PCT SOBO DAY 52 – the last of the northbounders?

Shasta – Trough Creek
19.3 miles. 6253ft up. 5235ft down. 

Well, I really didn’t sleep very well. The memories of being here last year, and being messed around by him, were difficult. I had mostly been kept distracted during the day but the long lonely night took its toll. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It’s all part of the process right?I couldn’t sleep. I distracted myself with my phone, scheduling some blog posts. I would feel my eyes get heavy so I would put my phone down and then I would be immediately wide awake again. The cycle continued until about 2:30am and eventually I had a little silent sob into my pillow before finally falling asleep. 

Why is this still so hard. Why does it still feel like I have a physical pain inside me. I feel like people can just look at me and see the sadness. Of course they can’t, and then I get annoyed that no one says anything. I get angry with people for not helping me, and I also realise that I’m the only one that can help myself, and there is only one person I’m angry at…

I woke at 7. 5.5 and 4.5 hours sleep on consecutive nights are not enough but hopefully I will sleep well tonight. 

I pack up all my stuff and we head for breakfast. A delicious omelette with cheese, spinach and mushroom, country potatoes and an English muffin. That was a good breakfast, I couldn’t manage it all but I gave it a good go. 

Catwater arranged for a shuttle to take us back to the trail rather than having to hitch so we stepped outside the door of the Besty Westy and straight into the waiting car! The lady dropped us right at the trail head and it was time to get walking again. 


We arrange to get to the same place, a campsite around 16 miles away. It’s weird, neither of us has directly said ‘let’s hike together’ but we both appreciate having the company. There aren’t that many people out here now and it’s nice to have a friend. We don’t have to hike next to each other, we will just try and camp together. That’s the plan for now. 

I hike on ahead, Catwater has a bit of pain in her foot and the uphills are tougher than usual. We hike together and chat for a bit and then I put a little distance between us to take the pressure off. Only a few miles in I meet Sparkles, is she the last northbounder? She seems to think she is. I stop and chat to her for ages, Catwater catches up and we chat some more. 


We realise we are maintaining a good pace and our original goal is totally achievable so we could do a few more miles. The trail weaves in and out of the trees. The wind must have changed direction today because Castle Crags and Mt Shasta (although covered in cloud) are smoke free and we get some decent views. 

We head back down into the forest after a 2000ft climb which wasn’t anywhere near as bad as we were anticipating it to be. The trail is a gentle grade and with few trip hazards. We stop at the water and eat a bit of lunch. I have a cliff bar because I am still pretty full from breakfast. I’m not used to eating that much in the morning. 

I make some adjustments to my shoes. Ultimately they are very comfortable so far, they are a bit loose and I remember the second hole in the top of the laces and loop the lace through that so the shoe feels more secure. I don’t feel like I have so much support on my arches, and I have a few weird niggly, but not really a problem, pains. I think it’s just my feet adapting to the new shoe. 


It was chilly so we hiked on, a really nice temperature for hiking though. 

I go on ahead and I plug myself into my new audiobook. It’s a very weird experience that I guess will take a bit of getting used to, having someone else reading to you. It’s very different from reading. You don’t get to imagine your own characters voices and I found myself zoning out a lot and not following what was going on.  

But the trail was easy and just through trees all afternoon so I needed some mental distraction, not that it did a great job in stopping my mind wandering to places I would rather it didn’t go. Well, just something I have to work through I guess. 

I made it to Squaw Valley Creek where we had intended to stop for the day, I sat a waited for Catwater, she arrived about 15 minutes later, it was only 4:10pm so we decided to go a bit further. We saw some people coming down the trail. Just day hikers. Apart from Sparkles they are the only people we have seen all day. Maybe she really was the last northbounder. We both commented on how weird it felt out here, like there was absolutely no one else around. And the forest we just walked through was so eerily silent. I spent a lot of the day speculating as to where people are. I’m pretty sure Grim and Stringbean are ahead, and Spice Rack and Crusher are behind. There is also a group who are skipping ahead from Ashland to get around the fire so they could be just behind us. There is a group of three guys maybe a day ahead of us. So there are people around, but it just doesn’t feel like it. 


We are both grateful that we are hiking together. 

It got quite warm as we were ascending out of the valley but we easily make it to the next stream, fill up and go just around the corner to a tent site in the trees. It’s only 5:40, it’s warm but oddly gloomy. 

Such a luxury to be in camp nice and early. Unfortunately there are a few little mozzies about so we get in our tents, I’m so happy not to be camping alone. My tent smells strongly of smoke. I eat one of my freeze dried meals I have been carrying for the last 5 days and it’s nice but there is so much of it I can’t finish it.

 

A man walks down the trail, ‘hey, is that puff puff?’. I can’t really see who it is through the mesh of my tent and he explains that he was hiking with Running Red when they were doing that big 40 mile day – it’s Arno, the German guy. I thought I would never see him again, I thought he would have been miles ahead by now, but he managed to get through Seiad Valley just before the fire started. We chatted a bit about New Zealand as he did that before this and he gave me some good tips, hopefully I will see him again so we can chat some more. 


We settle down in our tents for the night and it’s nice and warm, a head torch comes by. ‘Is that Spice Rack?’ I ask. No it’s Crusher, Spice Rack stopped a bit before. So I finally meet Crusher, or I stare into her head torch, I still don’t really know what she looks like. We invite her to camp with us but she decides to carry on. 

My eyes are really heavy. Hopefully I’ll sleep tonight. 

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I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Donate here.

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2 thoughts on “PCT SOBO DAY 52 – the last of the northbounders?

  1. Saying hello and wishing you all well. First southbounders coming through Agua Dulce area now, gave my first southbounder a jump thru Sand fire closure. Really enjoying the posts. Stay warm, eat well, hike safe, for you are amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Those last Nobo’rs must represent those I saw crossing Steven’s Pass just the other day. They are getting lucky on the weather up here. Not that bad of a September, although rain moving in tonight.

    I really related to this comment of yours… “We both commented on how weird it felt out here, like there was absolutely no one else around. And the forest we just walked through was so eerily silent. ”

    That is what I experienced last year. Silence and Nobody! I went from Burney Falls to Shasta without meeting any hikers on the trail, except for 4 morning runners coming up the mountain before Castella about 2 hours out. That’s it. Lots of bear poop however!

    Like

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