Pinecone and Windsong took off last night, Far Out around 9 this morning, and myself and Dogger at nearly 1030. I lingered, talking biology with Jackalope, who has a PhD in it. Brilliant woman. When I asked her what she's doing now, she replied that she builds houses out of mud and sticks.
I hiked up out of the pass, eventually panting and pulling off to let Dogger pass me up. Halfway up the ascent, I found Far Out and we chatted and rested through the heat. A day hiker passed us. Far Out took off, and I departed the shade tree about 20 minutes later. Rounding Mt Jenkins, that tan, uncircumcised day hiker reappeared. He wore a wide-brimmed hat, calf-length socks, sturdy Vasque boots and a hydration pack. Nothing more. Though I am not offended by nudists, my brain immediately delights in dressing them up like crazy fleshy paper dolls. "I'm dressing you with my eyes," I thought, amused. He seemed disappointed that I was content to shoot the shit with him, unoffended and disinterested in his nakedness. Just another hiker.
The climb continued around, sidehilling forever, forest disappearing into dismal burned areas.. And then back down, again. Exhausting day. I camped near the only sure water source, the spring-fed Spanish Needle Creek. At dusk, I met up with Far Out there, and he pointed out a tiny brown scorpion right under my trekking pole. Them are the scary ones.