July 26, 2015
Gold Creek (1463.2) to West Trough Creek (1487.1)
23.9 PCT miles today
1521.5 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 5,133 ft, – 7,457 ft
It appears we have hiked ourselves into the rainforest. I am currently laying in the tent (feet elevated of course) while Pickles makes us some after-dinner chamomile tea and thunder roars overhead. It began to sprinkle right as we got our tent up, but it is just now turning into a respectable rainstorm. The smells coming in from the wet dirt and plants outside is intoxicating and that mixed with the visions of huge ferns and wild spreading greens that we walked through for most of the day, are making this place seem more like an exotic island getaway than the northern half of California.
Today featured a lot more elevation gain and loss than we’ve had in the past couple weeks, which we actually enjoyed since it broke up the day and gave us goals to work toward. The morning flew by with a long descent toward the milky-brown McCloud River. From there the trail leveled out a bit before climbing back out of the valley up the side of the opposing mountain. We found a great campsite within 100 yards of water and sheltered among ancient, giant trees. The biggest challenge of the day was the ever-increasing amount of poison oak covering the trail. At one point we were practically bush-whacking through head-high overgrowth, hoping against all odds that poison oak wasn’t hiding among the hundreds of other varieties of leafy green plants. Occasionally I would spot a plant, warn Pickles, and step around it, but I am positive there was some I missed. The last thing we need is for either of us to get a skin rash, so we rinsed off thoroughly in the creek and are now just playing the waiting game. It’s always possible that we just happen to be immune to the poison, especially since neither of us ever remember being affected before, but we’d rather be safe than sorry.
Concerning rashes and other skin ailments, my foot is starting to show some actual
improvement, thanks to a breakthrough that happened last night after I had finished the blog. Sorry, but this is about to get graphic. I was getting ready to go to sleep when I noticed the large blister on the infection seeping a bit. I thought I’d give draining another go, and before I knew it, pus was gushing out and the large, reddish-purple bump that looked like a baby alien growing inside my foot deflated like a popped balloon. The relief was immediate, and lasted through this morning and all through our 24 miles of hiking. The site of the infection continues to change in appearance, and is still more pink than I’d like at this point in the process, but I feel like I can confidently say that I am on the mend.
But back to our beautiful surroundings, because that’s probably the real reason you read this blog, and not for descriptions of pus-filled alien fetuses. As the foliage around us gets thicker, the deer-spotting becomes more frequent, so it seems. Today we saw 5 different dear (and a snake) and one of the deer was a baby that had just learned to walk following its mother. Those truly are some of our favorite moments on the trail. I also think us hikers are becoming more at one with nature because at least 4 different times over the last 2 days, we have been walking along, perhaps making fools of ourselves or saying something embarrassing since we thought we were all alone, when we’d suddenly hear a rustle and notice the hiker sitting just off trail in plain view. Of course they know that we know that they heard every word, or ehhem, lyric, but we all pretend otherwise, exchange the polite greeting, and go on our way.
We honestly cannot wait to see what the rest of this trail has in store. We’re within a few days of a part of the trail that I’ve backpacked with Mama Bear before, and I’m getting giddy with anticipation. But in the spirit of staying present, I’ll now go back to listening to the pitter-patter of rain on our tent and enjoy the warmth and comfort of a simple cup of tea.