Mile 1757.5 to mile 1792
I sleep so good in the campground, wake up once to find it eerily still, almost unnaturaly so. Where are all the people? Don’t people camp in July? Does everyone know something I don’t? In the morning it’s cool for a few hours and I feel good, leapfrogging with Guthrie in the shady forest, but then the heat comes on and I suddenly feel sick, for no reason I can discern. Dizzy, weak, achey. And my pack feels unbearably heavy. I felt this way for a few hours yesterday and I thought it was just fatigue, and that I would feel better in the morning. But today I feel worse- what is wrong with me?
I have spotty service and I text with Twinkle throughout the morning. They’re all an hour ahead- Twinkle, Chance and Jr. Sr. camped at the spring five miles past us. They’re all going to Christi spring, which would be a 35 mile day for me. This flu-like feeling I have is making hiking miserable- I don’t think I can go that far. I hate feeling slow- this is Oregon, the time to be fast! And yet I’m falling further and further behind, wading through the heat feeling bad. Morale is in the gutter.
I’ve got the southern oregon blues, I think, as I trudge through the forest all alone. I’m so stuck in bummersville I don’t even want to be with myself today. I can’t think of a single nice thing to think about. I listen to my music but it’s just noise, distracting me from how bad I feel. I take a lot of breaks, wishing I could just sit forever.
In the afternoon I reach a creek next to the highway and Twinkle is there, waiting for me. Everyone else has gone on, the last 12 miles to the spring. There’s a cooler of trail magic but all that’s left is ice, and I put some ice in my hat and lay on the ground. The day is cooling down, the shadows are growing longer. I start to feel better.
“I don’t know what that was,” I say, “but I think it’s maybe over.”
We set out for the spring at 5 p.m. The trail climbs up over the flank of Mt. Mcloughlin, through the “creepy lodgepole forest”, as we called it last year. Grey, homogenous, no understory, no light. Hornets in the trail, waiting to sting you. Everyone seemed to have some sort of existential crisis in this forest last year, and this year I am no exception. The mosquitoes appear as we climb, as though they’ve been waiting for us, and chase us up the trail. They’re so bad! Alaska-style! We hike faster and faster, trying to outpace them. Twinkle puts on deet, but I don’t wear that stuff. I like to pretend I’m super hardcore, and besides it makes me sick. I’m almost running down the trail now, wishing I could stop to eat or drink, mind racing with dark, stormy thoughts. This forest is enchanted, this forest is full of spirits. Like the Swamps of Sadness in The Neverending Story.
I reach the spring at 8:30. All the others are hiding in their tents, cooking mac n cheese. I caught everyone! I’m so happy. Twinkle’s not here yet so I dive into Chance’s shelter to hide from the mosquitoes. We have precious few chances to gossip in our group, as she’s always at the front and I’m somewhere near the back. We catch each other up on trail drama, whispering and laughing until Twinkle shows up. He pitches his shelter in a little flat spot next to the trail and I jump out of Chance’s and dive into his- the mosquitoes are that bad. I eat a few handfuls of trailmix for dinner and then collapse. I’m so freaking tired.
Photos on instagram.