24.4 miles (Miles 394.4 – 418.8)
PCT Mile 394.4 – Mill Creek Summit Fire Station
I said a “see ya in a few days” to Jon and Tears this morning and head out for my first solo hiking day. I only saw six people all day while hiking, and that was before 9am. I had the rest of the day to myself, my thoughts, and a bunch of random songs that kept getting stuck in my head.
I felt really strong hiking this morning, so I made an early decision to see what I could do and give ‘er. I was really close to the possibility of 10 x 10, which is a term used on the trail for 10 miles by 10am. It’s a pretty common thing when trying to beat the heat. I wasn’t really too worried about beating the heat today – I just thought it would be a fun goal to shoot for.
I didn’t make it. I hit the 10-mile mark around 11am… so close! I was okay with that. Maybe tomorrow. If my feet hold up I might just shoot for the hiker-friendly KOA, but that would be a 25-mile day. We shall see!
I was actually hoping to hike until 6:30pm and just see how far I could get, but this fire station lets us hikers sleep next to the building. There’s water here, as well as a toilet. It was too hard to pass up – and I got here at 5:00. In just the last 15 minutes the hiker population here went from 3 to about 12. I’m meeting a lot of new people, but I don’t know that I’ll remember everyone’s names!
I had quite a lot of poodle dog bush to navigate again today, and there’s even more tomorrow. I’m not a big fan of road-walking, but if it’s going to be worse than today I just might opt to take the dirt road alternate. I’ll decide when I get there.
I did the poodle dog dance today, but I got to a point where I actually had to stop and put on my rain pants. This is not a comfortable thing to do in hot, sunny weather, but I guess it’s better than the alternative. There were a couple of places the bush was on both sides of the trail and touching, and one place in particular had a spot where previous hikers went downhill (steeply!) to go around it. I had a scare when I tried to follow suit. I stepped on a rock that felt sturdy, but it gave way in the loose, sandy gravel and I slid downhill with it about 2 feet, stopping with the side of my foot at the base of another stupid poodle dog plant. I was able to crawl back up without incident. Just glad I stopped before sliding all the way into the canyon!
Poodle dog bush is a bummer, but it means there was a burn, and that leaves behind lots of little, vibrant wildflowers, so there’s always a silver lining… right?
I was really hoping for a peaceful night on the trail by myself, but I guess that’ll have to wait for another night. And after several discussions with the other hikers staying here, it sounds like the road-walk is the popular choice. None of us want to miss the trail, but dancing and crawling at 1mph all trying to avoid a terrible blistery rash sounds exhausting and kind of miserable. But I’ll have more thinkin’ time tomorrow – that’ll be good!
OH! I passed by the 400-mile mark today! Wow…
Tonight I love the hole in my hiking shoe. It’s going to be hard to let go of the first pair.