July 7, 2017
Mile 1221.48 – Mile 1240.38
*Spoiler alert*: The trail was dry ALL DAY today. There was one small patch of snow, but that was it. For the first time in weeks, I could just walk and let my mind wander. All day. Other than that fact, today was profoundly uninteresting, so get ready.
For whatever reason, be it that I was overheated (it was a warm evening), or that the stress of the afternoon had my mind all worked up, the “good sleep” that I was so ready for just did not happen. I tossed and turned and stared at various areas of the surface of the tent for hours, finally falling asleep maybe around 1am. Needless to say, it took me a while to get myself moving when the 5am alarm went off, and it was almost 7 by the time I managed to get myself in hiking shape.
Early in the morning, we crossed paths with Zuzu, who thru-hiked in 2014, and she told us that there was hardly any snow between here and Belden. This was exciting news, as in my sleep-deprived state I had only one wish: for the trail to be kind today. On the dry trail, we managed to crush 5 miles before stopping for breakfast. (Well, Gummies managed to crush 5 miles, I managed to slowly and sleepily drag my feet for 5 miles, but yeah). We sat to eat pretty much right on the trail. No glamorous view, nothing special, just a spot in the dirt to sit, rest, and refuel.
After I had some food and caffeine in my belly, my tiredness momentarily vanished, and I felt like a hiking machine between breakfast and lunch. The trail wound through the forest pretty much all day today. Occasionally we would get a view of the surrounding hills, but most of the day was just a walk in the woods. Which was honestly quite welcome after the stresses we’ve been through in the last couple sections. It was so nice to just be able to walk, to let my legs carry me as my mind wandered wherever it pleased. In the snow, every step requires careful thought, with the possibility of slipping and falling at any moment. Letting the muscle memory in my legs take over was a welcome change.
Shortly before lunch, we tried to get water at an off-trail source, which turned out to be impossible to find, meaning we had to walk 3 miles to the next creek with basically no water. There was a short road walk off the trail to get to the creek, and when we arrived we grabbed water and collapsed in the shade to eat. After lunch, I was struggling again, the 4 hours of sleep I had gotten finally returning to haunt me. I’m always a bit slower right after lunch, heavy with food, but today was worse. It was hot, and everything hurt. My lower back was bothering me for some reason, my left hip felt strained, my feet hurt, and all the muscles in my legs were painfully tight after neglecting to stretch for several days in a row. I put on some podcasts to turn my mind elsewhere, and let the miles go by.
After crashing through some very scratchy brush that had completely overgrown the trail, the day ended on a really nice note. The trail re-entered the quiet coniferous forest, the late afternoon sun slanting through between the trees. It was such a simple moment, but felt so beautiful and peaceful. Soon, we arrived at camp, got set up, ate dinner, got eaten alive by mosquitoes, and retreated to the tent. Tomorrow will hopefully bring more dry trail.