Day 96

Day 96 – mile 1771 to 1797 – Forest Fire Camp to Smokey Smoke Camp:
Today was a very important day for me.  I finally figured out what I want to do with myself after this whole PCT adventure is over.  I want to be a bear, roaming to woods and picking huckleberries all day.  I had already been eating all the thimble berries I could get my hands on, but the huckleberries, to which I am no longer oblivious, are a the real treasure of Oregon.
I slept like a log last night, lulled by the rushing water next to camp.  When I finally got moving, the bugs were up and hungry, forcing me to rush my way through the dense forest.  Views were once again nonexistent as the trail gained and lost a nearly imperceptible measure of altitude.  The heat was back again after yesterday afternoon’s thunderstorm hiatus, but was shade limited to a mere 90F.
I reached the first spring, delicious and cold, where Stitch and Otter were eating from a bag full of fresh-picked huckleberries.  I had been walking through huckleberry heaven without even knowing it!  They educated me in the ancient ways of the berry picking, then turned me loose on the unsuspecting hillsides.  Tangy and juicy, I think I’ll need to strictly enforce a limit on berry picking time if I have any hope of finishing the trail.  I ate handful after handful until my palms and fingertips were purple with flavor.  Packing some for the future, I forced myself to get moving again.
It wasn’t long before I found myself climbing up the most prominent feature seen in days.  Out of the trees now I could get a good view of the area, but the term ‘view’ is used liberally in this case.  Low, forested mounds covered by a milky haze of smoke.  Not super inspirational.  The smoke thickened significantly as I crossed to the other side of the ridge, then got even worse as I climbed high through a previously burned area.  I really felt as though I was hiking into Mordor, a thick layer of ashy dust on the trail, surrounded by blackened snags, and breathing in a pungent fume.  No fires in sight, but the smoke was becoming a bit bothersome and irritating.  Peaks named Lucifer and The Devil made the conditions seem appropriate.
Dropping down from the ridge into a different valley improved the air quality noticeably and, still feeling the lingering effects of my big day yesterday, I set up camp on one of many flat spots, earlier than usual.  I washed my feet in the nearby stream then ate my stash of huckleberries.  I wonder if bears feel this good every night?


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