Day 49 – 24.5 miles

I spent most of the night just barely staying warm enough to sleep. Camping on the ridge maybe wasn’t the best idea in hindsight, the sunrise more than made up for it though!

The first half of the day was super boring and I just blasted through it, total autopilot. I veered off to the Rim Trail, and started the Crater Lake alternate.

This lake is crazy! It’s just as blue as Tahoe, and a whole helluva lot more interesting to look at! The island is a trip. The Rim Trail was really neat and offered loads of different views of the lake. I stopped and chatted with a lot of day hikers.

I had the option to take a short spur trail to a lookout tower, and although I’m tired from the ridiculous past two days, I took the opportunity. It totally was worth it because the view was great, and I also met a dude who was an aspiring thru hiker. It’s fun getting to know new people.

The campground was awkward to navigate, and I ended up just stealth camping in some sand far away from everyone. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be way out here, but I’m not feelin the busy camp.

I’m stressing out tonight. My new friend from the Watchtower told me that Mazama was without power, and so the general store and restaurant were also closed. My box isn’t going to arrive until tomorrow night, and also, it’s supposed to be really stormy tomorrow night also, so I have to stay. But I’m really worried about how I’m supposed to charge my phone, and also if I’ll have anything that I can eat…

Day 50 – 8.5 miles

The sun was shining through my tent and the warmth woke me up. I figured sleeping in wasn’t gonna hurt anything cause the rain wasn’t forecasted to start until 2pm and I had an easy hike to the campground anyway.

My stealth camp was success, I had gone undetected throughout the night, and I actually slept really well. I reunited with the Rim Trail and enjoyed some cell service along the way. I was able to call my grandma which was super nice.

I also was able to make a phone call to Mazama Village to inquire about their power situation – it was on! While I was at it, I called Fish Lake to make sure my box made it there as well (I had a little mishap with the address) and was advised that it had arrived this morning. A Christmas miracle!! It’s all gonna be ok.

I got to the diner, and ate lunch with another sobo whose name escapes me. I called Dave, and to my surprise got to FaceTime with him and my dad since they were in the truck together when I called. I also called my mom, she’s been sick, but it sounds like she’s on the mend now.

A friend from Instagram works nearby and asked if I would like to get together for dinner. Of course! I told him 5:30, and almost fell asleep in my tent as the rain started to pick up. I set an alarm, just in case.

Karl was waiting for me at the diner. We really hit it off and I was bummed to have to return to my tent as it grew dark. I could have hung out with him for the rest of the night, a few hours didn’t seem nearly enough. He was nice enough to not only give me some AAA batteries since I realized my headlamp was actually on inside my pack all day, but he even drove me the 0.1 miles back to my camp because I’m a lazy POS. I hope that we can see each other again soon.

It’s been amazing to meet internet friends in real life. I’ve met some really amazing people that I probably wouldn’t know otherwise, and I have to say, I am thankful for Instagram and all the great people that it’s connecting me to.

I told Karl that I’m honestly over this. I am. I want to go home, and hang out with Wayde on the porch. And hang out in front of the fireplace in the winter, and split wood. And to get taco truck with Dave, and to make breakfast. To get mail from my parents house but really just use it as an excuse to visit. To bag peaks with my friends. To go on long drives. Running around Paradise Lake after a walk with my grandma, and climbing Head Dam. Long days in Upper Park, and porkchops after.

I’m going to miss this when I’m home so much. And I know that. And I know I’ll kill to have these days back. So I don’t quit, even when I want to. I really do love this with all my heart. Thru hiking is such an absolute mindfuck sometimes.

Day 51 – 10.4 miles

Everything was drenched and I slept terrible, I really hate the rain.

I learned that you can’t pick up a box until 11, so I had to kill some time. I devised a plan to dry everything out despite it being forecasted to rain all day. The bathrooms at the far end of the campground had electric hand driers, and they worked perfectly.

I got going around noon, I had an ambitious goal of 16 miles. It was a 21 mile water carry…. Another thing I love. I decided to take a road walk, alternate trail back to the PCT that was the same distance but less vertical gain.

I sure thought I was real smart until I got to where the turnoff for the alternate trail was supposed to be, only to find a wall of dense woods. The rain picked up. In sheer desperation, I climbed up the embankment and went into the general direction of where the trail allegedly was supposed to be.

By some miracle, it actually worked and I found the trail. It was easy going all the way back to the PCT. The rain would come and go. I don’t like it. But I also don’t have a sour attitude about it either because I chose to leave today in the rain, I didn’t have to, but I chose to. And that sure would be stupid to complain about the choice that I made, sure doesn’t change the fact that I’m out here now, so better deal with it.

The rain became so heavy at mile 10 that I pitched my tent despite it being only 5pm. I give up. The rain somehow gets even heavier and starts to completely flood the earth around me. Everything is getting wet again.

I really hate the rain. But the forecast gets better from here, there is a high to every low and I’m sure the sun will feel great once it comes out again.

Day 52 – 26.4 miles

It poured rain all night, and the worst case imaginable happened – I got completely soaked. The backsplash from the violent rain slowly soaked through everything inside the tent and there wasn’t a damned thing I could do but lie here and let it happen. I put on wet clothes, packed up a wet camp, and started hiking in a drizzle.

