This day was set to be similar to the one before – waking along ridge line bowls through meadow and woods before descending down to a trail head and climbing back up the other side to the next set of ridges. There was a slight layer of cloud in the morning which cast patterns of shadow upon the ranges around us which emphasised their gnarled details more than ever. We chatted the morning away maintaining a steady pace which passed the miles beneath our feet. To us, the terrain was monotonous and distractions from it were welcome helping pass the time swiftly.
Before we knew it we had done 14 miles by midday as we descended to Scott Mount Summit trail head and campground for lunch. Picnic tables and a pit toilet acted as trail magic as we ate and snoozed beneath large Jefferson Pines for an hour or so. Next up was an ascent consisting of 10 miles and 2000 ft of elevation gain.
We felt strong, tackling the first half with speed trying to reach the halfway water source. Along the way we were happily surprised to come across Nelly, key member of the Sierra trail family who we hadn’t seen since Yosemite. Joining us on the climb she told us all about the family’s last few days in the Sierra and how she was now pushing huge miles before having to leave the trail at the start of August. After collecting water we let her continue her 40 mile day, sad to see her go but hoping to catch her once more in Etna or Ashland.
That encounter boosted us along the second half of the trail which circled a bowl of red rock fall and gave us views of Shasta whose night was starting to shrink to the horizon. As the sun faded, it’s evening light worked its magic on the clouds of the woods we passed before camp. The silver tipped green of pine needles, deep green of grasses, fluorescence of lichen and deep brown of wood was all exaggerated in the dappled light that made its way through the dense trees around us. To our left we could see the peaks of the Trinity Alps and to the right we’re deep valleys working their way to flat lands beyond. It was a beautiful end to the day. Etna town was now in reach for the end of tomorrow.