Day 61, June 25th
Start: bucks lake, mile 1266
End: the braatens, highway 70 intersection, mile 1289
Miles hiked: 23

I wake up on the porch to the sound of coffee bubbling next to us of the hikers. I’m the first up, and I can smell the aroma of the coffee. I don’t drink coffee, so I imagine the sound of a pop bottle being opened.

‘Pshhhhh’, and the smell of a lemon lime soda, fizz rushing to the top of the bottle. I’m still in a daze, dreaming about a Mountain Dew being next to the coffee machines. If only I could be woken up that way every day of the trail, to an icy cold Mountain Dew being opened.

The rest of the dirt bags wake up, and we all clean up the porch as Nancy is making a glorious breakfast. We all feast. Amazement. Tortilla breakfast lasagna, scrambled eggs, bacon, a nice fruit pastry with crushed pistachios on top, and orange juice. It’s great! Nancy brings us to the trail around 8:15, and we set off, eyes set on getting to the Braatens at little haven, a mere 20 miles or so down the trail.

I hike with carrot, Guthrie, and diver. Diver is from Massachusetts, is a former marine, looks to be in his mid to late 20’s, and says some wild things. He carries a giant pack, like huge, yet he keeps up with us just fine. Dude is hard.

We climb up through a beautiful forest of pines, and stay high for several miles. Before long, we start making a descent down to Belden, some 4,500 feet below. I get service on my phone, so I post a blog and call my dad. We talk nearly the whole way down the trail. I really miss him and my mom, who I get to talk to after she wakes up when I’m on the phone with my dad. They’re still living their lives, not much new. I think about my life, and how it’s taken a 180 since busy season at Deloitte. It’s really slowed down. Before I know it, I’ll be back in November, and my life will go back to how it was. The adjustment back to busy hours right away makes me nervous, hopefully I’ll be able to adjust quickly. I think I will.

Guthrie and carrot are waiting for me at the bottom of the hill. We cross some railroad tracks and find a little bar and convenience store in a building that looks and awful lot like it belongs in a Mexican resort town. It’s surrounded by double-wides in this deep valley. It’s very strange. At the bar are Will, sheriff woody, not a chance, mac, and JrSr. A few of us get a drink special called the tree smacker. There’s a picture next to it of a truck running into a tree. I guess you can get away with a name like that when your bar caters mostly to hunters. It’s delicious.

We call up mrs Braaten who comes and picks us up and takes us to her home. Everyone stays here for the night, and things get really weird. We do laundry, and he loaner clothes are hysterical! Woody’s got a girls figure skating shirt on, skin tight and covering only half his belly. Guthries wearing a girls top, and not a chance follows woody’s style with a shirt about 3 sizes too small. They’re all making a hiker monopoly game out of an old cardboard box, and doing running belly bumps in the kitchen. It’s hilarious. We’re adults.

It’s funny to see everyone getting weird. It feels like camp when you’re little. There’s no entertainment out here for us. No movies, netflix, concerts, internet. Nothing. So we have to make our own fun, and it gets real weird. I love it.

Before bed, dirt monger shows us the contents of his backpack. He’s a hiking legend, much the same as not a chance, but with a further spread in the backpacker community. His base weight is 6 pounds, super impressive. He carries the bare minimum, with a real nice gossamer gear Kumo pack. It’s about 13 ounces, and looks tiny on his back.

I really like seeing what he’s got, and it gives me some really good ideas for the AT, where you can go extremely light. I lay in bed pondering different ideas of how I can drop weight, yet I refuse not to take 2 pounds of gummies that were sent to me from my best friend badgetowns mom, mrs Mathews (thanks!). I’ll never be able to carry as little food as him, not when I’m getting free haribo gummy bears.

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so

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I’ve been seeing these NF. Signs every 5 or so miles. Anyone know why they’re here? Seems very strange to me to show a made up park boundary 40 miles away…