Getting back up to speed

It’s been difficult to process the events which have taken place over the last 24 hours. The experience last night with the mountain lion almost seems like a horrible nightmare that I woke from this afternoon. If it wasn’t for the videos I’m not sure I would have believed it all really happened. I have fallen behind on my posts for the last couple of days, so too my mileage, but it’s been an emotional few days and I’m hoping to bring myself back up to speed this evening.

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I’m camped at Cold Springs, mile 1308, having only hiked a total of 12 miles today. Thankfully Lodgepole and Woozy are here as I’ve been on edge most of the day, and started to get a little panicky as the sun started to go down already at 7pm. I’m camped near a road which normally scares me more than being smack bang in the middle of the wilderness, but not tonight. Although a car has just pulled up and someone is out there filling up at the spring at 9:30pm, so I’m extra thankful I’m not camped here on my own.

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To catch up on where I left off I need to go back a couple of days to my post 30 mile hike morning. I was willing myself awake with my head underneath my sleeping bag when suddenly I heard fluttering and then two feet land on my shoulder. I froze, got creeped out when the feet moved again and quickly nudged my shoulder until it flew away. I never saw it, but can only assume it was a bird who I think got the bigger shock when it realised I was a living, moving human object.

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I was having coffee and breakfast when Otter walked past at around 6:30am. He too had night hiked almost to the top of Lookout Rock and camped less than a mile away right on the trail. He thanked me for removing all the spider webs across the trail and agreed it was a never ending climb! He was heading into Quincy for resupply and only had another 9 miles to Bucks Lake Rd where he could hitch from. I was envious that he was so close to his resupply town as I still had over 80 miles to go!

When I got to Big Creek I filled up two litres and then laid down in the shade and fell straight asleep. I woke to Ladykiller, a hiker I haven’t seen since the desert, and his daughter Sarah who were also looking to fill up their empty bottles. From the creek there was a large climb to Bucks Summit and the day had heated up quickly. I was exhausted and hungry by the time I reached the top and got distracted when I finally received phone signal. When I got around to making lunch I found that one of my packets of mayonnaise had burst, covering the entire contents of my food bag. I had to take everything out one by one and wipe it down with a wet wipe. Hmmm.

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By the time I had moved on from lunch it was already getting late, so instead of beginning the descent to Belden I camped at Clear Creek. The campsite had a group already set up who I soon discovered to be the Tahoe Trampers, an group of incredible women (and one man) who hike together each week from Tahoe. We had a great time chatting about thru hiking, and I shared many stories and a few tips on equipment and gear. They were an amazing group of women and I felt reenergised after speaking with them. Clear Creek wasn’t that clear but I was low on water and needed two litres to cook with and use for drinking the next morning.

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I cowboy camped up the hill from the ladies and was joined by anther thru hiker Jon from Manchester. Roz I did get the message to him about Belden! 🙂 I didn’t set an alarm and was still so tired from the night before that I didn’t wake until 8:30am, and by that time everyone had left camp. I had a slow morning making coffee and breakfast and didn’t hit the trail until 10am. By this time the sun was already super hot, but luckily the 9 mile climb down to Belden was mostly shaded by trees. I passed the Tahoe Trampers again on the way down after stopping at a conveniently positioned spring which had great water and gave me a chance to check out my blisters. I’ve developed blisters on my little toes in addition to my heels, but each day they’re feeling a little better, and it won’t be long until I receive my new shoes at Drakesbad thanks to Dirty Girl!!

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I didn’t realise but the trail actually runs all the way through Belden. Yogi is correct in her guide which says the place is creepy, but anywhere you can get a burger, fries and additional snacks right on the trail is heaven in my eyes. I did exactly that, plus an ice cream sandwich, and joined a whole group of thru hikers in sitting out the scorching afternoon sun in the bar’s air conditioning. Bliss!

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At 5:30pm I decided to hit the river for a swim before getting back on the trail for the hot climb up the burned out section leading to Lassen National Forest. There were a couple of drunk locals in the river and a group of people setting up for their famous Friday night rave while I bathed and cleaned most of my clothing. I was back on the trail at 6:30pm and arrived at Myrtle Flats just after 9pm as it got dark. This is when the encounter with mountain lion took place. I’m getting chills just thinking about it.

