Mile 2010 to mile 2042
I wake when the sun’s red-orange rays cut through the mesh of my shelter. I fumble for my phone to take a picture of the sunrise, way up on this bridge, and then remember that it’s dead. God dammit though, I slept good. And warm- it was cold but not too cold, my sleeping bag stayed dry. My god I love sleeping on the ground.
I’m hiking at 6:40, slow and fidgety. It’s going to be one of those days. Climbing up ridges, feeling lethargic. What is wrong with me? Yep, definitely one of those days. Walking through slopes of old burns, the bright white snags the purple lupine, the green tufts of beargrass. If I keep my phone off while it’s plugged in to the solar charger I can get just enough of a charge, in the intermittent sun/shade, to turn it on if I need my maps.
I stop for water at a still clear still pond and dismantle my steripen, lay the parts out to dry in the sun. I put the chemical drops in my water and assemble my salami-mustard sandwiches. It’s quiet here, solitude feels good. I put my steripen back together, but it still won’t turn on. I wish I had a bag of rice. Maybe that would work?
More ridge-walking. Man I feel slow. I stop to watch the helicopters dropping down over a lake below, filling their big hanging water buckets, flying over the ridge to the fire north of here. An hour later I reach a dusty little spot with the first real view of Mt. Jefferson- conical and striped with snow, standing hazy against the blue summer sky. Lunch is nutella on potato chips, one of the best things ever. But I eat too much and then I’ve got a stomach ache, and it nags me and won’t go away. Hiking alone there is less to focus on, and I time how long my stomache ache lasts- six hours. Meanwhile I descend through the cool, gently lit forest, climb way back up. We’re almost to the temperate rainforest and I start to see bracken, oregon grape, lichen on the trees. I cross a couple of silty, rushing streams, my feet get wet. The wild mountains!
At dusk I’m in a meadow crossed with streams, Mt. Jefferson looming over everything. There are other backpackers around, the regular sort, standing idly around their campfires, luxurious double-wall tents pitched back in the trees. I stop and look at them- the way they’re just standing around stresses me out. When did I become like this? And is it a good or a bad thing? I don’t know.
In my tent I’m almost too tired to eat. I do, though. And then, sleep.
Photos on instagram.