The Last Leg

This is it! One more stretch of California! And we’re walking West and Southwest!?

Isn’t the proper direction North?

We have maps again!  So I know we’re going the right way.  I’m also enjoying a new pair of shoes.  Post Office stops are fun.  Even the packages we sent to ourselves have surprises in them (Cause I’ve forgotten what I put in the box).  We sit on the lawn outside the post office and it feels like Christmas.

Before leaving Mt Shasta we stopped at The Goat and I had the most amazing burger of the trip.  Called the Wino Burger.  Wine sauce, goat cheese, and bacon.  And a pint of Lost Coast Strawberry Wheat.  (Yes, I’m writing about food again.  But it was really, really good food).

Full and happy, we get a ride to Castle Crags State Park and begin walking again.

Five days to Etna.

Stunning views of crags, Shasta surrounded in smoke, and valleys which we are high above on the side of a ridge.

We spend one evening at an amazing overlook.  We stop walking early because this spot is so cool (we also spent most of the day gaining a couple thousand feet of elevation and after so many detours, and days off the trail, we’re feeling lazy and out of shape).

TV for the night: watching the Bagley fire light up the hills (from a safe distance across I-5 and 16 miles into the wilderness).  The moon is bright and almost full.  As the sun sets, we can see spots of orange flame.  Nature, even when destructive, is incredible.

The miles start to fly.

During one break, a lizard climbs onto my leg and we chat for a minute, (before it realizes it is sitting on a human).

I find black caps (black raspberries). They make me very happy.  It is a sign of hope, I tell Backtrack, hope that soon we will find huckleberries.

We finally finish the last Ed Abbey essay in the book Beyond the Wall (Which I picked up in the first 200 miles).

Last 26 miles to Etna, we meet some firefighters at a road crossing, waiting to restock a helicopter.  We mention that our last day out to the town is usually light on food, and they give us gatorade and MRE’s.  Which we happily devour in the shade while chatting about all the fires in the area.  The night before some smoke jumpers jumped a fire nearby.  (So that was the plane we saw).  The word is that it was an escaped campfire.  Bummer.  It’s unfortunate that people don’t read all the signs posted that say ‘No Campfires’.

The MRE’s do inspire some creativity.  My new shoes have been hurting one foot.  My big toe feels like it is being decapitated, very slowly.  I’m eating a tootsie roll, considering how to fix this problem, when I get an idea from staring at the wrapper.  I can use the white cardboard from the wrapper as a splint.  The finished product looks like something traumatic has happened to my foot.  But it works! My foot is happy again. When we call Blaze later, I tell her the bear did it.

On to Etna.  Meeting two more hiking dogs on the way.


About Natalie

Natalie Fisher is a dancer, teacher, silk aerialist, and choreographer. She is inspired by the wilderness. Her work involves finding the seam where her worlds of dance, aerials and the wilderness meet.

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