Mile 1297.98 – Mile 1312
We didn’t even bother trying to get up early today. No alarms were set, and the sleep was glorious. We walked over snow for the first time in a while this morning, but it was only a few small patches over the trail, and then it was done. We also saw a ton of other hikers again today. Within the first couple of miles alone we crossed paths with 5 people going south and 4 people going north, and we continued to see people throughout the day. We got a few nice views early in the morning, but soon the trail plunged into the forest once more.
We stopped to lie in the dirt and have breakfast, and ended up staying there for almost an hour and a half. We’re apparently really good at taking it easy. Not long after breakfast, we heard a strange sound echoing through the forest. It was some kind of creature, calling out into the woods. And there was more than one. The sound was soon coming from all sides. It was pretty spooky. I’m pretty sure they were just cows, but I’m also pretty sure it may have been Sasquatch. This obviously prompted a lengthy discussion on whether Sasquatch exists, and where they might have the best chances of living undiscovered (Northern Canada was a top contender).
Shortly after the Sasquatch incident, I hit my own personal 1000 mile point. Yes, I have officially walked 1000 miles. I made my own little marker and got a photo with it. It feels a bit weird to not be able to celebrate with the “official” mile markers anymore (we passed 1300 this morning), but I’m learning to accept that this where I am and this is what the trail has given me. No, this isn’t where I thought I would be celebrating having walked 1000 miles, but I really do feel okay with that. I thought I was supposed to walk this trail in a specific way, but the trail isn’t a fan of expectations and plans. And while the trail may have taken my hopes and dreams and thrown them to the wind, it’s given me so much more than I ever thought possible. I’m learning to accept change and love being right where I am.
Anyway, back to hiking… After hitting the 1000 mile point, the rest of the day was fairly uneventful. At lunch, we did a bunch of mathing in order to determine what we need to do in order to finish this trail in the time allotted to us (and if that was even possible at this point). It looks like it will be totally possible, with a bit of pushing. Once we leave Chester, we’re just going to push ourselves to make as many miles as we possibly can each day. We should still have time to give ourselves nearos and a few zeros in towns, so it won’t be a total death march. And if all goes well, once we reach the Canadian border, we’ll head back down to South Lake Tahoe and pick up the part of the trail that we missed, allowing us to end our hike in the most dramatic way possible: summiting Mount Whitney. Now, I know I just spent an entire paragraph describing the precise manner in which the trail likes to fuck up everything you have planned, so I’m trying to manage my expectations here, but I really would like to finish walking this entire trail, even if it’s not in exactly the way I had originally imagined. But we’ll just take it day by day and re-evaluate as we go. It’s at least nice to know that if things go well, it is actually possible.
The afternoon’s hike eventually broke out of the forest and provided us with some pretty great views of Mount Lassen (I think?) and some really cool volcanic rock formations. We wound in and out of the forest and along the ridge until we reached a really cool campsite in an open, rocky area, with a seriously awesome view of the surrounding rolling green hills. It’s really beautiful.
Tomorrow, we’ll have another short day to get us to the last marked campsite before the town of Chester, so we can head into town on Saturday (we’re meeting Gummies’ parents on Sunday). Just a couple more days of taking it easy, and then it’s mile crushing time.