Reentering the forest, the tinkling of wind chimes filled the air. A herd of cows, each wearing a metal cowbell, grazed in a nearby meadow. A single resonant "moooooo", like a blast from a trombone, added to the cacophony of sound. "Sounds like someone is ringing in Christmas a bit early," Sierra remarked.
Reaching the meadow, the pungent odor of cow manure left no doubt as to the source of the sound. Cows freely grazed under the trees and along the grassy hillside, bells jangling with every step.
We climbed away from the cows onto the ridge, then began to traverse a steep hillside. At times the trail became a steep catwalk beneath steep, granite cliffs. At other times the trail dipped back into the forest.
While traversing the hillside we passed a new milestone: 1,600 miles! A little farther down the trail we climbed above rockbound Smith Lake, amazed at how clearly we could see the large hunks of rock on the bottom.
A large icy snowfield lined the trail just before the ridge. I scraped away two large balls of snow and hid behind a tree, waiting for Sierra. After hurling my missiles, I ran down the trail. But Sierra's well-aimed snowball caught me on the back and exploded, drips of wet snow running down the backs of my legs.
We hurried down the trail to the trailhead. My father was waiting to whisk us into Etna, where we could camp with them at the RV park, shower, and eat.