The hike is going well. I’ve been doing big miles for the past few weeks without stopping much. Thruhiking really involves a TON of walking! I walk 12-14 hours a day. Every day. I’m in Etna, almost to Oregon, and am a little pressed for time. It’s late in the season but I’m still towards the front. Just crazy to think that I’m going to have to hike all of OR and WA in a month and a half! Sadly, I’m going to skip the next section because the Marble Mountains are closed due to wildfires. It’s only 55 miles and some people are going through illegally but I’ll take a the shuttle around it and hopefully come back at a later date.
We’ve had our first bad weather of the trip really this week. Some sweet thunderstorms through Trinity and Russian Wilderness. The black clouds gave us rain and pea sized hail off and on for two days. The thunderclaps are enjoyable to me but the associated lightning bolts can be a little scary. Mostly the struck ridges 3-6 miles from us but at least one strike likely hit our ridge. Damn was that scary to have a super bright flash and a ear shattering clap at the same time! When the storm cleared we saw at least two new lightning caused fires nearby. The closer one was an interesting sight. A single tree alight like a torch. Got a good test of my super-ultralight, weight wennie, minimalist gear because of the weather. I had honestly thought that I wouldn’t even use my new poncho/tarp hybrid because it wouldn’t rain in Norcal and OR. Well it did, and it worked. Sure, my hiking friends kidded that I looked like a jelly fish, walking with my tent as my rain gear. They also eagerly checked on me after a night of hail to see if I was wet (I was as dry as they were). While I wouldn’t want to use it for days-on-end continuous rain, I’ll keep my ultralight setup for a while longer hoping that it rains no more.
I’m going to start hiking solo again. It’s kind of a strange thing to be doing at this point it seems. Either, hikers are grouped up and will likely remain so, or they’re very much solo at this point. We’ve been on the trail for so long that most people have fallen in to their niches. I’m in need of some shifting though. Pepi and I have not had a fight or any major tiffs. Sometimes she wants to hike harder to get in to town faster than I’d choose but I can compromise on that mostly, especially because we hike at close paces and need to be doing roughly the same mileage. I’m just really ready to be doing exactly what I want to do, whenever I want to do it. No compromises. No one to satisfy but myself. I’m also eager to see if I can still handle solitude and solo hiking after being with someone else twenty four hours a day for almost two months. We’ve hiked nearly a thousand miles together! Maybe all I need is a week off and then will be ready to hike with friends again?
I’m giving myself my first zero day since Tahoe today. All that I have to do is buy food and get my ass over to Seiad Valley. I’ll also take two zeros with my parents in Ashland, mailing boxes and eating good food. Then, it’s off hiking again! In Etna, I’m staying with about eight other hikers at the Campus California Training Group. It’s a training facility for AIDS educators going to Africa. It’s great! Nice to be in a place that cares about recycling, consumption reduction and all of those good things. Had a super great hitch in to town too. The first car that passed us couldn’t give us a ride but he flagged down the second car for us. They had been sleeping in the forest and had gotten wet in the same storm we had so they were going in to town with a truck bed full of bedding. So I got a ride to town while lying on comforters in someone’s pickup. Very nice. EDIT: All that was said about taking a zero and skipping a section is changing. I’m headed out now. Solo. Hopefully, no angry rangers read this! Please, i’m a nice boy. Really.