July 30, 2017
Payne’s Lake – Etna (1591.47-1597.25)
Woke up this morning excited for a short hike into town. Unfortunately, the day immediately started off with another steep, partially exposed climb. Luckily, it was still relatively early in the morning so it wasn’t too hot yet. The 5 miles into Etna were incredibly beautiful. There were lakes and mountains and even a patch of snow we had to walk over. I really enjoyed it, especially once we reached the top of the climb and got to start going downhill.
When we reached the road into Etna, we found the parking lot totally filled with day hikers. Unfortunately, they were all just setting out on their hike and so couldn’t give us a ride into town. There was one other hiker waiting to get a ride, Fat & Sassy, and he told us he had been waiting there for half an hour and hadn’t seen any cars on the road yet. Uh oh. We sat there for maybe about 20 minutes, eating the meagre snacks we had left and drinking water given to us by a kind day hiker. Then, we heard a vehicle coming up the road, and all jumped up with our thumbs out. It was a large pickup truck, and pulled over to pick us up!! The first car that had driven by all morning! Two other hikers showed up right as we were getting in (good timing on their part), and we were all able to fit in quite comfortably.
Didn’t take any photos in town, so enjoy these images of this morning’s trail
Once we made it down the incredibly windy road into Etna, our first stop was Dotty’s, the local burger and shake place. I had a delicious veggie burger and strawberry shake, and it was soooo good. After we had sufficiently stuffed our faces, it was time for town chores. We walked down the street to the laundromat, and realized the day had gotten quite hot. It felt like we were walking through a literal oven. We threw all our clothes in the laundry (which once again involved stripping down in the middle of the laundromat… Why don’t they ever have bathrooms?). We walked over to Dollar General to do some resupply, and noticed a local business had one of those signs that tells you the current temperature. We walked past it several times and the temperature just kept climbing. 92…95…97…101… Yeah, it was hot. Once our laundry was done, we headed over to the city park, where the town lets hikers camp. They even have WiFi. We laid around for a while, trying not to melt, before heading over to the grocery store to finish our resupply and get some tokens for the shower. They give you ten minutes to shower at the park, which is unnecessarily long, but felt soooo good.
Once we were clean, we headed over to Bob’s Ranch House for dinner, leaving our stuff in the “camping area” that was marked on the park map. As it turns out, the camping area was also apparently the sprinkler area, and shortly after we returned from dinner, we realized that all of our stuff had been completely soaked. Great. All of my clothes were wet, our paper grocery bag had completely disintegrated, spilling groceries all over the ground, and my shoes were drenched. Luckily, the tent and our sleeping bags were dry. We spent the evening hanging out at the picnic tables with a bunch of other hikers (Monarch, Hitch, Spider Mama, Tetris, Fat & Sassy, and Non Stop). There were so many hikers, it felt like we were back in the desert, and it was amazing. It always feels so nice to meet and spend time with other hikers now. When it started getting dark, we all pitched our tents in the soft park grass, and climbed into bed, excited to sleep in the next morning.