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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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!
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.
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!
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!