I got up at 6:13 and saw the sun rise through the trees.
For breakfast, I had my Love Crunch granola, which I added some chocolate whey protein, chia seeds, and powdered milk to. While I ate, flies infiltrated my area, landing on me, my sleeping bag, my trash bag, and whatever else they could find.
I then boiled my coffee (having only one container to both eat and drink from), and after a few sips, had to dash out of my sleeping bag. Ugh. As I am taking care of my business, I hear a man clear his throat! Great! I look down to see an older guy stopped by a dried up creek, looking all around. Why now? I had to wait several minutes for him to get going so I could finish up.
At 7:10, Elk and Cookie passed by. I got on the trail at 7:22. I felt pretty good in the morning miles and ended up passing everyone. I found Rabbit Stix bent over and leaning on his hiking poles on a fairly small incline. When I got close, he looked behind and smiled slightly. Concerned about how he looked, I asked him how he was. He answered, “Fine, thanks.” He didn’t look fine to me, but I guessed I didn’t need to worry.
At 9:00, I stopped again to receive the reiki Checka was sending. I felt a lot of energy in my hands and then in my feet. As I walked, I thought about what an incredible gift it is when someone consciously dedicates several minutes out of their busy day to thinking about someone else, especially when they are doing it for the purpose of healing. I also realized how I needed to work on being more open to receiving. I have been incredibly independent over the course of my life, relying solely on myself for survival. It is much easier for me to give than to receive, and I found this exercise helpful in learning to allow more.
Both of my guides indicating that there was a spring at mile 1560, but there was actually nothing there at all! Disgruntled, I sat down and ate a snack anyway. I was surprised that my granola had lasted that long! Usually, I need to eat every couple of hours!
Fortunately, it wasn’t long before I came to a little spring. A man was sitting in the shade beside it, filtering his water. I went over to a rock in the sun and then patiently collected water. The other hiker wanted to know where the next water source was, but all I could tell him was the information he already had! When he left, I moved over to the shade and made myself an ice coffee. I looked back to see a hiker approaching. It turned out to be Braveheart! He dug out a big bag of vanilla wafers from his pack, complaining that he didn’t have enough cookies! We chatted for awhile, but at 12:20, I told him I had to get going! I had been there for 50 minutes already!
I managed to stay ahead of him for longer than expected. Up ahead, I saw the other hiker lying down next to the trail, eating a bagel with cream cheese. He didn’t see me until I was practically upon him and said hi! When I stopped to take a pack break, Braveheart caught up to me and asked if I had seen the rattlesnake 100 yards back. I had not. He said that he had brushed up against the bushes and then thought, “Wait a minute… Bushes don’t sound like that!” I said that it didn’t rattle at me. Braveheart said I probably woke him up as I passed by. (Actually, I think brushing against the bushes is what woke him up!). I hadn’t had a rattlesnake encounter since way back in the desert!
Braveheart stopped to collect another liter of water soon after (I had to call back to tell him there was a better source ahead where I was) and I headed down toward the highway. The trail was littered with rocks that hurt my tired feet when I stepped on them. I hadn’t felt them hurt so much in a long time!
As I neared the road, I saw a sign that read “trail magic” and looked back with a smile at Braveheart. He was hoping for some here, but I didn’t want to put any false hope into my head. The sign told us that it was being offered at Camp 3 by Kermit.
We headed across the road, wondering how to get to Camp 3. A few people were standing around chatting nearby and one of them came over to greet us. It was Kermit! He told us to follow him to his site, which Braveheart and I agreed was too far away and too hard to find if we didn’t have someone to show us the way. He asked us if we liked lemonade. Of course! However, he couldn’t find the paper cups, so he offered us a power bar as we waited for his wife, Junebug, to arrive. We chatted with them and came to find out that these were Weebee’s parents! They had been driving from town to town, supporting their daughter in her hike, and offering snacks to other hikers. Junebug asked if we would like a piece of bread and later handed us each a ziplock baggie with two chocolate chip cookies in it. The other hiker appeared and joined our group. When Braveheart started talking about the process of applying for jobs after the hike, Kermit asked him, “Why would you want a real job?”. He said that he was serious and told us how Weebee had created her own life by working seasonally in Alaska, making good money for half the year, and then going off for an adventure the other half. Junebug said that her daughter was one of the happiest people she knew. I was starting to think this could be possible for me, as well!
