Stealthsite(1205.5) to Alder Creek(1224.4) 28.9 Miles
Last night was epic. Since there was zero light pollution I had an amazing view of the stars. I woke up a few times during the night to drink water and I remember just starring at the sky until I fell back to sleep. It was very peaceful. I wish every night could be like that, but lately I've been condemned to the inside of my tent because of the bugs. My plan for this section was to hike fourteen miles followed by three days of hiking twenty five miles. Due to my short day yesterday I had miles to make up. Once again I left camp later than I had planned on. The days are definitely getting shorter. The sun isn't rising until six o'clock. I remember back in the desert when it was starting to get light out by five fifteen. I'll wake up around 5-5:30 and go back to sleep because it is still dark. I have to get better about getting up when my alarm goes off. It has been really warm out at night and by early morning it is uncomfortably warm. I barely even use my sleeping bag at night now. I open it up all the way and drape it over me like a quilt. When I set up camp last night I didn't even realize that I was facing east. It made for a nice surprise when I woke up to the sunrise. It has been awhile since I've seen a sunrise. Once again I was reminded of my time in the desert.
I packed up quickly, drank my go-go juice, and started hiking. It was only six thirty in the morning and already it was warm out. It is going to be a hot day. Days like today are hard to write about. The more miles I hike the more everything blends together. To be honest today wasn't very memorable. The hike was a lot of minor up and downs that added up to a lot of elevation change. Usually I look back at my pictures from the day to help me remember what I did, but today I didn't take very many. The landscape wasn't too terribly exciting. I followed the contours of the mountain range for most of the morning. I passed by a few lakes, but I never really came close enough to any of them to go for a swim.
I passed by a few water sources early in the hike because I didn't need water. I heard from other hikers later in the day that that was a good thing. They were all at least .25 off trail and full of yellow jacket bees. I climbed up to an exposed ridgeline and walked along that for awhile. It was ridiculously hot up there. I started to quickly go through my water.
At the top of the ridge I got cell phone service. I took a few minutes to post my blog and to check my text message. I put my phone back in airplane mode and continued on. I dropped back down in elevation and came to my next water source, A-Tree springs. Legend has it that a trail crew was doing routine maintenance when they stumbled across a tree that was swarming with bees. One of the trail guys said, if this is the B-Tree we need to have an A-Tree. They put up a sign on a random tree calling it the A-Tree. The name stuck and the spring close by was named A-Tree Springs. The water there was ice cold and came out of a pipe which made for easy collection. I sat in the shade and had a snack. Back in S. Lake Tahoe, Evac gave me a Starbucks powdered drink pack. It was strawberry lemonade flavored. I added it to my ice cold water and had an amazing treat. Starbucks Refreshers might be my new favorite trail drink. It had a light crisp clean taste and the caffeine was a welcome treat. The next several miles went by quickly.
The common trend for this section seems to include hiking through the forest in the shade, followed immediately by walking a super exposed section of trail. The forest is muggy and warm, but it is a good deal more pleasant than walking through the exposed sections. It seems like every time the trail went up it was exposed. When it was time to go back down it was through the forest.
Shortly after these pictures the trail descended back into the forest for the remainder of the day. Water was scarce at this point. I wasn't sure where exactly I was going to camp. I had two choices. The first was to get water at Whiskey Spring and dry camp a few miles past there. That would have been a twenty five mile day. The second option was to camp at Alder Creek for a twenty nine mile day. I decided to see how I felt when I got to Whiskey Spring. When I got there and discovered that the spring was located.3 miles downhill and off the trail the choice was made for me. I still had over one liter left and didn't want to walk that far downhill off of the trail. I pushed on to Alder Creek.
My new shoes were working out fantastic, until they weren't. Just past Whiskey Spring I began to have a little pain around my achilles tendon. It felt like I was getting a blister, but that wasn't very likely because I had my heels taped up from a few days ago when my old shoes gave me hot spots. I was only a few miles away from camp and too stubborn to stop. By the time I made it to Alder Creek I could barely walk. I decided to get water before tending my feet. The spring was supposed to be 800 feet off of the trail, but it was much farther than that. Once I made it down to the water I filled up my bladders as quickly as possible. The spring was full of mosquitos and yellow jackets. I limped my way back up to camp. As I was taking off my socks and shoes I was swarmed by yellow jackets. They were everywhere. It was very difficult to just sit still and let them fly all around me. I expected to find out that my heels were a bloody mess, but I didn't even a hot spot there. It was more like irritation due to chaffing. Both heels were irritated. It looked almost like a carpet burn. I'm not sure what to think about it. I took off the leukotape and cleaned my feet with wet wipes. Just to be safe I put on some neosporin. Other than my heels being angry, my feet felt great. Usually towards the end of a high mileage day my feet are the first things to hurt. Once I cared for my feet I set up camp and started dinner. The yellow jackets just kept getting worse. I think I would rather deal with mosquitos. Nothing deters yellow jackets. I thought for sure I was going to get stung, but I never did. As I was eating three other thruhikers came by and decided to camp with me, Orange Blossom, Listen, and Squirrel. They were completely new faces to me. Squirrel and Listen hiked the AT in 2014. I love meeting others who have hiked the AT. It is nice to talk about the trail with them. Listen was stung almost immediately after arriving. After that they all cooked inside their tents and didn't come out for the rest of the night. I'm hoping that this is a one time occurrence with the bees, but supposedly this section is lousy with bees. Uggh, who thought that I would ever miss mosquitos.
"No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven."
- Orson F. Whitney