The trail took us on a six mile road walk to get out of Seiad Valley and then up we went.
The climb was long and steep but the clear California skies and warm weather more than made up for it.
We finally decided to go for my birthday miles today.
Last night Dibs told us that the terrain would be mellow today, a great day to shoot for big miles. It didn't take long before we realized that Dibs was wrong - today was up up UP! (8,591 ft of gain)
As the day went on we hiked further into the Marble Mountain Wilderness and the scenery made the climbing all that much more enjoyable.
By early evening it was clear we would be hiking in the dark if we wanted to complete our goal. We were determined!
We continued our hike as the sun set to the west.
As darkness fell we started to smell smoke and hoped we would be able to camp somewhere that wasn't blackened from recent fire.
By 8:45pm we hit our 34 mile mark. Unfortunately, there was nowhere to camp for another mile and a half. And so onward and upward we climbed.
Proud and exhausted we reached our camp spot around 9:10pm. I thought I saw headlamps across the canyon but soon realized the glow was from flames. Cosmo and I watched the fire light up the hillside perhaps a mile from our camp as we continued to get ready for bed. The flames made us anxious but we felt confident that it was contained and far enough away to sleep comfortably. We will continue to keep half an eye on it as we settle in for the night.
This morning we hiked like bandits, using our bandanas as protection from the smoke.
After four miles we reached Sawyers Bar Road and had to say goodbye to our new friend Dibs who would be hiking on past town.
It didn't take us too long before the three of us got a hitch into the town of Etna. We got dropped off at the Hikers Hut (where we would spend the night), and took a stroll through town.
After a brief walk we came back to the hostel where we ate dinner, soaked our feet, and enjoyed our last town evening before the final stretch!