it more. While Psycho wanted to endure the pain and walk on, he wanted to rest it more than anything, and we were at a place where that was an option. We chose to hitch.
The first car going the wrong direction provided a touch of comic relief. The small red truck came to a skidding halt on the wrong side of the road. Before it was even stopped, the door was open and the driver was half out of the cab. He jumped out quickly, crowbar in hand, and ran into the forest sliding quickly down the steep embankment. At first we thought that the man had a bad need to dig a cat hole with the crowbar, and empty his overflowing bowels.
When he ran back up the hill, we discovered that this was not the case. He was uprooting a mustard plant that is an invasive species. Apparently they spray weed killer to keep the plants down, and he (and others) have agreed to uproot all sightings of the plant to keep the weed killer from contaminating their watershed. He chatted briefly then hopped in his car shooting 50 yards downhill only to repeat the process. It was a very bizarre experience to witness his repeated exiting from the truck and uprooting of the mustard plant.
We waited for a hitch on the lonely highway. The first truck pulled over to tell us that he could not offer a ride (how peculiar). Forty minutes later, the second truck pulled over and gave us a ride. Upon arriving at Etna, we immediately hit the post office and did a mad exchange of items to mail ahead, mail home, and keep.
After a shower at the Hiker Hut (a pseudo trail-angel/Bed&Breakfast combo) we went to dinner at the Etna Brewery & Pub...a must stop for thru-hikers. Now as daylight fades, Psycho is icing his ankle while we discuss how to carry on with our "Extreme" adventure.
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