Day 26 - Mill Creek Fire Station to Mattox Canyon Creek
April 22 | Miles 418.6 - 440.2
We all decided to do our own thing today and meet up after 17 miles to see how we felt. I was the third out of camp. A small climb awaited this morning, which was beautiful in the 7AM light and cool wind. I was fortunate enough to be in the shade most of the time, so I literally let my hair down as I was hiking, which felt so good.
As the trail wound around and through a burnt forest, I dodged Poodle Dog Bush (a notorious Poison Ivy-like skin irritant that is often the first plant species to grow in certain desert burn areas) at every turn, as it lounged across the trail in its overgrown glory.
I was intent on making good time. I’d done 11 miles by 11AM and only took two mini-breaks so I could bust out the full 17 before 1. And so it went.
I arrived to find two of the guys waiting at the ranger station we’d planned to meet up at, and we chilled with some friends over a leisurely lunch for a few hours. My meal was soy sauce ramen with a mustard packet mixed in, served in an old M&M’s bag that I used for cold soaking because it had a good zip top. The volunteer ranger at the station, a nice dude who looked like an off-duty Santa, just happened to be offering $1 sodas to hikers. I shamelessly downed 3 root beers before it was time to go.
By then it was around 3 and I was pretty hopped up. I was hiking hard and fast. I thought surely I was far ahead of the dudes but then I turned and noticed two of them suspiciously close behind me, even though I was jogging downhill... the race was on.
The final 4 miles to camp flew by under the overcast sky as we sped down the mountain, packs bouncing and using our trekking poles as weapons. To boot, the views were gorgeous. I ended up losing the race... for today. But it is far from over.
We secured a prime camp spot next to a little creek, and hung out for a few hours playing cards and eating cereal before checking out for the night.
Tomorrow, the little sprint to town begins as soon as I can get myself packed up and ready to go...