July 25th 2018
The Hemlocks Shelter – North Mt Wilcox Shelter (mile 1535.2)
21.5 miles + 0.3 to Shelter
Total miles: 1556.1

It was so warm and cosy in the shelter it was really difficult to get up. The rain started sometime in the night, I heard it and woke up, realised it was still dark and shut my eyes again. It was still drizzling at 6am when I woke up again. Normally the time I would pop my mat but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it and I drifted in and out of sleep until 6:50am. No one else was making a move to get up either so I went for it and deflated the mat and everyone else followed suit. 

I still felt so tired. 50 days now without a day off. But I don’t feel like I need a day off, everything hurts more after time off. It was drizzling a bit to start with and pretty soon after we started hiking it became torrential rain. 


I put the umbrella up and I’ve been using my sixty dollar trash bag as a kind of butt cape. If I use it as a kilt and wrap it all the way around me I get too hot and sweaty, so instead I just tuck it under the bottom of my pack and that prevents the water dribbling down my back onto my shorts and creating the feeling that I’ve wet myself. I don’t mind so much of the front of my shorts get wet. 

The first few miles were slow going because it was mostly wet slippery rocks which were really steep in some places. The rain definitely wasn’t helping either! It was tough on the knees and Shred was being very tentative since his fall the other day. After the big slabs of rock came some rock staircases and then eventually it levelled out a bit into pine forest. The rain eased off a bit too, after the really hard stuff was over. I couldn’t use my phone because my hands were too wet. 


I came across Peaches and Bryce ringing out their socks in a lovely bright pine forest with a soft cushioned pine needle trail. You don’t want to stop here Peaches told me, there are so many mosquitoes. The mosquitoes were so bad. And they were big. Peaches and I walked together for a bit and she was killing them as they landed on her arms. She got to 17 and I lost where she ended up. They were landing on me too but not as much as her. I only counted 3 squashed ones. They really like to go for my shoulders and I can feel when they stab me through my top. 

Aside from the campsite we stayed in several nights ago this is the worst they have been on the trail. We moved out of the forest and walked through some pastures, next to some cows and some cornfields. The weather looked like it was clearing up, but the rain came back with a vengeance and with no shelter from the trees it was coming in sideways. 

I really do love the umbrella, aside from disliking the feeling like I’ve wet my pants, the other thing I hate is when it’s dripping down around your face and ears. The umbrella doesn’t keep you 100% dry because the wind blows the fine rain in, but at the most you end up slightly damp which is way better than being soaking wet. 


After the fields, when the rain was coming down hard I came to a gravel road where I could see some blue gazebo things. Trail magic? I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but just a shelter from the rain for a moment would be nice. It was trail magic, a local church group who do it regularly had snacks and water and battery packs for phone charging, shelter and towels and chairs. It was such a nice treat and a welcome break from the rain. 


We took a short break there and I ate a kitkat and lots of chocolate chip cookies, and it was even nicer for the others, who were all dripping wet, to get out of the rain. They offered to take people into town if they needed it too. 

Moving on the trail was flat for a couple of miles and passed a large cornfield. It seems this area may get a bit of bad weather because all the corn was blown over to one direction. The rain had stopped for a bit, and next came a reasonably big climb. Split into two stages the first 500ft were really steep and involved lots of climbing up rocks and tree roots. The second stage wasn’t quite as steep but it was a decent climb and there were a couple of views through the low clouds. 


I was chewing a starburst where the trail flattens out a bit at the top and a chunk of it felt like it went into my lungs. I coughed and I felt it fly back up into my mouth. I coughed a bit more and felt ok and continued to chew and swallow what was in my mouth. A few moments later I started to get a weird sensation in my nose. It was tingling a bit and then the snot started to leak out of my nose and it was quite watery. Then there was a burning sensation in my nose. I stopped to do a snot rocket and a lump of starburst shot out of my nose!! It was so gross! It is one of the worst things to have happened to me! My nose carried on stinging for a while afterwards. 

The ridge walk was so nice. I really enjoyed walking through the dark pine forest and past the big chunks of rocks and glacial pathways. The trail was still really rocky and slippy but it was pretty.


