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PCT Days 106 - 114

Day 106

Back on trail after a ‘nero’, or near-zero mile day. Started at 10:30am, having stuffed a huge breakfast into me, and finished at 7pm. Covered 17 miles, of which 11 of the bastards were uphill. The first mountain was an eight-miler, and for the last two miles, I was followed up by a man in his 70s who barely broke sweat. My ego wouldn’t let me stop and take a breather…

Funnily enough, it was the second mountain, the four-miler that was much more arduous (or so it seemed to me), especially as it had so many false summits. With no one looking, you betcha I stopped regularly!

Day 107

Well, July is here and water is started to dry up - meaning I’ve to start carrying more and more of it, adding to the pack weight. Today’s terrain was mostly alpine - miles and miles of it. The views are limited, so it’s really all just about crushing miles - a bit dull. I’ve been listening to podcasts and audiobooks, but I turned them off when I read about a campsite with a rattlesnake in the fire pit not far away. I’d forgotten about those. So now I’m in bear country and rattlesnake country! I’d seen a few snakes but all of the friendly variety. Garter, I think they are called. Thankfully mosquitoes aren’t too bothersome right here right now.

Day 108

I knew today was going to be a toughie - over 8,000 feet of descent across 15 miles was always going to be a killer on my knee. It’s the continuousness of it that does me in - a few miles here and there - fine, but one long, non-stop down is brutal. At its steepest decline, I realised I was only ⅓ of the way through and decided there was nothing for it but to cry. Didn’t help - but some painkillers did.

As I was nearing the bottom of the hell, noticed a steep ‘shortcut’ - it led down to a very secluded, and very charming campsite for one, complete with fire ring, grill, very grubby white towel, and its own private supply of water - the river. Realising this was, in fact, well off the PCT, there was no way I was climbing back up the hideously steep 400ft that I’d ‘cheated’. I instead took to the river and made my way forward that way! Big mistake - not only was the going very, very slow it was also very, very slippery. "I fell over and broke a fingernail." I told my very male camp-mates that night who snickered.

Meaning I’ve ripped off half a fingernail - not just the dainty “white” bit (that is black in any case).

Saw oodles of Salamander as big as my hand. Kicking myself now for not taking photographs of them - they were amazingly cute. Scared a small snake basking on the river rock. Then, suddenly, the river got astonishingly deep - up to my chest and there was nothing for it but to swim across. Of course, both mobile phones in my pockets, and my new trousers - the “Bugs Away” ones, are not remotely waterproof - nor are the pockets! I was just hoping that my laptop and sleeping bag were sufficiently wrapped up - not that I’d been careful about that since I’d left the Sierra. All told, I lost a good hour, trying to find my way down the river - but boy was the cool water lovely on my battered body.

By the time I found and rejoined the trail, having battled through thick scrub for half an hour, I realised I had run out of drinking water…

Day 109

A particularly pleasant stroll of 23 miles. Today is July 4th, a national holiday in America. Something to do with tea. Lots of beer is drunk too, I’m told. Walked for many miles to the sounds of gunshots. Came across a pink clay pigeon shoot. Offered a beer. Drank water. Went on my merry way.

Staying the night in a camp with Jeff, who is into ultra-marathons, and a couple who run marathons as a hobby. Have tried unsuccessfully to explain what a hobby is. The couple are walking the PCT for the fourth time as if it’s a simple walk in the park.

Am knackered.

Day 110

My day:

A loooooong, steep ten-mile descent from 6,250 feet to 2,200 feet. Took five hours.

Ate a veggie burger and Jalapeño Poppers, and drank three coffees in a restaurant in Beldon. Took two and a half hours!

A loooooong, steep fourteen-mile ascent from 2,200 feet to 7,100 feet. Took seven and a half hours.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, accidentally, I have got fit!

Now about to sleep if the mouse in the bushes stops bloody rustling.

Day 111

I walked 25 miles in order to see this post, and 1300 miles more. It is the half-way marker.

Was gutted to discover the post is in the wrong place and I had only walked 23 miles.

Day 112

I’m spending the night on the border of Lassen National Park - simply because one needs a bear canister to sleep in that park. Anyone with a modicum of spine left has relinquished the cumbersome canister after Yosemite...

I hope the bears are aware of the border and don’t venture on to this side. My hiker food, revolting as it is, is precious.

Day 113

I’m on the other side of Lassen Park now, but not on the border because a bear and her cub have taken up residence there, so I’ve pushed on several miles.

I’ve passed some hot springs - the Terminal Geyser, that is, apparently, not a geyser. Don't ask me. It took me a half mile off trail - and once I’d seen it, I realised it was a cloud machine. And a smelly one at that. Nice to smell something other than my own heave-inducing stale sweat, even if it was sulphur. Then I passed three day-hikers - oh my goodness, their deodorant was intense. I truly need a town day now.

Hated walking back up the hill. Then I had a half mile detour for breakfast too, which I was given for free! Three plates of the stuff. I demolished the lot - eggs, potatoes, croissant, pancakes, fruit, yoghurt, and lashings of coffee and cream.

Day 114

To town! Trying to hitch a life, a well-meaning man stopped and said I’d get one easily enough (I’d been waiting for over 40 mins) but to watch out for the man with the pick-up: he’s killed three women this year.

Given everyone drives a pick-up here in the US, it’s a wonder they’ve not caught the blasted serial killer yet. Didn’t think to ask the well-meaning man what colour pick up it was, nor indeed how he knew. Still, he didn’t give me a lift so a pointless conversation ensued regardless.

My legs are thick-coated with dust and mud. I stink so bad. Looking in a mirror for the first time in a while, I realised that the dry trail dust is also collecting above my lip and in my eyebrows. I look like Inspector Clouseau, I discover, even if I don’t have his skills of deduction.

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