Butcherknife Creek(1464.6) to Logging Road(1493.9) 29.3 Miles
Total up/down:+8460/-8027 feet
I knew that I was in for a rough day today. Before I go to bed each night I always look at what the next day holds in store for me. I start planning out where I'm going to stop for water and where I can end the day at. I look for a listed tentsite with a water source. I pick a spot twenty one miles away(my minimum daily mileage) and then range out from there. Usually it is not difficult to come up with suitable locations for a twenty one to twenty five mile day. Today was much more difficult. I was looking at either a seventeen mile day or a twenty seven mile day. Due to the terrain there just wasn't any suitable locations to camp at. For a change water wasn't going to be an issue. All of the water sources were on the trail. I crossed small streams all day long. I was seriously considering making it a seventeen mile day. The elevation gain and loss looked atrocious, the camping situation was dire, and my feet have been feeling like they went through a meat grinder. I decided to do what I always do... Just keep walking. One of the most important lessons I learned on the AT, was that everything has a way of working out in the end. That seems to be especially true when I just let go. It is nice to have a tentative plan, but as it is in the civilized world as well, plans rarely work out the way you want them to.
I drifted off to sleep last night with a tenative plan as to where I would end my day and a solid plan for snack and water stops. I don't drink very much during the first third of the day. Since I have a liquid breakfast I stay pretty well hydrated. Usually one liter will last me at least ten to fifteen miles. The weather was noticeably cooler today. The trail today was almost entirely through the forest. I didn't have a lot of direct sunlight or exposed sections. I managed to stretch out my one liter of water for almost eighteen miles. During those eighteen miles I only stopped once. I used that single break to eat a poptart, air out my feet, and pee. I managed to distract myself extremely well. I didn't even notice that I had gained and then lost almost four thousand feet of elevation. My creative juices were flowing and I have come up with several good ideas for life post trail(sorry no spoilers). I think the lack of visual stimuli helped. I wouldn't call today boring, but it definitely wasn't awe inspiring nonstop beauty.
Eventually I had to stop to collect and purify water. I came across a nice ice cold river so I decided to take a long break there. I soaked my feet as I washed my socks and collected water. I meet a nice retired gentleman who was fishing for trout. He was quite impressed that I was hiking the trail. He offered me a ride into Mt. Shasta. Apparently he was concerned about me having to hitchhike there tomorrow. I kindly declined, explaining that I don't skip trail miles. I still had seventeen more miles to hike before I got to the Mt. Shasta trailhead. He wished me luck before we parted ways.
The next thirteen miles were more of the same. I wound my way up the mountain. My only views were of the surrounding forest. Eventually I made it to around tree line. I had gotten much closer to Mount Shasta. I had clear views of it off and on for the remaining miles.
As I walked towards my last water source of the day I started smelling a strong piney scent. It smelled like fresh cut Christmas trees. I was surprised to come by a logging operation. They were cutting down trees about twenty feet from the trail. I was shocked to see that happening so close to a protected corridor.
I know our wood comes from logging like this, but it was shocking to see it first hand.
I only had two more miles to hike until my water source/camping site, but I was really starting to struggle. I had hit the wall and my body did not want to go any farther. I tried listening to Harry Potter, but it did nothing to distract me. I finally limped into the water source and was dismayed to discover that there was nowhere to camp. I looked at my maps only to discover that there wasn't any camping listed there. I had misremembered the information. Or maybe it was just wishful thinking. I collected enough water to dry camp and cursed myself for another long hard two and a half miles. The terrain of the trail did not afford any camping in this area, I had no choice but to keep walking. Finally the trail dumped me off onto a logging road and I found a flat spot to cowboy camp on. I had unintentionally done an almost thirty mile day. My only consolation was this...
A cooked dinner and watched the sunset over Mount Shasta. Tomorrow I will treat myself to a hotel room in Mount Shasta. It will be my first bed in four hundred miles.
"Each day you wake up, you wake up with billions around the world but when the sun sets, not all retire. It is a joyful privilege to note that you are a unique person among billions of people who wake up each day to walk on the surface of the earth. It is a noble responsibility to note that you have to use this privilege effectively."
- Ernest Agyemang Yeboah