Camp site – swan lake27.6 miles. 3018ft up. 1409ft down.
I eventually went to sleep around 11:30pm. Waaay too late for a hiker. I tend to do this when I’m anticipating a town stop. My mind is running over all the thing I have to do. I need two zero days really. One to do all my chores and one to actually do nothing. Oh how nice it would be to do nothing for a day. This is my 27th day of walking. I need a break!
So we wake in the dark. Catwater drinks coffee in the mornings so it takes her a little longer to get ready. She sets her alarm for 5:45, I get up at 6:10 and we are about ready at the same time. It’s pretty cold but we can’t complain too much after it was so hot yesterday. We had a single mission. To get to JJs cafe 7 miles away for some real food.
We pass Spice Rack’s tent about half a mile away from where we camped, no sign of Crusher. I try not to eat any snacks so I can really appreciate the food when we get there. After having no dinner though I’m too hungry to last so I have a bar.
The trail is gentle and cool and we make it there easily just after 9. ‘What do you ladies want to drink’. Catwater: coffee. Me: soda. Priorities. I am pleased to find out they are serving the whole menu so at 9:30am I order a burger with avocado. I’m normally a slow eater but I ate the burger like it was about to be taken away from me, so eager was I to shovel it in that I think I forgot to chew. I felt quite full about half way through but defeat was absolutely not an option so I forced it all in. After that and 2 sodas I felt in pain but deeply satisfied. JJs serve some of the best food on the whole trail.
As we decided it was time to get going again Crusher and Spice Rack turn up. We have a quick catch up and I find out rather embarrassingly that I have met Spice Rack before last year at Mt Laguna. But in my defence it was only very briefly while I was talking to someone else!
We walk the road up to Old Station rather than backtracking on ourselves. It’s a crappy walk next to a really busy road but it gets up there quicker. We stop in the shop and I get an ice cream and a Gatorade. Catwater attracts a very talkative man who spent a lot of time talking about fishing. He asked if she was ok for money and offered her $100 to help with her hike. She said no and inside I’m screaming TAKE THE MONEY! Think how much real food that would get us in the next town, how many ice creams, how many milk shakes! But I also understand why she said no.
He talked and talked and talked, and I drank my Gatorade way too quickly in a bid to make it look like we were ready to leave. We eventually got away and I was in some considerable pain after consuming so much. I also felt very very sleepy. All the blood must be being used to digest my food. I would love a nap but we have 16 more miles to do.
As we head uphill it’s hot. And the trail is sandy. I don’t remember that because the trail was basically a river when I was here last year. 4 miles in we make it to the creek and sit in the shade for a bit. I guzzle some nice cold water. I have had a lot of liquid today and I haven’t had one wee. That’s not right! No water now for 12 miles so I fill up with 2 litres. The urge to just lie down and take a nap is huge. But there is no time for napping.
We carry on, 4 more miles of uphill, hot, exposed, shadeless uphill. I chastised myself for moaning so often about walking through the trees, I would give my right arm to be in those trees right now. My twix is completely liquified in its packet so I can’t eat that, so I power myself up with sour patch kids. We enter Lassen National Park which the trail goes through for 20 miles. New this year is the requirement to carry a bear canister through that 20 miles, which we only found out after we stared the trail. So neither of us have one. We are praying we don’t see any Rangers. After every set of 4 miles I treat myself to a 5 minute sit down while I wait for Catwater to catch up.
At the time ticks on the sun loses some of its heat and it becomes a more bearable temperature which is good because the trail is in an exposed burn area, it’s nice to see that there is a lot of new trees coming through though. I’m struggling a bit this afternoon. Normally you don’t think about walking, you just do it. But today I was very aware of every step, of every time I had to put one foot in front of another. I plugged myself into an audiobook to try and distract myself. Breaking it into 4 mile chunks helped.
I doubted several times that we would make our goal today but at 5:30 with only 4 miles left it looked like we might just make it. And before 7 too. The last section has a ranger station and I tried to sneak past it quietly and discretely – as discrete as you can be in a bright orange top. But I don’t think there were any rangers there anyway.
We finally made it, feeling extra tired and achy. We set up our tents in an area where there were a lot of dead and crunchy trees. If anything came into our camp – like a bear – we would hear it. There were a few mozzies about so I got in my tent quickly. I tried to eat some beans and rice but I had a tender stomach and I could only manage a few mouthfuls. Force it down and feel worse or put it back in your food bag and deal with the extra weight. I chose the latter.
It’s not cold at all tonight but I have put the fly on my tent. After last nights lack of sleep I wanted to feel a bit safer. Not that the bit of nylon will do anything to protect me, but it helps me out psychologically. It’s just before 9 and I can barely keep my eyes open to write this so hopefull I will sleep well tonight.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Donate here.