August 7th – Day 22
PCT 1964.6 – 1985.5
I was up and out by 6am as usual. For the first hour, it went well as it usually does in the first hour. Then the shoulder pain starts. After about 3 hours, the foot pain begins. Today, I was feeling really low after only a couple hours. It was a major struggle to keep hiking. I had to stop a lot to rest. It didn’t make sense as I had a rest day and should have no trouble the first day back on the trail. Then I figured it out. I had been using only half dose of Testosterone medication as I was running low before Elk Creek, and I had been without any for a couple of days. It’s starting to hit me. I have no energy, strength or motivation. I need to get some more on order and pick it up in Bend. I managed to get a phone signal, and I called in the order. They said it would take several days before shipping. Since I couldn’t seem to hike, I needed to get to town and wait for the medications.
It was 25 miles to the road that would allow me to hitch into Sisters, where I can take a bus to Bend. I was not up for a record setting hike so I decided to do about 20 miles today and the last 5 miles tomorrow to the road. I was in agony the whole day. Every step was like pulling a sled full of lead. At one point, I was following some other hikers and we got off trail. I wound up hiking up a cinder cone that was extremely difficult and dangerous. I wasn’t thinking as I should have known the PCT wouldn’t go there. It was exhausting but I managed to trod on to my camp site just under of 21 miles. I had to really push myself just to get my tent setup and cook something. I just wanted to sleep.
I was at the South Matthieu Lake, which is some kind of protected area and has rules against camping near the lake. There are designated campsites that are back from the lake. I didn’t read the sign when I came in and just started looking for a campsite. I found one on the opposite side of the lake and setup camp. Some hikers came by and told me I was not in a legitimate campsite and may get hassled by the rangers. At that point I didn’t care as I was sick and needed to rest. If a ranger told me to move, I would say I can’t as I’m sick. No one came by all night.
August 8th – Day 23
PCT 1985.5 – 1989.5
I slept in a little this morning, knowing it would be a short hike to the road and there wouldn’t be anyone out early, so I took my time. The trail was horrid. I walked through miles and miles of lava fields. The trail was all rocks and lava chunks that hurt the feet and made you walk slow due to the danger of twisting an ankle or something. It seemed to take forever to get through the 4 miles to the road.
When I arrived at the highway, I walked up the road about 200 yards and there was an observatory made of lava stone. Lots of tourists were coming and going to look at the views, which were spectacular. I made every attempt to talk to the people and see if I could get a ride to Sisters (about 16 miles). Whenever a car came by, I also put out my thumb. It took about 2.5 hours to finally get a ride. It was hot out and I really needed to get to town.
When I got to town, I discovered that the bus to Bend goes once a day and left at 10 am. I got a hotel in Sisters for the night. Sisters is a small tourist town and the hotels were expensive. I felt lucky to get one for $110/night with the PCT discount.
August 9th, 10th, 11th – Days 24, 25 and 26
I had to wait in Bend 3 days before my medications came in. In the mean time, I did some pack repair. There’s an REI in town and I was able to get a new sternum strap and hip belt. I’m hoping the pack will ride higher now and take some burden off my shoulders. I have developed pretty big welts on the tops of my shoulders from the straps.
I also ordered new boots while on the trail and had them shipped to REI. I’m tired of having dirty, sandy feet every day, which is what I think is causing the blisters. Also, the rocks on the trail are pretty tough to handle with sneakers. I’m going back to my favorite day hiking light weight boot and see how that will do for me. Since I don’t want to wade through streams with the boots (they’ll never dry out), I bought a lightweight pair of camp shoes that I can use for fording streams and wearing around camp. Taking boots on and off every time you go out of the tent can be quite a pain. The camp shoes just slip on. In a pinch, I can even hike in them.
While waiting for my meds, I decided to get a haircut and beard trim. I hate long beards so I feel great with the cut. It may also help with the hitchhiking. Tomorrow I catch the bus to Sisters and try to get a ride back to the trail. After 4 days, I’m very anxious…