I was so tired in the morning and on top of that, my stomach was really hurting. When I sat up at 6:24, I just wanted to lie back down! I took some ibruprofen with my breakfast, hoping that would help with the pain. Although I didn’t have to rush out of my sleeping bag, there was still no evidence of improvement in my intestines. When I took off my thermal bottoms, I noticed a big red rash on my upper thighs! I guess it wasn’t the best idea to go to sleep in wet clothes! All I could do was hope that it would fade!
There did turn out to be a flat spot for camping there as he had thought, and I imagined that he had camped there. I wondered how he had coped with the storm. As I continued on, I heard the clanging of metal cow bells and soon came across an entire herd standing on the trail. When they saw me, they immediately ran down the mountain slope with great clamor, kicking up mounds of dust! Funny animals…
During my descent through the forest to South Fork Scott River, I listened to some music. Having forgotten to transfer the songs that I was hoping to have for my hike, I didn’t have a lot to choose from. Most of my songs were ones that I used for my yoga classes, and today, the ones that played all seemed to have come from one of my main yoga teachers. I thought I would miss my teachers and yoga classes a lot while I was out here, but that turned out not to be the case. I was simply too consumed with hiking the miles that I needed to hike in order to finish. However, when I heard David’s songs, I started to miss him. I also missed myself in his classes. He always makes me laugh and I think that is the best form of healing someone can offer. When you are laughing, you are completely content and nothing else matters.
I made it to the river and treated myself with an ice coffee and snacks. My intestines were not doing well at all, unfortunately. It was another extremely warm and humid day and I had a lot of climbing ahead of me.
I reached a parking lot, where I found a helicopter landing pad and then crossed a road to resume climbing. I hadn’t seen a single human being since Braveheart and I parted yesterday afternoon, and I wondered if today might be my first morning until night alone! I thought about what Kermit had talked about yesterday and wondered about doing seasonal work in Alaska in the winter.
I continued to climb and kept an eye out for the next spring, which was off the trail. Somehow, I ended up missing it. My energy began to fade and I needed to sit down. I decided to have another ice (moderate temp?) coffee to boost my energy for the last 10 miles, realizing this was not starting a good pattern…
It did get me on my way, however. At 4:08, I ran into a southbounder. So much for my day of solitude! When I told him that he was the first person I had seen today, he apologized, which I thought was nice. He was a school teacher from Florida, finishing up a 650 mile section, and was the first person to congratulate me on almost making it to Oregon! He told me about Etna and highly recommended staying at the Hikers Hut. He also told me to keep looking up toward my right, as I was going to pass a neat rock formation. He asked me if there were any camping spots around the river and then we parted ways.
I listened to more music to help me along as I walked. When I came to a little stream, I decided to dip my hand in the water to help cool me down a bit. Somehow, my iphone dropped into the water as I did so! It was now sitting in a pool of water, completely submerged! My mouth dropped open as my brain started to panic. I didn’t have time to soak it in a bowl of rice for two days!! What did I just do?!
Fortunately, it still seemed to work…
I reached the last definite place to camp as evening approached. It was a well-used site, in the woods, and beside a creek. I dropped my pack, looked around, and thought about whether I really wanted to stop here for the night. It would mean that I would have nearly 10 miles to hike down to the road to hitch into Etna tomorrow. I decided that I didn’t feel so comfortable here. I don’t like being near water that drowns out all other sounds and I prefer not to camp in mosquito infested woods. I put my pack back on and kept walking, not knowing what I would find ahead.
In just under three and a half miles, I reached the last water source before the road and stopped to collect and filter water. I could hear campers nearby and smelled the smoke from their fire. I felt under pressure to move as quickly as possible due to the dimming light. As I started the next climb, two teenage boys hiked down, presumably to join the group at the lake. I hiked onwards, hoping a little spot would appear somewhere. However, the ridge I was walking on offered no such places!
The trail re-entered a wooded section. I heard a noise and all of a sudden, saw a cute little bear happily foraging in the trees just off the trail in front of me! He did not yet see me and started making its way in my direction! For a second, I wondered what was going to happen. It seemed like he was going to run right into me, but then he finally noticed me and quickly turned around and headed down the slope. I could see a second bear further down!
It was now 7:49! The sun was setting, I was now in the direct vicinity of a family of bears, and I still had no idea where I was going to camp. As I continued to climb, things only started looking worse. I was now in very rocky terrain. Huge boulders sat all around the trail. I wondered if I was going to have to night hike all the way to the road.
I continually scanned the terrain on both sides of the trail and a couple of times, went off the trail, looking for any possible places to lie down. I bushwacked down one hill where I thought I saw a semi-flat space well below the trail. Still, there were two many rocks around. I kicked one over to discover a bunch of white maggots writhing around. Do I want to camp in a rocky place surrounded by maggots? No, I did not. So, back up the hill, I went. I guess I was going to have to night hike.
About a half a mile later, I suddenly came to an opening in the climb. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes! Here was a nice, flat, sandy spot right along the trail. And since I was now up high, I had a bit of extra light to set up with. I walked over to the opening and looked out over the horizon as my jaw dropped, unable to believe the incredible sunset I was witnessing! How could it be that a few minutes ago, I was about to (try to) go to sleep in the most uncomfortable, maggot infested places that I had ever camped, or after hiking nearly 28 miles, be forced to continue climbing over this mountain in the dark, and now, I was completely fine, and more than that, watching one of the most magnificent sunsets that I had ever seen! I just couldn’t believe what a difference a few minutes had made.
I set up my cowboy camp, cooked my dinner, and kept walking over to the opening between the rocks to watch the sky turn color. The mosquitoes were still out, and one even bit me through my sock, but the wind was starting to pick up, which I knew would chase these bothersome creatures away. I put on my hat and nestled into my sleeping bag, grateful for this amazing turn-around in my night.
(Less than one hundred miles until Oregon!)