Our night was filled with the noise of roaming and munching deer, though it kept me up a while before realising it wasn’t a bear. We started the morning with a quick finish to the climb we began the previous evening. Dipping in and out of woodland and meadow fields in the morning light was a pleasant way to wake the brain, and miles came easy to our legs. We passed Mt Pleasant as we strolled along the ridge through manzanita shrub and with extensive views before us. The heat was picking up as we crossed exposed areas which brought flashbacks to desert days of old.
From up high we could see a winding river and road down below and knew that we were on the cusp of the days huge descent down to just over 2000 ft above sea level – it had been a long while ago in Southern California since we had been that low. The descent was fraudulent at first, but plunged down switchbacks among a woodland for its majority, a true test for the knees and muscles. After quite sometime we finally were at the bottom, sweating heavily in the midday sun and rubbing our sore joints as we waited for an excruciatingly long freight train to pass by.
We had made it to Belden which consisted of a general store/ bar mash up and a tonne of tents and ravers as the “Camp FuckItUp” event was taking place. We can not put in words how surreal it is to be a thruhiker walking in off the trail to the centre of a festival. With a 5000 ft climb greeting us out of Belden we hung around to kill the heat of the day “enjoying” the bar food and marvelling at the scenes around us. We crossed the bridge above the rave, and took shelter in an old structure built for the gold mine era.
After a few naps and snacks it was now early evening and the climb could wait no longer. The previous day, I thought I had sweated the most I ever could, this climb put that one to shame, soaking me to the core. The heat was pulsating as we zig zagged our way slowly over 4 miles up the first 1000 ft, taking sweet shade around a spring. We managed a further 3 miles before reaching our camp spot around 8pm. Mosquitoes filled the air as we set up as fast as our tired limbs would allow us.