I didn’t get the early start I wanted this morning because I actually got good sleep, minus a couple hours of being awake in the middle of the night.

It was 19 miles to the road and mostly downhill, but first I had to climb up and over the highest point on the CT at 13271′. It wasn’t too bad getting up there, just hot with still air for the most part. Once I crossed the high point, the wind picked up though. I had to tighten my hat and the cape was flapping so much it was giving me a headache.

It was an uneventful hike down. The sun was beating down on my already sunburnt calves and they just felt so hot all day. I was thrilled to get to a short distance of trail through a forest and have shade briefly, but then it was back into the sun.

The pine trees in this area all seem to have been killed by beetles which is really unfortunate. I remember in 2014 people were saying that was just getting started in places I was hiking through, and here we are, completely dead forests.

There was a long dirt road walk, then I went over Jarosa Mesa, then another long dirt road walk out to Spring Creek Pass. Every time the sun was briefly behind a cloud I felt relief on my calves, but it never lasted long. When I was almost to the road, I stopped to pee and discovered that some of my sunburn was now blistered! No wonder it hurt so much.

As long as I kept moving, it wasn’t quite as bad so I was shuffling around as I waited at the road for a hitch. There wasn’t much traffic and unfortunately, the day hikers I had just been talking to were going the opposite direction. Another hiker got out to the road and waited in the background for me to get a hitch first.

Finally, a hiker planning some high peaks in the area stopped and picked both of us up. It was a twisty 17 miles down the road to Lake City. The Animal was waiting for me, having already gotten us beds at the Raven’s Rest Hostel. I haven’t seen her since just after the PCT in 2015 but she will be hiking with me for the next stretch.

We went out for burgers, found some sunscreen and lotion for my legs, then went back to the hostel so I could clean up. My calves were really painful but ibuprofen and lotion helped once I had them cleaned up. I think I’m going to have to buy full pants in the morning to keep them protected until they heal.

We stayed up late catching up, then finally decided we had days of hiking to continue talking and should go to bed.