July 26th 2018
North Mt Wilcox shelter – October Mountain Shelter (mile 1558)
22.8 miles + 0.3 from Shelter
Total miles: 1579.2

It rained for most of the night and I was glad of my decision to stay in the shelter rather than pitch my already wet tent. I was worried about the mosquitoes but they didn’t seem to bother me. I did feel something run over my hand which I assumed to be a spider. I flicked it off and went back to sleep. At 5:30am there was stirring and rustling. I looked up to check and see if it was any of my group, thankfully it wasn’t, it was the other people in the shelter. One of the girls had a very heavy step and when she walked around, which she did quite a lot, the whole floor of the shelter shook. It was difficult to get back to sleep but I think I dozed in and out. 

Jukebox and I were so close to each other that we kept hitting each other. It was to my surprise when Peaches came over and offered to let the air out of my mat I woke to see the two other girls still there!! They ended up leaving around 7:30am which meant it took them two hours to pack up!

I left with Peaches just before 8am and as she was on some kind of go slow today, I definitely wasn’t complaining about that because it meant I could keep up with her! We hiked together and chatted until we got to the campsite which was closed due to aggressive bear activity from a Mumma bear and her 3 cubs. Having not been for a poo in the last 48 hours, by the time I got here I could feel a motion. So I stopped to use the privy, which even had toilet paper in it, and I didn’t see any bears. 


I caught up to Peaches again at the top of a mountain where she was chatting to a man who offered to give us bug spray, because once again the mosquitoes were all over us, and he also gave us a cereal bar each. We hiked down to the road where we saw a sign for a trailside stand and went down to check it out. It was a little shed on the side of the road full of stuff to buy. For a dollar I got a Mountain Dew and it was very gratefully received. We hung out there for a while until the whole crew, minus Professor who was having a lie in, plus FedEx who had appeared from somewhere, and we waited under a big tree for the rain to stop. 


I had my umbrella so I was ok, and Peaches and Jukebox were huddled in the little shed. We were trying to teach Jukebox how to whistle. I hate whistling and weirdly out of the three of us I am the best at it but I never do it. 

The rain eased and we moved on. I was hiking with a few of the others and we crossed some fields and then some boardwalks and Jukebox and I got stung by wasps. Not again! Mine was on my ankle and the wasp was still on my sock. I swiped it away and then hopped around in pain for a few moments. Wasp stings hurt so much. It was also in a really awkward place, right where the top of my shoe meets my ankle so my shoe was touching it with every step. The pain lasts for about 10 minutes then it subsides. 

Straight after that was a climb up a big hill. Very quickly I didn’t feel good. I was sweating excessively, I could feel myself overheating and I felt really nauseous. I slowed down a lot and watched the others getting further and further away. I inspected the sting and wiped my very sweaty face. Carrying on I cooled down a bit but the nausea remained long into the day. 

The wasp sting


I saw Shred and Peaches sat having some food, I wasn’t feeling hungry at all, not with the sick feeling, and the mosquitoes were just too bad to stop so I left them and continued on. I was moving along ok. Certainly not an impressive pace but a reasonable one. I was feeling some discomfort on the tops of my toes and I stopped to inspect and see if there was a bit of debris in my shoe causing a rub. 

Looking at my left foot I saw that things weren’t good at all. All across the tips of my toes looked red raw. The sorest of them all was my second toe, it was so red and angry looking on top and the end of it wasn’t doing much better, it was tender to touch and there were some splits in the skin around the top of the nail. It hasn’t helped that my feet have been wet for much of yesterday and for all of the day so far. They were ok last night and they dried out while I was sleeping, but they weren’t good now. I only looked a the left one and then Peaches caught up to me and gave me some neosporin put on it. I put some on and continued to hike with her. It was still sore and uncomfortable to walk on. We hiked along listening to a podcast out loud. Billie Jean King on desert island discs. Definitely worth a listen to, Elton John did Philadelphia Freedom for Billie Jean King. I never knew. 


We came to a stream and Peaches had to get some water so we stopped for a minute. I used the opportunity to take a look at my other foot and, like the left one, the right one was red raw in the tops of all my toes, although not quite as bad. On this foot though there was also a blister under my second toe which may have been the most painful thing of them all. I decided to take off my shoes and socks and wash my feet in the stream, and I washed my legs too, they were so dirty where I had been using the sides of my shoes to scratch the bites on my legs. The cold water felt so good. I could have just left them in there for hours. I washed out my socks and rung them out as hard as I could.


It didn’t help much. My feet were still incredibly painful and I could feel it rubbing with every step. We arrived at a junction for a shelter and this is where Peaches has decided to stay for the night. She didn’t want to leave the group but she also wants to do a 30 mile day before the trail is over. It’s getting less and less likely she’ll get one in as the trail moves further north and we start having big brutal climbs again, so she’s going to catch up to the rest of us at the end of the day tomorrow.  I have already done a 30 and several in the past and I don’t feel the need to do another one, especially with my manky feet, so I’ll be doing a 23 and a 22 mile day which is much more sensible! 

