My fingers were still tingling with frost when I finished packing up this morning. The time it takes to bandage my damned feet makes me have to rise far earlier than I'd like. Still, I got moving fairly early and wandered along happily, noting the growing numbers of pickup trucks and car camping areas that I passed. Hunters were pretty much everywhere, and so were the sounds of distant (and not very distant) gunfire. I saw lots of elk, some very large, and wondered which of them would make it through the season. At one point, there was a shot not far from where I'd last seen one with a huge rack. Sorry, buddy.
At late morning, I reached Double Springs Campground, where I found the first flowing water I've seen yet on this trail. It was slightly murky, but far superior to mud trough water. I drank 2 liters while I was filtering it, looking around at the RV campers who seemed somehow to have planted themselves in the area permanently. The main gate to the campground was closed, but these campers were firmly installed, with satellite dishes mounted to stumps and sturdy grills painstakingly constructed in their spaces. None of them greeted me.
I carried out 5 liters from the spring, mostly because the water tasted good, and that was worth the extra weight. Halfway up the climb from the little valley, I came upon some section hikers walking from Washington Park to Flagstaff. They had that new section hiker awe of a single chick wandering around alone, and asked me lots of logistical questions that showed they'd had it a little rough. One, in particular, did not appear to be having a good time. He kept switching his weight from one leg to the other in a way that is all too familiar to me.
I hauled my plunder up through trees and meadows, just past the crossing at Lake Mary Road as the light disappeared. My tent seemed to put itself up in the moonlight, practiced and quick, and I made a huge dinner with my personal water cache. What did I have? Tuna not-so-surprise, of course. The same thing I eat every night. Tuna with mashed potatoes/stuffing mix/gravy mix. And I love it. Then potatea (chamomile or mint teabag in water poured over the remains of dinner...it's fancy dishwater that you drink, using the teabag as a sponge) and a Nutella tortilla. The passing lights from Lake Mary Road flood my tent a bit, but it is an unusual and almost welcome change.