Location- side of trail near creek
Elevation- 7,956 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 23.8 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 498.8 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 90s
Pain level- low
Wildlife encounters- Deer
Human Beings encountered on trail- 4
Thru hikers encountered on trail- zero
Days without shower- 2
Days without laundry- 7
Hunger/craving- greasy food
Well I jinxed myself. I slept in and woke up feeling totally out of it. It was after 8am by the time I peeled myself out of bed, and almost 9 before I was moving. My stomach once again felt weak, and my legs had nothing to give.
It took me an hour and a half to ascend the first 1,000 ft climb of the morning; 45 mins longer than it should have. I ate about 500 calories worth of fritos at the top and made my way down. The next immediate order of business was another 1,500 ft climb over two miles; by all means not a terrible challenge. I couldn’t handle it. It took me more than two hours, and by this time it was well after 12pm. I crashed under a shady tree to regroup and have lunch before even reaching the top.
I took about 45 minutes for lunch and ate as much as I possibly could while listening to my new audio book “Dune.” At 1:30pm I packed my things and pushed on. I felt much better, but then again I was moving over very mild terrain again.
About two miles after having lunch, I saw my first person of the day making their way up the trail towards me; it was Vanne! She had flip flopped back closer to her house to do another section while her husband took care of some business. He has been supporting her section hikes, but this time she needed to section a little closer to home.
She gave me the skinny on who was just ahead of me, and as I suspected it was Stomper and Funny Bone. They probably had close to 18 miles or so on me by the time Vanne gave me the news. I wouldn’t be catching them before the next town of Darby, but I could probably catch them in the stretch after that.
Vanne and I talked for about 15 minutes, and I told her how I’d been feeling weak and under the weather all day. So she shared some homemade elk jerky with me, and we did another positivity exercise with the sweet grass. The elk jerky was positively the best jerky I’ve ever had hands down. It was actually her friend who made it, but I will be contacting her for the recipe soon. That elk jerky was everything jerky is supposed to be. After chatting a bit longer we hugged goodbye and went on our merry ways. I don’t know why I keep forgetting to take a picture of/with her. I always think of those sorts of things when it’s too late. I suppose I’m too engrosed in my interactions to think to document them. Only in very specific circumstances does it cross my mind first thing.
(My new-ish Tilley Hat)
At 3pm I only had 9.4 miles logged. I was not a happy camper. The majority of the day after lunch had been all through burn zones with lots of sun and very little wind. It defied logic to be subjected to 90s temperatures at 7k to over 8k feet all day. My new hat, although only a week old, looks like it’s been through a tough mudder already; sweat soaked, dirt stained, discolored and warped fabric already. I’ll be hard pressed not to wash it for the rest of this hike.
Around the ten mile mark of the day I came to what would be my last water source for 13 miles. I cameled up and packed out four liters before tackling another 1,300 ft worth of climbs. After those climbs had been put behind me, I had a nice long gradual downhill for several miles; passing my second human being of the day with little more than a nod; he was heading in the opposite direction.
It was 6:45pm when I hit the bottom of the descent, and I only had a little over 17 miles. This was a far cry from the 30+ I’d been confident I could get last night. I’m really not sure what’s going on with me. If I had to guess, I’d say I wasn’t eating enough, but I’m not sure if that would account for the weak stomach. It would certainly account for the sapped energy in my legs however. I know it’s not dehydration, because I’ve been keeping on top of that religiously, as well as my mio electrolytes; my urine has been clear as a bell, despite the buckets I’ve been sweating hour by hour on all these hot climbs.
So I took a 45 minute dinner at the bottom of that descent, once again stuffing my face with a massive extra sharp cheddar burrito with horseradish mustard and fritos. I let it settle for about 15 minutes, then set off into the evening at 7:30pm up another 1,000 ft climb.
A switch must have been flipped, because I flew up that climb without so much as a hesitation. I felt strong once again. I crushed the climb, descended slightly, then crushed another climb up to my much anticipated water source. I scooped two liters and kept on; knocking down more than 6 miles since dinner in exactly two hours. While cruising by a lake, I accidentally scared two older men camped on the shore having dinner. I tried to make small talk, but they weren’t having it. It was obvious they were out there for the solitude.
I reached the base of yet another decent climb and decided to call it a day. Not nearly as many miles as I wanted, but at least I finished strong. If I had felt this morning the way I did this evening…I could have got 35 miles easy. I’m going to make a conscious effort to eat a lot more tomorrow and see if that makes a difference. I have 26 miles to get to the road into town; I’ll be lucky if I can find a ride before dark.
So I’m camped in another spot I don’t care for. I’m on the edge of a meadow between two streams in the middle of a saddle; prey and predator hot spot. Already I’ve had to spook a few deer, as well as listen to the call of something I cannot identify. Never heard the noise before, but it sounded other-wordly; kind of a cross between a bird and a frog with a very strange gurgle. Whatever it is, I don’t like it.
I realized something today. If it hadn’t been for the 8 days I took off while driving Katana home, today would be the one month anniversary of “continuous” hiking, at 31 days. It wasn’t until I had set up camp and done the math that I realized I fell less than two miles short of hiking 500 miles in exactly one month; a personal thru hike record. Had I known, I probably would have pushed a little further up that climb in the dark. Oh well, one more thing to be disappointed in myself with today. We’ll see what happens tomorrow…