The Float Walking Phenomena

I’m absolutely wrecked after a 30 mile day in 13 hours with only a few breaks in between. I impressed myself again by departing smack bang on 6:30am and saw Songbird and Banana Ripper just down the hill from me. They said they heard something big outside their tent last night that was breathing loudly through its nostrils. All I could think was thank goodness it didn’t come near me!


My first water source was 6 miles away and it seemed to come about quickly just after I bumped into a south bounder called Eeyore, who was hiking down to Donna Pass before flipping up north to Washington. Moosehead Creek wasn’t big enough for swimming, but perfect for a quick rinse, sock wash and water fill up for the next 9 miles. I drank about a litre while I cleaned my feet, determined not to carry excess water today.


A very strange phenomena came over me for the next 9 miles, it felt good hiking. For the first time on the entire trail my whole body cooperated entirely and my mind went with the flow. Fuller uses the term ‘Float Walking’ for when miles simply tick over effortlessly. I never knew what that felt like until I float walked until 12:30pm. I just didn’t want to stop, and only took one quick break to pee and quickly stretch before getting back in the groove.

I float walked past a bear that was black underneath with really light golden hair covering him. He didn’t hear me coming until the last minute when he bolted up the hill as I rounded the corner. I float walked past another hiker called ‘Rodney Danger something’; I was moving so quick I didn’t catch the end of his name. I was completely shocked at how comfortable it felt to walk, and was wondering how long it would take for the sensation to die off. I thought a lot about Anish who’s hiking 50 miles a day through Oregon, and figured she must have this float walk thing down pat. Why can’t it always feel like this?

After 15 miles my feet finally started to complain and I had to sit myself down to rub them. The phenomena was over but I was happy to have had the chance to experience it. I hope I can coax it on every morning! After the first break I soon needed another to refuel with crackers and tuna. I was hoping to make it another 5 miles to lunch before stopping again but hunger took control.

Then my back started to ache. It’s the same spot I had Igor my back specialist in Vancouver work on before I left for the trip. It’s a niggling pain that sometimes extends all the way through my buttocks and into my leg. I rubbed some of Dr Soles magic green potion on it, stretched and took some pain killers. This helped me make the next 5 miles where I could take a real break, do some serious stretching and some self-massage. There was a beautiful shady spot right next to Deer Creek where I exploded my pack and ate lunch after rinsing off in the water. It felt so good to clean my feet as I’ve got a nasty blister between my big and second toe on my right foot and a blister just under the heel on both feet. These ones hurt!

I left lunch at 3:45pm with 10 miles to go. The sun was extremely hot so luckily I was mostly hidden under the canopy of trees, but it was so humid I felt like I was walking through a tropical jungle. There was also meant to be lots of poison oak through this part of the trail, and as I think anything with three green leaves is it, I was swaying all over the place trying to avoid it. I filled up with water again after 3.5 miles and then had the final stretch of 6.5 to go.

I wasn’t float walking this time, and had to stop and stretch my back a couple of times to reduce the pain. I also had to stop and make an adjustment after my pack started causing huge chafing on both sides of my back. I let it get so bad it stung line crazy! I changed into my blue shirt and then used my T-shirt as padding between my skin and my shorts. I’m already using parts of my sleeping mat to cover my hip bones so the whole system felt quite ridiculous. I basically need a big rubber tyre around my waist to stop my hip belt from rubbing the skin raw. I think the sweat from the humidity was the main cause for this new injury.

The other issue I was dealing with was those small little black flies that fly right in front of your face. Does everyone experience this? In the desert I had three flies that would follow me daily and fly ahead of me just in front of my eyes. Today they were flying into my eyes, up my nose and into my mouth. I dread to say they’re almost worse than mosquitos because deet doesn’t deter them. Other than wearing a head net I don’t know what to do. Does anyone have a solution for these tiny beasts?

I listened to my iPod for the first time today during the last three miles to camp. I sang along with Missy Higgins all the way down into the steaming hot forest with sweat and little black flies dripping off my face. When I eventually reached Fitzhugh Gulch and the one little tent site, I was so relieved as thunder had started rolling through the valley and I was sure the heavens would open any second. I was surprised I hadn’t seen more people on trail today given the distance I covered. Whoever is ahead must be well in advance.

