Miles: 25.51
Camping: PCT mile 1765.91

At some point during the night the rain stopped falling. That didn’t stop everything around us from being saturated come morning. I hope this bodes well for fires and I kept this in mind as I packed up my wet tent. Wet gear adds weight, and I have to remember to dry it out before bed tonight. We’ve all talked about completing a 30 mile day today so there won’t be much down time. I can’t guarantee that my feet will be up to the task, but I’m not against it if I feel good enough. It meant for a quick departure from camp, as earlier departures make long days a lot easier to complete.

The forest was quiet and still but for the fog moving gently through the trees. It was damp and gray, just as the Pacific Northwest often is. I felt at home, the weather comfortingly familiar. I heard something lumber off into the quiet woods, and from the clumsy sound I’d guess it was a bear. Deer have a pretty distinct foot fall, and this was either a drunk deer or a bear. Either way, it stayed out of sight.

I arrived at the first spring after 7 miles only to find it dry. I still had a half liter, and knew there was water in 3 miles. The only down side being that it would need to be filtered. So spoiled. It seemed like a fine time to eat second breakfast though, and I enjoyed a Probar at the dried out spring. I pondered the weight of a 30 mile day on my feet against the progress it would give me. I pretty much decided that it was very unlikely for me, but not completely ruled out. I wasn’t feeling super motivated, and liked the idea of falling behind for once. I feel like I need to get back in the game, like my head fell out of it taking time to rest my feet. I’ve had too much time off lately, and I need to get back my passion for the PCT. Part of me is beginning to accept the hard reality that my end may be the Washington border, while also, I know I’ve come too far to stop now. The end is in sight, and I know full well that I will be deeply saddened by quitting early. It is hard to think about it yet all day it lingered in my thoughts. My feet hurt, and they don’t seem to be getting any better. I don’t like all of this self defeat, and I hope to overcome it. I know I can, and that my only regret would be quitting prematurely. Giving myself more time is all I can do.

A few miles later I reached a river near a road. Three small yippy dogs came running up to me as I set my pack down. They were bundles of energy, and quite obviously well fed. I gathered some water here when Caboose and Sacred Cow rolled up, saying the yippy dogs sounded like a dying coyote. They started in on a 3rd breakfast, and I was a bit envious. I don’t have much for extra food on this leg, which does translate to a lighter pack but less snacks. I’m enjoying the lighter aspect of things, especially that I don’t have to carry more than 4 days worth of food at once through Oregon. A lighter pack is good all around until I want a 3rd breakfast too. I told them I might not make 30 miles today, but they still seemed eager to try. Like me, they weren’t willing to push themselves too hard. It’s not very prudent to push your body if you want to have endurance down the trail.

This section is primarily among trees so there aren’t any big epic vistas slowing the pace. There is also a lot less elevation change, just rolling hills in forests that grow greener by the mile. It truly feels like Oregon, and I partially wonder if it is part of what makes me think of going home. I feel close to that comfort and it is like a siren song the closer I get. I kept thinking about stopping at the Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks, about going home and healing my aching feet. It wasn’t what I wanted to think about, but being lost in the trees I find my mind getting stuck in certain thought patterns. I’m working on changing that.

At lunch I rested my feet while dining on pepperoni and cheese on tortillas. My M&M’s are pretty crushed this leg, but go really well with peanut butter filled pretzels, so I ate mixed handfuls of these snacks for dessert. Salty and sweet never fails to hit the spot. As I was winding down my break a hiker passed me by who had skipped to Ashland from Chester. That’s a solid 400 miles of trail, which was the norm for a vast number of hikers this year. People bounced all over the place it seems, and the essence of chaos is in the air. Things ought to settle in soon though, as we all aim to walk into Canada before October. The clock is a’ticking.

I switched over to my Chacos after lunch, but realized that my feet already hurt. I popped some ibuprofen and put on some music for distraction, though today was particularly rough. It’s another low point for me out here, but my plan is to call my day at 25 miles and not to push myself any harder at this point. Tomorrow I might do better, but if I don’t I’ll adapt. If I just slow down a little, and stop worrying about keeping up, maybe I still have a shot. If nothing else, I know a good night of rest would do me good.

I found a good spot for one person, and said goodnight to Caboose and Sacred Cow as they pushed on for 30. I knew I’d see them tomorrow anyway, and I could use some on trail relaxation. I set up my tent and laid out my rain fly to dry, as it was still wet from last nights rain. My rehydrated quinoa was ‘pepped up’ by the new addition of sun-dried tomatoes and some fritos tonight. I’ll be happy to finally be out of quinoa, as I’ve been eating it since day 1, and it just doesn’t hit the spot anymore. No matter how much I try to change it, it is still plain old quinoa…pretty unimpressive. It suited my day’s mood though, and I ate it knowing it provides a lot of good nutrition, and wishing it had cheese melted in it, or chocolate.

Now, I’m going to get to sleep early and take it easier on myself tomorrow. I hope I feel better and more inspired by morning. Until then…

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