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Originally posted: 7/12/2018. Transcribed from handwritten journal.
6/26/18 — Tuesday
A year ago today I was staying at a trail angels house in Burney, CA, waiting for a resupply package to arrive so we could start hiking the NorCal section of the PCT. We had skipped the Sierra portion due to record snowpack and melt. Today I am in PDX, waiting to board a bus to go hike a small section of the Oregon Coast Trail with my husband, Evan, my BFF of 26 years, Missy, and her boyfriend, Logan.
After this 3-day trip and a few days bumming around Portland, Evan and I will be boarding a train to Bakersfield, CA, to section hike what we missed out on last year: the Sierra Nevada. After the first 100-150 miles, Evan and I will be splitting and hiking separately and I will embark on my greatest adventure yet–solo backpacking.
First things first though. Stuff I need to get used to again: Sleeping on the ground and the back/neck pain associated with it. Living out of a backpack and one million Ziploc bags. Waking up at sunrise, no matter what. Staying hydrated. Sitting on the ground all the time. Sitting with no backrests. The Quiet. My own thoughts. Eating not because I am hungry, but because I must. Eating everything in sight because I am so hungry.
7/7/18 — Friday PCT mile 668.7. Miles walked: 13 + 6
After a very long train ride and what felt like an even longer afternoon in Bakersfield, we’re on the trail. And we overestimated ourselves and underestimated the effects of the hot desert, and how our sleepless night on the train would drain us.
Day one, we hiked 13 miles, 3.6 short of our goal. We ran out of water and had to backtrack to a tent site so we could crash for the night. I felt faint and weak. At 4 am we split our last 16oz of water in the morning and shuffled up the mountain to the next water source. Before the sun crept over the hill, we arrived at the Spanish Needle creek, which was more of a lightly flowing puddle than a creek. But we were elated and had our fill. We were also in bad shape and decided to make camp and spend the entire day there. The flies were really bad, but at least they were not biting.
I’m trying to get my appetite back and slowly drinking water so as not to upset my empty stomach. I’ve probably had two liters already today. Ironically, or maybe thankfully, it’s cloudy today, and sometimes raining a little bit. It’s nowhere near as hot as yesterday, though still warm. We’ll set off in the late afternoon when the shadows are longer and try to hike another 10 to 13 miles.
I can’t wait to get up into the Sierra where it’s cooler and water is abundant. Backpacking the desert, while beautiful, is miserable when you’re not used to the heat.
I’m a flower that wilts.
7/8/18 — Saturday PCT mile 680.8. Miles walked 4+8. Total: 28.8
Time is a funny thing. You’re constantly short of it, and constantly thinking of what you’ll do with all of it when you finally ‘have the time’. Backpacking is one of those things, and in itself, you’re afforded free time. Or so you think because all you want to do is sleep, eat, or stare at a tree in your free time. Out here you still have to make just as much of an effort to use your free time wisely as you would in the front country.
Yesterday we only managed another 4 miles after our long rest. We were just so very tired, and a little scared of the dark. But we were able to wake up early the next morning and hike 8 miles by 9am. Now, once again, we wait out the heat of the day. But we are next to beautiful, flowing, and icy cold Chimney Creek. Amazing.
True ‘trail magic’ comes from the trail, not other people. Also, instant miso soup is a great appetite inducer if you’re not feeling well. And I’m feeling pretty good today, despite the heat.
7/10/18 – Monday PCT mile 702.2. Miles hiked (yesterday): 15. Total: 50.
So we made it to Kennedy Meadows in once piece and on schedule. That’s good news. The bad news is that my skin has decided to rebel and I have dermatitis on my knee, arm, and face. I’m pretty sure it was caused by some tree sap that dripped on me that I couldn’t wash off completely (I now know that oil removes sap). I tried washing with hot water to remove the contaminates but it’s so hard to rinse something 100% out here.
I’m trying to stay positive, but this is really freaking me out. Later today I have access to hot running water, and a chunk of Cetaphil soap that I sent myself. Hopefully I can nip this in the bud. Regardless of all that, I’m feeling pretty good and I’m looking forward to hiking out.
I’m still at Kennedy Meadows, but we should be hiking out today. I managed to get down to an Urgent care in Ridgecrest and got a prescription for an oral steroid. My skin is feeling a little better, but mostly crusty. So? Hiking??? Maybe??