I slept in the exact same stealth camp I made last year. The ground was level with a little trough just the right size for my body. I slept like a rock. I slept in.
I got everything put away and went down to the pool by 7am. I soaked my feet and talked wtih 3 other people who were guests at the ranch. One was a man named Peter who was an illustrator who lived on the Mesa in Santa Barbara. Maybe I would see him at the Daily Grind back home someday.
For breakfast I had french toast with sausage and two blueberry muffins, 2 perfect, flaky croissants, coffee and grapefruit juice. Yesterday and today were the chef's days off so the food was not as incredible as last year, but it was all delicious and better than most places. The croissants in particular were to die for. I was stuffed.
I sat with Janet the writer again. We talked about Nepal. She had been there in the 80s when travel there was more difficult than now.
We heard there was a real thru-hiker outside so she wanted to interview him. I wanted to hit the trail.
I met the hiker, Moosa, and said I'd see him later at Old Station. Away I went down to Warner Valley Campground where the trail continued. I didn't want to do Drakesbad's secret shortcut to the trail on so full a stomach. It was too steep.
I climbed the trail up into the woods again. I walked along the pleasant trail, startling a mama deer and a baby faun. I passed some nice lakes and contemplated swimming, but it was too early.
At the junction with the lake-blessed alternative route, I opted to take the official PCT route and see what I had missed the other two times I had hiked through the area. I was sorely disappointed. It was indeed a boring, dry dirt road. I should have hiked along the lake route.
I timed myself to Badger Flat. I was hiking 3mph.
At the trail register at the park boundary, I met a section hiker with his dog. I signed the ragged register and found my signature from last year.
The hike through the pine plantation was as boring and awful as ever, but my feet did not hurt and I felt strong. I motored along as fast as I could go. I reached the junction to Old Station store and post office a little before 5pm.
When I arrived, Boon was sitting there waiting for Moosa. When I told him Moosa had just started eating and planned to hit the pool afterward when I left Drakesbad, he seemed a little annoyed. I told him he'd probably be no more than an hour behind me. He showed up faster than that.
The three of us went to the Hideaway and got the grand tour from Firefly. Huff-n-Puff made dinner for us. We showered and did laundry.
Tomorrow begins my thru-hike.