Day 96, July 28
Start: camp at zig zag canyon, mile 2,110
End: eagle creek alternate mile 5
Miles hiked: 34

Packing is so easy when you’re cowboy camping. No bugs on mount Hood. I love it. When there’s no bugs, no hypothermia rain, I’m sleeping under the stars. No doubt.

The trail drops steeply, then right back up. I hike with JrSr and coughee. We pass carrot! She must have gotten by us late last night. We keep cruising until my breakfast reserves run dry. We all eat and drink at the bottom of a dark, damp, mossy canyon. A strong stream runs next to us. Milky ways. Two of them. Ready to hit the trail again, crossing a giant rock field below Hood.

Mac, coughee and I walk over a giant slug. Huge. Bigger and longer than any of our fingers.

“A finger made of shot. Made of solidified goo.” Says coughee, “It’s a daemon!”

It’s pretty amazing. Just huge. Bigger than I remember as a kid when I was in the Pacific Northwest with my family.

I cruise up and down steep slopes, not breaking for snacks more than five times in the day. Likely a new record for me. I feel good, just cruising at a casual pace, not crushing. Mac, coughee and I keep eachother company, playing the same word game as the night before. Turns out my brain turns to mush going uphill.

“Two syllables. First word ‘grows from the earth. Second word, is a ranger.”

The words have to rhyme. I stump them. But I’m likely stumping you with that as well.

Coughee and I stop at Indian springs. We haven’t seen anyone in nearly 8 hours, save Mac who’s ahead. We meet a southbounder, Sadie. She says it’s a steep climb, and she wasn’t kidding. Coughee and I run down, hurdling over the fallen leaves. Parcore, parcore!

We get under a mile from tunnel falls and find macs hat as glasses. He’s camped here. We set up while the others trickle in one by one. We all play that dang word game. I’m so bad at this word game.