Day 72 | mile 1434.6 - 1470.9 | 36.4 miles

Kept waking up to footsteps. I thought it was people getting an early start. When I looked at my watch it was 1:45-ish. Definitely not people. Probably deer.

Oatmeal for breakfast. I do not like dried cranberries in this oatmeal. Man, food is such a bummer out here. Squashed muffin and Nutella rescued my breakfast.

Moving at 6:20. There was a lot of bushwhacking today. Reminded me of Double Cone in Big Sur. You close your eyes so that a branch doesn’t poke your eyeball out, next thing you know you trip and fall.

Stopped at 11:20 for lunch. Everything bagel with Nutella. And that’s the last of the Nutella jar. Going to try to use it as a hot tea receptacle. We’ll see if it melts.

My hips and belly button are hurting from my pack’s hip belt. So, I hiked 7 miles or so with it unclipped. My shoulders were sore. I put my sleeping pad on a log and used it as my foam roller at home. It felt amazing on my back.

Passed a guy who asked for my trail name. I said I didn’t have one and my real name is Olga. He said “oh, you’re just a section hiker?” His trail name is Woodchuck. He said the point of the trail name is to leave your real life behind and become this different person on the trail. Ugh. This is the kind of shit that makes me feel like I don’t belong out here.

Listening to Better Angels of Our Nature. It’s getting really good. I had my headphones in and I thought I heard something behind me so I turned back. Didn’t see anything and when I turned back there was a bear cub in front of me. I got really scared because I didn’t see a mom and thought maybe that’s what I heard behind me. We just stood there frozen for a while, then both of us ran away.

Passed Slim (who I met at Burney Ranch), Lost Girl, and Doubleshot. Doubleshot had a Sharks hat on and I asked to take a picture with it. He is from Seattle but roots for the Sharks. Slim is a Bruins fan.

Passed an older lady section hiker. A 1000 mile section hiker (Donner Pass to Ashland). Her name is Clockwork, she is from BC, and she is a real badass.

I was booking it downhill after saying bye to her when I saw a huge snake across the trail. Not a rattlesnake. It just wouldn’t move. I thought it was dead when a rock hit it (gently!) and it didn’t move. Then I got braver and touched it with my trekking pole. It started doing the tongue thing so I knew it was alive. I thought, well it’s just chilling so it wouldn’t mind if I step over it. But ohhh it minded. It moved fast toward me as I screamed and ran.

This does not appear to be a popular section of trail. After Burney Falls yesterday (which was swamped with tourists), I didn’t see a single person until I got to my campsite.

You know what there is a lot of in this section? Insects. In the morning, I blaze the trail through lots of spiderweb, then pick spiders off myself and my pack the rest of the day. It’s too hot for mosquitoes during the day, but just right for these little flies that are dead set on getting into my eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Whyyy? Sometimes you hear a bunch of bugs (beetles?) chomping down on a tree as you walk by. And to cap off the day, you donate a pint of blood to the lucky mosquito family you’re camping next to.

I was aiming for this campsite because I figured there would be car campers here with plenty of food and campfires. When I got here, there was a group of real life hillbillies leaving the campsite.

I couldn’t tell if I should be sad or relieved that I’d be alone tonight. They gave me a pretty bad vibe and were clearly abusing their dog. I was pretty scared after all the animal encounters, and now this group of unsavory people asking me creepy questions.

They turned out to be harmless, and even left me some sausages, marshmallows, and firewood. I made a fire! All by myself. I felt a little bit better but still very jumpy at every sound. Camping by a road (even dirt road) always makes me uneasy and I’ve avoided it thus far. Humans are the scariest animals and it’s all too easy for someone to drive up and fuck with you.

Was sitting here eating through the bag of marshmallows when I saw a headlamp on the trail. YAY! He went to camp by himself but I walked over and convinced him to camp closer.

It’s the guy I camped with last night! His name is Cheap and he is very nice. We sat by the fire, chatted, and finished the bag of marshmallows between the two of us. He is a student at Rolla University in Missouri. Why is it so much easier to talk while watching the fire?

Just put out the fire. It’s dark and my eyes are seeing more and more stars. Going to sleep.