Location- Side of trail
Elevation- 2,785 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 20.9 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 2,184.6 miles
Weather/Temp- humid, partly cloudy 70s
Pain level- low
Days without shower- 3
I slept really, really good last night; so good that I slept in until nearly 8 this morning. We were tucked away in a notch, and it was cloudy this morning, so sunlight never reached me to let me know I’d slept too long.
Once again, Katana ruled the day. I was doing intervals between jogging and hiking to keep up with her. Even though we still move at a good pace down the trail, I stop us for more frequent/longer breaks than I would if it were just me. Honestly, I enjoy sitting down with Katana, feeding her snacks, and generally talking to myself, pretending she understands me. It’s like Tom Hanks talking to his volleyball in the movie castaway, but at least my friend can hear me.
We knocked out another 20 miles without so much as a hiccup, but it took us most of the day to do it. By myself, I have 20 miles knocked out by 2 or 3 pm, and feel fantastic. With Katana, I’m utterly exhausted, mentally and physically. Today I tried to reason why that is, what’s the big difference? I came up with a theory…
When I’m by myself, hiking hard and fast with few, short breaks, I never give my body a chance to cool down. My blood is always pumping, my muscles always warm. With Katana, every break cools me down and stiffens my joints, and every time we start hiking, I have to warm up all over again. It’s like having the wind go out of your sails multiple times a day. That’s only part of my theory. The next part has to do with the amount of focus that is put on Katana. I watch her like a hawk, all day, non stop; constantly monitoring what she’s doing, and giving her commands that she ignores 50% of the time. That extra focus never allows me to go into “auto pilot” and completely zone out, thus using up more energy. Lastly, I’m carrying a lot more weight; about 5 extra pounds of her food, my hammock and suspension, which is close to two pounds, my extra large sleeping bag that weighs almost a pound more than my quilt, plus my cold weather/rain gear that weighs around 2 pounds in its entirety. Not to mention I’m carrying about twice as much food as I usually do. All in all, I’ve picked up 12 pounds or more along with Katana, and believe me, I can feel it. Today’s 20 mile day felt like one of my mid 30 mile days; certainly humbling.
The food I eat changes when Katana is with me too. I try to get snacks that she can also eat, that way she never feels left out when I’m snacking. I hate not being able to share my food with her if it’s something dogs can’t have.
As far as today’s hike goes, it went smoothly. It was humid, therfore keeping my shirt soaked for the entire day. We didn’t see many people, but the ones we did see fawned over Katana; she makes friends everywhere we go. She even managed to convince another hiker to give her their entire pack of salami. She said she wasn’t going to eat it anyway, but I think she was just telling me that so I wouldn’t feel bad.
There were no great sights, just a tunnel of trees, ferns, and moss. I had only one very unique animal sighting, and managed to get cool video of it. Around 6pm I heard a faint noise in the ferns on the embankment to my right. I looked over to see 2 garter snakes entwined. That wasn’t the unique part though; the unique circumstance was that they were two separate species of garter snake, and one was trying to finish eating something, I suspect a large grasshopper. I couldn’t tell if they were fighting, trying to mate, or if one was trying to steal the other’s kill. Very interesting set of circumstances, but I must say that I’m really not sure what was going on.
Other than the snake incident, there was really nothing else noteworthy about the day. It was just me and my dog making our merry way down the trail. I have a loose plan for Washington, and that plan is to average 20 miles a day for our hiking days. That will put us getting to Canada in about 25 days of hiking. I’m not putting a cap on zero days for this final stretch; we’ll take as many as Katana or myself need, whenever we need them. However, when we hike, we’re going to hit 20 or better. On the days we do more than 20, then we can do less the next day, so long as it all averages out to 20. I think it’s a very attainable goal, but as always, we’ll see…