Miles: 20.86 (+1 to and from water sources)
Camping: Nance Canyon PCT mile 140
Hikers seen on trail: 21

I slept well, but woke foggy. It had rained in the night, not too hard, but enough to make things wet. It was oh so cold out there, and I was oh so toasty in my sleeping bag. The fact that I had slept til 6 jarred me out of my lazy haze, as I wanted to get 20 miles in today, and I needed to detour for water.

My hands were bitter cold as I unstaked my tent and collapsed my tent poles. The added moisture didn’t help and I was not feeling my usual get up and go attitude. One of the things I dislike most in this world is being cold. It was not the best start to the day, especially when you add wet.

After packing up my wet tent, I began to move forward to the water source. Merely wearing shorts quickly became a poor decision, and the first thing I did when I reached the spring was throw on my wool pants. I filtered my water and hustled on down the way, moving faster than is prudent in order to drum up some body heat. The clouds hung heavy on the trail, and my feet felt heavy due to lack of motivation today. It’s my first real day of struggle out here, and I blame the cold.

I ate the last of my peanut butter filled pretzels (a trail favorite), mangoes and a coconut cream Larabar as I walked, too cold to stop and make a proper breakfast. I vowed to cook a hot meal at the next water source, a house about 1/4 mile off trail at mile 127.5. In the meantime I dug for positive thoughts, trying to remind myself that 1 bad day out of 9 is okay, and tomorrow will be the day I eat the infamous Jose burger at Paradise Valley Cafe.

I finally stumbled across the sign, “Trail Angel Mike, Water, Shade, Shelter.” As the winds had been blowing cold across the wet trail, shelter at which to cook some food sounded like a grand plan. On my way up the side trail I ran into Natasha who was hiking out. Apparently, Melody and Phoenix had skipped ahead again, but Natasha wanted to hike, so she was going solo. I was happy to see her, but eager to seek shelter, so I wished her well and found my way to the “hiker shack.”

People were sitting around on a porch rather solemnly. It seems the weather had knocked the wind out of more sails than mine. I hunkered down with the other weary hikers and set about boiling water for a Mountain House breakfast skillet. If anything could save the day, it had to be reconstituted eggs and sausage.

I got super cold sitting still while cooking, and ate quickly while others began to crack beers from the big cooler. Someone announced they were about to cook burgers, and I could feel how easy it would be to get sucked in here. Others were already hypnotized by the spell, so I quickly repacked and made my way back to the trail.

I powered on quickly, trying to regain lost body heat, which caught me up to Bumblebee and Seahawk who had left before I had eaten. Seahawk joked that they would have to rename me Speed Bunny, but I was losing steam already from being overtaxed most of the day…not feeling very speedy, just cold.

My feet are fortunately no longer having blister problems, but they were starting to ache, and I was beginning to feel a tad defeated. For the first time, I couldn’t find my usual happiness that powers me through the tougher miles. My feet are not giving up, continuously testing my will in one way or another. I passed a bunch of new hikers and decided to rest and pop some Vitamin I (Ibuprofen) to see if my situation improved. I was still cold, and with aching feet, this day was not panning out to be a PCT favorite. At least no one was around, so I was the only recipient of my complaints.

The Vitamin I break actually helped quite a bit. I got back on trail after chatting with Natasha again. She is thinking of quitting, as she has been struggling with a lot of blister pain. She told me she had faith that I was going to make it though, and I kind of needed to hear it today. I think hearing that boost of confidence in conjunction with the Vitamin I gave me a new lease on the day (and it was finally warming up at 4pm). My feet stopped aching and my mood swung upward with the temperature (not by a lot, but enough to propel me forward). It got me through my first over 20 mile day, and I now lay in my tent exhausted at 7:15. Perhaps an early night will help me through the 13 miles between me and the Jose burger tomorrow. It sounds pretty manageable, and I trust in an improved mental state as things warm up.

They say a bad day on the trail is better than one in the office, and I agree. My day was not terrible, just uncomfortable. I didn’t take many pictures, partly due to cloud cover, partly due to mood. Now I will read a little and attempt to sleep it off.