It was now 4:00 and I had hoped to still get in 10.7 miles. Braveheart and I excused ourselves and headed back to the trail. He hiked behind me and asked where I was stopping for the night. When I told him my goal, he said that would be a good stopping point for him, too! The trail climbed steeply and I knew I couldn’t sustain the pace I was keeping. I told Braveheart that I needed to stop for a snack. I wished I had eaten some protein while I was sitting around during our unexpected break. I pulled out my summer sausage while Bravehart looked at his map. He said it looked like there was a flat spot in a saddle around mile 1577.8. He went on as I finished my snack.
Minutes later, I heard the sound of thunder. Raindrops had fallen while we were sitting around Kermit’s campsite and I almost thought we were going to have to huddle in their RV, but then it seemed to have passed. Now, the wind was picking up. I stopped to seal my phone and camera in a ziplock bag. When I emerged out of the woods and could see Mt. Shasta in the distance, it was covered in dark clouds. I could see the rain falling and hoped it wouldn’t move this way.
However, within a couple of minutes, big drops began to fall on me! I quickly put my rain cover on my pack and headed off the trail into a patch of trees. They offered no protection, though! The wind was blowing the rain horizontally! I decided to get back on the trail and keep walking. My skirt got completely soaked in the next few minutes and the trail turned into a river! Then, the rain turned to hail. The size of the hail increased and pelted my body. It hit my hands, my head, and my neck, stinging me each time. Oww! By now, it was marble sized! I had never seen hail this big before! I found a tree to stand under next to the trail, but I could not escape the onslaught of pelting. I backed myself as close to the trunk of the tree as possible, my feet standing on an incline, ready to slip off at any second. I was cold and wet and stood shivering. I watched the trail transform from a river into a field of hail. Everywhere I looked, it was white! Then, the hail turned back into hard rain. I decided to start walking to try to warm up a little. The hail returned and I spent the next hour alternating with stopping under trees and walking through ankle-high rivers flooding the trail. My feet were soaked and my body was extremely cold. I moved and then stopped, walked through the hail and river, then tried hiding under a tree. I was determined to make it to Mosquito Lake Creek! In my way was a raging brown river! The water was the color of coffee! This was an angry storm! I could see the tops of rocks above the strong current, but wasn’t confident that I could make it across that path the way the water was rushing. Instead, I just went right through it! Disgusting! My feet were now frozen and I decided it would be best to keep climbing so I could give my body a chance to warm up! I told myself that I would be warm in 2 hours. I just had three more miles to hike in this cold, wet state. I could do it! Finally, the rain lessened. From the amount of hail on the ground in front of me, it looked like the storm wasn’t as bad here, as it had been where I was.
I looked behind me to see flashes of lightning. I was just going to keep moving away from the storm.
Soon enough, the sun came out and cast a beautiful soft light over the landscape. I even saw a little rainbow!
It was incredible to see such a turn-around in the elements. One minute, I was in the middle of one of the biggest and most uncomfortable storms of my life, and an hour and a half later, I was walking in a calm, tranquil land of flowers and the evening glow of twilight.
Just after 8:00, I arrived at my intended destination! No one else was around. Since the rain had stopped, I decided it was safe to cowboy camp. I thought my clothes would dry faster if I kept them on, so I put my thermal bottoms (which I was glad I had not shipped ahead) over my skirt. I cooked a dinner as I watched the clouds turn pink and then huddled into my sleeping bag, hoping to get warm and dry.
I only have 125 miles left in California!!