When I woke up in the morning, I found a couple of other hikers cowboy camping right next to my tent. I stepped over them on my way out, and Bear Bait caught up to me at Fern Spring just ahead. Fun Size and Shake n’ Bake were long gone by now. The climb ahead was absolute hell: gaining nearly 3000 feet over four miles on a steep grade until the junction for Lookout Spring, where we stopped for water. I collapsed on the trail once we got to the spring, completely breathless and tired. The pipe in the spring was painfully slow, only trickling out a liter of water over a ten minute period. Safety First caught up to us, and we directed him down to the spring, then made a hasty exit up and over the ridgeline.
We passed a dirt road at Cook and Green Pass, then began another daunting climb on exposed switchbacks into the mountains. The heat was fierce, and really doing a number on me. I felt ill, to the point of fainting and needed to stop. It was really wearing on my mental strength, and I couldn’t help but think about leaving the trail for good. My feet were actually burning with pain, and I had to stop for a short siesta beneath some shade for a bit.
The trail entered the forest, filled with endless pine trees and boring terrain. We were practically sleep walking along when we were startled back into reality by a rattlesnake in the trail. We levitated to the side, and it slithered off in the opposite direction to the base of a tree, where it coiled up. We quickly left.
We took a break in a large campsite, where I found a cowbell and some other strange relics, and ate an early dinner. We pushed on a bit more, but after a mile we decided to settle into a campsite in a large forested saddle. We set up our tents, had the usual cup of hot chocolate and then went to bed as more hikers arrived and made camp.