Day 80: Autopilot

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Mile 1618.5 to mile 1649.5 (31 miles, 49.9km)

One of the things I truly love about long distance hiking is the meditative state you find yourself in while walking. The body goes into autopilot allowing the mind to wonder. All sorts of things pop into the head that can be deeply thought about and processed. Life’s precious memories; how a certain situation made you feel; musical and artistic ideas to play with; the awesome, the negative and everything in between.

This morning it is thoughts on putting a walkumentary of this hike together. Picturing different scenes and how it should be structured, backing tracks, how to film actually reaching the Canada border…. and then I snap back to reality – I’m still in bloody California. At least I definitely have the visualisation aspect of my mental preparation down pat. I have this really clear image in my head of reaching the northern terminus.

Any doco won’t quite be the same as the one put together for NZ. It’s just too tiring to set the camera up for walk passes and backtracking to retrieve it again. You’ll just have to wait a few months to see what comes out.

It’s stinking hot again today and what started out as a relatively easy day turned into a struggle after lunch. I think it’s a combination of the heat, a massive descent (which I hate) and just wanting to get to Oregon. We dropped almost 6500 ft and the heat only intensified the lower you got. Plus for the first time in many weeks a new blister formed on my right heel, underneath the hard calluses skin of course so really difficult to drain. I think what this is really telling me is that my feet are filthy, socks decrepit and it’s time for new shoes again. This pair has got me just under 600 miles (1000 km) and I had always planned to replace them at 500. I’ll have to wait a few days until Ashland and just manage.

I finished the day with Mr Giggles by the Gridder River just 6 miles out of Siead Valley. As he does Camel rolled in late as well. Man, can that guy walk fast.

We’re looking at the best option to take from Siead Valley to Ashland. Is just over 60 miles, so this could be two big days or a short/long/short combo. There is a major climb from the valley to consider as well that you don’t want to be doing in the afternoon in this heat.

Think I’m opting for the combo – get into town early (shower, laundry, eat, resupply) and do a shorter day tomorrow; go big and reach the border the following day; then do another half day and reach Ashland in the afternoon. I like hitting trail towns in the afternoon as you can never normally check in until around 2pm anyway and get cleaned up.

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