July 7, 2015
Lake Aloha (1100.7) to Miller Creek (1122.6)
21.9 PCT miles today
1167.1 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 2,805 ft, – 3,989 ft
Again with the foot pain. Oh the tales I’d tell about our wonderful day full of lakes, a storm, and millions of wildflowers, if only I weren’t so darn distracted and concerned over the pain in my feet. Let’s pretend for a minute that today was pain free.
We woke up this morning to a light-pink sunrise over Lake Aloha. Desolation Wilderness is like heaven to lake people like ourselves. All morning we hiked past lake after lake, all doing their best to perfectly reflect whatever mountains and trees hem in their shores. The hiking was relatively easy and the weather was perfect…early morning crisp with the occasional ray of sunshine peeking through the trees. Around 10 I began listening to a Spanish language learning audio book that I had downloaded and Pickles put in some music. As we hiked up and over Dick’s Pass (with fabulous views of Dick’s Lake below) storm clouds gathered overhead and we settled in for another overcast afternoon. We didn’t mind a bit since it meant cooler temps and no need for sunglasses.
By the time we decided to stop for lunch we could tell it was going to rain. We decided to try using our tent’s fly as a tarp, and strung it from a few trees before propping it up at the edges with our poles. It turned out to be our best decision of the day since rain starting falling within minutes of our sitting down, and turned to huge balls of hail and then a complete downpour before we knew what hit us. The thunder roared overhead and Pickles and I cuddled closer, mostly to avoid being splashed, but also for the body heat and comfort.
The storm stopped almost as abruptly as it began. Altogether we took 2 hours for lunch, but by the time we packed up and got hiking again, there was only a light sprinkle, and within a mile it has ceased altogether. We hiked on, avoiding puddles in the trail, as the clouds parted and the sun came back out. After such a deluge of rain, the afternoon miles felt like we were walking through a rainforest. The various wildflowers were fresh, their colors crisp, and the bracken fern that lined the trail seemed to glow green.
We got to camp a little later than usual, and after a nice conversation with a hiker friend of ours named Honest Abe and his girlfriend who just joined him for the rest of the trail, we quickly went about the business of cleaning, treating water, setting up camp and eating dinner. Another wonderful day down, another 22 miles cranked out with ease.
Only that’s not entirely true. The whole day happened exactly how I described, but it was along with a constant, horrible pain in both of my feet that made me (eek!) dread every step and long for camp. Pickles patiently waited through my many sit-down breaks and my slow, laboring pace, but by the end of the day, we were back to the conversation about where we should go from here. The obvious conclusion is that we should get off trail long enough for me to heal. However, every fiber of my being hates the idea of sitting around wasting time and money when I should be out hiking. We’ve both agreed that we’ll do everything we can to make it to Canada as planned, the very thought of that changing brings tears to my eyes, but I’m beginning to realize that the only way that is going to happen is if I somehow find a way to fix my feet. For now, I have no choice but to keep hiking, at least until we get to Donner Pass in another day and a half. From there, we’ll have some important decisions to make. All I can do at this point is take ibuprofen, soak my feet in cold stream water when possible, and take however many breaks I need to get through the day. And all the while try to focus more on this epic journey than my failing feet.