I didn’t get up as early as I had intended or had hoped to do… (which really came as no surprise to me), but I did get up a little earlier than I had been of late. In the soft morning light, Mt. Shasta took on an entirely new appearance and I could now see the snow that still sat on her slopes.
The bees returned once again to my stove, trash bag, and myself, searching for any new forms of sustenance. They didn’t allow my own breakfast to be very enjoyable.
By 7:15, I was again walking. This morning was the first that I didn’t have to rush out of my sleeping bag and into the trees, which I found quite amazing! The first few miles passed by pretty quickly, and when I discovered that I had walked 3.2 miles in that first hour, my spirits were given a great boost! I saw a man putting on a ULA pack down below the trail, but didn’t know who it was. Several minutes afterwards, I ran into the guy who crossed over the bridge at Rock Creek and didn’t say hi. I kept ahead of him and was proud of the time I was making! By 8:40, I reached the side trail to Mooshead Creek and went down to collect my water. On my return to the campsite, the quiet hiker had also appeared, but still said nothing. I felt agitated at the lack of politeness and went over to a rock to filter my water. He came and sat near me after he collected his water and at some point, asked if I had seen Braveheart. I said that I hadn’t seen him since right before Echo Lake. He responded that he was with him at that time and had seen me, too.
I headed out into the warming air, following the trail as it climbed and stopping to take breaks as I needed them. I decided to make another ice coffee as I sat on the bank of the trail, as it was good for a mood boost. I was surprised that the other hiker hadn’t come along yet. The trail followed a ridge and I could see Mt. Shasta in the distance.
The air was mostly heavy and oven-like as the temperatures soared to the mid 90s, but every now and then, I would come across a pool of cool air, which I was thankful for. They reminded me of the cool air pockets in Mahoosuc notch on the AT.
When my energy dropped and I needed food, I sat off of an intersection on the trail in a bit of shade and ate. The other hiker passed by and waved. Although the climbs were not big today, they felt slow with all of the water I was carrying. Unfortunately, my belly started to hurt again.
Somewhere along the way, I saw the biggest and most disgusting bug that I had ever seen! It moved very quickly, and I had to turn him around with my shoe several times to get a picture!
When I passed Half-way again, he asked me where the next source was as he was almost out already.
It turned out that the next source was well off the trail and up a hill! It’s always disappointing when our guidebooks don’t mention the distances from the trail. I assumed he was going to have to climb the hill. I still had plenty of water, but it was now a very hot and undesirable drinking temperature.
Fourteen miles after I collected water at Mooshead Creek, I arrived at the side trail to Deer Creek Spring, where I could hear the sound of rushing water. I followed the path down, dropped my pack and took my collecting bag to the pool of water. Then, I stepped in the water, leaving my shoes on, and rinsed some of the dirt off of my legs. The water was incredibly cool! I walked back to my pack to filter my water with the sun now burning my legs. I was surprised to see Halfway come down the path! He hadn’t stopped at Gold Creek after all! We both intended to make it to Ash camp by tonight, which was now just under 10 miles away, most of which were downhill. I got going, slowly plodding my way through the forested terrain.
Every few miles, I stopped to snack to attempt to boost my energy, but it was getting harder and harder to replenish my depleted feeling. Eventually, Half-Way caught up. I could see the river down below and knew that we would soon be reaching a road. I hoped for a garbage can to throw some unnecessary weight away, but was disappointed to find nothing there at all.
At last, I came out to another dirt road and the campground. I dropped my pack with no energy remaining. I couldn’t even socialize if I wanted to. Half-way went to join a couple of other hikers across the water while I used the outhouse. I decided to move my pack to a different campsite that was closer to the water, but had a hard time finding a place to sleep because there were either ants or garbage in all of the flat spaces! I chose the best spot I could, went down to the river to collect water and rinse of my legs again, and then get ready for bed. I noticed a red rash behind one of my legs and wondered if I had somehow gotten poison oak. I decided not to put anything on it and just wait to see what it looked like tomorrow, as it was not itching. Annoying gnats hovered around my body and face and the unpleasant smell from the outhouse wafted towards me. I kept shooing the ants that had found their way onto my groundcloth away. A couple of fishermen looked over at me on their way out, but I was too tired to be concerned about anything other than lying down and trying to get some sleep. Tomorrow, I had another big day ahead of me, and then I would have to figure out how I was supposed to hitch a ride on the interstate! I realized that I had slept outside every night since the 5th of July, which was a first in my life! I was becoming more of an outdoors person that I ever thought I would be! I really needed some rest and privacy, though, and looked forward to having my own room in Mt. Shasta.
At 9:15, it was 77 degrees out! So warm!