Day 84: mile 1424.7 – mile 1451.3
Elevation gain: 5,782 ft
Elevation loss: 2,699 ft
WOW…what a difference a day makes when you have glorious shade to walk in! We set the alarm for 5am because we knew today was supposed to be over 100 degrees and the last 2 days were pretty miserable walking in temps not even that high. The sun isn’t coming up until 5:40, though, so we needed to do much of the morning routine using our head lamps. It was going to be worth it because last night was so warm that we never even got completely inside the quilt! We could tell from the very beginning that it was going to be a hot one today…no breeze, just a stifling stillness that made the air seem thick and hard to breathe. I spent the first few hours wrestling with the spider webs. It seemed every spider in this entire area decided to jump from one bush to the other, across the trail, just to leave one tiny strand of webbing that undoubtedly ended up on my arms, neck or face. I tried using my “tick bush extraction” technique from the desert so that my poles would break the strands before they landed on me, but this took A LOT of extra effort. Plus, then I was focused on swiping the bushes and found myself tripping over hidden rocks and tree roots instead.
I also tried just letting them land all over me…”what’s the big deal”, I told myself. “It’s just a spider web, don’t think about it”. But it felt exactly the same as when a mosquito lands on me, and since I’m constantly on high alert for those, it was almost like an involuntary reaction to immediately wipe the webs away. So then I’m putting both poles in one hand and wiping all the webs off me, which also takes a lot of effort, while ruining any hiking rhythm I had when using my poles. These are big dilemmas, I know. 😜 But it was like that for 3 hours until we stopped for breakfast and water at 9am. There was nothing to sit and take a break on, so we filtered water and ate our pop tarts while standing up. We just wanted a quick stop anyway since we knew these morning hours would be the most comfortable, weather-wise.
Link then took the lead and gave me a break from all the spider webs which was so much more relaxing! We saw Mt Shasta getting closer and closer, and it’s gorgeous. It’s so “BOOM, in your face”, since it rises above everything else around it for miles. We were also lucky enough to see a few more new wildflowers today!
Then we realized we had done 10 by 10!! Our first time being able to get 10 miles done by 10am (it’s a thru hiking thing 😉), so that was kind of exciting. Doesn’t make me want to get up at 5am every day, but it was fun that we were finally able to do it! Today we were in and out of the shade all day. We would walk through super green, lush sections where we found the temps to be quite pleasant with a cool breeze.
The next minute we would be in a hot, exposed section where the air came to a stand still and it felt like the sun was burning through every pore of our bodies. I kept hearing our friend Matt’s voice saying, “sippy, sippy” which he heard hundreds of times from the sherpas when climbing Kilimanjaro. I really wanted to make sure I was drinking enough and staying hydrated!
But the terrain was actually very mild even though our first 11 miles was a gradual climb with 3,000 feet of elevation gain. It honestly didn’t feel difficult and we were so happy that as we climbed in elevation, the temps dropped a little as well! There were a few gnarly bush whacking sections and even a downed tree that Link had to lift for us!
Our plan was to try and hike as many miles as possible before 2:00 and then we would stop for a long lunch. But we needed to be at a water source which we came to at 12:15, so we just decided to stop there and eat since we had already hiked 16 miles. We took a long 1.5 hour break in the shade and chatted about how surprised we were that the temps and the climbs didn’t feel too difficult. We had anticipated the absolute worst after these last 2 brutal days, yet everything seemed pretty easy today. I think this is the first time that has happened…where we thought something was going to be really awful, but turned out alright. Countless times we thought something would be a breeze and it turned out hard as heck. So that was refreshing! 😜
Our planned camp site for today was at 22-ish miles, but we got there at 4:15, with both of us still feeling pretty fresh. So it was time for a conversation about options. We could stay at this site with the million flies and searing heat. OR…we could continue on, add a few miles onto the next couple days and get to Dunsmuir on Fri instead of Saturday for our first Zero in 20 days. We are basically flying by the seat of our pants here, changing plans as we see fit and it’s awesome to have NO SET AGENDA! Shocker…we decided to stop for a while, make dinner and then move on. It meant we would be dry camping but would only have to carry enough water for drinking tonight/tomorrow morning to the next campsite 4 miles further. We hung out there for 1.5 hours to refresh our bodies since we had another 1,000 ft climb coming up.
We only had about a mile left to the new campsite when a hidden tree root caught my shoe and ripped a hole in the top. This is unfortunate for 2 reasons. One, we don’t wear waterproof shoes so that means even MORE dirt will be getting into my shoes from the front toe box. And two, we are trying to put between 600-700 miles on each pair of shoes, and these are only 400 miles old. So Link tried a little duct tape job, but I’m thinking that probably won’t last too long. We were setting up our home for the night at 7:15 on this super cool ridge with beautiful views. There are NO mosquitoes which is the most fabulous thing EVER, and the first time in a while. We can actually take our time setting up, getting cleaned up, and just enjoy the scenery! I thought it was a great day and so nice to be able to split it up into 4 sections with some long breaks. We are hoping tomorrow’s temps are comparable, but I doubt they will be since we will be going back down in elevation again. Thanks for following along with us! Double Down