Tent site – tent site 24.8 miles. 5992ft up. 5634ft down.
I slept well. I have been taking Aleve PM which contain something that makes you drowsy to help me sleep better. There were are few animal noises early in which I thought might be deer. I hoped they were deer. I don’t worry about it because there are two other people. We are all up and about and on the trail by 6:30. Although it was still pretty dark at 6:20.
My heel was really painful to walk on and I was trying not to put any pressure on it, but after about half an hour it eased and I was walking normally. Our first goal was Lookout Spring 4.5 miles away. On the way Jorts passed me pretty quickly. In the first half an hour I had eaten my cereal bar and my chocolate bar. I couldn’t resist it, it was just there in my pocket calling to me. I tried the take a bite and put it back technique but in the end I just gobbled it all up.
It was then about 10 miles straight downhill to get to the feather river. As soon as we started descending the bugs came out in swarms. They are little midgies which just hover around your face. They are the most irritating things. They don’t bite, they don’t do anything other than just hover there. I spent about 7 miles hiking while waving my hand in front of my face, each time swiping about 5 midgies out the way. Occasionally I would shout at them to ‘leave me alone’ in a less polite way.
I had to make a stop on the way down because the hostages were making some quite persistent demands. It was not good. It was a very loose movement and when I went to wipe I misjudged the proximity of my bum to the ground and ended up putting my hand in it. Well, thank goodness for moist toilet wipes is all I have to say about that. I didn’t feel great after that and I was glad to be at the back of the trio so I could stop and let out the accumulation of gas. I was definitely living on the edge of the danger zone for a while.
About 3 miles before the river I stopped to get some water from a creek where the bugs were out in their hundreds, and now the wasps had joined the party. I was busy swatting them away and I stepped on a wet rock and slipped, landing hard on my bum and one foot slipped into the water. Bugger. Now I have a wet shoe.
I squeezed my sock out and dried everything the best I could. I ate a snack and had the most un-relaxing break while I waited for Catwater. We carried on down to the river to have lunch there, I used my multi purpose hitchhiking bandana to wave in front of me. When I got there the bugs were in their thousands and I dug out my bug net to get a little relief from them. We sat by the river, still surrounded by bugs and I shovelled in some Cheetos under my head net. There was no point lingering here, although we were trying to put off the next 10 miles of uphill. We crossed the river on the huge metal bridge and we saw a Canadian guy called Hot Water on the other side. He is going south too and he started 3 weeks before us.
We slowly made the ascent, it was hot and felt even hotter with these stupid bug nets on and we were managing about 2 miles an hour. We stop for a break 2.5 miles in, we are doing ok for time so a little break won’t hurt. Only 2.5 more and we stop for water. The trail continued up, switchbacking its way up out of the gorge, continuing to be hot, buggy and in the trees.
We went down the side trail to get water which was quite steep and definitely longer than the advertised 10th of a mile. But it was our last water before camp so I filled up with 2 litres. Back at the trail junction I had a little lie down and ate some goldfish. A guy from Northern Ireland passed us as he was heading north, he started in Kennedy Meadows and is heading for Ashland. We chatted with him for a while and Hot Water caught us up too. It’s like being back in the desert where we all used to congregate around water sources.
We had 5 more miles to go before our camp spot so it was time to get moving again. Catwater said we should be there by half six. No one tells the time like this in the states. They would say six thirty. She is picking up habits from me!
I get a bit of a second wind and the trail, although a little overgrown with scratchy bushes in places, is nice and not too steep. I plug myself into my audiobook – the biography of Steve Jobs, who knew he was such an arse?! – and powered on to the tent site. I got there at 6:15. In the last hour my stomach was rumbling and I was desperate to eat dinner so I set up my tent quickly, zipped myself in to keep out the wasps and set about making possibly the best trail food ever.
Tortilla, smushed avocado, string cheese, hot beans and rice and a crispy Frito topping. I had two of them and, I’m not sure if it was just because I was starving, but it was absolutely delicious. And I had some beans and rice left so I added another string cheese and some Fritos and finished that off. And mini chips ahoy cookies for dessert of course. And a few nights ago I could only manage about 3 mouthfuls of beans and rice.
It just needed some sour cream with it and it would have been out of this world. I am determined not to roll into town with extra food in my pack this time, but seeing as there is only one more night on the trail before we hit town and I have two dinners left that might be tricky. But that might be the only thing I have left.
I’m hoping the combination of beans and avocado doesn’t add up to disaster tomorrow.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Donate here.