Days 2 & 3: Miles 7.4 – 28.6

I woke up feeling pretty good. The aching in my left foot was still there but dull. I tried my hand at multi-tasking; eating my cold soaked oatmeal while getting packed up for the day.

I wanted to get back on the trail early knowing I had to make up a few miles. I was hoping to get to Lake Morena before the days end. This would be a 12.6 mile day.

Miles 7.4 – 20.0

I made good time in the early morning. The miles seemed to come quick as there wasn’t too much elevation change at the beginning of the day. I did catch up to a few of the other hikers I had met the day before: Papa Roach, Bird, and Jack Attack. The four of us hiked within a few hundred meters from each other for a short while, but it wasn’t long before I had found my stride and pulled away.

I eventually made my way to Hauser Creek. I used this opportunity to refill my water bottles and dry out my tent since there was plenty of sunshine. A group of Forest Rangers and their trainees came marching through as I snacked on a protein bar. What appeared to be the head ranger in charge asked if I had checked in with the PCTA. I pointed to the tag on my backpack and confirmed that I had in deed. They were all very kind… everyone has been really kind. I like kind.

Drying my tent at Hauser Creek

It’s a good thing I decided to take a nice break at Hauser Creek because little did I know what I was about to face… The climb out from Hauser Creek is nothing less than brutal! I was not prepared for that climb, especially after having already done slightly over 8 miles. I haven’t huffed and puffed that hard in a long time. PCT… you have my attention.

By the time I reached the top of the ridge, my left foot was once again in pain. It was just as bad as it was the day prior, and maybe even worse. I initially thought it was my old plantar fasciitis flaring up, but I realized the location of the pain didn’t match prior experiences. I’m pretty sure I have a mild case of tendonitis. I decided to coast into Lake Morena at a very gingerly pace.

Lake Morena

The sky was quickly turning to an eerie gray color as I limped into Lake Morena. It was starting to sprinkle, so I knew I needed to get a tent site established fast. I headed over to the PCT area of the campground and immediately setup camp. I was dying to eat something, so as soon as my tent was up, I bee-lined it to the malt shop.

I arrived to the malt shop to find Jack Attack. He must have caught up while I was setting up camp. Jack was there waiting on food while talking to another hiker. I was brought into the conversation; Jack introducing me to T. I’m not sure if his name was the letter t or tea or maybe tee. T was hiking in a proper kilt and was carrying a backpack the size of a nap-sack. He looked every bit a full blown dirtbag.

While the three of us talked over our delicious malt shop delights, Bird arrived, and just in time. The sky opened up and began pouring rain. I immediately thought of my tent and how little enthusiasm I know had to return to it.

Well deserved meals!

The now four of us discussed plans for the night. Neither Jack nor T use tents, so they are heavily invested in getting some sort of accommodations. I cannot recall who, but one of the guys suggested we get a cabin at the campground. Hell-ya! Get me somewhere warm.

The cabin was cool. It had wood racks inside with enough space for four people. The cabin was also equipped with electrical outlets and a stove heater. Life was good tonight. Jack, T, Bird and I all talked the evening away… getting to know one-another’s stories. It was a nice end to a very long day.

From Left to Right: T, Jack Attack, and Bird

Miles 20.0 – 28.6

Day 3 started off a little rough. I woke up to my left foot in tons of pain. I could see that the bottom of my foot was swollen and the pain increased when I palpated the tissue. I believe this to most certainly be tendonitis. I took some ibuprofen and went about my morning.

The guys wanted breakfast before we set out, so we hiked back into town for one last meal at the malt shop. Had I realized we were now a full mile from the malt shop, I don’t know that I would have gone. My foot certainly didn’t need an extra two miles for the day.

The hike today did not have the insane elevation gain that I had coming out of Hauser Creek, but due to my foot injury, the day felt like pure torture. On top of the tendonitis, I have also discovered four blisters on my toes. Luckily, I was able to get them bandaged before they progressed too far, but I am now concerned my shoes are too small.

As the days hike went on, my tendonitis, to my surprise, lessened. But, I was becoming increasingly aware that my toes are beginning to hurt where the blisters were forming. I was now making a conscious effort to pay attention to how my feet and shoes are interacting. My toes were in deed pushing against the toe of my shoe. Despite having bought slightly larger shoes, my feet must have swollen much more than I had anticipated.

After my second water crossing for the day, I ran into another hiker that goes by the name Tapeworm. Tapeworm is a VERY experienced hiker with many trails under his belt. He seemed genuinely interested in how I was doing and if I was enjoying myself. Wee exchange stories for about a half mile before I was forced to slow down due to my feet hurting.

Before leaving me in his dust, Tapeworm gave me a lot of great advice, and even tossed me some foot care tips. I genuinely love how hikers take care of one-another.

As if he couldn’t have been a nicer guy, I find a present waiting for me a ways up the trail. In the middle of the trail was a travel size bottle of Gold Bond, with the good doctor’s instructions…

Present from Tapeworm

Little does he know it yet, but Tapeworm’s random act of kindness did more for than just help my feet. His kind gesture caused such a dopamine release that the pain in my feet subsided. I was over the moon happy. My feet seemed a lot less bothersome for the time being. Thank you Tapeworm!

I didn’t quite make it to my desired destination. It was getting dark, it was starting to rain again, and my body had enough for the day. Plus, I needed to find a way to get new shoes to me ASAP!

I quickly setup camp and headed down to a near-by water fall to collect water before it gets too dark. The climb down to the waterfall was extremely steep, but the view of the falls were worth it. I sat on a rock enjoying some cold water and the sights before heading back up for the night.

Evening Water Fill

I’m heading to bed with a full belly, a plan for new shoes, and my spirits surprisingly high. This trail is not for the faint of heart, but the people you cross paths with make it totally worth it. Even the pain.

Cheers, Smiley

One step at a time.

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