Barely ten months ago I was cruising 20+ mile days through the Klamath Mountains, Sierras, and Cascades. Ten miles of hiking after an early dinner was no big deal. I was often surprised at how light my pack felt.
This trip I have not cruised any day, however short. And not once have I been surprised at how light the pack is–in fact I eye it with some suspicion. What the heck happened?
Day 1: Depart Devil’s Postpile area 4pm for a lake six miles distant, a mere 1500 feet higher. “Casual” is the word I used with the ranger at the wilderness permit desk. Poor choice.
Three miles in my legs were so wobbly it felt like the trail was swaying; not firm earth but a rock-and-flower-littered tightrope. The honey colored air was thick with late sun and pulsing with insects and with my own heartbeat, a phenomenon I believe my eye doc calls a “visual migraine”. As my head got lighter (alas, not the pack…) the entire scene was dissolving into a vivid amber solution. By the way, no ‘shrooms were involved;-).
Interrupt: a hummingbird is working the flowers on the patio where I sit outside the invaluable Looney Bean Cafe and Therapy Center, but after each short sip it lands and rests, sometimes barely reaching a perch before the wings quit, panting w/beak held high. A rough day?
Back on trail: I swam on, inwardly repeating “strength in weakness”. Around 8 the sun dropped out of sight, the colors drained away, and by 8:30 I made camp a whopping 5 miles from the trailhead.