June 15th 2018
Campsite – Sarver Hollow Shelter (680.7)
24.1 miles + 0.4 to the shelter
Total miles: 694.4

I woke up in the middle of the night freezing cold. My nose was like a little ice cube. I wrapped my sleeping bag tight around me and buried my head. I was having regrets about shipping my warm clothes back! I’m sure it was just because we were in a little valley next to a creek. 

In the morning it was cold but not that cold. Just cold compared to what I have been used to. If I think back to the PCT, this isn’t cold at all. Short Shorts packed up in about 30 seconds, he was cold and numb from sleeping directly on the ground! Then Salty and Pi left and I left shortly after them. I am the slow one in the group again! I fully expected to not see any of them until I got to the shelter. It was going to be a big day with lots of climbing. I was under no illusion that it was going to be fun or easy. 


I didn’t stay cold for long because there was a huge climb and it was super steep and brutal. All I could do was move slow and steady. I needed a poo and that kept me focussed on getting to the shelter and using the privy. When I got there, there were a few people, Fbomb and Dory from Australia and a section hiker Chris. They warned my that the privy was a little funky and they were right. It was one of the stinkier ones on trail. But when you gotta go…


I hung around and chatted for a bit, not something I had time to do today! I finished the climb and then started on what I thought would be a nice ridge walk. It was so rocky. Rocks everywhere. It made progress slow going. I was only averaging 2 miles an hour, maybe a bit under. After 10 miles I decided to take a break at a stream and eat some crisps and cheese, something else I didn’t really have the time to do! 

I was struggling on the downhills today because they were steep and rocky and my knees were hurting. And I had to descend exactly what I had ascended this morning, only to ascend again. I also definitely wasn’t cold anymore. The sun was out and the sky was clear blue. They humidity had ramped itself up and the sweaty face was back. The bugs were also ridiculous. These little tiny ones that like to float around your eyes and other ones that like to buzz next to your ear. 


The next big climb was also a brutal one. Extra rocky and really steep. There were zero switchbacks and if you looked ahead you could just see the trail going up and up and up. It felt like it was never going to end but of course it eventually does and you get to the top as a hot sweaty mess. I made my way a bit further to Kelly Knob where I found Short Shorts on top of a rock. I stopped for a tiny break and ate a Twix before deciding I really needed to carry on to make it to the shelter. 

Short Shorts caught up to me just as I was about to have a wee, and then I saw him a bit further on where I think he was waiting for me. We hiked together for a bit as it downhill so I could keep up! We hiked through a few meadows and it was really hot out of the trees. We started fantasising about soda. Short Shorts was just shouting out names of sodas. When we arrived at the road there was a guy trying to hitch into town. A red pick up stopped and Short Shorts said let’s just hitch to Newport and get a soda and then hitch back. 


My mind was saying no you need to get to the shelter but at the same time I was also throwing my pack into the back of the pick up and I was climbing in. It was 8 miles down the road and the guy was driving really fast. At some points the wind was stopping me drawing breath. Eventually I lay down to escape the wind. The guy dropped us right at the gas station and we ran in and picked up some things. I really felt like we were in the south now. There was a guy there in overalls but no shirt. He had a whole bunch of tattoos and one of those really hard looking round bellies. It really was a sight to behold. 

I got a Mountain Dew, a Twix ice cream and a punnet of cherries which I will share with the others. Short Shorts got a blue slushy ice drink, a Twix ice cream, two pecan pies and two corn dogs, which looked like they had been there turning around on that hot plate all day. We went right back to the road and tried to hitch back as we were eating and drinking. A couple of cars passed but no one stopped and we were getting a bit worried about getting back to the trail. But a man at the gas station came over and offered to take us back to the trail. He had done some section hiking and he wanted to help us out. Excellent. 


So we were there and back again in less than half an hour. When we got back on the trail it almost felt like it had all been a dream. Had Short Shorts not had a bag with corn dogs in I would have said it never happened. We stopped at a water source and I just grabbed a litre and carried on. There was still 4 miles to go and it was 6pm and it was uphill. 

I carried on through the meadows and it was really hot so I was glad to get back into the trees. The trail went up steeply and I passed a girl we had already passed that day. She wasn’t the friendliest person I had met! Then up near the top of the climb I closed in on a man who was playing some really terrible music out loud on his phone. I do this really rarely and only if there is no one around. If I see a person I turn it off. He did not. 


We had a brief conversation. He asked me what my name meant and I explained it was to do with the puffy jacket thing and he mentioned something about green blazing and I thought I think you’ve been doing more than your fair share of green blazing today. You weirdo. 

Nothing like a weirdo to get you moving a bit faster! I pushed on until I got to the turning for the shelter. There was a deer on the trail. I had seen a whole bunch of deer today but this was the first one that hadn’t bolted as fast as it could through the forest. 


The shelter was down a 0.4 mile side trail. I’m not normally that keen on bonus miles to get to a shelter but it was supposed to be a nice one. It was 8pm by the time I arrived. 12 hours and 45 minutes of hiking today. A bit like hitching has a 10 minute limit, hiking has a 12 hour limit. I don’t want to be hiking for more than 12 hours. 

When I arrived Pi was there and a couple of other people. “Have you seen Salty?” she asked. Nope, haven’t seen him all day. She was really worried she had upset him. She took a nap and when she woke up he wasn’t there. I was pretty sure that he wouldn’t have got upset about her hiking ahead or taking a nap. He just doesn’t seem like that kind of person. I was sure he would turn up later. 

I cheered her up with some cherries, but we were both despondent when the ‘green blazing music man’ arrived. He still had his music blaring out, which is against hiker etiquette, and when Pi asked him to turn it off he got really huffy and said he was going to take his hammock and his crappy music elsewhere. Great! 

Short Shorts rolled in, he said he had seen Salty and he had taken a 3 hour nap at the shelter. So when Salty eventually arrived it was all happy families again and we could all relax. There was a lady set up in the shelter but she decided to pitch her tent. I feel like she moved because of us but I don’t think we were being that obnoxious! Anyway. It’s just us in the shelter tonight and I am knackered after today. 

It’s 10pm again and I am still writing. I managed to trip on rocks today approximately 5000 times. I hope tomorrow is better. 

Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 38