I woke up on my own feeling slightly better than the night before. After my usual morning of cold oats and coffee I headed on into the misty terrain. The trail started out going gradually downhill into a new growth forest, towards a cabin with an old pump well. My friends had stayed there the night before and when I walked up, Caboose was fiercely pumping on the handle of the well. Sacred Cow was beneath the spout, ready to catch the water that was coming out brown. It was quite the production, and seemed to be a 2 person operation. Thank goodness Sacred Cow was willing to help me out so I too was the proud owner of a liter of brown rusty water. Even after filtration I could smell and taste the rust. I shrugged, adding an Emergen-C packet to mask the flavor and hiked out.
The next 5 miles was across lava fields. Miles of black rock on either side of a red rock trail. I was a bit concerned about all of the rocks on my feet…especially since I was having a good foot day so far. It was not a long way to where we planned to have lunch, so I took my time dancing across the lava. We stopped next to a creek and set up for lunch after washing our feet in the cool water. A Forest Service truck pulled up near us (we were next to a highway), and two rangers came walking up to us. I thought they were going to tell us that the trail was closed farther up due to fire, but they were just being friendly. We chatted with them for a few minutes and then began wrapping up our lunch break. The nice guys even took our trash for us!
There was a 5 mile climb after lunch so we all put on music and powered straight up. I chose Bach, and it was a great afternoon for daydreaming. I find it really comforting and relaxing to get lost in my imagination even if reality is sometimes just a step away on my sore feet. They weren’t too bad today, but I usually don’t have too much trouble when going uphill. It was after the climb when we all sat down for afternoonsies that I felt the familiar throbbing. We had only 4 more miles to camp though, so I soldiered on.
The terrain all afternoon was at tree line. I felt high above the world walking along the ridge; one of my favorite feelings. I started feeling better about everything, and by the time we reached camp I was ready to relax. I sat with Sacred Cow and Caboose while we all had our supper, and retired early to rest my aching body. I feel more optimistic than I did yesterday, getting back into the feeling of being back on trail. Tomorrow might be another big day, but we have a 20.8 waterless stretch before getting to Crater Lake, so we want to get through it. Until then…