Day 28 (May 5): Mile 328.1 – 351.8

Miraculous Mile-Making McDonald’s

Beginning Elevation = 3,400
Ending Elevation = 5,200
Weather: 50-65°F, sunny most of day, some thick blowing clouds.

I had set an alarm for 5:30am, but got up before and starting packing at 5:20am. Didn’t sleep all that well, but still felt ready to go. Couldn’t find my Pop-Tart, so went right for the Kit-Kat… starting things out right.

At 5:50, I was walking back up to the trail. Very soon into my walk I crossed paths with a girl I didn’t know, but who I’d seen under the pavilion yesterday. I kept going, but slowly, wondering if she got turned around and was headed the wrong direction. That’s exactly what had happened. She turned around a couple seconds later and told me she’d walked away from the picnic area down the road and jumped on the trail at a different spot than she’d gotten off.

We walked for a bit together. I learned her name is Kristen and from San Diego. I also found out that homegirl is a fast hiker. I couldn’t keep up for very long. I was feeling good though and hiking pretty fast. This is looking back, saying goodbye to the lake.Took a break at a creek to fill up water and have breakfast. Kristen was there doing the same and another guy showed up: Yukon Cornelius (great trail name I thought…from Rudolph Red Nose Reindeer cartoon?). They seem to be traveling with a group of folks and seem to be going quickly too…super hikers.

I soon came to be hiking along the edge of a long cloud. I was kind of half way in the sun and half under the cloud. I could feel cold air coming with the cloud.And I snapped a photo of this guy. Scale is kind of hard to tell, bit he’s about 3-4 times bigger than any other butterflies I’d seen yet. He also looks terrifying.Walked under some giant power lines. I could hear the buzz of electricity.Next, was a series of these cliff things. They freaked me out having the trail being so close to the edge.The trail then went down, which right away activated my dang thigh. I developed a way of going downhill that utilizes my treking poles to try and help take the weight off the leg I made it down. And soon, turned a corner to see Interstate 15.Then, this beautiful sign.When I write these posts, I feel like Buddy the Elf sometimes….I walked through the seven switchbacks, through the sea of fluttering butterflies, and then I saw the golden arches!I’ve never seen so many adults this excited about McDonald’s. We were all like little kids, like this was a huge treat. I mean, it’s still just McDonald’s. But I did enjoy. I started with a quarter pounder meal with a sweet tea, then a second coarse of nuggets and an M&M Mcflurry. I know that’s not the classic Oreo, but I’ve always been an M&M guy. I ate with a lady named Carol and Seth Rogen. There were a lot of us smelly hikers in there.Mr. Rogen planned to stay at the hotel down the road and rest up. Carol and I were gearing up for the next stretch. We were talking amongst the group of folks about people’s plans. We had a 20+ mile stretch of no water. Carol and I got water from the soda fountain machine in McD’s and then stocked up with food at the gas station next door. I just got some trail mix and cookies and a replacement Smart Water bottle. And I drank a Gatorade while packing up.2:30pm I was headed back to the trail with the food I needed plus 5 liters water. I went underneath the interstate.Then bent down to get under the railroad tracks.I should have gone under these tracks too from that cool looking tube, but I had lost the trail for a bit and ended up going up and over and down that steep bank.In the process, I’m 96% sure I went through a batch of poodle dog bush, which is supposed to give you a rash worse than poison ivy. So that’s neat. It looks like this (this isn’t the actual one that got me, but I started seeing it more).I pressed onward hoping very much so that I don’t have a reaction to the plant. Saw these nice tilted rocks…Then, I started climbing again. It was super windy during this stretch.Then, began going up the edge of this valley. I would eventually cross the flat part and start going up the big boys on the left sideI picked up this balloon in the flat stretch. I thought it was calling out to me since it was an S, saying Steve, pick me up.At about mile 19 for the day I met the super hikers group from earlier. They were all camped. But I followed my hero Forest Gump’s lead thinking “I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well…just keep on going.” This may prove to be a stupid decision. We’ll see tomorrow how I feel.

I signed the log – Stevie Wonder! I’m not sure if this makes it official or not, but I’m trying this one out now. Snickers, Songbird, and Calzone are the ones I believe came up with it, based on me losing my glasses and wearing my shades all the time now. After this point, the trail went up and up. And there weren’t any spots to camp or I would have. But it was beautiful!I did stop and re-adjusted my hip belt again. Afterwards, I thought that I never had it right/tight enough ever before. It felt good now, but higher up on my body.Eventually, I found a brilliant spot! I was dead tired and so happy to have found it. Over 23 miles today, a new record for me and one I don’t plan/want to beat for a while. Woot woot!

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