Everyone starts shuffling super early – zipping zippers, rustling food bags, talking quietly – so it’s impossible to sleep past 5:15. My stomach seems to have recovered from whatever the hell that was yesterday, and my feet are starting to itch for the trail, so I’m out quicker than expected, slipping out of camp around 6, just behind Pineapple.
There’s a lot of up on our slate today, and I’m really just not feeling it. Pineapple seems to be feeling good today, though, so she’s out quite a bit ahead of me. With no one to talk to, I put my headphones in pretty much immediately, to stave off the strangeness of the day.
There are a ton of dirt roads to cross this morning, and we run into Dirt Squirrel and Chili taking a break by one of the roads. It’s nice to see another lady on trail – and Dirt Squirrel’s fast, so fast I can’t keep up. Pineapple can, though, and soon they and Chili are out of sight.
There are nice views of Shasta to keep me company, and it still looks like a snow cone, albeit a slightly larger snow cone, given the reduced distance. It’s less teasing today, though, since most of this morning’s walk is shaded.
Dirt Squirrel, Pineapple, and Chili are
chilling and taking a break at one of the water holes, but I don’t need water, so I continue on down the trail. They all catch me pretty quickly, though, and Pineapple and Dirt Squirrel are just chatting away as they get further and further ahead of me. Again. I feel vaguely jealous, although I don’t know why. Their speed, their chatting without getting out of breath, feeling left out, something spurs it within me. Maybe all of it. I let it go pretty quickly, though. Seems pretty pointless, not to mention foolish.
As the morning becomes the afternoon, it’s a lot of winding, wooded trail, punctuated by even more views of Shasta. I hear some weird noises up ahead – cows, maybe? – that turns out to be two Forest Service gents clearing the brush that’s encroaching on the trail. I thank them both as I pass for making my walk just a little bit easier
As the time ticks closer to 2pm, I find myself turning up the tunes – I’m on pace to make 20 miles by then, which is supposed to be a guideline for doing 30 miles in a day. Despite having done quite a few 30-mile days already, this will be the first time I’ll have done 20 by 2. I push to make sure, and when the clock strikes 1:58, I find myself at Moosehead Creek – mile 1445.2, 19.9 miles from where I started my day. …Close enough.
Pineapple’s there waiting in the shade, and so are some other hikers – Pineapple’s not in the mood to socialize, though, so we’re off by ourselves, chatting quietly and then napping for a bit, until the creeping sun forces us further into the shade. We stay at the creek for more than an hour, luxuriating until it’s nearly 4, and we have to get a move-on again.
More up, up – our long break has put us into a bit of a time crunch; we made 20 by 2, which seems pretty pointless if we don’t make 30 miles for the day. We’ve got to kick up the pace if we want to do so by dusk.
Finally, the highest point of the day:
And then it’s only a few more bumps in the elevation profile for the rest of the evening.
The day ends just like it started – weaving onto, off of, and over several dirt roads – but it skirts a ridge, so I do get some views.
I catch Pineapple, and while it’s getting dark, we decide to go for 30 anyway – 30.3, so we can camp by water at the Gold Creek Junction. The nearby Grizzly Peak Road, which Guthook says is dirt, will probably have some camping off to the side. Seems a reasonable thought, given how many hikers have already been through.
Sure enough, Chili and Dirt Squirrel are already there, set up. Since Pineapple walked the three-tenths extra to get us water last night, I volunteer to go tonight, and the road to the creek is nice until it isn’t. While I’m splayed out for balance under around across some branches, trying not to disturb the sediment in the shallow pools, Butterscotch comes up behind me, taking notes on where I fill up. I head back up the hill, jump when a deer cracks a loud branch, and scurry back up the hill to set up my tent across the road from everyone in the growing darkness. Pineapple joins me at my tent for a hurried dinner by headlamp, then I try not to think about cars coming by in the night as I settle in to sleep.
Start: 1425.3 • End: 1455.6 • Day: 30.3
Notable Accomplishments: Early Start • First (basically) 20 before 2p • Long, enjoyable break, even if it did mean rushing into camp