I awaken at 12:30 and feel much better. I have slept four hours! I drink some water and it tastes good having cooled to under 90 degrees. My dreams are convoluted, usually dealing with some kind of shady underworld characters. I am a fugitive drawn into criminal activity and now I am trying to escape, to come clean.
At 3:30 I awaken again. I drink some more. Then I hear something. (I am wearing ear plugs, but I still hear it. Something is walking around the back of my tent. I hear the sharp crunching of footstep on cinder. Against my better judgment I take out my plug. Something is definitely there. After five minutes it disappears. Whatever it is, I hope it is gone for good. At 5am it returns. It is light enough now that I can see three deer. They are just nosing around. It is too dark for a photo. They move off quietly. Anyway, it is morning.
I need to drink and eat something and then hike hard while the weather is cool. The burn I am in offers no protection from the sun and heat – rather amplifying them. At lunch I will evaluate my position and determine whether or not to stop hiking for the day. Temps are projected for the high 90s again. I have not been eating enough so I should have plenty of food to spend an extra day on the trail.
On the trail
There are deer tracks everywhere on the trail. And then this.
I have no idea what this might be. I heard some geese honking only minutes before. But why would they be here on the trail? Mt. Lassen knows. Basking in the morning sun, Lassen knows all.
And there is beauty right beside the trail, too.
The trail is mostly exposed, but with temps in the 70s it’s not too bad. There is a lot to see, but I need to keep moving during these cool hours.
Here is something I couldn’t resist. Someone’s been snacking. Those red seeds look so delicious.
There are some lakes along way. Several campers are gathered at each. The mosquitoes are also there so I do not stop. I pass my first Nobo of the day. He is the surly type, glaring at me as he passes. Nor does he return my greeting. Oh well, happy trails, dude. The trail descends through a green section. On my right is the most pleasant little stream. It is cold and delicious.
As I fill my water bottles, Andrew and Ghost Cat appear coming up the trail. They are the folks I traveled to Susanville with on the Sage Stage. They hiked twenty miles to their camp last night just three miles away.
They ask about my hitch to Old Station. It was hard at first, but it finished well, I say. Ghost Cat likes my new hat. They also ask about the surly hiker. He camped by them last night and wouldn’t say boo. Andrew defends him suggestion he may be deaf. Ghost Cat claims that deaf people are usually very expressive. These two are funny. I am sad to see them go, but that how it is on the trail and it’s one big reason I write this blog: to remember those moments.
The wheels come off
I pass the scariest tree. Is it an omen?
My hiking plan is working well when I start a big climb. I say big, but when I check my map it is only 400 ft! I lose all energy and have to stop and sit down three times. Yes, temps are now in the nineties, but I had been doing so well. By the time I reach the top, I know my hiking is over for the day. I need to find a place to stop NOW! Unfortunately the burn is so bad that there are no clear spots to camp. I trudge down to the Warner Springs Campground.
The campground is closed! Signs say that burned dead trees have not been cleared, and it is too dangerous to camp.
Dejected, I move on. Beyond the campground, I find no safe place to sleep and ahead is another big climb. I can’t do it. My heart is pounding and my stomach is sick. I decide to go back to the campground. A few sites had no dead trees over them. It should be safe to camp there if nobody kicks me out. A few drops of rain fall.
Back at the campground I set up my tent. A couple of camp workers see me but say nothing. Like yesterday, I place my pad on the ground next to my tent and lay down. I need shade, water and some kind of equilibrium. I slowly sip the water, fearing that I will throw up. When the sun moves I move, seeking shade. I do this for three hours trying to get comfortable.
Eventually I go back to the small stream at the campground entrance and drink the cold water there and splash some on my head. It doesn’t really help. But the water I drank is staying down. And the workers that were here earlier are gone too.
I asses my situation. Apparently my condition is worse than I thought. I only did 12 miles today, mostly in the cool part of the day, and yet when the difficulty level went up a little, I crashed.
A life line?
I begin to think I should get off trail until I feel better. There is no guarantee that I will get better on trail. I could be getting worse. I decide to get help. A few hours ago, a vehicle pulled up and parked near my campsite. I walk over, but there is no one inside. It has government plates. I leave a note asking for a ride to town. I say that I am sick, but please do not call 911. I try to word it so that the driver knows this is very important without alarming or scaring them.
As the hours pass, I think the driver may not be coming back tonight. I may have to press on again tomorrow. I wash down a few Triscuits and go to bed. Maybe I can get more food and water down in the morning.
At 9:30 I hear a car door close. I poke my head out of my tent and see that the lights of the parked car are on. The driver has returned. I hope he sees the note in the darkness. I lay back and wait.
- July 29
- Starting marker: 1363
- Ending marker: 1350
- Total miles today: 13
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