Day 8                  
   
All taped up and ready for one last day of abuse   A view to the East, a few minutes before sunrise   My little waterfront chateau... but, alas, no espresso.
   
The last plateau before descending into the valley   First view of the valley floor, through amber sunglasses   The smoldering wreckage.
Note: Those aren't tan lines...

Two days before, the prospect of today's hike, a 5,000-foot drop over 11 miles, was somewhat daunting. But, thanks to the generosity of the nice people from the CCC, it wasn't any worse than it would have been in the proper boots. That's still bad.

Taking considerably leisure, I had a leisurely breakfast, took a few pictures and hit the trail at the decadent hour of 8:30 AM. Such indulgence. The hike went well, across the small plateau of Granite Basin before cutting East across a ridge and beginning a seemingly endless descent toward the valley floor, to Road's End. As I plodded along, I was ever so relieved not to be one of the unfortunates I met coming up the opposite direction. They were in for some long, hot, dry hiking, and as this would probably be their first day, their packs would be heavy, and they'd probably be in poor condition for this sort of thing. I could only sympathize and recall how I felt, a week earlier, at the end of my first day on the trail.

After about 8 miles through heavily wooded mountainsides, I had my first glimpse of my destination. The Road's End permit station sits between deeply cut gigantic walls of granite that rise nearly 4000 feet above it.