I was still SO tired in the morning, but I had to get up and get going in order to make my miles for the day. Fortunately, the rash on my leg looked much better!
I thought the trail followed the direction that Half-way had headed toward last night, but I ran into him as I headed that way and he pointed me in the opposite direction, telling me there was a bridge over the river.
After a couple of miles, I came across ‘Runs with Elk’ sitting along the trail, taking a break. I was surprised to have already caught up to her, as the evening before, she told me that she was going to camp a couple miles past Ash Camp. I had asked her who else was in our vicinity, and she told me that Stryder and Frodo (two brothers from Florida whom I hadn’t yet met) were also planning on staying at Ash Camp, and that Cookie (also unknown to me) was about a half day ahead.
I started the nearly 2,000 foot climb feeling pretty good, and while taking a break, finally saw the two brothers. We passed each other back and forth over the next several miles. The day was growing very warm again, and more surprising than the heat to me, was the humidity! I thought California didn’t get humid, but in the past several days, I was proven wrong about that!
I reached the top of the climb and descended to Trough Creek while the brothers moved on. I needed both water and a break by that point, so I slid down the bank and made my way onto a large rock, surrounded by gigantic fronds.
I collected some nice, cool water and made myself an ice coffee, which I had now come to look forward to each day. Today, I was thrilled that my powdered milk had dissolved into it! It was the best ice coffee that I had had on the trail! As I was packing up, Halfway came along and also decided to take a break here.
The trail was extremely overgrown in this section and making my way through head-high foliage slowed my progress. I saw the brothers sitting around a fire that they had made just off- trail, cooking their lunch. I continued along, walking through forested trail, and then heard a noise on the bank of the trail to my left. It sounded like a mixture of human, bird, and animal wailing- a primal sound that I had never heard before! I looked up to see a bear cub scamper up a tree, while, what looked like a teenaged bear with matted fur slowly sauntered towards the tree. The older bear looked sick to me, but still screamed for the cub to climb to safety. I stood and watched for awhile. When the cub felt safe, it slid down the tree and scampered into the forest further away from the trail. This was my first bear sighting on the actual PCT!
About twenty minutes later, I ran into a couple of day hikers along the side of the trail. The man asked me if they were on the PCT or if the PCT intersected the trail we were on. I told them they were on the PCT! When I told them that I was hiking the whole trail, they were amazed and very excited. They asked me a few questions and then the man asked me if I wanted a turkey sandwich! “You look really skinny!” he said. I laughed. He told me the sandwich had tomatoes, pepper jack cheese… “Yes, please!”. I liked how easily I accepted things offered to me when on the trail. However, upon learning that they were planning on sharing this sandwich between the two of them, I suddenly felt like I was taking away their own food and pleasure. Les insisted that they would be fine sharing the half of the sandwich that they had kept. Patty agreed and said they had just eaten in town. We talked about my stomach illnesses and I learned that Les was a pharmacist and Patty, a nurse, in Mt. Shasta. They recommended I take as much acidophilus as possible.
They wanted to know if there was anything interesting to see ahead, but I told them, no, it was the same as what we were now seeing (trees, with the added overgrown trail!). They decided to turn back and go for a swim.
I stayed where I was and enjoyed the gift of the turkey sandwich.
After I finished, Halfway and the brothers came through. They were close enough that I could see that they did not interact with the nice couple ahead. After several minutes, a couple with fishing poles walked towards me and asked, “Are you the one walking all the way from Mexico to Canada?”. I smiled and nodded. I felt slightly bad that I got the acknowledgement, as well as the sandwich, but then again, I was the only one who was friendly to the couple and willing to chat! I felt happy with my openness and what I received as a result.
I passed the couple again and then reached a bridge spanning a deep gorge, which was listed as our next water source.
I looked down and wondered how on earth we were supposed to get down to the water! The others came along and had the same reaction! Half-Way started down the steep bank while the brothers stood looking at the water. I decided to follow Half-Way when I heard my name being called by Patty. She told me there was easier access to the water on the other side, so I followed them off the PCT. I wished I could spend more time with these nice people, but I had to quickly collect water and keep moving! We wished each other well and I headed towards the water. The rocks were very slippery and I ended up falling as I tried to collect some water. At first, I felt embarrassed, but then realized that the water felt very refreshing! I sat down in it again and poured some water on my head. I wished I had time to go swimming, but I was under too much time pressure. Instead, I would just look forward to a possible future visit when I could enjoy a secluded day out here with no stress of having to hike at least 25 miles per day.
I started up the next 2,000 foot climb and suddenly had a very immediate intestinal emergency! This illness still had its grip on me. I didn’t know what I was going to do about it. Feeling despondent, I continued the climb all the way to the ridge. No one else was around. As I walked along, I could see Mt. Shasta and then my first glimpse of the Castle Crags appeared.
I sat down on the bank of the slope and took in the views as I snacked. I was now several miles away from reaching the 1500 mile point, which was the first milestone that I had actually looked forward to. I felt like I was finally getting somewhere now! I hadn’t seen any markers since the 1,000 mile point and felt surely there would be one here!
It had already been a long day and my body was tired. I made my way off the ridge and back into the forest as I descended toward the highway, my energy waning. As I approached mile 1,500, I took out my GPS to make sure that I didn’t miss it. Unfortunately, there was nothing marking this milestone. I figured it wouldn’t have mattered anyway as I was all alone without anyone to take my picture.
I collected water at Fall Creek and kept descending, hoping to make it as far as possible tonight to allow for an easy morning. I passed a couple of possible camp sites and then encountered a strange man with a huge pack who was sweating profusely. He was headed in the other direction. I had a particular spot to stop in mind, as indicated on one of my Apps, but somehow I missed seeing it! I ended up having to find a makeshift spot, stepping over a huge log, and making the best of some uneven ground. I could hear the noise of the highway from where I was and was glad that I was not closer to the road. The mosquitoes were out in full force and I slept with my head net on again. The combination of heat and biting mosquitoes did not allow me much sleep at all.