Berry Creek(2321.6) to Tixler Spring(2360.3)
Total Miles: 2075.9
Elevation: 8,642 feet
Once again I fell asleep while I was writing my blog last night. I went back and read it just now and realized that it was not tied together very well. Sorry! I meant to talk about the title. I am officially three fourths done with the trail. Mentally I don’t find that a helpful thought. Straws and Piñata were excited as well to think that we had less than 700 miles to hike. When I told them that we still had a quarter of the trail to hike they weren’t as excited. I think that is a good example of how something can be phrased positively and negatively. I’m going to stay positive and be excited that I have less than 700 miles until I’m a triple crowner.
Since we had camped in a valley and close to water this morning it was really cold. I was glad the day started with a nice uphill climb. As soon as we got away from the water and out of the valley the temperature rose dramatically. We all had to stop and take layers off.
Off to a good start hiking in a forest
The rest of the day was totally unexpected. I realized early on that it was going to be a tough day full of big climbs and sharp descents. What I failed to notice was that we would be hiking in the mountains again. It has been a long stretch of hiking rolling hills. Being back in the mountains was fantastic, but the hiking terrain made for a slow going day. Almost from the beginning of the day I was tired and just felt off. That might have something to do with the fact that in the last seven days I have hiked 191.8 miles. One of those days was even a town day. That comes out to 27.4 miles per day. I’m not sure, but I think that is my best one week average for this trail.
We spent most of the morning hiking in silence. Usually we talk more, but the uphills kept us spread out along the trail. Plus, it is hard to hold a conversation when you can barely breathe. On the downhills we were so focused on our foot placement that conversation was kept to a minimum. It wasn’t long before I decided to listen to an audiobook. I was just about finished listening to Star Wars: A New Dawn. I really enjoy Star Wars audiobooks on trail. They have the sounds of droids, lightsabers, blasters, and more. It is more like listening to a movie than reading a book. Star Wars kept me entertained for most of the day. I spent a little more time hiking alone today. Yesterday and today I had long stretches in the early and late afternoon to myself. I really enjoy Piñata and Straws’s company, but I also like hiking on my own. I’m still trying to figure out our group dynamic and the last few days have fit my hiking style better.
Hiking up and over mountain passes is extremely exhausting work, but it is way more rewarding than hiking up rolling hills on a dirt road. After each pass the trail would drop back down before climbing up and over another pass. As usual, the downhill hiking was the least pleasurable and mentally taxing part of the day. It was just the perfect grade and rock composition to trip up unsuspecting hikers. I was pleased to have stayed upright all day, but the rocky ground did s number on my feet. My heels have weird callus/blisters from the terrain. Both of my arches look like they have rug burn. I must have had a considerable amount of sand and grit in my socks and shoes. When I made it to camp I washed my feet with wet wipes and put on some neosporin. Hopefully they aren’t too sore tomorrow.
Uphill through the wildflowers
View of Big Lake from an unnamed pass
I love being back in the mountains
Piñata and Sour Straws making their way down
Tough terrain. Everyone’s feet are sore
We stopped and took our last break five miles from where we were going to stop for the day. We had two “little” climbs ahead of us. I say “little” because at the end of the day any climb is a struggle, especially today. I had almost 7,000 feet of elevation gain. That has to be in my top 5 days of elevation gain on this trail. We stopped and set up camp at little earlier than usual. Looking ahead on our maps we didn’t think there was a good chance of finding a decent camping spot farther down the trail. It didn’t help that we were all beat. Dinner was a subdued affair. Piñata and Straws were in their tent by 9:00 and I wasn’t very far behind them. We hung our food again just to be safe. I haven’t seen any signs of bear activity, but we aren’t in cattle country anymore either.
Much different scenery than the last week of meh
"Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution. It forces us to change our thinking in order to find it."
- Niels Bohr