Today began with coffee, pop tarts and good conversation with Fuller. It wasn’t until I hit the trail that I realised it was already 8am. My 10 by 10 routine seems to be slipping, but like I said to Fuller, some of the best trail moments are experienced between hiking. I believe it’s important to take the time to experience both.
When I did hit the trail I was lethargic and a little brain numb so a second breakfast was in order following the slight detour down Quincy-La Porte Road to a creek. It’s rare for me to go so far off trail for water (a whole 0.3 miles) but it seemed like a better source than Whiskey Spring, and in the end was worth the detour. Both Otter and Fuller had the same idea and after washing my hands and face I started to feel a little more alive.
The trail had an incredibly flat grade for a substantial amount of miles early on in the day. This meant the miles ticked over relatively fast until I got incredibly hungry and saw that Otter had stopped to snack on salami and Kettle chips, or as he refers to it, meat and potatoes. I was unsure of which way the trail went and when I asked Otter if he knew he pointed out I was standing on probably the biggest arrow created by sticks on the trail. Whoever makes the arrows and puts sticks across the paths you shouldn’t go down, thank you!
The shade was all too tempting so I stopped for lunch earlier than planned and had a good chat with Otter about his past two experiences on the PCT. He’s also hiked the CDT and is writing a novel while he’s out on the trail. He himself admits he’s a man of few words but has some extremely funny things to say once he gets chatting. We agreed to meet at the next spring for coffee as the lethargy from the morning seemed to creep back into the afternoon as well. I think it was due to the weather being pretty darn hot.
The next spring had beautifully fresh cold clear water. It was a steep 500 foot climb down but well worth it. I was hoping it would be deep enough to swim, but I would have to wait for the Middle Fork Feather River which was another 5 miles down the trail. On the way down there I caught up with Woozy and Lodge Pole who I’d only met earlier that day. They started the trail at Kennedy Meadows and were still in the honey moon period. It was great feeding off their energy for the full climb down to the river where we all jumped in immediately on arrival. The water was almost warm and felt absolutely amazing after such a hot and sweaty day. Straight from the river I knew the trail was going to climb 3000 feet over 10 miles. The thought of doing this in the morning was not an option, so I cooked dinner on the beach next to the river and hit the trail again at 7:30pm.
It got dark pretty quickly and only Otter and I decided to take on the mountain at night. I thought the moon might be bright enough to avoid using my headlamp, but there was so much tree canopy covering the trail I needed to turn on my light if I wanted to see anything in front of me. Luckily I did because there were some giant spider webs across the trail with giant spiders right in the middle of them. There were also giant centipedes on the trail. I swear I only see the really creepy bugs at night!
At about 10pm I really started to notice the pain in my shoulders. I was definitely out of my comfort zone in the dark with the spiders, and I didn’t want to stop hiking in case a mountain lion or another creature was close behind me. This meant that I hiked non stop from 7:30 – 11:00pm with a pack still full with 5 days food and two litres of water. It felt double that by the time I reached the top. I passed a few tents on the way up and found a perfect little flat spot right at the 30 mile mark for me. There was only one switch back that just went on and on and on for about 5 miles to the top after the first 5 miles of climbing. This drove me a little crazy as I prefer more switchbacks which get you to the top a lot quicker.
My body hurt so much when I got to camp that I didn’t have the energy to write, but was also in too much pain to sleep. I was happy to have done a 30 miler on my 3 month trail birthday but knew I was going to be tired and hurting in the morning!