Day 31: This is a Hard Trail, Ya’ll

April 2, 2021

Mile: 426.2

Lots of wind last night. Unsurprising, since we’re camped in a saddle. I set my alarm for 3:30am so we could hike out a little earlier than normal to beat the heat. We decided on Day One that we wouldn’t do any night hiking, but my headlamp should be bright enough to guide us in the pre-dawn hours. We’ll see how it goes. We need to make more miles than we have been.  

We started at 5:10am and made it to Bear Spring by 10:00am, about 8.7 miles from where we camped. We got water, took a 20-minute break, and then hiked on. We should have been able to do more miles in 5 hours but the first hour or so was slow going in the dark. It was kind of cool, though, because there were little spiders on the trail and my headlamp was reflecting their eyes, causing little flashes of light along the sides of the trail. It wasn’t long before we had to take layers off, then it started raining and we had to put layers back on. So, yeah. Slow going starting out plus an extra .5 mile getting water. 

Up at 7900’ elevation there was some thunder and even a little bit of hail, and we passed by Hammer and the Beast snuggled in their tent, safe and dry. Soon after that the sun came out and we were peeling layers off immediately. 

That first leg the trail was pretty clear except for a lot of sharp, whacking bushes. After that first water source, though, the entire day saw us hiking on jagged scree. I mean, seriously. What the hell? Ghosthiker and I both agreed that we feel Darwin completely glazed over this very important aspect of the trail in all his videos. Ghosthiker said if this had been her first thru-hike, she’d probably never hike another long trail if she thought they’d all be like this. She said the 100-Mile Wilderness trail is nothing compared to the last 115 miles we have done on the AZT. It’s been beautiful, but you can hardly take time to look at all the wonderous views because you have to watch every step or risk twisting your ankle on scree. 

Thankfully, my feet held up well enough. I buoyed the heel blisters on either side with moleskin and KT tape, then had to do it again at our lunchtime break because my feet got so hot and sweaty, and were shifting around so much on the scree, that the tape and everything came off with my socks. 

Our lunchtime break was at Chilson Spring, and we sort of wished later that we’d hiked to the next source because the terrain was better there for taking a break. We had to hike 150 ft up a very steep, precarious trail to get to the spring, which wasn’t great but certainly wasn’t the worst water source ever. The sun was really hot and there was barely any shade, though.  

Before we got to our next water source 6.7 miles away, the sky clouded over, by God’s sweet mercy. Hiking in overcast will still cause sunburn, of course, but at least the sun wasn’t beating down on us and radiating off the rocks (which is what we were hiking on. Not dirt; rocks). Sun on your head and shoulders is one thing; sun radiating off the ground and cooking your feet through your shoes is its own special level of hell.

At a seasonal creek at mile 424.4 we stopped for a long break, got water, ate a snack, rinsed some laundry things, and soaked our feet. I wasn’t going to but Ghosthiker encouraged it, so I did. The water was freezing, and I think it must have sent my overheated feet into shock because they ached for a long time afterward. It was really hard to get moving again. My feet just wouldn’t cooperate. It makes me mad that I’m having so much foot trouble this late in the hike, when I feel strong enough to do bigger miles. It’s all the damn scree, I swear. This trail is garbage. “It’s a baby trail,” I keep telling myself. “It’s a baby trail that just needs time and love.” I want to come back here sometime and work on a trail crew so other hikers have less of this scree shit to deal with. 

We got water one last time, enough to dry-camp, and then hiked less than a mile before we found a suitable place to throw down our packs for the day. Not including the extra half mile we hiked to get water, we did 19.8 miles today. Less than I was hoping for, but not bad considering the shitty trail conditions and my miserable feet. 

Also, we’re running out of food. Both Ghosthiker and I have already had to start rationing. On the PCT, I was always carrying too much food, which served me well only once in the Sierra Nevada where I divvied up some of my extra snacks to hikers who were running low. I’ve been smarter about my resupplies this time to make sure I’m not carrying any unnecessary weight, but I might be paying for that now. My calorie needs are increasing and I don’t have enough in my food bag to keep up.  

Day 32: Runnin’ on Empty

Published by rogerssj23

I'm a long-distance hiker, an audiobook producer, and an amateur writer. I live in the woods in a renovated 1972 Airstream with my Golden Retriever Zoe. Read more about my hiking adventures at

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