I just looked back at the first week of the CDT for some perspective on milage…by day five last year I had gone 89 miles. This year on the ODT it was 107.6 miles. Yep, I guess I needed to remember to ease into the miles. Such is life!
I thought I would talk a bit about blister care out here. When a blister forms I take out my sewing needle, and put a short amount of thread in it. I sterilize the needle with a lighter, and smear a small amount of triple A ointment on the thread, then pop the blister and “thread” it, leaving the thread going through it. This will hopefully keep the blister draining and prevent it from closing back up and filling again. Then I smother with more antibiotic ointment and bandage. It’s important to start with clean skin. I carry wet wipes for this purpose. Once the bandages are on I go hiking!
At every break I take my feet out, remove the bandages and try to get some sun on them. That’s something a hiker named Billy Goat told me on the PCT. Get those feet in the sun and let it dry them out. Those blisters will toughen up and turn your feet into calluses and the hoof-like walking machines they need to be to hike steady 20-30 miles days. For me at least it’s a process I go through on just about every trail. No pedicures for me! I need all the tough skin!
So after my morning blister care, I sat and tried to decide what to do. Fact: my feet and body need some time off. Fact: I have a reservation to stay in a cabin at Steens Mountain Ranch in a few days. Fact: if I take time off where I am, I won’t make it my cabin rental in time…and EVERYTHING has been booked, so I don’t want to pass up my one chance at a bed on this trip. So, I decided to hike to the road and try to hitch up to Frenchglen. I’ll camp out for a few nights at Steens Mountain Ranch, air out the feet, rest the legs, and stay in my cabin, hiking out from there…continuing West. That means I won’t be hiking up and over the Steens on this trip, but that’s ok. I want to come back this summer/fall and spend some time in the Fields area anyway looking at a few route options, so I’ll just tack on a few days and hike this 50 or so miles that I’m bypassing now. It’s all good! And I feel happier and stronger already. Just remind me to schedule in some rest days next time!
So I walked the few miles to the highway, and after an hour and a half a pickup pulls over. Woody and Chris were going to Burns to do some shopping (the 3 hour drive is the closest “big” town for them). I was really glad they picked me up, because they have lived in the area for a while and were full of great information. Woody’s mom works at the Fields Station, and Chris cuts firewood for them. Woody runs a tour operation and will take folks out to cool spots in the desert, and more importantly runs a tow service. If you get stuck on the playa or trying to get back to do a section of trail, he will come pull you out. I’ll be adding him to the trail town guide. BUT the biggest thing I learned was that there isn’t water available at the Alvord Hotsprings, but there is at Frog Springs, just a few miles south from there on the road. This is critical because there is no potable water between Fields at the climb up into the Steens…some 20ish miles. It was an awesome hitch, and I was stoked to meet those two.
One in Frenchglen I picked up some snacks at the Mercantile and walked the 3 miles to the Steens Mountain Ranch. Debbie & Mark who run the place are incredibly helpful, and their place has everything a hiker could need: wifi, laundry, showers, camping, cabins, small camp store, power (gotta charge those electronics!).
Time to rest and refuel! And they have a little book library, so I’m diving into a V.C. Andrews book, which brings me flashbacks to junior high.