After a night camped in the back of the Red Moose Inn, we stumbled immediately into the place to collect packages, eat breakfast, and use the bathroom (no outhouses in that small, blackberry-filled backyard is a serious minus). I sat listening to the hyper-conservative locals and owner jabber away using "Obama" as some newly-minted prefix for awhile while Any Minute was away from the front. Their talk turned to the smoke filling up the little valley and that it was drifting in from "that Placerville fire." Light bulb. Any Minute had mentioned Placerville as her nearest city. I mentioned to her that she might want to check her messages when she returned. The owner of the place switched on the news for us. Her phone exploded with unheard messages as soon as it turned on. All at once, we realized that the outside world had us. Her friends, relieved to hear that she'd received the news, came up to get us. Fires were only a ridge away from her yurt as we rushed down toward the flames. I had just a few moments to collect my crap and say hello to Terrible and Horrible, who were now off-trail and doing trail magic, before leaving.
In short, the fires spared her property, though the bits of charred leaves and ash on the lawn were sobering. Her next door neighbor had put out a spot catch a few days before from ash fall. After the danger had passed, her friends took is to Belden Town, where we picked up the trail again. I cannot thank them enough for their help and hospitality.
Belden was recovering from a multiple-day festival involving lots of dancing and inebriation. The Braatens brought over our long-awaited boxes (several birthday things from friends arrived there), and we slept on a chunk of lawn after hours of avoiding the afternoon heat on the bar/restaurant porch. It was loud and our grassy patch was filled with other hikers. 3d and Guy on a Buffalo were quite entertaining, though, and made the night under a huge, bright street light bearable.