It was strangely dark in the morning, which did not entice me to get up. I felt very tired and lay in my sleeping bag a little while longer, finally getting up at 7:01. A light rain began to fall outside my tent. For breakfast, I had poptarts (to conserve my water) with my coffee, along with a couple of surperfood squares to help with nutrition. By the time I broke down my tent, packed up, and got on trail, it was 8:08 once again!
I walked out into the mist and light rain. The entire sky was cast in a dark gray color and I was disappointed not to be able to see any of the view that I expected to see in the daylight. I climbed over 1,000 feet, and gradually, blue sky overtook the gray, revealing a sea of white puffy clouds below the mountains.
At a bend in the trail, I saw another brown weasel scampering across some rocks. It turned to look at me, revealing its very cute face before dashing off. My mind was focused on reaching Summit Lake Campground in just over 12 miles, where my guidebook said there were a lot of yogi-ing opportunities. I hoped there would be people there with extra water. For now, I was fine.
The air was cool and damp, and it wasn’t long before it began to rain again. I wondered where all of the thru-hikers were! I seemed to be completely alone in this section of the trail. I figured that most of them had probably taken the Oregon Skyline alternate that cut off over 8 miles of distance.
I soon came across two couples taking a break. They asked me where I was from and one of them responded, “You’re a long way from home!”.
Actually… We chatted for a few minutes and then I headed on. The mosquitoes were out in force and I got several bites on my calves and thighs. The rain picked up and when I finally reached the campground, which was much tinier than I had expected, all I saw was a few vehicles. No one was around. Disappointed, cold, and wet, I headed up the next climb as thunder boomed. A man in a yellow poncho was making his way down with his frightened dog. I wondered if it was such a good idea to be climbing into the storm. Lightning flashed and before long, hail came crashing down on me. A large chunk pelted my thumb and it stung and throbbed for a long time. It hit my head and neck and hands. I kept moving. I was at an altitude of nearly 7,000 feet and in the brunt of the storm.
After the hail turned back to rain, I saw a man head towards me. It looked liked he had the moss that I had seen on the trees hanging from the top of his head. When I got closer, I realized it was just his hair. He said he was out playing on Diamond Peak and seemed to be in high spirits despite the weather, unlike me. He said that one day, he would also like to hike the PCT. I pretended that everything was well, making no mention of my intestinal problems, which were quite awful today. I put some of Wildcat’s essential oil into some water and drank that, but it was having no effect. I found a large tree to somewhat shelter me from the rain as I sat down to snack. Then, I continued to climb, reaching the exposed part of the trail. I hoped the storm was not following me!
At last, I reached a running stream across the trail! I had hiked 41 miles without collecting any water, which was a first for me! Fortunately, the rainy conditions did not make me feel thirsty. Even now that I didn’t have to worry about conserving water, I still didn’t feel like drinking much! I made two trips down to the stream to collect water where it was flowing the best and then started to filter it. The rain started again, making the process very unpleasant. My hands were cold and I needed to start moving again. I still had nearly four miles of ridge walking to do at 7,000 feet before I headed back down into the forest. I thought back to where I would be on the trail according to the miles I had left to hike and thought about the day I hiked Kearsarge Pass.
As the sun set, I found a flat space to camp in front of a large pond. Again, I struggled with my tent set-up. The tension was never right and it was impossible to zip up. I would have to re-stake it over and over, even after I finally got inside.
Light rain continued to fall. I watched two fisherman walk past me on the trail and was reminded of Cheryl Strayed’s scary encounter on a similar part of the trail. (I wondered if I was on the same part of the trail). I felt my vulnerability, but fortunately, nothing frightening happened. I cooked my pasta, cleaned up, and as I zipped up my tent, wishfully said aloud that it that it would last another 800 miles. (Right?) Just then, the zipper completely broke… This can’t be happening! At least I would be able to get to an REI in less than 100 miles, where I could buy a more durable tent if I was willing to spend another $300. Somehow, I got the zipper to work again, so that I didn’t have a huge opening for the mosquitoes to fly in all night long. Now, there were just the handful of tears that I had been working with. It wasn’t looking good for the long haul, however…