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Featured Image was found via Halfmile PCT Maps.
After a pleasantly warm night in Brown Mountain Shelter and a slow morning chatting with Turkey, I got started around 10. Turkey started out around 30 minutes before I did. She was doing an out-and-back hike, so her hike for the day was getting to Fish Lake and coming back to the shelter. Before leaving for the day’s hike, I took some advice she gave me: I wore just my thin silk liner socks instead of both the liner socks and regular hiking socks inside my hiking boots.
A large portion of the day’s trail is over lava fields, and not the nice smooth ones. It’s the really jagged lava. Thankfully, there are some maintained trails, but they’re still gravel, not dirt. And whether or not the thinner socks were working to prevent blisters, the bottoms of my feet had been aching for days at this point–the gravel trails weren’t helping.
All the fallen trees made hiking difficult as well. I was wishing very often I had not misread the times and come to this part of the trail a month and a half early. There were some absolutely massive fallen trees along the pack. One was probably 2 1/2 feet wide, supported on the ends in a way that it was probably 2 feet off the ground at the trail. At my height, I decided just to crawl under it and drag my pack behind me. Later, there was a fallen tree that was closer to 3.5 feet wide, this time directly on the ground.
I came across Turkey on her way back to the shelter about an hour after the smaller of the two massive trees. After a couple more hours of hiking (and also cursing and crying; my feet hurt), I arrived at Highway 140, two miles from the lake. I managed to hitch a ride to Fish Lake (thanks Beth) and arrived just in time to order dinner and grab my resupply box. One of the cabins was under renovation, and one of the resort owners was nice enough to let me sleep there so I wouldn’t have to walk to the PCT campground.
Unfortunately, wearing just the sock liners instead of in conjunction with hiking socks did not work for me, at least not with the boots I had. I had blisters on both sides of each of my feet that were probably 1/4 inch wide. Beginner tip: take shake-down hikes. Try your gear and variations of how you wear or pack it before you go on a long hike. Your feet will thank you.
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