I hike on and my feet are hurting. I’m going slowly and I have 8.5 miles left to get to the shelter. It’s 3pm and I decide the only way I am going to be able to do that is to keep walking and maintain a steady 2 mile an hour pace and I would make it by 7:30pm. I needed a wee and I was getting hungry having really not eaten that much today. I stopped briefly. Loaded a sandwich bag with some crisps, stuffed them in my fanny pack and did it all as quickly as possible to get away from the mosquitoes. I would kill them and leave a smear of my own blood over myself. 

Just a mile later I crossed over I90 on a footbridge and I saw Jukebox taking a break. That’s a funny place to take a break I said and she explained that it was the only place with no bugs. I joined her. My keep going without stopping plan going quickly out of the window. I took off my shoes and socks and let my feet air out some more. I laid out my shoes and socks in the sun to try and dry them a bit. The weather had cleared up and we had clear blue sky without a single cloud. 


My feet felt so nice out of my shoes I really didn’t want to put them back on. Shred caught up to us and he’s having foot problems too. He went to the urgent care last night and he has loads of gauze and bandages and tape so he gave me his bag of stuff and I was able to wrap something around my feet to try and protect it from rubbing any more on my shoes. 


When I started walking again it was so sore. I didn’t quite know how I was going to make it another 7.5 miles and even on the flat ground the other two were pulling away from me quickly. They stopped to filter water and I carried on. I pushed through it and the climb up to Becket mountain was one I was absolutely dreading. I had visions of myself just crawling up. But to my surprise I was at the top quite quickly and easily. This gave me hope. The others hadn’t caught me up yet either. 

All I wanted to do was to get to camp as soon as possible so I could stop walking, take my shoes off and lie down. I hiked on a bit and saw a couple of coolers with Gatorade written on the top. I got excited. I was still feeling nauseous and a Gatorade would definitely help. Empty. The third lot of empty trash magic we had seen today. 


As I move on I had some kind of buzzing bug zooming around my head which was driving me mad. I resorted to swinging my bandana violently around my head, hitting myself with it in the hope I would hit the fly too. I don’t think I ever got it. 

Eventually Jukebox caught up to me and I’m not sure what happened to me but it was like someone had put a rocket up my arse. I started really moving. The fastest I’d hiked all trail probably. The bandages had helped the tops of my toes but the blister underneath was still causing me a lot of discomfort. I tried to ignore it all the best I could and I tried to hike without bending my feet too much. 

We were flying along and Jukebox was struggling to keep up with me. This never happens. I can never keep up with her and her big strides. I asked her if she wanted to go ahead but she didn’t want to. So I picked up the pace. I was picking my way through the rocks and the roots and floating over the trail. I still had the odd heart stopping moments when the toe flap caught on something. 

I event managed to maintain a quick pace on the uphill and there was one particularly brutal uphill which was really steep and seemed to come out of nowhere. Along the climb were loads and loads of cut trees where it looked like a big storm once blew through here and blew down all the trees. 

Continuing on it was a couple of miles of avoiding waterlogged trail and avoiding falling into stream after stream. With nearly dry socks I didn’t want to get them wet again. They didn’t stay dry exactly but slightly damp was better than wet. On the downhills I was running a bit because there seems to be less bending of the foot needed when you’re running downhill. 

Jukebox and I made it to the shelter around 7:20pm, collected some water from the stream which was a bit yellow. Even though I know it’s from the tannins in the plants it still doesn’t look very nice and puts me off drinking it. I couldn’t not drink it I was so thirsty. I drank straight through the filter so I could pretend I was drinking clear water not water that looked like urine. It tasted absolutely fine. 

We set up our tents and jumped inside right away to get away from the mosquitoes. It was nice to be able to pitch my tent after it being wet in my pack for the last four days. Hopefully it will dry out over night. Shred didn’t arrive until after 8pm and we were getting a bit worried about him. With him was Professor who we thought was staying at the other shelter with Peaches. He opted out of the 30 mile day instead! He also had a great story about slipping on a wet rock and breaking both of his trekking poles! He snapped the bottoms off of both of them at the same time. Quite an achievement! He needs his poles to set up his tent so Jukebox leant him hers and luckily for Professor we are hitting a town with an outfitter tomorrow. 


more holes in my tent


I have a mountain house meal to eat and Peaches was going to heat some water for me but she’s not here so Shred very kindly did it for me instead. I was really hungry and I had been thinking a lot about eating this, but as soon as I started eating it I was a bit over it! I managed to shovel down the whole thing though. It felt nice to be full at night for a change. 

The blister on the underneath of my foot popped as I walked barefoot over to get the water from Shred. Gross!

After the last wee before bed I got into my tent and covered my feet in neosporin and put my clean socks on. As I lie here typing this they are stinging and throbbing. It’s now 11pm and guess what…I am utterly exhausted. 

Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 79