Just as there is a pattern to the descents into town, so there is a pattern to the hills out of towns on the other side. The hill out of Belden was 14 miles long gaining 6,000 feet of elevation. It was hot and rather exposed, but thankfully not humid. Still, it was Chug’s first day back on trail and I didn’t want to push myself overly hard in the heat, so we took our time.
Eventually the trail did move into the forest and we were able to stop for lunch. Chug had brought some excellent food from town, and I made an enjoyable lunch of brown minute rice, precooked sausages and bacon, sundried tomatoes and avocado. Good calories and tasty. Win.
I related the stories from the last 200 miles and described the people hiking around us, which made the time pass more quickly, but we were glad when the trail flattened out on the top of the hill.
Unfortunately soon after we hit the top of the hill we came across a campfire that had been abandoned without being properly extinguished, which made me angry. The fire was at the sign for Frog Spring, a water source which was running beautifully and which was no more than 200ft away from the trail. We collected water and put out the fire. California is so dry right now, and has been for so long, that the forest floor is thick with materials that burn easily. A smouldering campfire can so quickly escape the fire ring, burning under the layer of duff and setting the whole forest on fire. I can’t understand it when you have to carry enough water to put it out, but here there was a constant supply of fresh water so close as to leave no excuse at all.
We ended the day at Cold Spring, a water pipe and trough near a copse with flattish tent sites. It already had a couple of tents in there when we arrived and several more showed up afterwards. I guess this is pretty normal after leaving town when people are bunched together. We will spread out in the next few days before reconvening at Old Station.
Camping: Mile 1309, Cold Spring