Update first: Things are going better since my vacation from the trail. It is still a challenge, but I think just realizing that there isn’t going to be some magical point at which it becomes easy, at which our feet stop hurting, helps. There’s a reason not everyone does this.
Other things that have helped are breaking our lunch into two lunches. Before, I would hit a real low point after lunch, feeling really full, but also not having enough energy because the calories hadn’t yet converted. Eating smaller amounts more frequently helps. I’m also incorporating some yoga breathing into my nightly stretches, which helps me let go of the day and relax. Also just taking more time to stop and look around at the scenery to get out of my head.
And when none of that works, I listen to my favorite podcasts. Usually for those last few miles of the day, which another hiker dubbed the “fuck four.” You can see many a hiker suiting up with headphones during this time of day. It does a pretty good job of drowning out the screaming coming from my feet.
The section from South Lake Tahoe to Sierra City may have been one of my favorites. We got into some tall tree forests, beautiful wildflower fields, and long stretches of walking atop the ridge crest, with gorgeous views on either side of us. It often reminded me of the opening scene of The Sound of Music, where Maria is spinning on a hilltop of wildflowers surrounded by mountains. That soundtrack was playing in my head for several days, which was actually quite uplifting.
We enjoyed Sierra City, which was not a city at all, but a quirky little rural town, home to a 1 pound burger that Jason ate two of while there.
Our first day out of town we were downpoured on, and spent the next two days drying out.
From Sierra City to Chester we had one “best of” and a couple momentous events.
Best swimming hole yet was at the middle fork of Feather River. Beautiful green Rapids rolling over smooth polished rocks, shooting us into little eddies and deep pools. For you Northern Mainers, it reminded me a little of Gauntlet Falls.
Two days ago we celebrated one year of marriage. How did we celebrate? Hiking, of course! And today we celebrated reaching the midpoint of the hike! (The technical halfway point will actually be a half mile out of Chester tomorrow, but close enough.) We are more than halfway done, time-wise. This works out because we now hike more miles per day and spend less time in town. I think back to our first day on the trail when it took us all day to do ten miles. Now we get ten miles done before the day’s half over!
We are currently in Chester, CA. We just did our grocery shopping. All the motels were booked, so we are cowboy camping on the back deck of the Lutheran Church. (Many churches along the trail let hikers camp on their lawns.)
So, last night I am sleeping in our tent, as usual, when I am awoken by Jason shouting “Hey!” at an animal he heard outside the tent. It’s important to note, when the rain fly is on, our tent has no visibility to the outside. The noise stops and we get out to pee.
I shine my light at a pair of eyes shining back at me several feet away in the trees. I keep shining the light, the shining eyes do not move. They do eventually slowly move on. We get back in our tent and fall asleep.
A couple hours later we awaken to the same sound. Jason shouts and claps and the animal slowly leaves the vicinity. It sounds big but we can’t tell what it is.
A few hours later, I awaken to digging near our tent door. I wake Jason up, put the headlamp on, we shout, we listen. It leaves, but then comes back. We hear a munching sound. The animal is eating the bush a couple feet from our tent. We can tell it is big, but it is not interested in us or our food. We scare it away again. It comes back, circling around our tent. It is so close, we can hear it moving really well. It almost sounds like it has hooves. Ok, is this just a deer? It’s back at the bush.
I finally get enough courage up to unzip the rain fly at the top, just a little, and peer out with the headlamp. Looking back at me with those shining eyes is a mule deer, a few feet away. We just stare at each other for a minute. Jason takes a look as well.
At this point, we give up on scaring it away. We lay back down, and as our hearts stop pounding, we hear more hooves, more munching. We are surrounded.
P.S. Does anyone have any favorite podcasts I should be listening to?
July 15, 2015 at 4:41 am
Happy Anniversary you two !! Such beautiful places to spend it in 🙂 Your pics are gorgeous !
July 16, 2015 at 8:12 pm
July 15, 2015 at 9:33 am
Thanks for putting this post out there. It sounds like you had a much better time on this segment. We really like the Lake Tahoe area. Your pictures are great. They made me want to be walking along that trail. You are going to have great stories to tell and pictures to share for many years to come after this adventure ends.
July 16, 2015 at 12:27 am
Deer are attracted to and like to lick the salt from your pee.
July 16, 2015 at 1:44 am
Hi Catie, I nearly have to pee after hearing the mule deer story. Mark and I spent a night thinking there was a Mt Lion outside our tent in Joshua Tree many years ago. Mark awoke with my hand print on his chest in the morning. So glad to hear of your adventures! So glad to her it is going better. Click and Clack are always fun, mindless podcasts to listen to. Happy Anniversary! Our news…Amelia loved DC and the kids will have a baby boy cousin in October! We are headed to Hood River tomorrow to meet up with some more Denver family. We will hike up Eagle Creek but not quite to the PCT. We did the Plateau years ago, too. Summer is inspiring! We love your pics and posts! Lisa
July 18, 2015 at 8:00 pm
Hi Lisa, good to hear from you, sounds like you guys are having a great summer!
July 19, 2015 at 8:43 pm
Glad to hear things are going better. I Grew up near Chester/susanville and have fond memories of swimming in the Feather river. I wish I had been smarter about your route and location. My parents live near the Pct in Chester area.
If you need anything while passing thru Oregon, please let me know. And if you need a place to rest for a few days, your welcome to stay at our house.
July 19, 2015 at 9:07 pm
Thanks Dean! Would love to see you soon, if not on the trail, then when we get off!