Distance hiked today: 20.3 miles / 32.7 km.
This section of trail follows Mission Creek up a valley, and the trail is mostly washed out. We follow rock cairns and footprints, occasionally looking at the map or seeing a trail marker, jumping water streams and climbing in and out of the river bed. An overly confident hiker had left a long rant of unsolicited advice in the app on how to navigate this section, and it became a joke throughout the day, repeating some of their "instructions" as mantras as we walked. "I'm not lost, I'm in a canyon." "Cairns are my friend, except when they're not." "Look around you, do you see a distinct footpath?"
After a morning break we split up, put earbuds in, and made our way another 6 miles to the last water source of the day for lunch. This time we stayed for a few hours, moving a couple times to chase the shade as the sun crossed the sky.
I was almost falling asleep, and in my stillness a lizard decided I was part of the landscape. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something black and shiny jump across Ross's legs and felt it latch onto my shin. I didn't know what it was at first but I knew it was not supposed to be on my leg. I tried to shake it off, screaming and standing up with increasing panic as everyone else scrambled in half asleep confusion assuming there was a snake. I'm not even sure if I swatted it off with my hand or if I kicked my leg hard enough, but it went flying into the bush. Now fully awake and able to process information, I couldn't stop laughing and felt bad for the lizard.
Around 4pm we set out to finish another 7 miles to a camp spot at the abandoned Coon Creek Cabin. The ice with my insulin was melted by now, but the trail provided me with one tiny patch of snow, no bigger than 2x2 feet - it was the only snow we've seen in a few days and probably the last we'll see for weeks, and I filled up my container to cool it again.
We arrived just at sunset, and I debated whether it was worse to set up my tent in the dark or poop in the dark… ultimately both were in the dark as the sun set so quickly, and we had dinner with our headlamps around a picnic table.
Total trail mileage: 246.5 miles / 396.6 km.