Salvation Springs – highway 26
31.8 miles. 6545ft up. 6651ft down.
I thought a lot about what to do before I went to sleep. Do I get up really early and try and do 21.6 miles timberline lodge for the lunch buffet or not? I set my alarm for 4:30, I would have to be on the trail by 5 if I stood any chance of making it. The alarm went off and the decision was made. I do not need to get up this early! It’s so dark still, and it’s getting light noticeably later. So I will skip Timberline and try for a 30 mile day instead. The buffet is nice but I’m not hungry enough for it to make it worthwhile.
So I went back to sleep for an hour. It was super windy all night, I thought it was raining at one point but it was just the fly flapping about. I eventually got up and packed up my stuff. I put the trash from the fire pit into my trash bag, destroyed the fire ring and hit the trail.
I was slow and grumpy. I am so slow on the uphill. Maybe I’m just not very good at hiking? Everyone else is better than me. Everyone else is doing bigger miles.
I plugged myself in to my music, to try and drown out the annoying and constant sound of a helicopter overhead, and tried to move as quickly as I could. I cruised the downhill. Practically ran. I went under crackling power lines and over the log bridge with ropes. I had a slight boost in confidence when after 4 hours I was about half a mile ahead of my 2.5mph pace. Maybe I’m not that shit at this after all?
I didn’t bother with the Ramona falls alternate this year. It’s a nice waterfall but it’s not worth seeing twice, and it’s day hiker central so I took the official pct. A nice wide trail with an impressive bridge. I crossed the Sandy river which is a bit confusing as the trail merges into the river bed, there are a few cairns dotted around and I managed to find the helpful pile of sticks to cross the water.
I was looking lost and a man waved to me and told me where the trail was, I had a chat with them as I was missing conversation. Then it was time to start climbing again. The biggest climb of the day. It was tough going. I was slow of course and it was hot, but at least I was in the trees for most of it. Until I got nearer the top. I tried to put off looking at the gps but I couldn’t resist. I was only half way. Not Yeay, I’m half way. Oh no, I’m only half way. I must work on that.
Well I of course eventually made it to the top and began the descent to the Zigzag river. As I came down the hill I was surprised to see so many people there, all just hanging out by the river. There must have been about 10 women there.
The last major uphill of the day and I thing I was a little behind my pace. There were hundreds of day hikers about, and a bus load of foreign tourists had been let loose by the look of things. None of them were going to yield to an uphill hiker. No way. It was getting hotter and I stopped for water a couple of times. Timberline lodge is above the timberline so I had to climb high enough to be about the trees which was a pretty good indication of how far I had left to go. I started overtaking some day hikers which made me feel good, none of them had a big pack on.
I eventually made it to timberline lodge which was busy with people milling about. I didn’t bother going down to the lodge, the lunch buffet finished at 2 and it was now about 3pm. I sat on the trail above the lodge and ate some Fritos. I made it 21.6 miles and I wanted to do another 10. I was an hour behind my 2.5mph schedule.
But the good news was that it was mostly downhill. The first 2 miles were sandy, like walking on deep sand on a beach. Difficult to go down but much harder for the people coming up! I hated this bit last year. When I got into the forest I had to empty my shoes which had half the trail in. Now I could really get moving. I saw lots of people heading north, like moths to a flame, all preparing for the breakfast buffet in the morning.
I collect water, no water between here and the camp site 7 miles away so I carried 2 litres. Heavy. I picked up the pace and I was making good time. I then saw a British girl – Ella / Red Riding Hood – who I had given some advice to while she was planning the trail. I think she read my blog last year. It was nice to meet her.
Then I met Hollywood. We are blog friends. She followed my journey last year and I have been following her this year. I knew she was headed for the breakfast buffet in the morning but as time went on I though I may have already missed her. But Ella told me she was just behind them.
Hollywood is a Brit living in New Zealand and she has offered me help when I get there. So cool. I loved meeting her and we greeted each other with a hug like old friends which was nice. I liked her instantly. It was nice to finally meet her too. I had been anticipating it for a while and thinking about it all afternoon. We had a nice chat and then all too soon it was over and we had to go our separate ways. Got to keep moving. Got to make the miles.
There were so many people on the trail today that it was difficult to go for a wee so I got to the camp spot, the trail head at highway 26 (same place I camped last year) and headed for the outhouse. Really gross outhouse! But there was a trash can in there so I could get rid of my trash and the trash from last nights camp site.
There was a bunch of kids doing loops of the car park, making the tyres squeal on the car. Ugh. This isn’t the wilderness!
I was pleased to have made it over 30 miles. I worked out that I have to do 25 miles a day every day to make it through the Sierra in time. So I have to do bigger miles to have some in the bag if I want to take a zero. But I also had my conversation with Hollywood in the back of my mind. Some of her trail family had to leave the trail because of injury because they pushed it too hard.
I ate a macaroni cheese Backpackers Pantry meal, which I got from the hiker box at cascade locks, which was really un-cheesy. The serving sizes in these things are huge. I didn’t think I was going to have any problem polishing it off at first but I only manages about 3 quarters. Thankfully I can get rid of it in the trash can and I don’t have to carry it.
I met a nobo called Bad Mash as he was emptying his trash.
Its 8:35pm and it’s dark already. It’s really noisy because I’m right next to the road and there is a very bright street light shining in my tent. That’s what you get for camping next to a trail head. There are a couple of nobos camped near me, but they came in late so I don’t know who they are.
I feel good after my big day but my legs and feet are pulsing. I’m sure I’ll be asleep in the next 5 minutes.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Donate here.