|Sunrise from camp!|
Not only were the shoes quickly falling apart, but as they did so, my feet hurt worse and worse. Each step was a painful experience. Blisters started to form for the first time in months. I slapped moleskin on in the appropriate places and pushed on. What else could I do? What I really wanted to do was hurl them through the front window of the store I bought them, but that was hard to do from the middle of the Marble Mountain Wilderness. And, as bad as the shoes were, it was still preferable to walking barefoot!
For the second time in less than a week, I didn't see a single thru-hiker the entire day. In fact, I almost didn't see anyone for the entire day--it wasn't until about five in the afternoon when I passed a couple of southbound hikers.
|Views! Views! Everywhere! If you're looking for a nice|
place to go backpacking, Northern California
Late in the day, the trail dropped dramatically, thousands of feet, down towards Seiad Valley. Until then, the views--once again--were spectacular. Once below treeline, however, the views vanished and the bugs started flitting about in large numbers. Not a good sign so early in the afternoon. And as the elevation dropped, the temperature rose. Without a thermometer, I could only guess, but it felt like it must have been above 90 degrees. And deep in the trees, there wasn't the slightest breeze to help stay cool. The shade helped, but I'd have traded the shade away for a nice breeze.
I camped at the junction with Grider Creek Trail--an absolutely awful campsite thick with bugs. I checked my topo map hoping to find something better somewhere ahead, but there was nothing. The trail followed alongside the creek for miles--no way to avoid camping near the water. The tree cover continued for miles--nowhere ahead to find an exposed ridgeline. Even campsite options were limited on the steep slopes the trail went down. So I grudgingly camped by Grider Creek, lathered myself with DEET, massaged my poor feet, and examined my shoes for ways to keep them going.
Remarkably, I managed to pull off 29.8 miles despite the shoes. That's quite a testament to the resiliency of my feet--earlier in the morning, I had concerns if I could even make it 20 miles. I still needed to push myself hard if I was going to meet Amanda in Ashland in four days, though.
|A guard station, which looks pretty abandoned.|
Ironically, just by looking at the shoes from the top, they looked sparkling new. A little dusty from the trail, but they actually still looked new. Flip them over and look at the bottoms of the shoe, though, and they looked like I'd hiked a thousand miles in them. Feel inside of them and they were so lumpy, you'd assume they must have just been purely for display purposes. No way anyone could walk in those.
Well, maybe the leaves I stuffed in the shoe will help. We'll see in the morning....
|For those keeping track--yes, there|
is still patches of snow on the trail!
|By the end of the day, the trail fell|
back below treeline. Blah!
|I camped near this bridge over Grider Creek.|