Our alarms went off at 5am and we had Mustang packed up and resting in my tent by 5:30. It doesn’t actually get light until 6:30 now, but we wanted to be ready. The helicopter didn’t come in until 8:00. They landed on the small knoll we thought they would, came down and walked Mustang up, and flew off again. The whole thing took less than twenty minutes.
I got started hiking at 8:30 and kept up a quick pace, since I still wanted to try to get to the first shuttle to town on Saturday. It was warmer than it has been since there was cloud cover overnight. The trail was also less muddy than it has been, although there were still a ton of downed trees. I felt like I was constantly climbing over or under one. The trail was missing little bits here and there too, eroded to just a shoe’s width in many places. At one point, there was a note in a ziploc bag saying the trail ahead was washed out and pointing to a detour. The “detour” was about an eighty degree angled mud slide down to the next switchback. I saw some shoe prints in it, but mostly slide marks. I managed to grab enough roots sticking out to get down it without sliding.
I didn’t take many breaks and I was on track to get to the Suiattle River right before dark as long as I kept going at least 3mph. Luckily, the trail at the end of the day was mostly clear and allowed that. Half a mile before camp, I caught up to Switchfoot and Clark having dinner, but they still planned to do a few more miles in the dark. I had already done 24.8 for the day, and I was starving, so I was done. I set up camp in the dark right next to the bridge over the river.
I had 6200′ of elevation gain today, but 9500′ loss. My feet and knees are a little sore.