Tent site – Six Horse Spring
25.7 miles (+ 0.6 to get water).
3334ft up. 4049ft down.

I set my alarm for 6 this morning. No point kidding myself I’m going to get up any earlier than that. My alarm goes off and I hear rustling. It must be Mayor. Within 5 minutes he had gone. I get out my tent to wee and the Chinese girl is packing up too. Ugh. I feel slow this morning. The sun rise is beautiful. I guess the dust that is coating everything is even coating the sky.

I hit the trail at 6:40 and it’s chilly again. But chilly is good as it means I keep my 3mph pace. I soon pass the Chinese girl as she is sat taking a rest. I didn’t realise she is going south. We chat for a while and I find out her name is Eesha (I apologise to all Chinese people, but I can only write it as I think it sounds). I tell her my name is Puff Puff but she prefers to call me Alex as she doesn’t understand the meanings of trail names. Fair enough! Her English is incredible and it’s only because she can speak two languages that we are able to converse at all. She can call me whatever she wants. She is just doing Oregon before she has to go back to China.

I am motoring along on this nice gently undulating trail. There are a few blowdowns to cross but they are just logs that you can get your leg over or walk around. No big deal. I keep being told by northbounders that the blowdowns are terrible south of Crater Lake. I have a feeling they will be like this but time will tell. I stop to get some water from a questionable pond, but it’s clear enough and the water doesn’t have a funny pondy taste so it’s all good.

I climb up high and look over a lake, I’m guessing that’s the lake Shelter Cove is based around. Then a big descent takes me down to Summit Lake, a massive lake which is choppy in the wind and I listen to the waves lap against the shore. The trail follows the lake for about a mile and a half before the trail starts to climb up again.

I am making good time and I’ve done 10 miles so I take a break. A luxurious half an hour stop. I eat some cookies and my cake and read a little. Eesha passes me. ‘What’s wrong? Are you ok?’ I’m fine, I reply. This time I really mean it.

I’m feeling good this morning. I have a certain lightness and care free feeling. I lose myself in daydreams of nice things and I put some music on for the first time in a long while. All the good songs come up on shuffle and I am happy right here in the moment. I’m not thinking about the miles and the trail and the Sierra. I’m not thinking about where other people are and I’m not making myself feel like I’m not good enough. I am just here. On the trail. Moving along.

I say hi to a girl as she passes. She recognises my Englishness, her name is Battle Pins / Nicola and after a little conversation I find out she lives in Teddington (very close to my house in England and also where I used to live!). She started the trail at Walker Pass – so basically at the start of the Sierra. I do some quick calculations. She has been on the trail 9 days longer than me and she has done 400 more miles than me. She is moving fast. But you know what, today I don’t care. I don’t let it bother me.

I have developed this really annoying habit which I have been doing for a few weeks now. When people ask me if I’m going all the way to Mexico my standard response has become ‘I’m trying, I’ll just see how far I get.’ I’m like one of those ducks, all cool and calm above the water but flapping like mad underneath.

As the trail climbs through the forest I start to see Summit Lake in the distance, it doesn’t seem real that I was by the shores just a couple of hours ago. I catch up to Eesha and pass her. She thinks I’m really fast. I will never think of myself as fast.

The trail descends and I get to Windigo Pass quickly, and I realise it’s where Dana and I camped last year. There was a water cache here last time, this time there is just a few discarded empty bottles. I don’t need water. I am still carrying a litre from the pond, there is only 6 miles to Six Horse Spring and it’s only 2pm.

I consider whether I can skip the spring – it’s a 0.6 mile round trip off the trail, and it’s steep – bit the trail gets hot as it goes through an exposed burn area, and I get thirsty. With 2 miles to go to the Spring I drink most of the litre I am carrying. I haven’t drunk enough today. I get to the junction for the spring at 4:10. 25.7 miles in 9.5 hours. That’s an average of 2.7mph which I am happy with.

I leave my pack at the junction and take my water bottles down the side trail, it descends about 300ft and I’m part glad I have been here before because I know exactly where the spring is, and I’m part not glad I have been here before because I know how steep it is. But the spring is flowing nicely and I am able to fill up with 3 litres which I then have to lug back up the trail. But without a pack on my back it’s a breeze.

I get back to the junction and I sit on a log and wonder what to do. It’s still early and I could easily get in another 4 miles to make a 30 mile day. But the next camping spot is in 6.5 miles and I don’t want or need to go that far. So I decide to call it a day. An easy day (when walking a marathon in a day became an easy day I don’t know!). I had spoken to a few of the nobos to ask of they saw any possibility of camping south of the spring, one suggested I could find somewhere if I was willing to get creative. Nah.

I decide to set up my tent to get away from all the buzzing insects. The mozzies aren’t too bad here but there are some big things, wasps and bees, that like to hover. I change into my sleep clothes and lie on the floor with my head resting on my sleeping bag, it’s only 5:30, this is pure luxury! I set aside an hour to read some of my book. I’m reading Walking the Nile by Levison Wood. I try and read at night after I have written my blog and I always end up falling asleep with my phone in my hand having read only a page, maybe two of I’m lucky.

So I’m making the most of this positive day and practicing some more escapism with a bit of reading. The first bit of the book mentions a few of the places I have been to, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda and it’s like he is taking me back there which is nice.

I lie in my tent with the sun streaming in. A nobo comes along and sits as far away from me as possible. We shout a conversation and I find out he has seen about 7 SOBOs today. I must be close to catching some more! A couple more nobos come by and stop to eat their dinner before moving on. I eat the other half of my vegetarian lasagne and have more cookies for desert. I have a lot of cookies to get through!

As the sun goes down it gets cold and I put the fly on my tent to try and keep out some of the wind that has picked up. Hopefully the extended rest will have done me some good and I will be raring to go tomorrow when the alarm goes off.

No sign of Eesha. Maybe she passed me while I was at the spring.


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