Miles: 0 hiked, 155 skipped
Camping: Castle Crags State Park off PCT mile 1508.57

I feel as if I have become a bit disjointed over the last few days. I have been off trail for almost 4 days, and now I’m 155 miles from where I left off. It was never my intention to skip trail. It has never been an option before, but it was a conscious decision that I made for several reasons. I’m not a purist. I’m proud of how far I’ve come, and how far I will go. In the end, I did what was best for me.

I ended up getting off trail with Danger Spoon in Drakesbad. He had made the decision to fly home, and I really needed to change my shoes. My feet were at the point that they were throbbing at night, keeping me awake. I couldn’t hike without taking Ibuprofen, and it was making it so that I wasn’t enjoying myself anymore. Something was going to change if I was going to finish this hike, and I would have to rest my feet to see if there was improvement. We ended up staying in Chester again with LaZboy. He was also leaving the trail, and we all lay about a hotel room for the night, reminiscing and drinking beer. It was bittersweet.

The next morning, DS and I took a bus to Redding. It was over 100 degrees out, but we walked around having some big town fun despite the heat. CrackerJack met up with us, and we all enjoyed our last night together by going to a $1.50 movie and swimming in the hotel pool. By morning Danger Spoon was gone, and I boarded a bus to Burney with CrackerJack. That is where my new shoes would be waiting, and I could start hiking again. I’m going to miss that Danger Spoon, but I understand what he had to do. Good luck out there, friend. I miss you already!

When we got to Burney, I found that my shoes had been delayed. I figured that one more day of rest might be good for my feet anyway, as they were improving. The only problem was getting farther behind, and shelling out more $$ for lodging. Zeroes are expensive, and I’m mentally done with them. I started feeling disconnected from the trail, and wanted to get back before I forgot how important this is to me.

I ended up running into Karaoke, Hugs and Pockets at the cafe in Burney. Karaoke’s parents were in town, so we all went for a short hike around Burney Falls and the 4 of us girls split a hotel room for the night. We ate Chinese food and lay about the room giggling, as we do. They were planning on skipping ahead all of the way to Seiad Valley and offered me a ride as far as I wanted to go. I knew I was too far behind if I stayed in Burney, but didn’t like the idea of going too far ahead. I figured I would move slow for a couple of days to break in my new shoes and see how my feet do. On top of not wanting to feel so far behind, there are a great deal of forest fires popping up near the trail. The one just outside of Burney had already made my lungs feel heavy, and it was going to be hard enough to gain momentum. I checked in with other friends who were ahead on the trail and decided to skip ahead to Castella. It is about where I would be had I continued hiking, and then I wouldn’t feel the added onus of catching up. The area between Castella and Oregon is one I definitely want to hike through, so instead of jumping the whole section, I gave myself a little head start.

So, here I am in Castella. I’m separated from everyone I’ve known, but not by much. The girls are ahead now, and several others are behind me. I figure that my slow pace for a couple of days will allow for the time it takes for others to catch me. I like the idea of being alone for a day or two in order to reconnect to the trail. I need to regain some of my initial determination and excitement. My feet are a bit better, but I’m worried they may end the trip early. I will keep going as long as I can, if nothing else, making it to Oregon. I’m hoping for a happy ending, and to feel as if I’ve accomplished something when this is over. Fingers and toes crossed for a successful day tomorrow.

Burney Falls
Pockets and Hugs do Mario and Luigi
Karaoke and Max