Day 90 – off trail

July 22nd
Miles:  1331.9 to 1335.4 (plus a mile in, then back)

Woke this morning determine not to go off trail.

“I can make it to Ashland” I tell Bugs, putting on a brave face and determined to not go off trail.

We hike down to the highway and the hiker boxes are empty, no magic.  Guys are having issues getting hitches to Chester,  I think I have made the right choice. I stop, eat some food and then start to hike on.

One mile in my stomach flips and I get dizzy and almost fall. I stand there in disbelief for what seems like ages.

“It is over” I think, scared and sad and very mad.

I let some other guys know to tell Bugs and Wisdom and I turn around and take a painful step back to the highway.

“Over… over. ..” I think, so mad I didn’t notice the signs earlier. “Damn me! Damn it! Arghhhh!!!!”

I hitch to Chester.

After a long time I get a ride from a mail delivery guy to Red Bluff because there is no bus. Seriously … “meet Steve in back of the post office and give him $20 and he will take you.”

I buy a ticket to Medford.

Now I wait for the bus.

The idea, as it stands now, is to get back to Coos Bay,  rest up, take care of business I need to deal with,  then go to Ashland and try to meet up with trail friends,  and ‘hopefully’ rejoin them for at least some parts.

I feel horrible … being off trail makes me feel more so.

This is not how this was supposed to play out.

“This sucks”

Day 89 – halfway, ulcers

July 21st
Miles: 1308.5 to 1331.9

Made it to the mileage halfway point today felling very very ill. Had some slow energy drain issues the last few days that other people noticed.



After a lot of considering about what could be wrong, why I am losing so much weight and feel like hell, I ran an ulcer test, (basically down some strong Emergen-C and see where/if it hurts, and it did) and I have one. It is in the same spot as I always used to get them.  It has been a long while, basically since back when I smoked,  that I have had one. It has been longer since then that I have had one like this. The last took me down to 145 pounds before I went to the doctor.


I am really upset because I need to get off trail to deal with this,  it is trashing my immune system,  my energy, my thinking … everything.  It is like all my energy is sapped now,  I can barely hike anymore, and I feel that I am getting sick.


My plan now is to exit out and go up to Oregon and get medicine for this and see if i can rebound some,  then ‘perhaps’ join back up in or after Ashland and do the Crater Lake and Eagle Creek sections at least. Though I don’t know, I am down a lot of weight and feel horrible. Rebounding from these is rough.

Basically my thru-hike is over because of this and it sucks because there is nothing I can do now,  I thought I was done with ulcers and was too busy worried about pain in my feet and legs to think of pain elsewhere.

This blows. I am not happy at all about this.

Made it three months, tomorrow is 90 days out, through the desert,  the Sierra and JMT and most of northern California. All told 1335 miles of hiking before this got me.

Will see, I need to take care of myself and not be stupid about my health.

Day 88 – potential serious issue

July 20th
Miles:1289.2 to 1308.5

So … I promised myself that I would not stay on trail if my weight got dangerously low, (155 or lower / 25% of my starting mass) and I am at ~160 right now which is down 20% from 200 pounds, I am six foot even. 


The reason is that I have a minor lung disease where I have what are called blebs on my lungs (bubbles of a sort) that can pop when I get too skinny and cause a spontaneous pneumothorax (collapsed lung) which has happened to me before and would be extremely dangerous on the trail to have happen.


I did not expect to lose so much weight so fast. 40lbs is a lot, 1/5th of my total starting weight and the pounds are in free fall still. I had just ate when I took the picture above and am in clothes. To put it into perspective,  my pack when fully loaded with food and water is about 30 pounds.

I am going to have to reassess in Ashland,  which is fitting as that is where I was last hospitalized for a collapsed lung. If I am around 150 there then I need to stop. I am putting olive oil on my food,  eating tons of candies and bars. I even make protein powder shakes every day and eat nonstop in towns.

I am not sure what else to do.

Gah! … it would break my heart to have to go off trail for this. Though I have to be careful of my health, a pneumothorax would be a three day hospital stay and run me to the tune of 30-50k.

Waiting for Belden town store to open, checking wifi.


Anyway, hiked out of Belden today, it was a huge climb that took until 4pm to be done with. 

Passed 1300 today.


Mountain Spice joined us, she is a previous AT thru-hiker and has hiked a lot.

Made it here to Cold Spring (aptly named) and we all decided to camp.


There is thunder in the distance,  we may get rain later.

Day 87 – Belden

July 19th
Miles:  1270.2 to 1289.2 (+ 3 roadwalk)

Woke this morning near the lake and everything was covered in condensation and soaked. My tent, my sleeping bag, my stuff.


