Day 74: Scorcher

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Mile 1443.0 to mile 1470.9 (27.9 miles, 45km)

An absolute scorcher today and setting the mood for the week ahead.

From my perfect camping spot I had the perfect view looking across to Mt Shasta as the sun rose. Nice way to start the day.

The aim for today was to get as many miles in early as the forecast was for 100 plus degrees. It ended up at 104 degrees F, around 40 Celsius one hiker told me in the evening.

The morning was horribly humid and the sweat was pumping out from the get go. Lots of water and electrolytes would be the order of the day.

Just before 8am, the heavily laden clouds could not hold back any longer and let loose with a short and sharp dump of rain. This was the first rain I’d experienced since day one. 72 days rain free. Fat rain drops hit exposed skin providing momentary relief from the heat. Not accustomed to packing for rain I made a quick scramble for some tree cover to put my puffy jacket into a plastic bag. All my other gear was already in dry bags, all of which are inside a garbage bag. Sleeping bag and clothes have the most protection.

While stopped and protected I took the opportunity to take in some fluids and a snack. I had the umbrella at the ready to head out into the rain but leaving the tree cover it had stopped.

It wasn’t a lot of rain, just enough to settle the red dust and to cling to all the underbrush on the edge of the trail, making for a wet hike as you brush past it. My shoes were soaked in minutes, as were my shorts.

It didn’t really matter today. Rain or sweat, everything was going to be saturated regardless.

Mission came past and we headed to a spring to collect some icy cold water. Pity it wouldn’t stay cold through the day. Pouring warm water down the throat on a hot day is necessary but not much fun.

Moving ever so closer to Mt Shasta there were some amazing clear views of the peak mid morning.

The afternoon was uneventful. Undulating through thick pines with few views. More of a green corridor kind of a day with suffocating heat underneath. I focused on taking little mouthfuls of water all day, mixed with occasional electrolytes. The heat made it next to impossible to concentrate on the surrounds. It was a case of just plodding along at a cruisey pace looking at the trail in front.

Damn it was hot! I much prefer the cold. When it’s cold you can always add another layer and keep moving to warm up. When it’s hot what can you do? Not much really. I have minimal clothes and can’t take any more off for fear of scaring the bears. Actually I prefer a long sleeve shirt over a short sleeve or t-shirt as it means less sunscreen to put on.

At each water crossing I’d dip my hat and neck flap to get a bit of evaporative cooling happening but it would not last long, drying completely in around 10 minutes. My shirt never dried though. A constant supply of sweat would see to that.

By 5:30pm I had had enough. A good distance for the day considering the heat and an opportunity to swim in the McLeod River, or so I thought. Dreaming of a swim for most of the day I was crushed when I first dipped my feet and found it to be freezing! I could only stand in the water for 30 seconds or so. Determined I had a quick dunk but that was enough. One extreme to the other, no middle ground this time. Oh well. At least I did cool down and got scrubbed up. Managed to rinse some clothes as well.

30 miles to the highway leading to either Dunsmuir or Mt Shasta. Not quite sure what to do at the end of tomorrow. Finish early enough and I could try for a hitch into town. Finish late and I guess I look for a camp close by somewhere and try hitching in the morning.

One comment

  1. Good on you. In our family groups we are built for the cold countries. White from the cold North Sea – Norway, Shetland, Scots, Irish, Dutch – they all plied the oceans looking for the herring. Multiple mariners in our family groups – master mariners, mates, fishermen, submariners in the wars. The only climbing they would have done were the ropes on board. No mountain climbers or trekkers. But we are all made of sturdy, strong people. I think you are doing exceptionally well in the heat over there.

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