I thought I had this 30 mile section all planned out to avoid the heat of the day. I started well with my 3:45am wake up call. It already felt warm so I jumped out of my sleeping bag, boiled some water, had my stock standard coffee and oats and was ready to roll before 5:30am. I had around 4 litres of water with me which I knew would be a stretch if the cache was completely empty, but carrying anymore would’ve meant that my slower pace would require the additional litre anyhow.
The sky was a stunning shade of blue this morning and the views of Mount Lassen would be the last we would see of it heading north on the trail. I was able to put in four miles before I realised I had good cell reception for the first time in days, then I got myself a little distracted with a few phone calls and blog updates.
By the time I got moving again I was shocked to see it was already 10:30am. Where had the time gone? I thought I still might be able to make the water cache for a late lunch but even though the grade of the trail was relatively flat, miles were ticking over at a slow pace and my feet were still adjusting to the new shoes.
To encourage a bit more of a pep in my step I listened to the soundtrack of River Dance, which I would try and fail to fall asleep to when I was young, because I would always end up moving my feet to the music. The first song had the desired effect, but the rest just seemed to zap my energy further. Yesterday afternoon I listened to the entire Moulin Rouge soundtrack which got me teary but also lifted me for the last 5 miles of the day. I’m not sure what’s happening to my taste in music out here but I seem to be craving motivational power ballads to help push me down the trail. Might be time to update the iPod!
At 13:30 I gave up on reaching the water cache for lunch and stopped on some rocks overlooking the valley below. There was a descent amount of cloud cover and a breeze keeping the temperature down, but an hour later the sun broke through and gave me its full force. I checked my water and realised I only had about one litre of water and less than half a litre of Gatorade. I was still 5 miles from the cache, which meant I was 20 miles from the next sure water source. Most people I’d spoken to said the cache would be stocked, but I suddenly realised I was in deep trouble if it wasn’t. I was going to be lucky to reach the cache on the water I still had left. I was cursing myself for such a careless execution of my strategy which had fallen by the wayside, finding me hiking with low water right in the middle of the day. Grrr.
I was breathing through my nose and adopting all the strategies I’d picked up for desert walking at kick off. Just when I was starting to panic a little I came across a service road with a Forest Service vehicle parked on the side. There were also two big blue water containers left there for hikers by a trail angel. I yelled ‘WATER’ and the five blokes in the truck all got out to see what the commotion was about. We got chatting PCT and they offered me a cold bottle of water and Gatorade! I couldn’t have been happier. They were on standby for lightning strikes and until they told me that I didn’t even realise there was a storm a fair distance but in sight range behind me.
With my fresh new liquids I felt like I’d be alright if the cache didn’t come through with the goods. I needn’t have worried though as when I arrived a few miles later the cute tree covered cache was full with gallon jugs of water, chips and cold beers in the cooler!
Despite wanting to stay well hydrated I couldn’t go past a cold beer. I was soon joined by Berkley Bill and while I cooked dinner we had a good chat over a host of topics, although he constantly reminds me how boring I am and never seems to want to listen to the end of my stories. Hmmm. 🙂
I’m having good timing with trail angels recently because while I was at the cache Aloha, Toots Magoots and Tears for Beers arrived to restock the chips and Gatorade. I had met them before at the Red Carpet Cache all the way back near the Andersons. I got to thank them again first hand before heading off for a couple more miles before dark. It’s almost 23:00 and once again well past my bedtime. There’s something running around outside my tent, but if it’s a mountain lion it’s going to have to make its own fun tonight, I’m off to sleep!