Enough with the flies already

I was up so early yesterday that I actually had to wait at camp until it got light enough to hike. I was way down in the valley under the canopy of trees so I wasn’t able to clearly see all the spider webs in my path until 5:45am. After my web experiences on my last night hike I wasn’t in the mood for creepy crawlies attaching to my face without warning, but lo and behold my little fly friends were back again cramping my air space.

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As foolish at it seemed I grabbed my only defence mechanism that would keep these persistent little pests from their favourite landing pad in my eyeball or nasal passage. With the trauma of Yosemite and the remnants of mosquito carcasses still fresh, I reluctantly donned my head net. The protection from the thin veil meant I could breathe with my mouth open, which was especially useful as my day began with a 2000 foot climb. I taunted the flies with comments like ‘having fun out there?’ or ‘can’t get me now can you?’ until I came around a corner to find a section hiker taking a break on the ridge. After a quick introduction I carried on, wondering if I’d been speaking to the flies out loud or in my head.

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The Interstate 5 was my destination 30 miles from where I’d camped. This would be my first back to back 30 miler and despite my efforts to will on the float walk mindset, it wasn’t to be. I did however make 10 by 10, in fact by 10:30am I’d already knocked off 13 miles and was ready for a sit down when I reached the creek. The section hiker I passed earlier caught up (I’ve had a complete mind blank of his name, sorry!), and offered to fill up my water bottle down the very steep embankment to the water. When I saw the drop initially I thought to myself, ‘I’m not going down there!’, and was already rationing my water for the next dry 10 mile stretch with another 2000 foot climb. Luckily my new friend insisted he had to climb down anyway, and it’s a good thing he did, because those next 10 miles were HOT!

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While I was resting on the trail a couple of women day hikers passed me and stopped to ask about my PCT experience. Patricia (I wrote her name down!) said she had always wanted to do the PCT but has a fear of heights and can’t walk on the narrow ridges. When I caught up with her and Sharon her hiking partner 20 minutes later, poor Patricia was frozen on a ridge not far from where we initially met. I offered to hold one hand, and Sharon the other, while we walked back down the hill together. It was a terrifying experience for her, and we had to remind her to breath slowly and simply focus on putting one foot in front of the other. When we got past the most narrow part she recovered, and was able to make it down the rest of the way on her own. If you’re reading Patricia I think you’re incredibly brave for attempting to tackle your fears! If that ridge was crawling with spiders or even covered in giant webs I wouldn’t have wanted to go near it! If your dream is to hike the PCT I hope you make it one day!

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I had a great chat with the section hiker during the 5 mile climb which provided a very welcomed distraction to the heat and switchbacks. I’m so used to running the same conversations with myself over and over these days that it was nice for some fresh input. When I reached the top of the hill at 13:30 I only had 10 miles to go! I was going to be meeting Jan a trail angel from Redding around 8pm, and because she was doing trail magic further up the trail, I wasn’t sure she would be able to get there much before then. I took a long lunch break, basically ate any of the food I had remaining that I could stomach, then started the long descent down to the Interstate.

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The heat was scorching and I felt very nauseous once I started up again. When I got to the first spring I basically took a cold shower and sat in the shade until my head and stomach settled. There was no rush to get down, but the thought of real food and my first bed sleep since Tahoe got my feet moving quickly! I did the last 6 miles in just under 2 hours and when I finally reached the Interstate 5 I took out my sleeping mat, took off my shoes and collapsed. It’s only when you slip back into the ‘real’ world that you notice your 7 day old wilderness stench and realise that sleeping underneath a major freeway is not ‘regular’ behaviour. No one bothered me though, and when it started to rain I was thankful for the thick slabs of concrete over my head.

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Just before 8pm Jan and her friend John arrived from their trail angel expedition with leftover goodies for me to snack on in the car on the way to Redding. I was ravenous and have also developed a new craving for root beer which Jan was able to satisfy! From the time I was in Jan’s capable hands all my hiking requirements were planned and taken care of. Sleeping bag washed (thanks to John), clothes soaked and washed 3-4 times, backpack hosed down and soaked, tent cleaned out, stove and utensils cleaned, water bottles and bladder hose scrubbed clean. This was after I was fed, bathed and able to sleep in a bed last night. Heaven!

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Today it was time to buy new pants (I had to buy a kids size as XS was still too big), a new tshirt as the one waiting in Ashland is just too far away, and a new lighter hat. After getting a few other hiker essentials it was time to eat AGAIN and then, the icing on the cake, a massage. I think Jan’s Massage Therapist took one look at me in my old clothes and thought anyone getting about in those sort of rags couldn’t afford full price, so she charged me next to nothing for an unbelievable hour long massage. Thank you Teresa!

