Thursday, July 16, 2009

Somewhere traversing Brown Mountain

It is a testament to the adaptability of the human body that I slept at all last night in my most lumpy and un-level bed. But I did. It was the worst camp I ever made.

I set off early to take advantage of the cool of early morning. It did not last long. THe day was hot and viewless. There was little to do but look at tree trunks and be completely aware of how sleepy I was and how tired my feet were. I struggled to just keep moving. Others find the near level trail of Oregon a chance to finally get in some big miles. I seemed to do better with more ups and downs. At the end of the day I still got in about 27 miles, but they were hard miles to me.

Did I mention it was hot? I wore my umbrella, even in the shade. ONce in a while the sun would claim a patch of the forest and then I was still protected. But its help was minimal.

The trail had little water again. I took great pains to try to follow the guide book and make sure I did not miss Big Springs, which was off the trail a bit. THank heavens the BLM put a sign pointing the way or I might have missed it.

Big Springs was a nice spring. THere was a pipe lifting the water out of the stream bed and it flowed strong and clear. I rummaged around in my food bag and got the fixings for crackers and hummus ready, but then I found my one box of pudding. I made lemon pudding instead because when else would I find pudding-ready water at lunchtime?

I washed up at the spring with the cold water and put clean socks on. I soaked my desert shirt. I was ready to forge ahead into the heat of the day. My pep was short-lived.

I hiked on for a few more hours and emerged to Dead Indian Road. There was a recommended, lake-blessed alternative route here, but I decided against it. Too many mosquitoes.

I walked a few more miles to Brown Mountain Shelter. I was glad there was another sign to point the way. The book was too confusing to follow.

You could stay in the shelter if you wanted. I went inside. There was a pad of paper. Thumbs Up was the last to pass through. I had heard of him from a section hiker named Aysa I had met yesterday. Thumbs Up and another guy supposedly were the next two thru-hikers after Eric D. They were pulling 30 and 40 mile days. They must have gone through when I was in Ashland. (Later I heard they were section hikers who started in Ashland so Moosa and Boone were still numbers 2 and 3 in the "race" to Canada.) There was no way I'd meet Thumbs Up now. I signed my own name and then went outside to pump water at the well on a very tall green hand pump. I filled all my bottles and then cooked my dinner while I ate my dessert. It was still plenty early, only 4:30, but I figured it would stay warm an hour and ahalf and then I'd eat it.

I hoped to find a camp site at 6. Since I had been so tired today, even taking a brief nap at Dead Indian Road hadn't helped, I thought I shouldn't push myself too hard. Plus, why hurry? Unless I pushed real hard, I was on schedule to reach Crater Lake on Sunday and I'd have to wait for the post office anyway. Furthermore, Fish Lake Resort was coming up in 10 miles and I did not want to set myself up to arrive when they were closed. I wanted to buy a little more food since all my tortillas had been moldy and I was running low on candy.

I set off from the shelter. The heat had eased. There were some high clouds and contrails. The rest while cooking dinner seemed to help, too. I felt much peppier.

The trail soon wound through huge piles of chunky lava rocks. THe trail builders had formed the trail with scoria cinders. It was interesting, but not anything you could camp on. I thought I might end up at Fish Lake anyway. But then I saw a tiny nook next to the trail. I stopped and ate dinner there and then set up my tent. Soon swarms of mosquitoes mobbed me and I dove inside for safety. I could only imagine how awful the lake-lined route would have been.

My camp site was smooth and level. I knew I'd get a good night's sleep. And being early in the evening, my reward was a chance to read another chapter of my book. I still managed around 27 miles despite how much I felt I struggled all day.

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