20.8 miles (1425.3 to 1446.1), plus 0.4 to/from Kosk Spring
I wake in pain. I’m about to have an emergency. Headlamp on, shoes on, quick!, out of the tent, down the hill, dig a hole. Yuck. Back in my tent, I check the time. 11pm. My stomach hurts. Shit.
Eventually I fall back asleep. A Northern Pygmy Owl wakes me at 5:10. I’d like to get more sleep, but otherwise I feel…ok. Maybe the stomach thing is over. I manage to do my foot care, eat breakfast, and get packed quickly. I’m on the trail at 6:30.
The trail takes me up for a bit, then stays fairly level. I walk through white fir and sugar pine with a lush understory of ferns, chinquapin, snowberry, and other forbs. This is lovely.
I take two breaks, the first at Peavine Creek, the second in a wildflower-filled meadow. Each time, I eat. So far, my stomach feels ok. Even so, I’m not going to push it. I’m hiking slow. I’m taking longer breaks than usual. When I stop for lunch at Kosk Spring, I spread my tent’s footprint and fall asleep on top of it. I rest for an hour and a half, then continue north. I still feel ok.
Then, disaster. The trail is a corridor through dense shrubs. There’s nowhere to get off the trail, let alone dig a hole. I walk as far as I can looking for an opening, then I have to throw off my pack and tromp over shrubs and do my business over the tops of the shrubs. Yuck. Not good.
I keep walking, slowly, slowly, so I don’t jostle my innards more than necessary. I don’t feel horrible, but I don’t feel well. I hate the thought of having to dive off the trail without warning.
Behind me, two hikers are catching up. I stand aside and let them pass. They’re really fast. Or I’m really slow. Or both. I want to get to Moosehead Creek tonight. I think I can do it, stomach pain and all. It’s not just stomach pain, though. My legs feel heavy and sometimes prickly, like my nerves are firing the wrong way.
As I near the campsite at the creek, I hear voices. The two guys who passed me earlier are eating dinner here. I sit near them and eat my dinner too. I mention that I haven’t felt well today. One of the guys says I’m the third person he’s met today who’s been sick. Later, I ask how many hikers he’s seen today. I’m the fourth. Hmm. So three out of four hikers in this area aren’t feeling well. I’m actually glad to hear this. I’m not the only one! It’s not me. It’s a bug, or the water, or the heat, or something else affecting us all.
The guys hike on. After finishing my meal, I do too. At the moment my stomach feels ok. I’d really like to do a solid 20 miles today. So I hike to the top of the ridge to a rocky little site with a view of everything except Shasta. I can only get one stake into the ground, so I put rocks on top of the others and hope the wind doesn’t pick up.