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Day 94 - Smoke, Swimming and Snow - July 8

I awake at the camping spot on the saddle before the sun rose, packing up my bright blue tent.  I have 23 miles to hike today to reach the road at Etna and thumb a ride, so there’s no time to waste today.  I walk through fields blooming with yellow flowers, none as spectacular as yesterday’s show.
My mind wanders as I climb up a long hill after passing a paved road with little traffic.  Reaching the top of the climb, the trees clear and present a view of a foggy forested valley.   I see the occasional patch of snow near the trail. The next climb is a short but steep switchback cutting across a rocky slope.  Two patches of snow greet me with icy impassiveness. The first is well trod and I walk across easily. The second presents a problem.  It begins as a ledge of thin snow beckoning out to me over the trail. I can see that it is hollow underneath. I’m not interested in the invitation to posthole deep into the rocks below.  I clambered over the boulders on the side of the hill to sk…

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