Mile 1452.5 to mile 1482 (plus .5 to water)
The forest is full of insects. Flying biting insects, crawling and bumping against the mesh of the shelter. But the whining is a sort of soothing white noise, and I fall asleel early, before 9 pm. And I sleep incredibly, minus the dark hour when I hear the crinkling of plastic and get up to save our food bags from the small persistant forest creatures.
Hiking in the morning I feel great- until it starts to heat up again. It’s not just hot right now, it’s humid too- and the air is hazy, and the sunlight has a strange tint to it. Forest fire? Is there a fire somewhere? We haven’t seen any fires yet this year, as I’m almost a month ahead of where I was last year- but maybe fire season is starting now?
My phone keeps dying. It’s too forested in this part of NorCal to use my solar charger- Twinkle has an external battery he just got and he lets me use it to charge my phone. Hallelujah! I wonder what I’ll do for the rest of NorCal, and Oregon- I’ll have to figure something out.
Around midday the wet sauna that is the forest starts to cook me, and I wilt. By the time we reach the beginning of our 12 mile descent to the McCloud river I’m sick to my stomach from the heat, and can’t eat. I loosen the hipbelt on my pack to ease the pressure on my gut and start the long plod, down down down through the leafy forest. Every part of my body feels inflamed today- my feet, my ankles, my knees, my hips. My brain! Goddam this heat. I leapfrog with Twinkle down the mountain, and it grows warmer as we drop in elevation. Down, down, down to our deaths! By the time we reach the bottom of the descent I feel like i’m literally dying. I tell Twinkle that it feels like we’ve been hiking through hot ramen.
“I’m cooked,” I say.
There’s a cluster of people at one of the campsites in the campground there, and they holler at us when we appear. It’s Adam, one of my long-time blog readers, and he’s come down from Arcata to set up trail magic for us! This morning while we hiked we were fantasizing about what the best possible trail magic would be- watermelon and salad, I said, and some sort of meat. Adam has magically heard our thoughts! He’s got coolers of cold gatorade, watermelon, plums, cherries, enough vegetables to make a massive salad (he sets me up with a knife and a cutting board and I do), elk, lamb and beef burgers, regular and gluten free buns, hot dogs, chips, salsa and guacamole. And chairs. Camp chairs.
Our minds are blown. Thank you Adam!
I jump in the McCloud river first thing, stripping and dunking in the icy water and then sitting on a sun-warmed rock, feeling the heat leave me. The water’s real cold here- apparently it comes from the bottom of a resevoir upstream- but I don’t mind. Cold water cures what ails me, one hundred percent. After a bit I feel normal again and I put my disgustingly sweaty hiking clothes back on, lace my shoes, walk up to the campsite to join the party.
The eating party. Because now that I’m no longer hot, I’m starving.
Two hours later I’m painfully full but also super-charged from all the protein and nutritious food. The day has cooled off a bit and the sun has dropped behind the mountains. Time to hike six more miles! Tomorrow we cruise into Mt. Shasta, and we don’t want to leave ourselves too big of a day to get there. It’s so hard to leave the campsite- really I just want to curl up on the ground and go to sleep- but we’ve got to walk. Story of our lives.
I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel great, switchbacking up the mountain. I’m power hiking! We reach the campsite right at dusk, a little flat spot at a bend in the trail, and even though it’s dry there are eleventy-billion tiny mosquitoes. I remeber this section so well- this is where Egg camped last year. Twinkle sets up his tarp with the bugnet while I poop my brains out in the woods. The last couple days I’ve been pooping like crazy- I’ve got the hiker disease. Giardia? I hope not. Aside from all the pooping I feel alright, maybe a little tired and woozy. Nothing yet that I can’t hike through. I was sick a couple of times last year, and it passes. Probably this will too.
It’s hot tonight, and hard to fall asleep. That’s what happens when I hike into the evening- I get super pumped! And can’t fall asleep. Tomorrow is 24 miles to Mt. Shasta, where we’ll zero- it’s been more than 300 miles since our last zero day. My body feels tired. I’m going to do a real zero, and get two nights in the hotel, even though I can’t afford it. Explode my stuff everywhere, put my toothbrush on the little shelf in the bathroom. Crank the A/C and sit in bed, eating leftover french fries. I fall asleep thinking about this.
Photos on instagram.