I cooked up rice and hot chocolate from inside my tent, popped my blisters and am now ready for a good sleep! I’m aiming to hit the Interstate 5 which leads to Dunsmuir by 8pm tomorrow night. Let’s hope my body is ready for another 30 miler tomorrow!

10 thoughts on “The Float Walking Phenomena

  1. Nice photo of a rubber boa! I’ve never seen one of those before. Glad for you that it wasn’t another pesky rattler. Oh, and sorry, I don’t have any tips for those flies.

  2. Spent 9 glorious years in Redding………fishing on shasta lake and the Sacramento River, and I loved the area. I go for a visit every year and always wish I was still there. One bit of advice, avoid poison oak like the plague!……….I wandered into that stuff about 6 months ago and it was torture around the clock for more than two weeks……….it is no joke…………and I didn’t even get the worst case scenario.

  3. Anti friction: Bodyglide &/or corn starch. Watch blisters for infection (blood poisoning).
    PO: Always 3 leaves green to red; all edges smooth; no thorns. Systemic. Oil is not water soluable. Can stay active on clothes/ gear/poles, shoes, for a long time. Avoid it. Some people are not allergic. Most are.
    UB update? Video from plane?

  4. “Float walking” – how great! It reminds me of what musicians call playing “in the pocket” – the groove is totally locked in, you’re playing in the zone, and it feels like the music is playing itself. What a magical day, despite the crazy back chafing, the blisters, and your black fly entourage.

    And it’s another terrific “Fullerism” for the books (wasn’t he the one who said, “Why was the deer using hiking poles?”)

  5. That’s neat u got to experience float hiking. I never have with hiking, just walking. I hope more floating comes your way!!

    So sorry about the skin and muscles. And flies! What a horrible triad 😦

    You are still very impressive, in fact, every time I read one of your entries you get more impressive. You are so likable, relatable, funny and strong!

  6. Hi darling, the early bird catches the 30 miles, amazing the distance you are walking but with this new experience of “float walking” you could go every where. It sounds amazing, you are like a hoover craft, floating forwards. Rugged and tiny trail and what about that snake, brrr…
    Is Eeyor having a ride on your backpack? Success darling, Mutti xxoo

  7. Hi Muk Muk,

    when I hiked the PCT, I had similar chafing problems on my back. It started when I had lost so much weight that my pants started to slip (the belt was too loose and unfastened itself all the time). Somehow this caused the backpack to make larger up and down movements. So I fixed the problem by getting a better belt that was strong enough to hold my pants in place. Maybe in your case it is something different, but if you haven’t figured out a solution yet, maybe you want to give it a try.

    The small flies you are talking about are really terrible indeed, They almost made me going insane. But the good news is, soon after Interstate 5 they were gone if I remember correctly. They will not be with you for the rest of the hike.

    Wide Angle

  8. Hey Roxanne,
    What a great experience to be so in the zone, I’ve felt many times, even when I used to trail run. Great snake shot, (rubber boa as SHig stated I believe). Dave T has good advise re. Poison oak), If you think you’ll be around it more, TechNu works well, you rub it on after exposure, then rise it off, carrying the toxic Urushiol oil away, (hopefully). Wash clothes & epmt. if possible too.
    I believe the nats & small flies are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale, so breathing through your nose may help a little, (hard to do when exerting). I carry a handerchief & just keep it moving in front of me face, a pain, but helpful, bug net works best, if you can see through it, (as you found with the skeeters).
    Bodyglide, as another mentioned helps with the chaffing, and doesn’t contain petroleum, like vasoline. I actually cut a t-shirt in half to slide the thing down around my waist, another pain, but somewhat helpful. Your packs probably way too heavy, but I sometimes just unhook the waist-belt for a while, (but then your shoulders take the full load).

    Hoping for more “float-walking” and great scenary, trail magic, good tunes, and bluebird days.
    scott 2

  9. Float hiking is AWESOME. I remember thinking, “I could walk anywhere. Why haven’t I thought of this before?!” Congrats on reaching Washington! 🙂

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