Distance hiked today: 8.6 miles / 46 km.
The thing with towns is they're almost always in the valleys. It's great when you're heading into town and you have a nice long downhill to speed things up. But then when your pack is freshly filled and heavy with food you have a long climb back into the hills.
Today was no different, and despite a 6am start the uphill was hot. The trail cut into the side of a hill above the tree line for a ways before turning into the forest. I passed the 1200 mile marker.
I'd planned to hike 24 miles today, but when I arrived it was still quite early and I decided to do another 2 miles to an unmarked, supposedly epic camp spot someone had commented about. When I got there it was definitely epic, a tiny tent site on a rock outcropping overlooking the valley, but it was also solid rock. I couldn't get tent pegs into the ground, and since my tent is not free-standing it wasn't going to work. So I had to abandon it and hike another 2 miles to the next site, ending up with a 28+ mile day. I arrived just before dark and quickly got some water boiling for dinner while I set up my tent.
Throughout the day I knew my shoes were rubbing on the back of my foot and I'd taped them. When I peeled the tape off a layer of skin came with it, exposing fresh pink skin underneath. Great. Although old blisters have healed and calloused, new ones appear depending on the heat, terrain, and how old my shoes are. I'm hoping now that the skin has peeled it will harden and stop being an issue.
As I was getting ready to sleep, I heard a large animal's crunchy steps in the forest around my tent. A squirrel was sounding the alarm, with increasingly high pitched and frequent squeaks - "Squeak! Squeak! Squeaksqueaksqueaksqueak!" I carefully peeked out with my headlamp. Two glowing eyes stared back at me from the darkness, and when it turned it's head I saw his big rack still covered in velvet - a buck. He was trying to stealthily circle my camp but the dead branches crunching on the ground made him exceptionally noisy. I tried to shoo him away with noises but he didn't seem to care, and he continued to walk around throughout the night.
Total trail mileage: 1224 miles / 1969.4 km