Despite being cool overnight, the campsite was warm this morning as we got up and going early again. We could barely see the mountains across the valley through the haze, and it promised to be another hot day. As we walked we could smell smoke which turned out to be from fires in Napa. Evidently the smoke funnels into the valley here. It’s not all bad though, the mountains look misty and mystical in the haze, if you manage to forget it’s actually air pollution caused by burning forests.
We stopped for water at Deer Creek and found that it lived up to its name. A deer was eating just feet from us as we filled our bottles and didn’t move as we approached it to sit on a nearby log to filter the collected water. It moved about the clearing, not bothered by us in the slightest. That wasn’t the only wildlife we saw today. As we approached Ash Camp, I suddenly heard a menacing rattle to my right and stepped immediately back five paces from a green Northern Pacific rattlesnake. I thought we were done with the desert! And then once we reached Ash Camp, there were bats in the pit toilet building.
We stopped at the campground for a hiker bath in the river and to cool down after melting for most of the morning. Nell and Beowolf and Firecracker and Big Fish were already there, and we met Tink and Davy Crockett for the first time. Icebath also turned up as we were leaving, having hiked out of Burney Falls State Park with a friend, taking it slow.
We crossed the McCloud River, which appeared cloudy just like glacier melt and gave the valley a look of Middle Earth. We came across more deer after the river, this time younger ones which were much more skittish. Unfortunately that was the end of the pleasant wildlife for the day. At the campsite we chose, there were wasps, mosquitoes, flies and some unidentifiable giant black thing that reminded me of a bee but clearly wasn’t one. Urgh. Time to get in the tent and hide.
Camping: Mile 1482