Hiked hard into Belden and got to the restaurant and got a sandwich and a beer, then called up the local trail angels for a ride and then here in Hiker Haven to go through my box I had here. I sent way too much, way, way too much. A lot I gave to people I am hiking with,  it helps them and I am not having to toss items into the hiker box. Still though, not sure what I was thinking, I guess I thought I would enjoy lots of mashed potatoes and spam or something.


Hung up my tent and sleeping bag to dry here, was nice to get them all good. Though I had a rooster following me around, strutting so I would know he was the boss in the area.


We went to the little store by the trail angels house and got the ‘famous’ milkshakes, they are entirely worth it, they are pure awesome. Very rich milkshake, oddly better than others I have had on trail,  and more filling.


It was so hot here we all went down to the river and swam, it was amazing being in a full on river with rocks and the water massaging your back and looking up the river at the full force of it coming at you is amazing and kind of scary albeit fun.

Going to sleep on the porch here or perhaps the floor.

Day 86 – Bucks lake

July 18th
Miles: 1251.5 to 1270.2

Woke up along the River, deer wandering around, me trying to make coffee and my fuel runs out.

‘Crap!’ I exclaim, ‘all my food needs hot water, this blows’.

So I had a problem, and I needed to make a stop somewhere to get fuel.

Enter Bucks lake; it has a general store and a restaurant and that is about it. We went to the general store, got a fuel can and ate tons of ice cream and sodas and then moved to the restaurant and ate pizza and had some beers, then it was late and time for us to camp.


Luckily a dude who had hiked the AT twice and the PCT once showed up and told us to avoid the campground and showed us a place to camp near the lake.


Everything in the morning was covered in condensation but it was okay, the night was fun.

Day 85 – down to the feather river

July 17th
Miles: 1225.9 to 1251.5

Woke early by the stream, crammed some food into me and started hiking strong.


Made it ten miles before we knew it, and stopped for a bit before hiking on to Alder Springs for lunch where we had little caterpillars dropping down on us all over from the tall pines by the spring, they could crawl surprisingly fast.

Alder Springs has some of the best spring water on trail I have had in a while. For thru-hikers the natural ‘drinkable’ water scale goes something like Sierra-snowmelt > ‘good’ spring water > good creek water > spring water > creek water > river water > lake water and rounding out last place would be ‘pond water’ which can screw up Gatorade powder sometimes, avoid it if possible. Obviously I am not listing any totally stagnant sources or things like potable taps.


From Alder Springs it was thirteen miles down to the Feather river which has small leeches but otherwise tastes ‘okay’. There is a large group of older hikers from Tahoe here who had a blast chatting us up about the trail.

We are down to 3700 feet elevation,  it is hot and humid, we all got into the river to cool down and did laundry. For the first time in a long while all my socks are clean(ish) and both my t-shirts are also clean(ish).

Realized I have had the bottom of my feet being numb for days now, the pad part not the heel. Not sure if that means anything serious, I hope not.

Tomorrow up early … more miles, more miles, more miles.

One stop at Bucks Lake, there are trail angels there and also a restaurant and small store, I need sugar.

Realized that the first month on trail I was low blood sugar,  which is why I was having issues talking about complex topics.  Now I am all jacked up with sugar again I am babbling about projects and ideas.

I still need to do a full post about food, and one for my friend Sean on “pooping like a bear: number two and you, on the trail”

Day 84 – back to the wilds

July 16th
Miles: 1200.8 to 1225.9

Woke slightly late, got ready and made coffee and got on trail. Long ridge walks that continued upwards for a long time.


Lunch at Summit lake (mile 1211.9) stopping to eat and get water in this dry section.

Saw a doe with twin fawns early on the trail.


Passed a spot for mountain bikers to gear up before heading down.


There are a lot of Indian artifacts in this area, they do not want you to disturb.


There is a tree up ahead ; )


I discovered a new way to hang my clothes. I did this before but remembered it again.


25 miles per day leaves us pretty tired.  I can do more but it is good right now I am not, I need to acclimate to new mileages slowly.

About 60 or 65 miles to Belden, I have packages there with food and shoes. I don’t need the shoes right now but will carry them, after seeing Bugs issues and blisters from a shoe change I am not going to dream of changing.

Talking today about how strange it will be to be back in the world and have clean clothes that smell like laundry sheets and not have to wear socks crusted up and sleep covered in three days of sweat.

The normal world scares us a bit now.

We have become a bit feral I think. Sleeping better on trail than on town and worried about freaking out about cleanliness and smells.

Ahh the world of the thru-hiker.