12 Sep Day 144 – Fire and Wind
At mile 1039.3. Hiked 22.3 miles today.
Since I spent the night at North Kennedy Meadows and had the Cowboy Breakfast, I didn’t start hiking until 9:10 am. Even with the late start and carrying 4 day food supply, I made pretty good mileage.
There were two reasons for the good mileage. First, I see the end in sight. Next, by early afternoon it became apparent that I was walking toward a wildfire, that I was downwind from the fire, that the winds were very strong, and finally, I had not seen any other hikers in a very long time. This made me wonder whether the Donnell fire escaped its containment and whether the trail closed shortly after I had started hiking. I started looking around for safe spots. There were a number of open non combustible areas. I made a mental note whenever I saw one. As example, the trail passes close to a large mountain of volcanic rubble without a single tree or blade of grass.
Here is a view of one of the volcanic rubble safe spot of which I made mental note.
I also started hiking faster. I was still downwind and the trail was leading me in the general line of fire. I began to run some on the downhills. I filled my 2 liter with water and with the added weight began a brutal climb. I thought having extra water couldn’t hurt. One good sign was that there were no firemen in sight and no aerial activity on the fire. By the way, that could be a bad sign also. Eventually, I made my way upwind of the fire and I relaxed and had a late lunch of tuna wraps.
It was a windy day. Not Tehachapi windy, but enough to push you two steps to your left. At one point with a strong wind against my back and facing a short steep rise, I had fun letting the wind push me up. I only lifted my legs, never pushing with them. I let the wind do the work.
Later, with my mind on the fire, a tree fell down. This wasn’t part of the tree. This was an entire large tree coming apart from the base of the trunk and crashing in the woods. Yes, it was windy.
Some of the views after I topped out and began a long walk down a valley or Canyon.
Another view. There were strange clouds in the distance that made me think snow, but I think they were smoke related.
The trail and I’m upwind from the fire now.
Out of the smoke.
I’m more relaxed as I hike and happy that I have good mileage on the start of this 75 mile final leg. I had made flight reservations for the 16th while at KMN so now I am on a schedule.
As I hiked on, I heard distant cowbells. Before long I started seeing deer,’then cows. Do deer like to hangout near cows? This cow was in the middle of the trail and kept moving up the trail as I walked behind it. It led me to my planned campsite. It was nice to have cows with gently clanging bells for company as I camped this night. The next morning as I began hiking, I continued to hear cowbells and see cows. That morning a herd seemed to chase after me for a minute. They didn’t know that I didn’t have food to spare.