I heard Stew and Dormouse go by around seven while I was writing. Early morning tends to be my most productive time. I ate candy and protein bars for breakfast since I didn’t have any water, and I packed everything without drying off any of the condensation. Drawing on my friends’ gung-ho attitude, I broke my 12 hour rule and hiked 2.5 miles to my next water source. I laid everything out to dry, then ate a second breakfast of cold oatmeal.
The ice cold water of Lava Spring emerges directly from a miles-long jumble of crumbly lava that one could easily mistake for a moraine. It felt amazing on my battered feet.
I discovered a casualty of yesterday’s marathon: the skin near my fourth toe on my right foot has split open, revealing a dark red fleshy layer inside. It’s not somewhere I can tape, so I just cleaned it and put on clean socks. Then I made a third breakfast for the road, finally hot this time, and tried to get moving. My feet were very sore.
I climbed steadily until I was on the flanks of Mt. Adams, but it was not difficult and the snow never lasted more than a few hundred feet. The Cascades here are gentler, distinctly different from the North Cascades. There’s no clear dividing line that I know of and I didn’t notice the difference until today, but looking back I can see that the mountains have been getting gentler since Stevens Pass.
It’s amazing to look up at the contorted layers of the glacier on Mt. Adams and know that I have crossed something like that.
I began to pass northbounders like crazy and I could see on their faces that most were moving fast and eating well. That means the terrain to come is easy and I will make good time too. That means I am still carrying more food than I need.
Around 11:00 a.m. I met Zuzu and Ralph. They were very friendly. Zuzu asked me my trail name. I replied simply, “I don’t have one, but I’m only 400 miles in.”
She looked at me for a bit and I was unsure what the pause was about. I just smiled. I wanted to take my pack off.
“I’m going to call you Buddha,” she finally said. “It’s kind of a loaded name but you look like a ‘Buddha’ to me.”
“Loaded like there’s a lot of connotations that go with the name Buddha,” I clarified.
“Right. Like the name Jesus. You can take it if you want. Try it and see what people think,” she explained.
“So I just tell people my name is Buddha and see if I like the way it feels.”
“Yes, see how people respond to it.” She explained that you can try on names to see if they fit.
So I started to introduce myself as Buddha, with the qualification that I’d just been named today. “I like it,” was the most common response. I suppose, with my hair up in its standard bun, I do look like a Buddha. So perhaps I will continue to hike as Buddha now. We’ll see.
My left knee began to ache in a new way in my morning miles. Per Cool Ranch’s advice, when he told me about how he went to the doctor, the doctor told him he was hurt and needed to rest but he could still hike (it just wouldn’t heal,) I hiked on.
I covered 13 miles before lunch, then stopped in a mosquito free field of lava. The rain and fog during the last two days really penetrated into every seem, so I pulled everything out for a second drying on the rocks under the hottest sun of the day. As soon as it was all out and I was comfortable, mosquitoes started to come out of the woodwork. A swarm of hundreds followed me deftly as I repacked.
I finished the climb onto the side of Mt Adams and began a meandering descent through a beautiful burn area where endless purple flowers filled the spaces between hulking black stalks. I made a note to come back.
By mile 24, as I descended into where I thought I might camp, I looked down and realized I was hobbling. Breaking the 12 hour rule had cost me. I’d hiked twelve hours at a scant two miles per hour.
I made a protein shake with four spoonfuls of protein and two hot chocolate packets, heated so it’s nice and steamy just like hot chocolate. It is the best protein protein shake ever.
Setting up camp was easy because the ground was flat, but somehow the mosquitoes here, being rather ravenous, are finding a way into my tent. I think it needs a floor and a zipper instead of Velcro. And maybe a PU coated roof instead of silicone coated which mists in heavy rain, leaving you, the occupant, only halfway dry.