Total distance: 1484
I figured I would learn and gain a lot from spending so much time alone this summer and that I would come out of the trail stronger and healthier than I was before. As that may be true in a huge sense, something today made me realize I may come out more wild than ever.
I got started early this morning in hopes to do a low 40 mile day so that I could get into Castella early the next morning. It was colder than usual this morning, which made me want to move quicker to get some warmth. I stayed in the pine forest for a long time winding around bluffs and up and over hills and ridges. I took a short break 9 miles in and planned to do 15 more before taking a break at Fitzhugh Gulch.
15 miles without stopping may not be the best idea for me to try and pull off again. I get so focused on my goal that I don’t stop for much. I don’t really stop to get more water or throw down food quickly and by the time I reach my spot I’m dragging my weary body along before plopping down and sitting like a zombie for a few minutes to regain some strength.
Once I got to Firzhugh Gulch I found a couple of cars in the area and some people camping as I headed under the bridge to take a long break. I began taking my shirt and shoes off and washing my socks in the water while my noodles rehydrated in my container. My legs were so caked in dirt they almost looked black and I had grime smeared all over my face from snot and sweat and dirt and spit. My hair was greasy and mangled and my torso was pale white being hidden under my shirt most everyday. I crawled around on all four over the rocks to not trip while barefoot and probably was a horror of a sight.
As I was minding my business and taking care of things under the bridge a group of about twenty people came across and dropped down the other side to play in the water. The ages ranged from 3-60 and everyone of them stared at me under the bridge opposite from them. I tried to look normal, but there’s only so much you can do looking like you just crawled out of a garbage can and feel into a sewage tank. The family ended up not staying for very long and I’d hate to think I was part of the reason, but I couldn’t blame them from wanting to protect their children from a questionable human.
It’s interesting how things change when you don’t have society as a backdrop for your appearance and expression. It’s become so natural for me to eat food off the ground or to pick dead skin off my black, velvety feet. Today I was caught off guard by the norm of an American and honestly I was happy to be such a drastic and opposing creature to that ideal. I wonder how much more will change as the trail continues. Hiking alone is an interesting ride.
After I gathered myself and my things I got back on trail and drank my new favorite water enhancing drink called Crystal Light with caffeine. I blasted down the trail with a ton of energy through a dense Fir forest and even saw some massive ones that raised the canopy higher into the sky. I moved a little too quickly and ended up getting shin splits, which slowed down my progression and caused me to stop a mile short of my goal. I’m glad I did because by the time I laid down a deep exhaustion rose over me. My body felt like it did in the desert when I was dehydrated and weak. I laid for a while breathing slowly and drinking water before closing my eyes and hoping the rest would heal my shin.
The last little bit of trail has been so smooth and relaxing. The trees keep the sun off me and there is water at every turn. I love being around familiar plants and seeing deer every now and then. It makes me miss the land at Jones Gulch where I worked as a Naturalist last year and I feel like I’m back on those trails and feeling the energy of such a magical place. I fall asleep tonight excited for another day in these woods, ready to discover what is over the next hill.