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Today was another tough climb in the heat after the helicopter and ground rescue team departed. Harlon and Rusty were great guys and I burst into tears and hugged Harlon when they arrived, explaining what had happened with the mountain lion. They said they would have been frightened too. They never received the cancelled SOS message which is bizarre because my Spot said it had sent, but they were just glad I was alright. I was so thankful to them and the entire team that came looking for me, it was just so overwhelming. It still is!

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I was jumpy at the start of the day and so tired that I didn’t expect to put in many miles, then after I realised I had signal, most of the day was spent on the phone. I was able to finally chat with UB and find out what’s been happening up north. It was so good to talk to him again after receiving mixed messages of what was really going on, but he sounded a lot better than I expected and it gave me a huge sense of relief. I believe in you UB, I know you can do this!

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I can hear noises outside my tent but I’m going to put my phone down and sleep much more soundly tonight than last night. I feel a lot safer in my tent cocoon tonight!

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8 thoughts on “Getting back up to speed

  1. Thank you for relaying the message – think I have sent 2 supplies within a few miles now but I am sure he can share them. Pleased to see you are recovering from your terrible ordeal – I am anxious around cattle!!! Roz x

  2. Hi Dunno, er Muk Muk, it’s David “Super” from Mt Laguna. Gosh, so sorry for the ordeal you went thru with the Mt Lion, but glad to hear you got thru it in good shape. I wanted to jump into that night’s video you shot & kick the Lion’s butt for scarring you like that. But I think you’re a brave girl, wow what a night. I wondered what had become of you since Mt Laguna, you’re a really nice girl & I had a fond memory of you coming thru Mt Laguna. Sorry I missed you on the trail, I was Sobo from Donner Summit to Bishop the last 2 weeks of June & met so many of my PCT friends again on that hike like Spitfire & Dora @ Carson Pass, Lodgeplole & Maverick, Detour, Sierra Bum at Tuolome, UB @ Donahue Pass, & embarassed to abmit I walked right by Pac Man just below Muir Pass, & didn’t realize it was Alan until just now reading your blog, fell bad about that. Well, hope your second half is a great journey, maybe I’ll see you in Wa, I’ll be sobo on the PCT from Canada in the 2nd half of Sept.

  3. Hi darling, you are just amazing after the encounter with the mountain lion. I am so proud. We walked in the Singapore jungle today with Eric. We were all thinking of you because it was hard climbing up and down. We didn’t even have a backpack. You are such a determined girl good on you. It is amazing what you achieve. Love you heaps, Mutti xxoo

  4. Muk Muk, your mountain lion encounter is pretty well known among the PCT-L community now. With your permission, I would like to post your “Getting Back Up To Speed” journal entry with the photos (not the video) on http://www.pcttrailsidereader.com . . . where I post stories and images from the PCT. I think your ordeal would be of real interest to the broader PCT hiking community not just thrus. Let me know if this is OK with you.

    Rees Hughes

  5. When I met some PCT hikers this weekend I found out many didn’t know about all the edible berries on the trail. Oregon and Washington are now hitting prime berry picking time and you should be able to find a lot of these berries on the trail. Almost all the berries you find will be edible (it will be hard to find any that are dangerous–I have only found those on the coast and near Mt Hood.)

    So Oregon has lots of huckleberry bushes in the Mts. There are two to three types of blue ones and one red one. Some are as big as blue berries, but most are smaller. They all taste great. You might also find currants, they are good, but not as good as the huckleberries. Oregon Grape also has edible berries that won’t hurt you but taste nasty. At the lower elevations you’ll find lots of blackberries. They taste really good. My favorite are thimbleberries, but it would be hard to find them I think at this time of year.

    If you find any clover looking plants, try nibbling on them. They are Oxalis. They taste like lemon and are rich in Vitamin C. Just don’t eat too much because the acid in them can hurt your stomach (it’s nearly impossible to eat too much as they taste like lemon).

    Candy flower, or winter purslane might also be found. But it’s late in the season for them. They taste like good lettuce. It’s nice to eat them and oxalis when you are craving freshness.

    Images of these are easy to find on Google. I hope you are able to do some foraging, it can make hiking more enjoyable 🙂

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