It’s good to be back to solo hiking again, although I had a great time hiking with Justin, Thomas, and Speedstick last week. The terrain has gotten substantially easier, without too much compromise in the scenery department. Ridgeline views and ridgewalks, still plentiful, show low, rolling mountains with a few patches of snow here and there. This contrasts with the soaring, jagged peaks of the High Sierra. This part of California feels a bit like a cross between the low Alps and the Appalachians, 20 miles per day is a cinch through here and so I’ve upped my standard daily mileage to 25-30 miles. This is actually easier than it sounds as I’m usually up walking by 6 AM and getting into my sleeping bag around 8:30 PM with long breaks for meals and snacks in between. However, it seems as though unseen elements have been conspiring to try and keep my miles below 25.
For example, as I was reading before bed a few nights ago, the wind picked up and blew the page out of my hand. I rushed up to retrieve the page and jammed the ball of my big toe into a sharp rock. Ow! I looked down and saw a big gash and lots of blood on my toes. I grabbed my med kit, but knew I was going to have to do some improvising. (My med kit has been shrinking at every resupply. I’ve tossed my ACE wrap and gauze bandages, as well as other helpful items.) Reaching into my pack, I took out my dry shirt and used it to dab the blood off my toes and apply pressure to the wound. I used iodine-treated stream water to wash my toes, and then blotted some Bacitracin (antibiotic) over the wound. Finally, I used the only band-aid I had and covered up before sleep. The next day I walked gingerly for the first hour and was back to my normal pace for the rest of the day. The wound is healing nicely.
A second example: At the end of that very day, I came to Rte 40 at Donner Pass after 24 miles (not quite 25!). Lo and behold, just across the street was the Donner Ski Ranch which promised cold drinks and food at its bar/restaurant. I walked in and sat down at the bar. As soon as the local barflies found out I was a PCT hiker, a 40 oz bottle of King Cobra was hefted out of the cooler and set with a thud in front of me. Apparently all PCT hikers who come by here get a free 40. I ordered some onion rings and a big plate of meat and dug in. The first half of the 40 tasted great. Making over 25 miles proved to be quite a challenge that day.