25 miles out of town and I was feeling good. Walking was becoming easier. Aside from getting attacked by bugs I was thinking I might have been getting the hang of things, which in retrospect I can see is a hilarious joke (keep reading you'll see). The following day I hiked with Momento and Oilcan for most of the morning - Whitney tends to be super fast on the downhill and I can never keep up, so I just let him go and kicked it with the other guys. It was nice to have a mellow morning, and when we arrived at Old Station it felt like Christmas! I got a box that I had been looking forward to since seeing my parents in Lake Tahoe. I got a necklace that my mom gave to me at graduation that I always wear that had broken. She took it to have it fixed and it was a relief to have it back. I also got a dress. A DRESS. Ive been talking / thinking about / wanting a dress since before Kennedy Meadows (which is about 900 miles back). I've tried a few but they either gave me pack rub or didn't fit well. My mom had made it her mission to find me something that worked and man did she do well. A VERY bright pink number that you'll see in many photos from here on out - although I do still alternate it with my shirt so my arms and neck don't get too too burnt. The rest of the box was food and the store had ice cream - aka very happy campers.
Oilcan's box wasn't going to get in for a few hours so we walked a few miles to a nearby restaurant and the rest of us stuffed our faces. Also did I mention we were basically back in the desert? It had been in the mid 90's to 100 the past few days with no signs of letting up. Once Oilcan got his package, the four of us meandered to a nearby cave - basically the only cool place around. It reminded me of Ape Caves near Mt. St Helens - formed by lava and very cool inside. We literally sat in the dark in this cave for 2 hours or so, trying to wait out the heat. Back to that desert schedule where you can't hike from about 10 am to 6 pm. After a quick dinner we started hiking a section called hat creek rim.
This section is known well for being 30 miles without water - very exposed and HOT. We started at about 6 pm and the hiking wasn't hard, the views of Shasta were amazing, and you could see Lassen in the distance. We took a sunset break then continued on into the darkness. We played 20 questions for a while and hiked until about 11 pm. We saw one rattle snake that scared the living daylights out of me ( I was very happy to be in a group of guys at that moment). At the end of the night, we cowboy camped (which put us at 31 miles for the day). Cowboy camping when you have a hammock is a bit rough - since you don't have a mattress - but we weren't sleeping long. The milky way was so bright that night, the 4 of us just laid there in awe for a while. Alarms went off around 4 and we were back at it around 5am. Hiking on that little sleep is rough.
We hit Cache 22 a few miles in and refilled bottles - ate pop tarts and continued on our way - in hopes of being at the next water 14 miles away. The sun was beating down, and getting hot at about 7:30. The rest of the 14 were basically all downhill and I looked up for one second to take in the view and BAM. Down. I took a bad step, rolled my ankle, heard a huge crack and next thing I knew I was rolling around in the dirt crying. Those of you who know me well know that I hate crying. Oilcan and Caveman were ahead, and Whitney was right behind me. He saw the whole thing. I took a serious dose of Advil and sat there for a bit. I could have sworn something was broken - I've never heard my body make a sound like that before. I tried to pull it together as quickly as I could but it hurt. I cried for a while - and eventually taped it up. It was functional - but painful. I could put weight on it, but the rest of the day was going to be rough. Once it was taped, I was still crying, but Whitney found a stick for me to use as a crutch and slowly hobbled down the trail. It was a long day, I took lots of breaks and moved slowly. Goldie (one of the most upbeat hikers I've met on trail - he's Austrian and hikes in a kilt), rolled up and lent me his trekking poles, which I greatly appreciated. I crutched the rest of the 14 miles and when I got to the water source Whitney had set up the hammock for me. I stuck my feet in the creek then laid down with my feet in the air. We napped for the rest of the afternoon since it was again too hot to move. Hikers came and went and I ran into Clammy ( a friend of mine from very eary on) who tried to re name me "hubba bubba". Ive been chewed up and spit out by the trail, and the pink dress helped too (but I'm sticking with Guac)
I hiked another few miles after siesta - and camped right near the road to Burney. In total it was a 25 mile day. Blah. By the end of the day my foot was huge. My toes were swollen and my ankle was black and blue. Great I thought, just great. I hobbled into Burney, got some food at a really good breakfast joint then took a bus to Redding. Redding felt scary. Whitney and I got dropped off at the transit center and now I know what it's like to be homeless. Lots of looks to say the least. We arrived at the Urgent Care around 2 and while I won't get into the details of it- the place was a mess. We were there for about 4 1/2 hours, and I spoke with the doctor for about 10 minutes. A few X-Rays later, they let me know nothing was broken! Sprained. Severely sprained, and the doctor recommended I take a large amount of time off it - but also gave me a beefy brace, and some pain killers/ anti inflammatory.
