Day 81 - Thunderstorms and Blisters - June 25

I got up and hiking at 6 am, leaving Black Swan to his sleeping in.  At the Hat Creek overlook, I stopped for breakfast.  I met Queso and another 2011 thru-hiker.  That was the last big snow year. . They had moved to this area after falling for Northern California.  We talked about skipping and such, and what was ahead.  They remembered this being a rough section.  I got my first view of Mount Shasta, a volcanic mountain.  The trail kind of winds around the mountain from a distance, so you can see it off and on for about 300 trail miles.

Around midday, I got to a water source where you have to hike down a very steep trail.  Comments on Guthook say it's the worst on the AT and the OCT, but I had to go down since I was low on water.  This part feels like the desert again.  There's not much shade and the red and black rocks make it hot.

I made it down with my water bladder.  The creek was nice and cool and shaded.  There was even a pool being enough to take a dip, if you like rock climbing.  I don't, so I just rinsed off with my bandana.  As I climbed back up, I met a German couple at the top, then a guy with braids in his beard named Pirate passed by.
As I continued to hike along Hat Creek Rim, a thunderstorm was building.  The rim is a steep cliff on one side, and the other side tapers down.  I stopped for a break to rest my feet and shoulders.  My feet are hurting from all these rocks and my shoulders are hurting because my pack is so heavy.  It was very hot, also.

As I rested, the rain started.  It was so much cooler now.  I got up and started hiking, laughing about this lovely rain cooling me off.  It was two or three miles until I got off the rim, so I decided to just hike.  I met a guy at the communications tower under a tree.  He was sitting under a lone tree next to a tower, on top of a ridge in a thunderstorm.  Genius.  You couldn't pay me to take a break there.  I told him he was at risk for a lightning strike and he shrugged and said he was out of the rain.

As I walked on, I felt blisters forming on my right foot near the toes.  The rain was tapering off, and I stopped to take care of it.  I put moleskin around the blister and tape over it and continued walking.  The rain stopped and steam started coming off the rocks as the water evaporated.  In an hour or two, I felt sudden sharp pain at the blister, so bad it made me gasp, stop and sit down right there even though there was no shade.  The pain was hot and felt like a knife stabbed in my toe.  I took off the tape and moleskin, exposing the growing blister.  I can only guess that it expanded suddenly to under the moleskin and that was why it hurt.  I took the moleskin off and put my creek crossing shoes on.  My boots got strapped to my pack.  I really wish I'd had a chance to switch back to my running shoes.  Hiking boots never got my feet right, they're skinny, long and have wide toes.  Running shoes have enough give that I can work with them even if the fit isn't perfect.

I took a break at the water cache, called Cache 22.  A trail angel had a large water tank installed, which was great!  All the people I had met today and Black Swan were there.  I met a woman from Alaska who is south bound.  I hiked on a few more miles, making it 19 miles total.


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