Cold Springs(1302.9) to Stover Spring(1332.3) 29.3 Miles
Woo hoo!!! I finally reached the halfway point. It has taken me 92 days to hike 1,330 miles. That averages out to a little over fourteen miles per day. I have completely lost track of how many zero days that includes. I hope to finish the next 1,330 miles in 62 days. I sure have my work cut out for me.
My main issue for the day was water. There are quite a few water sources, but most of them are located .3 miles off of the trail. They are also three to four hundred feet down in elevation. I decided to skip the first few sources. I carried extra water out of camp to make it doable. I am currently listening to a podcast called, Sounds of the Trail. It is all about thruhiking long distance trails. One of the questions they always ask thruhikers is, "What is your favorite part of the day?" My favorite part of the day is hiking in the morning. The day is always so full of promise. My body and mind are rejuvenated. The birds are singing, the sun is just peaking over the mountains, and the air is crisp. My least favorite part of the day is the late afternoon. My feet are angry, my pack feels two times heavier, and I'm usually exhausted.
Today started with so much promise. My pack felt light and my body felt great. I crushed the first thirteen miles without a problem. Yesterday I began hiking in Lassen Volcanic National Forest. The scenery has changed into pine forests and volcanic rock formations. It is a welcome change of scenery.
At mile thirteen I finally had to stop for water. Little Cub Spring was .3 miles off trail with about three hundred feet of elevation loss. I shouldn't complain about hiking off trail for water. Really I'm just glad that there is water. I dropped my pack at the trail junction and began walking downhill to the water. As I was going down, Droplet was hiking back up. I was excited to see him. He is part of a group that I have been around for a long time now. I never get to hike with them though. Every time I get into town they are hiking out. We talked for a few minutes and it sounded as if they were planning on camping at the same place tonight. The hike down to the water wasn't too bad, but I lost about an hour going down, back up, and then filtering.
After leaving the water source I hiked as fast as I could. I was really close to the halfway point and I was anxious to get there. Shortly before I made it there I came across an interesting piece of trail construction. There was a large talus field, but instead of going over it the trail engineers made a path through it. I really appreciated not having to walk over the talus.
Rolling out the red carpet
Immediately after this I had to walk through overgrown brush for half a mile. I did not appreciate that.
For the rest of the afternoon the trail was well behaved. At mile 1320 I hit the trail marker for the halfway point of the hike. It was about ten miles too soon, but I'm not complaining. All long distance trails have slightly different mileage from year to year. I posed for a few pictures while listening to Bon Jovi's Living On A Prayer. Thanks to Cyborg and Stealth Bomber for giving me this idea. It is now my trail tradition to listen to that song at the halfway point.
I still had about twelve more miles to hike today. The good news is that most of those miles were down a gradual slope. I managed to keep up a good pace until the last four miles. After that I began to slow down considerably. With only two miles to go I came to a road crossing. I was hoping that I might get trail magic there, but I left disappointed. However, I found the motivation to pick up my pace. A carload of hikers were coming back onto the trail after going into town. I wasn't sure how many good tentsites there would be in camp. I didn't want this group to beat me there, so I was forced to hike faster than them. I made it there just ahead of them. There was actually plenty of good spots for everyone. Droplet and Canary were camped there too. It was nice to camp with people I know. I've been around a whole lot of new faces since I left Tahoe. I had just missed Sonic Boom and Lost and Found. They had pushed on to hike a few more miles, but I'm hoping I'll get to see them tomorrow. I set up camp, filtered water, and cooked dinner just as it was getting dark. I'd prefer to set up camp earlier, but I don't hike fast enough to do big mile days and get to camp early. I wish I could have my cake and eat it too.
"Nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the woods before sunrise."
– George Washington Carver