Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Day 182- To the McCloud River

Day 182, 10/7/14
1452 to 1476 (McCloud River)
24 miles

Crisp and cold in the early morning hours.  I hiked bundled up in my fleece hoodie and down coat.   But the PCT provides constantly changing conditions.  The only thing you can rely on is change.  That you are going to have to learn to adapt.

By afternoon, I was baking in the heat and drenched in sweat.  The ridgewalking along Grizzly Peak was gorgeous, but I knew I was not able to appreciate it.  All I could do was trudge along head down under the shade of my umbrella, sweltering as the heat hung heavy in the air, fantasizing about ice cold drinks and swimming in mountain waters.
Hiding from the heat under my umbrella.
My feel swelled as they do when it's hot.  I cursed my shoes- those darn "sturdy" hiking shoes, the ones the doctors urged me to wear after the stress fracture.  They were so much hotter than my old trail runners and they were far too narrow for my bunions.  My feet ached, the blisters I'd gotten a few days ago hurt despite my wrapping them.  What a struggle to keep positive.  I'd sit down for a break to air out my feet, and what convincing it took to get myself to get moving again.  But I'd been hiking long enough to know that being happy out on the PCT is a choice.  Being uncomfortable isn't an excuse to be unhappy.  So I choose to keep walking and not let the pain get to me.   I concentrated on the beauty around me- that always gets me through. The huge Douglas fir trees. The soft thimbleberry leaves and delicate ferns.  I was hiking the PCT and gosh darn it I was gonna enjoy it!
Fern clinging to a rockface.
I remembered another thing I could look forward to about being off the trail- friends!  I really miss my friends from back home.  While I've been on the trail, I have been so immersed in the experience, I haven't kept up with them.  I miss being part of my friends' lives- so I could look forward to reconnecting.  I did have something that I really could look forward to.

By late afternoon, I was descending to the McCloud River.   Long before I could see it, I could hear the roar of the water.   I imagined soaking my feet in the cool waters and falling asleep in my hammock to the music of the cascading water.  But when I finally got to the river, I found that the PCT had taken me to a car-accessible campground by the water.
The magnificent McCloud River with whitish-tinted waters.
I wanted to camp by the water and to watch the sunset from its banks.  Even though there was no one at the campground, I was extremely wary of camping anywhere near a road.  I've always been told that, as a woman, I should camp far from roads especially when solo.  Too dangerous.  Normally I follow this advice and I've just come to accept it.  But after such a long tiring day, I was pissed.  It made me angry that I couldn't camp anywhere I wanted.  That once again I'd go hide in the woods out of sight, not in the pretty spot by the gorgeous river.    If I were a guy, would I camp here?  Would I be so cautious?

I kept hiking across the bridge.  The banks were steep on this side of the river so I just kept hiking and I ended up camping away from the river, though at least I could still hear the water.  Guess it didn't matter anyway that I couldn't see the sunset, because I was too tired to keep my eyes open.  I just crawled into my hammock, felt my feet throbbing and aching, the poor things.  Then I fell asleep.

Yet another day I hadn't seen anyone at all.

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