There was a change in the air this morning. At first it wasn’t clear what that change was, but as we came to a ridge line minutes from leaving camp we realised exactly what it was. Smoke. A wild fire was blazing somewhere ahead and the valleys around us were perfect traps for the smoke floating in the air. It made the days horizon a haze and smothered views where we’d otherwise see for miles on end.
The day consisted of multiple steep climbs and descents, many of which were exposed rocky traverses through valleys of dead wood. We were marching to Etna to arrive a day before schedule, therefore the heat and sweat was put to one side as we weaved our way towards our hitch point. On the last climb before the highway, day hikers appeared around every corner and huddled around the cold water streams as we strolled on by looking post-apocalyptic.
At the road we secured a ride fast with two guys heading back from an afternoon in the woods. “Hey y’all get in the back we’re in a hurry, I got rattle snake venom in my eye” one chap said grabbing a beer from a cooler from the flat bed trailer we were climbing on to. The flat bed trailer – with literally 2 inches of metal on its side stopping anything from rolling out – contained; a dog, a tire, rusty jump leads, a beer cooler, 8 loose and crushed beer cans, our bags, ourselves, a shovel and a deer skull with antlers and all. They invited Molly up to ride inside the truck, but not me….suspicious, but I was happy chilling in the back with Daisy the dog as we wound our way down to Etna. On arrival we headed straight for Dotty’s burgers, nailed the 4 day resupply and made for the Etna Park camp ground.