Another hot day. We managed to hike nine miles by noon then took a two hour rest in the shade of some oakish trees and boulders, daring those devilish oak gnats to get us in the slight breeze. Mostly they won.
The first part of the day was climbing gently in the friendly forest of yesterday then we hit a big burn area where there were lots of trees, only they were all burned and afforded no shade for the heat challenged. However the ground was covered in mounds of lupine and the smell was intoxicating. Too bad they only made enough shade for rabbits.
When MG and I finally got moving it was like walking in an oven. Fortunately the trail was all downhill but even at that it was hard going. After an hour and a half I came around a corner and there was Soup, hunkered down in the shade of some big old boulders. Well, I couldn't hardly let him sit there by himself so I joined him. Apparently he took shelter when his thermometer hit 97 degrees. MG joined us in time and we stayed there discussing the next section and before you know it we had talked ourselves into bypassing the 12 miles of walking in sand over moguls made by illegal motorcycling.
Maybe it was the heat but the thought of doing that hike tomorrow in the extreme heat filled me with dread. At 4:30 it was still 89 degrees but we donned our packs and off we went to hike the remaining five miles to the Kelso Valley cache. Instead of crossing the road to walk the trail we turned left and made our way down the Kelso Valley Rd. Within 20 minutes we got a ride to Sageland, which is really nothing but a junction of two roads now but was once a thriving mining community.
As luck would have it this is also where Tunnel Spring is located and after some looking about Soup found it. Clear, cold, piped spring water. So we are camped amongst the sage and willows, just a short walk from the spring. I even got to rinse the dirt off of me before bed. Bliss.
I suppose I should feel guilty about my tendency to cut out parts of this trail that, for whatever reason, I decide not to hike. But really, I don't. Once I decided to stop thinking of it as a thru hike I've been liberated from having to hike areas where misery is dominant. Of course there will be discomforts but misery is over-rated in my book.
It has been hard for me today to be missing the grand opening of The Tannery Studios. It is a big thing and I so wish I could have been there. Again, I tried all day to get a cell signal so I could call Angela but no go. The hills in these parts are not sullied by cell towers. Dang!