Thursday, September 11, 2014

Day 154: Into Carson Pass (again!)

Day 154, 9/9/14
1084 (Showers Lake) to 1078 (Carson Pass)
5.5 miles

Another sunrise.  Ahh this is the life.  Spent the morning sitting on the rocks by the shore of Showers Lake.  Just watching the light.   And the chipmunks playing.
Showers Lake.
Yesterday's storms brought colder temperatures and morning frost down in the meadow.  Still chilly after wearing all of my clothes and snacking on peanut butter.  But not enough to wish I had carried the weight of a warmer clothes.  Rather be cold then stress the poor feet with extra weight.
Fall color along Showers Lake.
Hiked through a broad valley along the Upper Truckee River.  The Meiss family built a cabin here in the 1880's that they used in the summer for grazing cattle.  Sat by the old buildings having lunch and wondered what life was like here back then.
Meiss Cabin.
The trail dropped through juniper and aspen on the way to Carson Pass.  There, I met Steph who was so sweet to bring me my favorite- salad!  Yum!  I'll take a zeros with her tomorrow.  Haven't showered in 8 days but with all the swimming I don't feel dirty.  Just a bit weathered.  And completely, utterly, indescribably happy.
Salad with mango salsa dressing.  Mmmm.
Reflecting on this section between Sierra City and Carson Pass, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for being back on the PCT.  Thankful to all those who have helped me get through the injury.  I am delighted that the pace of this trip allowed me to have a good balance, and to take the time for other things.  Anticipating spending more time in camp, my planning centered around getting myself to beautiful campsites and finding mid-day swimming holes.  I got to study light, guess where the sun would rise so I could position myself to take photos.  I got to talk to so many wonderful people.

Listening to my body has been going better. I'm less frustrated not being able to do the kind of miles I could before the injury.  I am grateful for what my body can do, all the amazing places they are taking me.  Most days, I had to coax the last few miles out of the feet with frequent rest breaks, massages, and stream soaks.  But I think it's all muscle sore because they responded well to the extra care.

A note on my footware because it's been something I've struggled with after the injury...  I've been carrying two sets of shoes, altra trail runners (what I've been wearing the past 6 months and when I got the injury) and keen trail shoes (a style which I wore for a few years before switching to trail runners).  Never carried two sets of shoes, but I'm doing all I can to take care of my feet right now.
Changing shoes.
Switching out between two sets of shoes was excellent for my muscles and joints because each shoe worked my feet and calves in different ways- ideal cross training.  The doctors said that the stiffer soles of real hiking shoes will prevent reinjury, so I tried to wear them most of the time.  Though the keens created their own set of problems in the form of bunion pain and increased pressure on the balls of my feet due to the heal rise.  The wide toe box of the altras allowed my toes to spread out so I never had bunion pain in them (one reason I switched to them in the first place).  Also, the altra trail runners allowed my feet to flex to really wrap the ground and I love that agile feeling.  In an ideal world, there would be shoes with the wide toe box and zero drop of the altras but a stiffer sole (can someone please make these!). Since there aren't, I'm hoping my feet will adjust to the keens for the rocky terrain in the next section.  I know I can't carry both shoes with the bear canister next week.  And I will work on strengthening my feet so I can go back to the altras for easier conditions in the future.

Overall though, I was thrilled how this section went and I'm excited for the next part between Ebbetts Pass and Tuolumne Meadows- back on towards the Sierras.


  1. Interesting observations re your shoes. Have you considered trying a carbon fiber footplate (insole) with your trail runners? They might solve the stiffness problem. (I haven't personally tried them, but know others who have with good results.)

    1. Thanks for the suggestion. I did try the carbon fiber insoles and didn't think they offered as enough stiffness for right now as my feet are still in the process of healing. I'm thinking that after the feet gain strength, that I will try them again. Guess I'm being overly cautious. I wish I knew more about foot mechanics and shoes to tell if what is needed is torsional rigidity, cushion, or whatever.

  2. Hi , sorry I have not connected for a while . Been following you though and dealing with my own issues following my big walk in central Aust . I too have been struggling with walking as I re-injured my knee during my 20 day walk. Finished it but did some serious damage to the knee and have been facing those "will i be able to do long walks again ", demons .
    I must say how I feel for you and how thrilled I have been with your journey . Such a strong person and you should be so proud of yourself. I also know what you mean about losing touch with the wave of walkers .... a bit like being kept down at school .
    Anyway , just wanted you o know that you have been inspiring and amazing so keep it up . Regards Steve

    1. Oh my heart goes out to you about the re-injury- totally know about that mental place. So difficult. Sorry to hear. Hope you can take the time to recover and are able to discover a long term solution. Besides that, how was the Larapinta and do you have a trip report somewhere? Would love to hear more about it.

      Haha it is sorta like being held back. Especially in the sense of imagining what all the others that advanced are now doing and tending to feel less than. But trying to get past that. I do like that I get to be on the fringe and goof off and have a different perspective on the PCT thru hiker culture now that I am outside it. Being a hiker gets you a chance to be outside of regular culture, and this is another step removed. Finding it kind of suits me in a lot of ways too. Makes you really aware of being deliberate about how to be in nature, what things are important.

      Take care!

    2. Hi , I'll do a trip report and let you know . Might take a bit of time but will do as I have a few others interested. Regards Steve

  3. So great to read about the trail I will be hiking next year!

    1. You are gonna love this section! I've also got some notes for you Mary, cause I was thinking about a few places I wish I'd had more time to stop at or camp- like Squaw Creek.

  4. Your photos are stunning! I'm absorbing them as much as I can!

  5. I am finally caught up on your blog. So great that you are back on the trail! I am envious of you pace and priorities as you are soaking up the scenery that I only glanced at in passing. Strong Work! Safe Travels...

    1. Thanks so much SlowBro! It's so good to be back on the trail. As much as I wish I'd made it to Canada this year, I am finding that I am appreciating this pace.

      PS I made a water scoop like yours and been using it-- very helpful for the lakes and sketchy water sources that are left.