Mile 1755.9 to mile 1781.5, 25.6 PCT miles, .2 miles off trail to a cabin for second breakfast, 25.8 total
PCT mileage: 995.7
Running total: 1107.1
SO, when we went to bed we had talked about aiming for a 30 mile day today- but when the alarms started going off I suggested putting that feat off for the next day. (It’s the only nice part about hiking alone: we don’t have to feel bad when we cancel our plans…) We slept until 0615 and were on trail by 0745.
We started the day with a small 1.5 mile climb and then a whole lot of down! We busted out the first 7.5 miles in less than 20 min miles:)
The day was going well until Matt got stung by a yellow jacket- damn those things! We had to escape the bee swarms before assessing the sting: nothing terrible, so on we went.
We decided to take our second breakfast at a cabin shelter a little off trail. It was not terribly buggy so we sat at a picnic table and hung out for about an hour before returning to trail around 1120.
Our plan was to hike another 10 miles & take our lunch at the next water source by the junction for Fish Lake Resort – we agreed that a trip to the resort wasn’t needed, especially since it would add 4 miles round trip to our day.
At one point Matt got grumpy- his feet were sore, he needed new shoes, his knees concerned him, and we were hiking over lava rock, which is NOT good for your feet or your morale. Matt declared that he is overall “over” this hike, which made me upset…
I cried for the next 2 miles- like, ugly, uncontrollable sobs, while trying to navigate over that lava rock with big ass tears in my eyes!
I love the trail, but not as much as I hate to see Matt so unhappy. The parting words from the owner of the Hyatt Lake Resort the day before kept replaying in my ears: “have fun out there! And if you’re not having fun, go home.” Go home. More ugly sobs. Should I, or could I, have done this trail alone? Would I still have loved it as much? No, no, and no. Hyperventilating cries. Ugh. What the fuck am I even crying for? Since when am I a crier?!? What are these salty drops falling from my eyes? Fuck!
Eventually I ran into Matt chowing down on some raspberries he had picked from a bush while he waited for me. He had done some light research and figured that they were edible, but a local man he had spoken to that morning had confirmed it.
I was a little nervous about trusting a stranger- what if he was full of shit and really had no idea? But the kid seemed legit and looked like he knew what he was talking about- but I guess it could go either way- I mean, on one hand, this man was wearing nothing but shorts (no shoes, no shirt) while he ran through the woods with his beautiful puppy…but on the other hand, this man was wearing nothing but shorts (no shoes, no shirt) while he ran through the woods with his beautiful puppy… fingers crossed. (I decided to pass on the berries, convinced that mountain lions pee on them…)
Matt apologized for being grumpy and said that the raspberries cheered him up- I thought about pocketing a bunch for later just in case!
We talked a bit about our struggles. It’s easy to let a shitty moment, day, or circumstance taint the whole picture- just as easy as it is to forget about all of the challenges that come along with thru-hiking when you’re having a good day.
I have a big theory about mile 1000, which we were quickly nearing: people apparently tend to struggle around mile 1000 when doing a straight thru-hike- a theory is that they have hiked 1000 miles but are STILL in CA, and will be for another nearly 700 miles! What a slap in the face! BUT, I have found that most of my friends that I have been following via text, Facebook, blogs, or Instagram, all who had flipped to different places, have struggled a lot mentally between miles 1000-1300. Many have contemplated quitting and have had to really push themselves to carry on. Matt and I were quickly approaching that 1000 mile marker- this all makes sense. We thru-hikers are all in different boats but on the same sometimes treacherous ocean, all struggling to stay afloat, and we have a decision to make: keep treading the water or go home.
We talked about our thru-hike future and decided we were going to keep putting one foot in front of the other. While we don’t love all aspects of this adventure, we do love doing this thing together. Matt has realized that he much prefers smaller backpacking trips, up to maybe 1month, while I thrive on this big adventure. (He also pointed out that I am so stressed in my everyday life at home that I’d rather walk marathons every day for a year than go to work…good point, Matthew!!) Matt and I both separately noted that on a thru-hike you don’t really have the time to stop and “smell the roses”- matt wished we had more time for swimming in the beautiful lakes that we pass and I wished we had the desire to go the extra fractions of a mile on the short side trails to enjoy the scenic view points or to climb the big rocks we normally would climb on our hikes…maybe we will now slow down a bit and try to enjoy it more? We are, after all, not finishing this thang in one season.
We hugged it out and carried on to the Fish Lake Junction. We arrived around 3 and set up our tyvek for lunch. Again, no mosquitos, some shade, a beautiful flowing creek, and tired, sore feet led to a nearly 2 hour break! Oops 🙂
We decided to call our day early and only hike another 4.4 miles to the top of our only significant climb of the day(damn, today would have been a great day to push for a 30!)
With only 0.3 miles from the top we had to stop to put on our mosquito armour- the blood-sucking fuckers were back with vengeance!! Ughhh!!
Moments later we reached the tentsite at the peak and were completely disgusted by the skeeters. We made the quick decision to carry on another 3.7 miles down the hill to the next site where we imagined that the bugs couldn’t be any worse and might even be better…
They weren’t any better. The entire way down I was in a constant battle with the litte fucks. I no lie killed or at least swatted at over 75 mosquitos on my right hand ALONE! I now have bites on all of my fingers.
When we arrived to the site we quickly set up our tent and jumped inside, closing the doors and leaving our bags outside- I felt as if we had just survived some crazy stampede or zombie ambush and needed to catch our breath. It took a lot of mental prep and a big pep talk to convince ourselves that we needed to open the doors again to bring the bags inside- the mosquitos were out for blood!
We decided to eat our instant potatoes reconstituted with cold water in our tent, since neither of us wanted to sit outside to cook. We had to go outside one last time to hang our food and pee- I took off my rain pants thinking it would be easier to pee…huge mistake. I got at least 37282 bites on my legs and ass. Ughhh.
Hoping that we could bang out a big mile day the next day, we set our alarms for early am.
While in the tent we heard the most bizarre animal noise we have ever heard coming from fairly close to our tent- it was VERY loud and sounded like it came from a very large animal, but we couldn’t see anything. A few minutes later we heard the sound again coming from a different direction. We heard the noises a few more times, each time a little fainter. (A few days later we spoke to an Oregon local who had a similar experience- he thought it was a bear circling the area to assess what was going on….awesome!!)
We also heard the voice of a man pass around 1am saying something about a 40 mile day….I thought I was dreaming until I confirmed with Matt the next morning. 40 mile day? No thank you!
Happiness is: raspberries & communication.