What a day!! Where I struggled with the hike, trail magic and generosity more than made this one of the best days out here so far.
I woke early in the sagebrush. I had just over a liter to make it 7 miles to my first water source of the day, so I even did the unthinkable….I went without coffee. In retrospect that might have contributed to my sluggishness later on, or it could have been the heat/humidity, or all of the above.
The morning hike on old roads went quick, till I discovered I missed a turn. The other road was so obscure I had a hard time seeing it even when I knew it must be there. I had entered Hart Mountain Refuge this morning, and when they close down a road, it gets reclaimed. I lost and found it several times until I was almost to a more well traveled road when I see a beer. An unopened beer! There was a note and I could just make out “Go Renee!” but not the signature. I sat down and opened it right there at 7:45 this morning. Sweet As Pale Ale from Goodlife brewing…not a bad way to start the day!! I later found out that it was Christof, a guy who will soon be attempting to run the trail. He has been running the sections on the weekends to prepare, and must have left this for me recently. Thanks Christof!!!
Soon I made it to my water source, Rock Creek, and after filling up lay down and closed my eyes for a minute. I fell asleep, and was a little groggy when waking, which could have contributed to my slow-as-molassas pace after that. Or it could have been the beer.
Most of the day followed old closed roads, but again, I couldn’t see the road. I stumbled around sagebrush and rocks. The going was very slow. I started to blame the heat, it must have been in the 90’s, but then realized it was extremely humid. Thunder clouds were brewing, and after lunch got a brief reprieve when a few sprinkles fell. It was still humid though, and even though I didn’t have that many miles to make to hit the Hart Mountain Refuge Headquarters, I just was moving so slow. And the cross country terrain and sweaty feet was giving my blisters blisters. I was feeling low.
I finally made it to Poker Jim Spring, a fresh, clean and cold water source, and started to feel a little better. The “road” actually turned into a road at that point, or at least a 2 – track I could see. At this point I knew I wouldn’t make it to the refuge before it closed, but they have a water pump open 24 hours, so at least I could get clean water. I had slim hopes of making it to the hot springs, another 5 miles past the refuge headquarters at this point. Even though it was hot, my body could sure use a soak.
I was getting close, right around the corner in fact, when a truck pulled up and asked if I needed anything. In a spur if a moment I said I wanted to go to the hotsprings, and they said “sure, jump in.” Lori and Don helped me get water at the pump and before I knew it I was there. Don hiked the PCT in 1990, so knew all about being a trail angel. Thanks!!!
I set up camp, cleaned up and made dinner. It had been another day of not wanting to eat due to the heat, but the campground was cool, and I was able to put away an entire dinner. Whew. I needed that.
I had a soak in one if the sweetest hot springs I’ve been to, and i had it all to myself!
When I got back to camp I said hello to my neighbors, and before I knew it Joan and Mark (also from Bend) were giving me fruit and a cup of red wine. I just couldn’t have imagined a better ending to a tough day.
I’m sleeping by a rushing creek, and am so tired I’ve gotta go.