Tent site – tent site 27.3 miles. 3172ft up. 3284ft down.
I should stop reading that book about Africa. I was dreaming last night that warthogs (the size of mice) were trying to get in my tent.
I heard some rustling. Stringbean was packing up at 5:55 and he was gone by 5 past. 20 minutes is the quickest I can do. I hit the trail at about 6:40, I said a quick ‘see you down the trail’ to Grim and dashed off into the forest to find somewhere to sort out some business. I had a urgent hostage situation. They were staging a protest and demanding to be released. When I got back on trail I could see Grims footprints. He is going to wonder what happened to me!
It was lovely and warm last night. No fly on my tent, no hat, sleeping bag as a quilt. Perfect. But as we descended into the forest it got cold. I tried to walk faster to combat it but it was no good, my hands were going numb. So I put on my vest, my gloves and my buff to cover my ears. Until the trail started climbing again into a burn area and the sun finally warmed me up.
I had been hearing from a lot of nobos how bad the blowdowns were south of crater lake and, well, they weren’t lying! The blowdowns themselves weren’t actually that bad. Most of them had a path around them or they were easy to climb over, but it was the frequency of them. Every 100 paces you would have something in your way. It does slow you down. As I was climbing over one log (which I didn’t need to climb over as there was a path around it that I didn’t see) I walked head first into this sticky out bit. It hurt. I cried. Then I carried on. I haven’t cried for at least a few days now.
I was feeling particularly lethargic this morning, and my pack is weighing me down. It was an effort to make myself walk when all I wanted to do was lie down and close my eyes. But I somehow managed to stick to my 2.5mph pace and after 11 miles made it to the next water source. A nicely flowing stream. I had eaten my honey bun and chocolate bar early on so I had a little rest by the stream and ate some Fritos and peanut butter (gross) and some slim Jim (nicer than I remember) and these radioactive ‘real cheese’ crackers. It all filled a hole.
Then there was a steep climb. I saw a wall of rock in front of me and I guessed the only way was over it. The trail switchbacked up to the top, I got distracted by the fluff ball plants which are just the coolest plants, and finally there were some good views. At the top on the other side I could see Mt Mcloughlin and far off in the distance Mt Shasta, still with snow on I think. I’ll be seeing Mt Shasta for many many miles to come.
I continued on around the ridge and stopped for a bit to have a wee and get out my Welches fruit snacks. If I had carried on a bit further I could have had my break with Grim who was sat having his lunch. He had been there an hour he said, and he was confused about my little disappearance this morning. I’m not sure if he was waiting for me. I hope not. He checked how much water I had – he is a nurse and he likes to make sure people are properly hydrated. I told him I was aiming for 27 miles today because I wasn’t really feeling it, and as I expected he said he would try and do more than that. I headed off into the creepy burnt leaning forest and within 5 minutes Grim blew past me. The trail family is no more!
I decided on a 27 mile day because that’s where the next water is. There are some fairly long stretches between water here. We actually have to start being careful and carrying 2 litres at a time. And there are camping spots. The next marked spot is 7 miles after that’s and I definitely didn’t have a 34 mile day in me. So knowing I only had 13 more miles to do I took it fairly easy. I even treated myself to a couple of breaks. One for the remove all the build up of dust from my shoes and another to try and get some motivation back after I had a big sense of humour failure over the blowdowns. It wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t so scratchy.
As I sat on a log I assessed how dirty I was. I am really quite disgusting. It’s been 13 days since I last washed my clothes and 8 days since I washed myself. And I stink. There are no two ways about it. It’s ok until I lift my arms up and then I get a whiff of myself.
I carry on plodding along. My balance is totally off today which makes climbing over logs difficult, I have come close to falling and doing myself an injury numerous times. Thankfully I have managed to save myself from disaster. I am also getting a weird clicking in my hip which I can feel in my knee. Last time this happened I got bursitis so I am taking it easy and trying not to aggravate it. No pain, just discomfort.
For the last couple of hours I plug myself in to the last couple of podcasts I have on my phone. The cell service through Oregon has been horrible and the limited wifi has been useless.
I’m tired of the blowdowns now, a girl I pass tells me it’s like this all the way to Ashland. Great. I must have walked an extra mile today just through all the detours around the trees I’ve had to do. I think about what I’m going to eat for dinner. I’m starving and I can feel my stomach rumbling. I want there to be no one at camp when I get there so I don’t have to talk to anyone. So I can just crawl in my tent and eat and sleep.
I eventually make it to the spring at about 6:30 and as I’m chatting to a nobo called Candyman about the quality of the water (he says I will need a scoop. I don’t have a scoop.) a couple arrive and I can hear they are English. They are from Devon, but after learning that I’m going south they don’t seem that interested in conversation with me and they talk to Candyman instead. I had down to the spring to fill up. I almost ran out of water this afternoon and I am thirsty. The spring is fine, no need for a scoop.
As I’m making my way to the camp spot I see another couple and recognise they are English too. This time we stop and chat for a while. There are another British couple half a day back apparently. Invasion of the Brits! They think they will finish at the end of September, that’s a month to do Oregon and Washington. Given that it’s taken them 4 months to get this far I think they are being a little over ambitious. But I don’t say anything because that’s annoying.
I get to my tent spot and there is no one there and of course I’m a little disappointed that Grim and Stringbean aren’t around. But it’s a small spot and there wouldn’t have been room for all of us anyway. I have a look around and a massive frog starts hopping about. Great. I hate frogs. I set up my tent as far away as possible from where I saw the frog. There were a bunch of wasps around so I threw my stuff and myself inside the tent quickly.
I decided to try out some of this packet chicken. It seems like it’s just a small step up from cat food. I open it suspiciously and test it. Actually it’s alright. It’s pretty tasteless and it smells fine, which is the thing I was more worried about.
I made a feast of chicken and mushroom ramen (tasteless) packet chicken (tasteless) and added Parmesan and bacon bits for flavour. And of course no meal is complete without a Frito topping. I ate it really quickly, my stomach was making all sorts of noises. Hopefully good ones.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Donate here.