Somehow I slept in today. As I was getting up Ninja and Blisster were already ready to hike. Ninja wanted to go the full 31 miles to Olallie Lake in order to get a milkshake, but with blister pain and today being the hardest miles in Oregon I knew we would be separated once again. Biscuit and I were slow out of camp, and I was still feeling pretty miserable about my feet. I did what I could to muster enough strength to know that it would pass in time, and that I will keep hiking through the pain. I choose to overcome blisters, they cannot rule me especially with Chacos.
I told Biscuit that I’d like to be alone today and she understood. The hiking was a lot of work mentally and physically, but I kept walking. If nothing else, I have only a couple of days to make it to Timothy Lake if I want to see my friend there. It’s motivating to have a deadline but also kind of a burden. I know that life will go on if I don’t make it in time, but I know it will be worth it to make it and spend some time with friends from home. As views of Mt. Jefferson became bigger and more impressive I found myself smiling again. The funky mood was beginning to melt away, and I was able to mentally overcome the blister pain. I took my time and allowed the day to improve.
After miles of climbing I came upon Russel Creek, a milky white glacial stream. It was rushing at top speed and being late in the day, the water was quite high. My biggest fear in the world is fast moving water that I can’t see through. I typically avoid situations where I have to be near it, always keeping a healthy distance. There was a time in Hawaii where I was faced with a less dangerous current than this, and it had taken everything I had to make my way across that river. This time was even more intimidating.
I did everything in my power to keep myself calm, being aware of my increasing heart rate. I looked up and down the river, searching for a way across but it wasn’t looking good. Being alone didn’t help the creeping panic growing inside of me, and I walked up stream taking deep breaths. Everywhere I looked water was rapidly flying down the mountain, and it was loud. I felt myself losing control of my cool so I sat on a rock and instantly began sobbing. My fear was beginning to control me, so I took some deep breaths and reassessed the situation at hand. A man had appeared across the river, roughly my age, and he yelled over to ask me if I was ok. I gestured to the river helplessly and wondered if he had seen me crying. He pointed down river and I followed along, back down the rocks. He was standing in the middle of the river, throwing large rocks in a pile, making it possible for me to cross there. It had been at least 20 minutes of trying to find my way across and along came this nice person who got me through my biggest moment of true fear on the trail.
As I made it to the opposite shore I felt both relief and exhaustion. There might have been a little bit of shock present as the sound of rushing water continued to make my head feel weak. The nice man asked if I wanted to walk with him a ways but I just stood there and said, “I think I need to take a minute to lose my shit.” He accepted this response and hiked ahead. I took some big deep breaths expecting to cry some more, but the tears didn’t come. I had made it through.
After this ordeal my entire body and mind felt weakened. I didn’t have a great deal of energy, but I was just then hiking into Jefferson Park. I’ve wanted to go backpacking there for a few years, a local Oregon bucket list hike. It wasn’t quite a long enough day of hiking, but I was completely drained from the physical and mental effort of the day. I decided to pitch my tent by a lake just under the peak of Mt. Jefferson, only 19 miles into my day. I will have to make up the miles tomorrow but I imagine I’ll see some improvement by then. I’ve done some creek “laundry,” and eaten dinner, so now it is time to sleep it off and hike on tomorrow. Tomorrow, I’ll hike on.