When I got to the road I went to the parking area to find the trail magic that Professor had organised. A guy called Otis was hiking with him and is now off trail so he came to do some magic with his mum. I was the only one who hadn’t met him before. Peaches and Jukebox were already there and Professor and Bryce arrived later. 

We were wondering where Shred had got to when a car passed the parking area, braked and reversed back. He pulled into the parking area and Shred got out the car. We were all quite surprised to see him get out the car and he explained that he had done the climbs, got to the top and somehow got turned around and descended everything he had just climbed up and he found himself back at the road he had started at. He knew there was a time pressure as we were meeting Otis at 3pm so he didn’t have time to go up the mountain again so he hitched to us. What a plonker! 


The magic was awesome. Homemade hummus and crudités. Strawberries and bananas and homemade ice cream. The ice cream was amazing. The chocolate was so decadent, and there was a dairy free pina colada ice cream that I didn’t try because I don’t like that flavour but I’m sure it was just as good. He made energy balls and I ate more than my fair share of carrots and hummus, I couldn’t get enough of it. 

Jukebox dipped her strawberry in the hummus which I though was odd. She says my eating habits are strange but that’s a new one on me! Otis also brought toiletries and medical supplies and hiker food. Bars and knorr sides and mountain houses. I took a couple of mountain house meals and peaches said I could use her stove to heat the water. And soda and beers. 

He took all our trash and gave us ziplocks and trash bags and was generally an all round awesome human. We hiked on as we still had 6 miles to get to the shelter. It was nice that it had stopped raining while we were sat at the trail magic. Otis and his mum took Shred to an urgent care clinic so he could get a couple of ailments looked at, he thinks he has an infection in his toe. 

It was a pretty 6 miles to the shelter, a few steep ups but overall not too bad. There was a series of wooden planks and they were so slippery. I stepped on one and my foot went straight out from under me and I hit the ground. I got away with just a muddy hand and a bit of a sore butt cheek. I found some energy from somewhere, maybe it was the banana, or just all the calories I had just eaten, and I sped along the trail. Trying to be careful not to slip of trip on any rocks. 


The temperature was nice all day. It was a lot cooler than it has been, but if you’re soaked through you will end up feeling a bit cold. It was nice because I was pretty dry, although I still had sweat pouring off me on the climbs, and it was still pretty humid. 

It was getting really dark and the weather was moving in, it was sprinkling with rain and every time the wind blew it rained bigger drops down from the trees. I got away without needing my umbrella up and after a remarkably nice smooth bit of trail, someone had really put some work into that little section of trail I made it to the turn off for the shelter. Just 0.3 miles and I made it just before the rain really started to come down again. There were three people already in the shelter and they were all already tucked up and trying to sleep at 7:30pm. We got stuff done quickly, I didn’t bother with dinner because I was still full from the trail magic, and I was lazy. I hardly ate anything from my food bag today! 


Peaches set up her tent, but mine was still wet from a couple of nights ago and it’s due to rain all night so I chose to stay in the shelter with the others. Probably a decision I will regret after I get hounded my mosquitoes all night but at least I won’t be wet. The mosquitoes were so intense today. I killed a lot but a lot bit me too. There were streaks of blood on my legs where they had drunk their fill and then dribbled down my leg, and there were blood stains from the ones I managed to squash after they had bitten me. I killed a lot before they bit me on my arms and face so I had a lot of mosquito guts over me. 

We were all in bed so early it’s only 9:10pm and I’m just finishing this, it’s the earliest I’ve been done for a while. 

I am feeling better generally than I did yesterday. Yesterday I think I was over tired and things were irritating me more than usual. Today was a good day, apart from the rain and the slippy rocks and the starburst incident and the falling over. It was broken up nicely and it was just a reminder than no matter how bad things seem, tomorrow is always a new day. 

Now I have to stop writing this because I have buried my head inside my sleeping bag to stop the bugs being attracted to the light but I am burning up inside here. It’s pouring with rain outside and I’m in an open shelter but it’s not cold at all. 

Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 78