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I did another pack shakedown tonight and finally got rid of a few unnecessary clothes and other items. I still expect my pack to be heavy, but I hope not to arrive in Etna with 3 pounds of leftover food like I did here! Jan you have been an absolute angel! I never would have been able to do half of what we got done without you and I probably would have gone the rest of my hike with a filthy pack and sleeping bag. You also introduced me to my first ever root beer float. I’m now forever hooked!

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15 thoughts on “Enough with the flies already

  1. Hey Muk Muk,

    Sounds like you are “Root Beer Float Walking” now ! Not quite the same phenominon, but still enjoyable. Right ?

    I have been reading your blog. Traveling along with you on your journey since the California desert. I am SO very impressed with your abilities and stamina. As well as your fantastic outlook and writing style ! You are a hoot :-)

    You said once about feeling famous when someone recognized you from your blog. Trust me, you ARE famous to many many people just like me who can’t wait to see what you have to tell us next and wish WE could meet you !

    I live in Alaska (no reason you have to stop at the Canadian border, haha) and I really love your back to basics mentality.

    I keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Wishing you smiles and contentment every day. Specially after this great Trail Angel Stop ! With fresh clothes and tent and pack and everything ! How cool is that !?!

    As you make your way North, remember there are those of us up here willing you forward !! And waiting to hear your every story.

    Hang in there &
    You Go Girl !

    From Alaska,
    Lyndella

  2. Hi darling, those trail angels Jan and John are just so generous and helpful, they have earned a golden star. Every thing got cleaned for you ,did you see how dirty that water was coming from your backpack? A great massage and a bed to sleep in and you look very comfortable in their lounge room with your huge Root Beer float. You can hardly thank them enough. I hope that it is not to hard to leave all that behind. You have a wonderful fresh start for the rest of the trail. Success and enjoy the trail. Love Mutti xxoo

    • You get a gold star for raising an amazing daughter. She was a pleasure to spoil!

      You should have seen the mud from her clothes. I soaked them overnight in a giant tub with oxiclean. Rinsed them a few times in the morning before throwing them in the washing machine for a few prewash cycles with more oxiclean and baking soda to rid the horrific odor. They pretty much stood on their own prior to the wash :)

      I also bleached all her cooking and drinking sources to kill any bugs.

      Then we worked on personal pampering. Several Epsom Salt soaks, a few showers, massage, blister care, abrasion care, etc. Lots of healthy food, lots of calories, lots of horizontal time . . .

      She is physically, emotionally and mentally ready for this next half of the trail. There are few who are as positive, optimistic, excited and prepared at this point in the journey.

      You should be proud that she has the confidence to share her journey in such an emotionally honest way.

      Jan (aka The Beekeeper)
      Redding, CA

  3. Rozi! thank GOD for Jan and Jon! They nourished your soul! Have you already passed the towns of Belden and of Chester? I’m dying for some pictures of them if you can. If not, that’s okay too. You have so much on your plate. Don’t be so stubborn about not wearing your head-net! The flies will make you crazy; the head-net won’t. ***hugs**

    • She would have been fine without us, but sure was fun to give her a bit of rejuvenation! She has passed Belden & Chester and is only about 200 miles from the Oregon border. That’ll be a HUGE celebration in a couple of weeks.

  4. Welcome to the land of Root Beer. I used to make my own as a kid, in 5 gallon batches. Forget hotdogs & apple pie. Root Beer is all American. It’s like seeing the Todd River flow in Alice. Now you are doomed to return to the USA.

  5. I hereby proclaim 7/28 Queen Muk Muk day! What fun to surprise her with Jan’s custom spa package :) Nothing quite like Epsom soaks, real food, coffee in bed, chauffeur and laundry services. She’ll be flying when she hits the trail with pounds of dirt removed from her gear and clothes that actually fit. Cheers to the next chapter of her amazing journey!!!!

  6. HI Rozanne,

    Love the pic with you in the fly net. Looks like one of those hats women wore in the last century. Those trail angels (including the other hikers, who also appear to qualify for this title based on actions) are amazing. So glad that there are people like that in the world. The ‘before’ and ‘after’ pics are quite illustrative of where the term ‘dirty girl’ came from. So appropriate. Sounds like the miles are flying by – but you are still in California. Makes me realize what a BIG state California is. Good to see such a happy face, clean or dirty.

    Dona

  7. More trail angel magic – how wonderful these folks are. You gotta be strong to get going again and leave the root beer floats behind. So good to see a squeaky clean Muk – can almost smell the freshness!!

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