July 30, 2015
Tentsite before Shasta-Trinity Gumboot Trailhead (1529.9) to Sisson-Callahan Trail Junction (1555.5)
26.5 PCT miles today
1595.8 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 2,777 ft, – 2,740 ft
This was a lovely day. Pickles and I felt great, a light breeze fended off the worst of the heat, the trail was flat and easy, and we were surrounded by a whole multitude of kind, friendly, and helpful people.
This morning could not have been more peaceful and inspiring. We had a little trouble getting up to the alarm, but once the moon began to set behind the mountains to the West, turning a deep red before sinking below the horizon, and the sun began to color the sky behind Shasta with deep oranges and pinks, we were awake and paying full attention to nature’s show. We took our time getting ready, and reveled in the way the sunrise turned us and our tentsite bright red and then pink and finally gold. As we took our first steps of the day, Pickles went so far as to declare this the best campsite of our hike so far, a bold claim, but one it may certainly deserve.
A couple miles into our day we hiked past a large group of hikers that had just finished packing and were ready to hit the trail. A few of them we already knew, but the rest introduced themselves and one man, Chedda, willingly shared some moleskin with me as I told him the tale of my new blister. This morning I had put my one and only Glacier Gel bandage (burn and blister gel bandaid) on my foot, in hopes that it might heal and protect the blister from getting any worse, but I didn’t know what I would do after that inevitably came off. We hiked on, but ended up leapfrogging with the whole group for the rest of the day, and slowly but surely getting to know them a bit better.
When we stopped for a morning packs-off break I checked on my blister and the Glacier Gel had been no match for what I had going on. It was shriveled up and the blister now covered the entire area of the infection. Chedda happened by again and tried to offer more help, but I decided to just go back to the bandaging system I knew, and add a little moleskin on top of the tape as a possible help with friction.
The next 5 or so miles of the hike were especially exciting for me because they overlapped a backpacking trip that I had done with Mama Bear almost exactly two years back. We had met up in Castle Crags and after climbing the crags we backpacked in to Mount Eddy from Parks Creek Trailhead. Today I was deep in thought, recalling all the feelings I had about the PCT and PCT hikers back when I was here two years ago, when a group of day hikers walked past and mentioned that they had left some trail magic at the road a few miles ahead. My pace picked up automatically and as we blew past the trail to Mount Eddy and Deadfall lakes, I recalled with pride how utterly impressed I was with the thru-hikers I had met on my previous trip and how certain I felt that if they made it this far, they would certainly make it to Canada. I distinctly remember thinking that they must be so tired and that the miles must seem so long, but I know now that in actuality the miles fly by for a thru-hiker and at this point in the hike, most of us are on auto-pilot and don’t really find the hiking to be that much of a challenge. Of the many things I didn’t know back on that trip, one of them was that most likely the majority of hikers I saw were probably in some amount of pain and had been for a very long time.
When we got to the Parks Creek Trailhead, we spotted the sign and cooler left by the nice day hikers from Mount Shasta. We were thrilled to find it chock full of goodies – including peaches, grapes, chips, candy, and even one last zucchini muffin which we snagged. We sat under the shade of the nearby tree to eat lunch and enjoy our delicious treats, and along came the group of hikers from this morning. We had an entertaining and enjoyable lunch with them, and were happy to get to thank the trail angels when they came back to collect their cooler. As if we hadn’t been shown enough kindness for the day, another hiker named Cheney, a hiker who has dealt with blisters throughout his entire hike (and who got his name from shooting his hiking partner in the face with bear spray), showed up and went to great lengths to try and help me out with my blister, sharing his supplies, advice, and personal experience.
The afternoon miles felt easy enough, and Pickles and a I were both tempted to make today our first 30-miler, but we decided instead to force ourselves to stop so I could tend to my foot and give it as much open-air rest time as possible. As it turns out, the blister has now peeled away and the skin underneath is beginning to heal for good. Once again, I’d say we’re on the road to good health. The big days are coming, we can feel them in the air, and with Oregon just around the corner, we couldn’t be more ready or excited to crank them out.