I am miserable. It’s cold, I’m cold. I haven’t felt my toes since sometime around midnight, and I hate this. The sun peeks through, and I take advantage. I lie everything out to dry. Except, this was a cruel joke and the rain came back, and he brought his friend, Hella Wind.

I am fucked. Everything is now outside drying but instead getting rained on. I sit in the mud, put my headphones in, lie down slowly and cry. Rain pelts my fave but I don’t care cause I’ve been wet since I woke up. I’m not sure what happened, but I suddenly snapped out of it, got up and calmly started getting on with it.

I scrambled to put everything back. In the process, the wind whipped my tent away from me and the screen snagged in a branch, leaving many holes that now need repair. I say “I apologize, we’ll deal with that later”, and I don’t know exactly who I was talking to. I press on, through this crappy wet muddy ash shit burnscar. It would be.

Finally, the sun comes out for real and I manage to dry everything. I feel relieved now, and continue on in relatively good spirits, just mostly exhausted.

Cold soaking your food might make you a UL simp, but it’s also demoralizing…. Like when it’s cold and raining. I gagged my way through my rice and only ate it because I’m also short on food, because I stress ate too much yesterday. I listened to a lot of house music to cheer myself up and it worked.

I hiked into the night. It still sprinkling off and on. Until the sky looked really bad, and I was blessed with BB sized hail for about 30 minutes. This is so great. I arrive at the spring in the darkness and all of the decent camps are taken, probably cause it’s 10pm and raining.

I manage to fit into a tiny spot. I tell my tent I’m sorry for putting holes in the screen, and promise to fix it in Ashland. Today was my worst day on trail, but I think tomorrow will be better.

Day 53 – 11.7 miles

All night I shivered, my thumb was throbbing. Since I wasn’t sleeping anyway, I decided to take a look at my thumb to figure out what the issue is. The nail and surrounding area was twice as big as my other finger, and it was obvious that it was infected. I decided to do the thing that I saw on tv, I heat up a sewing needle and burnt a small hole in the nail, pus poured out almost immediately.

I finally got out of the tent around 8:30, it was just too cold to get out any sooner. I shivered through the whole morning, and took an Advil in a last ditch effort to reduce the swelling in my thumb, thankfully it worked enough for me to be able to grip my trekking pole.

This is rough. Morale is low and I’m generally feeling worn out. I get to the highway and stuck my thumb out, not expecting anything, and he first truck that went by picked me up. A pair of pot farmers and their dog.

I booked a cabin at Fish Lake in hopes that it would improve my outlook, and it certainly did. Just having a warm and dry place was huge. I spent some time repairing my tent and properly cleaning my finger.

Then I sat in front of the heater and had Coors Light for dinner.

Day 54 – 27.7 miles

I thought that breakfast was at 8, it was actually 9, my bad. I sat around in the store waiting for the cafe to open, mooching the Wi-Fi.

Everyone showed up and we all had breakfast together. Rumor has it that the California/Oregon border has reopened. Initially I was irked because I am ready to be done. I watched everyone get excited and hopeful, and realized maybe I have a bad attitude and should be thankful also.

I didn’t start hiking til 11am, extremely late for my goal of at least 25 miles. I got through it, the trail became very rocky at points, but I reminded myself of the rocks on the AZT, this is nothin.

I hiked into the night. My sciatica started acting up a bit, probably because I’m going too fast, so I took a Tylenol and am hoping for the best. My thumb seems to be improving though, so that’s good news.

Day 55 – 24.3 miles

I slept great and my sciatica twinges had disappeared completely. What did hurt though was my ankle, per usual.

It was cold, so I got going quickly. Today was a get through it kinda day again, and I was feeling tired from the fast day prior.

I leapfrogged with LanceALot, Smiles and Big Chuna until I decided to take a road walk shortcut instead. Some days ya just wanna get there faster – work smarter, not harder.

I read an article about how we’re hard wired to never be completely satisfied. And that’s something I try to remind myself often out here. As a whole, I love this, but sometimes it can feel like a job.

I call Dave and chat for a bit. He tells me he has a confession, I ask him what, and he replies “I don’t know what I’m doing”. I was lying on the ground at the time staring at the Milky Way, and I said “Dave, I don’t know what I’m doing either”. But I think nobody really does, and that’s ok.

I find a nice cowboy camp on a ridge. LanceALot rolls up and asks if there’s room for him also, and of course! We cowboy camp and are excited to see the sun rise. I also find out that he uses a night guard too so we bond over that.

I catch a peek at Mount Shasta and the magnitude of what I’m doing somehow finally sets in.

NorCal is just a few days away and I’m excited that I get a little more time, even if I’m tired.

Day 56 – 8 miles

The cowboy camp was lovely and I awoke just in time to see the sunrise. LanceALot took off before me because I’m the slowest person ever in the morning. I wasn’t in a rush.

Until I ran outta food. Hunger propelled me forward and I overtook LanceALot a few miles in. I flew past a peak bagging opportunity, Callahans was my destination and I was getting there fast.

The trail turned to HWY 99 and I road walked to Callaghan’s. LanceALot caught up and we decided to get Mexican food in Ashland, so we did. The food was great. His lady met us there and he took me to Safeway in the car.

I did some light shopping and got to the hotel. Something changed in me during this last stretch, I think getting rained on like that has changed me in ways that I can’t quite comprehend yet,

Loads of people don’t even have the option to do this and I feel so privileged to have a choice. Life is good.

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