Miles: 21.28
Camping: PCT mile 1273.5

Since our camp was deep in the woods the sun didn’t reach us until well after the usual wake up call. For me this typically means less miles, but it makes little difference to my speedy companions. I took out my one VIA packet and gazed at it while my oats hydrated, hoping it would deliver the boost I would need for the 3000 ft climb we would start the day with. It was my most precious possession and it would be fleeting, but I would cherish our time together. Even though it wasn’t hot I pretended it was, taking small appreciative sips. It was over before I knew it.

I ended up being last out of camp due to my morning moment, and I was dreading the climb. That coffee didn’t seem to be kicking in, but up was the direction the trail was heading, so up is where I went. I felt surprisingly strong going up, and for the first time I dared to think that this was getting easier. Not that the trail is easier persay, but that I am handling it better because I am stronger. I may huff and puff on my way uphill, and I may sweat buckets in the process, but it isn’t as hard as it once was. This made me smile as I huffed and puffed and studied the plants that surrounded me. We are in forest now, this is the hiking that won my heart years ago. Tall mossy evergreens, ferns, pine needles and rays of sunlight that burst through breaks in the canopy; a canopy of trees! It feels so magical to walk through unadultered forest, unlike some of the clear cuts we have seen recently. It really plays with my imagination, which is a wild animal out here. Without the overstimulation of town life, our minds really find ways of keeping things interesting. I’ve had some of the most off the wall conversations on trail, and it’s all quite wonderful, if not entertaining.

I leap frogged with Adam a lot this morning, and eventually met with most of my gang at a spring. We talked about an alternate around Buck’s Lake, where we could go to a restaurant and buy a few resupply items. It would add 2 miles to the day and be on pavement, so we had to want it pretty bad. It turns out we didn’t. I was kind of proud of us for this decision, as town has a way of offering up too many distractions. I’m even considering a new resupply strategy to cut down on town time. Towns have been fun but I want more trail time, and it feels good to be gaining so much ground lately. We stayed on trail and ate lunch in a nice mossy patch in the shade before heading on.

We hoped to make it a 26 mile day, but there wasn’t a lot of oomph left in us. Danger Spoon had given me some tea at lunch, so on top of coffee this morning, my energy levels were good. It was my feet slowing me down. Right around lunch they just start to ache, and afterwards they gradually build up to a throb, then just all out pain. I have decided it’s shoes, and I’ve yet to find out what works best for my feet. After all of my years of hiking, and over 1,200 miles on the PCT, I still don’t know what shoes to wear. All I know is that it is driving me bananas! In the past I have hiked in Chacos, and though they are sandals, they are the one shoe that doesn’t give me grief. It’s time to give them a run on the PCT, and hope for the best. This shoe thing has been the most expensive part of the trip!

On that note, a quick thank you to Jeff W and Vincent G for donations! It is truly appreciated, and I feel super lucky to have your support. It isn’t every day you get to fulfill a dream like this, and it just wouldn’t be possible without the support I receive, whether financially or otherwise. Sometimes this gets really hard, and I need to remind myself why I’m here. When I get a note, email, contribution, package, a kind word, or a selfless gesture from a total stranger, it gives me a lot of momentum. My faith in humanity is not only getting new life, it’s growing exponentially. Thank you!

Anyhow, we only made it 22 miles today, but it was mostly a good day. I had a 3rd dose of caffeine in the form of some Crystal Light from Cheeseburger at afternoonsies. I was feeling great after that and could have gone on for a lot longer, but Blisster and Danger Spoon wanted to stop, and my feet did not protest. We found an amazing spot overlooking the valley, and set up camp early. This puts us 16 miles from Belden where we will eat lunch and do a snack resupply tomorrow. Coffee, here we come!