Date: August 7, 2017
Miles: 30.1 miles (48.4km), from mile 1,440.6 to Fitzhugh Gulch at mile 1,470.7.
Health: Tired but happy. My feet hurt, definitely need new shoes soon.
I wake up tired and groggy. Getting to camp late last night and then writing blog entries meant I didn’t have enough sleep. By the sound of it neither did Sam as he sounds tired too. But, we have miles to cover and places to be, so we start getting ready.
As I peek out from under my tarp I see Mt. Shasta right in front of us. While our spot on the old gravel road isn’t the most picturesque, it sure has nice views.
The weather is cloudy and the air feels cold, something that hasn’t happen for a while. With the gloomy weather and feeling tired, we’re slow to get moving. We get a late start and head out of camp with our jackets on.
Looking around we didn’t miss much hiking in the dark last night. The views are meh at best. Feeling tired doesn’t help at all and we hike on not talking much. But while the scenery isn’t anything to write home about, at least the cooler weather is easier to hike in. The cool, cloudy weather feels like hiking on a warm summer day back in Finland. I have to say I like this more than the usual NorCal heat.
We hike onwards with not much being said. The weather seems to match our moods.
As we climb higher up on the ridgeline my phone gets reception and I get a message from Fireant. She says they’re not zero’ing in Shasta and are instead pushing on. Bummer. I was really hoping to see them in Shasta.
While walking on the ridgeline we see a wildfire start in the distance. After some time helicopters and planes arrive to put it out. It feels like we’re walking in a tinderbox, surrounded by fires popping up left and right.
Our paces are so different that we end up splitting up and Sam pulls far ahead. I just listen to podcasts and keep my head down, trying to find something interesting to think about while walking along. The trail goes through a forest and is covered in pine needles that make it soft to walk on. The soft trail feels great on my feet as my worn out shoes have almost no cushioning left.
Right before reaching the water source we planned to have lunch at I turn a corner and see a deer standing right on the narrow trail. We stare at each other for a while, neither of us wanting to back up or get off the trail. I take a few photos and then start walking towards her. She eventually turns around and starts walking in front of me, constantly looking back at me. After some time she turns right, little up the hill, and just far enough from the trail that I can walk past her. She’s standing only a few feet away with her butt towards me.
The water source is little off trail. I find Sam sitting up on the gravel but we retreat to the shade of the trees to have our lunch. Despite the late start, we’ve already done 14 miles (22,5km) at this point.
After lunch and a little nap, my mood and the weather seem to brighten. But as soon as we get back on the trail we hear a rumble and see thunderclouds on the other side of the mountain. We climb up the side of the mountain, little weary about the thunder that seems to be right on the other side.
We assess the situation but decide to push on. There’s really no other way for us to go as we’re on the side of a mountain with a big drop to the left and a steep climb to the right. This is not the best place to be in a thunderstorm but at least we’re not up on the ridgeline.
As we hike on we see another storm front to the left of us and hear the thunder on the right getting closer. Sam is starting to get a little freaked out and as we see lightning hit the trail not far from us, he bolts to the tree cover not far away. I take couple more photos and take a short video clip and then head after him while watching the rain front to the left of me.
The trail soon dips back away from the mountainside and we can breathe a little easier. We pass through some jungle looking spots.
Just as it’s about to get dark we meet the first hiker on the trail today. As our paces seem to match well, we keep hiking on together. He introduces himself as Buu (or Boo?).
As it gets dark it starts raining. Not enough to get us wet, just enough to keep us nice and cool – I like this a lot.
We talk with Buu and he’s been pushing 50 mile (80.5km) days. Dang! The trail starts to drop down and we keep dodging poison oak while having a nice chat. It’s refreshing to have someone new to talk to.
As the descend starts to level up we start looking for a place to stop for the night. There doesn’t seem to be any so we decide to stop at a little stream where the trail widens just enough for us to sleep right next to the trail.
As we start to make our dinners we look at Buu and realize he’s not eating anything. Asking about his food situation he says he ran out of food and has been doing 50’s to make it to town. Sam and I instantly rummage our food bags and hand all our extra food and snacks to him and he eats it all in one go. Man, he must have been hungry. We give him more food making sure he has enough to get to town.
Today was my 100th day on the trail and even with the late start, we managed to do a thirty. I burrow into my sleeping bag trying to comprehend everything that has happened in those hundred days. I’ve never in my life been this removed from “normal life” and I absolutely love it. But before I get too philosophical the sound of the stream and my tired muscles drag me to sleep. Tomorrow we hike again!