The next two days were spent at a Motel 6 - with my foot on ice, elevated and the occasional compression. Whitney and I watched some movies, and ate a bunch, but mostly did nothing. The next morning we got a large breakfast, then got a ride up to Castella. The plan was to meet up with Oilcan and Caveman since they would be arriving that night and I had a box of food there. We arrived in the early afternoon and relaxed at a chevron (right? who relaxes at a chevron? - thru hikers do). We met some other hikers and then heard back from the others that they had a change of plans. Whitney and I camped at a nearby campsite with a bunch of other hikers (new friends!) then hiked out early the next morning. We took it slow all day, with lots of breaks and a siesta (oh and I got stung by a bee for the first time since I was kid - hurts alot and they are everywhere). We pushed out 25 miles and ended at a spring that happen to have trail magic!
Two guys, a chick, the cutest basset hound ever, a little french terrier and Momento were all kickin it. Trail magic at it's finest. Burgers, beers, hot dogs, and capri suns! I was shocked to see Momento since he was trying to catch up to click and cheesebeard... who are a day or two ahead, but then again he is a speed chiller so he was chillen. We all sat around, drank, stuffed out faces and chatted. The two guys had hiked a few years back and lived in Redding. They were just helping out hikers and had planned to camp with us but one of the dogs got stung by a bee and its face was swelling up - so the quickly packed up, left all the beer and headed out.
The next morning we hiked out with Momento, playing twenty questions for most of the morning. We hiked 13 miles and ran into Coopertone (aka more trail magic, Ice cream!) then continued on. We hiked a total of 34 miles. 34 miles people. We took 2 other breaks after Coopertone, one for lunch and one for dinner. Let me tell you, 34 miles is a long day. We arrived at dusk and I got right into my hammock. They day hadn't been too bad, it was pretty flat most of the day, but by the end your body is clearly telling you to stop. Every part of you hurts, especially your feet, knees and hips. blah. Caffeine is my friend.
Somehow Momento continued on into the night - again i'm not sure how he does it. Whitney and I had a very slow start the next morning and didn't get on trail until about 7:30 (which for hikers is pretty late, we usually aim to be moving by 6 or 6:30. The day moved slowly, and I didn't feel like my body had enough time to recover from the day before. I plodded along and luckily the views were amazing everywhere you looked. The whole day went by slowly, and we took lots of breaks. We ended up doing 25 miles and being thankful for having hammocks because there was no flat ground. Yesterday we woke up on schedule again and cruised an easy 15 miles into town (Currently in Etna - a very small town with a nice very hiker friendly hostel).
Some other random thoughts - Caffine is magical. I couldn't have done that 34 miles day without it. Also, shout out to my big brother benji and his girlfriend brit for the very entertaining playlists. As i've said before, music is SO helpful. Bees suck, for some reason they are everywhere. Yellow Jackets are jerks if you ask me and they can all die. I'm 90 miles from the Oregon border as well, so that might be the most exciting thing in the world! It's crazy to believe there's only about 1,000 miles left - part of me can't wait and part of me can wait forever. Life on trail is simple and I love it, but it's very destructive on my body, and I can't seem to get enough rest. Photos have been lacking lately - so sorry about that, I have a few.
As always, thanks for all the support - I am constantly surprised to find out just how many people care to read these posts. Onward to Oregon!