8/12: (23.7 miles) left early from Etna. Got a ride up to Etna summit at around 8:30am for $5. Absolutely no smoke in the air and the views were incredible! Maybe better than the Sierras'! I'll let my pictures argue that for me. Ridge-waking all day long (not my favorite) and at about 5pm I hiked over a ridge that suddenly plunged me back into the gloom of wildfire smoke, long ago burned-out forests, and insane heat & humidity. Not fun. But I made it to my campsite just after dusk near an old, boarded-up ranger cabin. One of the boards over a window was gone and I was very tempted to climb in and spend the night in there but I figured the rodents probably had called dibs.
8/13: (25.4 miles) new record! And today is also 3 months in! Hard to believe that I've been doing practically the same thing everyday for 3 months. Kinda bordering on existential crisis here... Nevermind. Today I got up a little late and got going around 8:45am. I decided that- to make up for it- I'll make sure to hike 3 mph all the time and limit all my breaks to 10 minutes (which means no reading). And it worked. I got to the Grider Creek Campground just before 8pm and saw the first human I had seen all day- another hiker. Nothing special at this drive-in campground: pit toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables. Not even water spigots but the creek was right nearby.
8/14: (10.8 miles) This morning I did the 6.6 mile road walk into Seiad Valley, CA. This is the last stop before Oregon! Also, Seiad Valley's Cafe is home to the famous pancake challenge: if you can eat 5 pancakes (each weighing a pound), you get them for free. Hardly anyone (hikers included) have completed it. They estimate around 25 people in the whole existence of the restaurant (only 2 in the last 7 years). I got myself 3 REGULAR-sized chocolate chip pancakes and will be heading out of here around 5pm to do the last 4.2 miles of the day (halfway up the horrible, steep hill out of Seiad Valley). Oregon, here I come!