I'm listening to "We Didn't Start the Fire," by Billy Joel, a song I get stuck in my head at least once a week. Today it's appropriate, because... we didn't start the fire. After lunch, we looked back down the valley toward Belden, and there was a column of smoke going up. It obviously must have started after we had gone past. Sweet 16, Microburst, and I all pooped before leaving Belden, and we pack out, not burn, our toilet paper. So what was the cause? No lightning, it must have been human-caused.
None of us slept well last night, it turns out that camping in the middle of a highway-railroad sandwich is not conducive to sleeping well. At one point, a train went by, and a confused 16 reacted to the loud noise as if it were a large animal trying to eat us (or worse, our food), yelling, moving around, and generally making a racket of her own. Micro had to tell her, "shh, that's a train, not a cougar!" which 16 realized she knew all along.
The first 13 or so miles of today were all uphill. I heard complaints from Micro, 16, and Gnar, but there were none from me. I am built to go uphill! Not only was I able to catch up, I was faster than the others at times, and I felt (and still feel) perky and refreshed, not exhausted and beaten.
I saw a huge slug today, sliming it's way under my clothes (we ate lunch and cleaned up at a deepish creek, I was not wearing many of them). I wish that I could say creepy crawlies didn't bother me at this point, but to the contrary, the bravado I usually hold in reserve is all dried up, and they surprise and annoy the shit out of me.
I discovered today that wiping with a wad of wild mint sprigs causes a fresh, tingly feeling: not altogether unpleasant. This is opposed to yucca leaves, which 16 used once in a dire pinch. She reported that it stung for days.