Mile 1537 to mile 1571
Chance’s alarm goes off at 5 a.m.- she’s hiking by 5:18. Chance wins the award for fastest packing up in the morning, hands down. Mack is out a few minutes later, in his pink shorts with the broomstick he uses as a hiking staff, and I am finally ready to go at a much more leisurely 6 a.m, after I eat my breakfast and pack up and shit my brains out in the woods.
I feel good and fast and strong today, and the trail is cruiser. My gut feels about the same as yesterday- I’m still peeing out my butt, but only four or so times a day. Not fifteen times a day like in Shasta. So I’m still holding out hope- as long as I don’t get any sicker I can still hike, and I won’t have to treat it. Maybe whatever this is will run its course.
I’m up on the green ridgetops in the yellow sunshine, mountains falling away to forever. I’m cruising cruising, and after a couple hours I stop at a spring to take a break. I realized something yesterday while making my dinner- I don’t actually have four days of food. But you know what? I’m feeling strong. I bet I can make it to Etna in three and some change. I start doing the math in my head while I eat trail mix- 28 yesterday plus the 3 the evening before (for the purposes of this game I’m not counting that as one of the days, as it was basically a zero), 35 today (there’s a spring there, seems like a good place), get in the morning after that. I start to get that feeling I get when I decide I’m going to do some wild thing, that pumped feeling that makes me invincible. That’s when I know I’ll do it for sure.
By noon I’ve gone sixteen miles. By 1:30 I’ve done twenty. I catch up with Mack, Notachance, and then Guthrie, who camped six miles past us with Woody and Twinkle. The three of us leapfrog the rest of the afternoon, as the air heats up and the sun bakes us on the exposed ridges, and we traverse the twisted spine of the earth. I feel achey and hot but I don’t even care. At least my pack is really, really light. A light pack- that’s what happens when you don’t pack enough food!
I reach highway 3 at five p.m.- eleven hours, the fastest I’ve ever done thirty miles. Notachance’s friend Andrew, who she hiked with in 2012, is there doing trail magic with his wife. They’ve set out camp chairs for us, cookies, chips and salsa and hummus. I make a beeline for the pit toilet and then join the party- Woody, Twinkle and Mongo are there too. I’m enjoying the fuck out of some homemade salsa when I realize an hour has gone by- time to hike! It’s hard to say goodbye to everyone- they’re all camping here, and there is talk of fajitas. Only Twinkle has gone on- he’s trying to do big days every day until Ashland, and he camped 5 miles past me last night, so he probably wants to go further than I am.
I resign myself to camping alone as I climb the ridge up from the highway. It’s hot and I’m exhausted- I just want to jump in a lake, and then sleep. I’m a mile from Mosquito creek, which would make a 35 mile day, when I see Twinkle camped in a meadow next to the trail.
“You didn’t get far,” I say.
“Nah,” he says. “This was a pretty campsite.”
“Good enough for me,” I say, and happily throw down my bag.
Photos on instagram.