From the Williams cabin site to four miles past cold springs
After a big physical exertion, it’s always the second day after that I really feel it. The 28 miles from day before yesterday are hanging over me today, holding me down in a groggy dream-land, where I have deep cracks in my skin, like mud cracks. You can see down in them, see the layers of skin and fat, and they’re oozing, and they have sand in them, and my mother just sold her teeth to save the farm, and J is stirring besides me. We’re in the tarp. Time to get up.
Pacman, 3D, and Namaste are gone with the sunrise, or perhaps any of the three hours after sunrise – I wouldn’t know. J and I face the eight miles of difficult uphill and promptly get hung up just three miles in, at Chip’s creek. The Dude told us there was a beautiful swimming hole here… and there is. “What do you think,” asks J. “Nekkid?”
“Sure.” We strip our clothes, already sweat-drenched, and get in. J gets in – I make a big production out of it, get my feet wet, get out, do it again, then finally dunk myself. I hate cold water, but I love it.
Cool and wet, I stand on a rock and let a breeze blow around me -first time I’ve been cool in days. “Why does it feel so good to be naked outside?” I muse out loud. “Because it feels so free? So innocent? So safe? Like the entire world is yours?”
“Hippies know a thing or two,” answers J.
“Are we hippies? Have we turned into hippies? Maybe just hiker trash.”
Next to the swimming hole is a stand of thimbleberry bushes, with a thimbleberry bonanza. Our fingers and mouths are stained pink before long.
All I want to do is to swim, nap, eat thimbleberries, and then do it all again. I’m not really in a thru-hiking state of mind. The biggest problem with thru-hiking, far as I can tell, it’s that it involves so much hiking. Some days it would be nice to just camp.
It’s hot and humid, but the climb awaits. Hot day, heavy packs, tired legs, uphill… one step at a time.
Right before we crest the ridge, we stop for water at Andesite Spring. It’s clear and cold, so cold. J pours some over his head and gasps for a while. “I don’t think the water in the Braatens’ fridge was cold as this!” Figuring that water this cold must come straight from underground, we drink it unfiltered.
After the spring, we walk through trees. Can’t say I’m too enamored of this stretch of forest. The trees are close together and all the same. There’s no understory except dead branches and downed trees, which make a dense maze of the forest floor. The trail crews must have spent weeks here with chainsaws.
We stop again at cold springs, the last water for thirteen miles. We cook dinner to avoid carrying water for it, I wash my socks, my feet. This has been a hot and dusty stretch of trail. I’d have liked to get twenty miles in today, but none of my choices put me in the position to accomplish that. You can’t have a late start, a long lunch, lots of stops, and hike slow… and still do twenty miles before sundown.
No twenty miles, but we squeak in a few more before bed and get in seventeen. The sunset through the trees throws bars of golden light through the dense pine groves – a brilliant, burning sky barred with black. We’ve found a nice spot on the ridge to camp, a high spot with eastern exposure. We get up earlier with the sun on our faces. Maybe better walking tomorrow.