Hike Distance: 17.8 miles Yearly Hike Distance: 1141.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 2370 feet Yearly Elevation Gain: 153628 feet
I’ll try to keep it as short as possible about what happened. When I woke up at the Thielsen Creek camp there was talk about the next water hole being 16 miles away, at Six Horse Spring. Quite frankly I was freaking out about such a long hike on this hot day. I had never hiked more than 14.6 miles in all my hiking and I had to add to that a large amount of water. Everybody in camp had vacated early and only one thru-hiker was left. He told me to drink as much water as I could until I no more would go down. On top of that, he suggested carrying the 4.5 liters that would max out my Smartwater bottles.
I did what he recommended and then started up the trail. I was hiking but feeling panic, but kept moving. It was a hot day with full sun exposure. I stopped often to rest and drink. Surprisingly, the weight of my pack with the water didn’t bother me at all, and I was surprised. A couple thru-hikers passed me by at high speed. I had no idea how fast they moved, but then, they had already hiked over 1800 miles and in much worse conditions.
I have to add that I was extremely nauseous and had not been eating much. I also got only about two hours sleep, as I mentioned before. I obviously had not acclimated to the trail and this new routine. The views along the first half of the stretch were stunning and although I wanted to soak them in I felt that I had no time.
As the day progressed, it stayed hot and muggy but very heavy smoke moved in from the wildfires. I kept drinking but my throat was dry and the smoke filled my lungs. The last half of the hike, to the spring, became a death march. I started bumping into thru-hikers that were heading for the campsite. I ran into a thru-hiking couple from France that epitomized what the trail was about. They were not only supportive, but when I told them my water was running low, they told me they would bring me up the water from the spring, when I arrived. I almost lost it there. There was also another woman that said she wouldn’t be needing all her water and would gladly give me what she didn’t need. These acts of kindness renew my faith in people and my eyes are tearing as I write this.
I slogged into camp on the late side and the people there are vastly different than the previous camp. Everyone was outgoing and seemed interested in talking. I mentioned to one woman that I was too tired to go down the 300ft and 0.6 miles to the spring, and she offers to fill up an empty bottle. Again, another act of kindness! Unbeknownst to me I had setup my tent next to the french couple, and they were gone collecting water at the spring. When they came back up they were happy to see I made it and filled a couple liters of my water bottles from their large reservoir! In actuality, my gps recorded almost 18 miles from Thielsen Creek to Six Horse Spring, a new daily mileage record for me, but a tough day. Unfortunately, I was showing signs of dehydration at the end of this day.