8/19: First 30 Mile Day

Returned to the trail 2 days ago after a quick trip home to see the dentist. I had just started noticing some tooth pain in the few days prior to arriving in Sierra City. When I tried to sleep that night, sleep didn’t come until almost 4:00am, and I was rocking back & forth holding my cheek. Why now? Why something I just didn’t have the funds to fix? I felt that I was watching all the planning, all the hard work, sweat, all the miles up to this point just melt into failure. I don’t do failure well at all. I began wondering how to tell exactly which tooth it was, and wondering if I could rig my trekking pole in such a way so that I  could take the tooth out myself, like Tom Hanks in “Castaway.” I had told myself that I’d crawl to Canada if I had to, that I WOULD make it to Manning Provincial Park in British Columbia, the official ending point of the PCT, no matter what. But tooth pain…wow, a TOOTH was going to stop me?

Thankfully, I was spoken sense to, and suggested I come home to see what the dentist could do. In the big oucture, Sierra City was as close as id be to home, just over 2 hours away. It made sense. Turned out I had a cavity, and it was able to be filled. Not only that, but I could pay when I returned from the hike. Amazing…I am so thankful for my dentist. Also my wonderful personal ‘Trail Angel’ back home…I’m so grateful. :)

So after an extra day to see how the tooth was acclimating to it’s new life, I hit the trail where I had left off in Sierra City. Starting with a 7 mile ascent right off, I reached the top of that hill in time to bed down for the night. I decided to wake up early, get ready for the day without rushing, and set off with a goal of reaching my first 30 mile day of the trip. 

One thing I picked up while at home was my handheld GPS unit. Not heavy (Garmin CSx), it would serve one main purpose. Mainly, I’d find the overall miles walked, the average miles per hour, and the time spent walking & not walking to be most important. I already have maps I follow, and the trail is usually well marked, so I don’t even look at the GPS map function at all. It’s all about the stats, and I’m a stats geek! 

So armed with the GPS to help me watch my pace & distance, I averaged 3.2 miles an hour, and hit 30.4 total miles for the day. Overall, with other walking that I didn’t count, I walked closer to 34 miles, but those weren’t trail miles (taking the wrong trail offshoot, getting water, walking back to where I’d eventually camp, etc). 

During the first few hours of my 30 mile day, I slipped on a snow hill, feet flew up in the air & over my head, and I came down hard on my left hip, wrenching my left knee. That knee tends to give me the most trouble generally, and was the same knee that I hurt towards the end of the Mojave Desert portion. It did hurt a little the rest of the day, but not terribly. 

I settled into a good camp spot for the night, walked a mile to get some fresh water, and made a small fire to cook dinner. I celebrated the first 30 mile day by enjoying a yummy desert: bananas foster, from AlpineAire. Loved it!

I slept ok, but was cramping up all through the night. Even my hands would cramp…I knew this had to be from the lack of water throughout the day. I filled up every opportunity, but I have a feeling I needed more than 8 liters. 

I slept in a little to give my body an opportunity to heal up from yesterday. My knee had stiffened up overnight and was worse, as I expected. My feet hurt pretty bad. I had a bit of chafing on both my hips from the hip belt of my pack, the first of that I’d experienced on the trip. Made for some uncomfortable moments, but not bad overall. I made it to the middle fork of the Feather River, and after climbing up the ridge for a few miles on the other side, I made camp. First thing up was the bug tent, and a good thing, too. The Mosquitos were coming out in droves, and I was able to throw what I needed inside, and duck inside for safety. Now I feel like a lobster in a tank at a fancy restaurant, as literally hundreds of mosquitoes are  swarming loudly outside the netting, wanting badly to have their dinner! 

I had wanted to make a fire & make a warm dinner, but I think I’m going to settle for a cold meal tonight. Better to eat cold, than be eaten alive! :)

I’m currently camped approximately 34 miles from Belden, my next resupply, and looking forward to arriving. In addition to getting a new batch of food & a new pair of shoes, I’m going to try and get a hold of my older sister & my nieces, as well as my friend Devon. 

I’m getting an early start in the morning so that I can camp just outside of Belden tomorrow night. 

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