Day Seventy Four

Today's miles: 27
Total miles: 1569

Today's terrain was extremely flat. After leaving the beauty of the Sierras in central California, reaching Northern California almost seemed like a let down. We walked endless miles through trees and over sun-scorched rocks, without the awe-inspiring beauty of the John Muir Trail to urge us along. Though the terrain might not be as pretty, it was much more graded than anything we had hiked before. Thus, after pulling 16-18 mile days in the Sierras, we suddenly got to Northern California and hit the ground running. The elevation was so gradual that it was easy to do 25-30 mile days. Some people even realized their full thru-hiking potential and pulled 40 mile days with ease.

We had no need to do so many miles, but I can't deny that it was fun to really, truly put your body to the test. We were strong, we were motivated, and the miles flew beneath our feet. Well, almost flew. I was still getting my body used to the rigors of trail life, so I flew a little slower, but still I moved. Still I was able to keep up. I was subtly impressed with myself, that after a month off trail I could keep up with my hiker friends with little trouble. Yes, I was tired and blistered and aching, but I was determined.

Our favorite phrase these days was crushing it. It was a term that Treekiller used often, at each break, at each motivational speech, each morning and evening.
"We've gone fifteen miles already!"
"Crushing it!"
We have a big hill ahead..."
"Let's crush it!"
"What are we doing?"
"Crushing. It."

We took breaks every couple hours, and lunch was always a delightful reprieve. It was our longest break of the day, where we could recharge, filter water, drink some caffeine, and pound out the rest of our miles. Today's lunch stop was under a bit of shade and we quickly stripped off our shoes and dove into our meals. We had a tight-knit group these days: Wocka Wocka, Giddyup, Sunshine, Sneaks, Treekiller, Katie and I hiking and camping together. We told jokes as we relaxed beneath the trees.
"Did you see that tent at the road crossing today?" Sneaks asked. "I really thought it might be trail magic."
It hadn't been - the tent was set up for a cycling race and though they had fresh fruit and drinks available, it was only for the bicyclists.
"I thought that, too," I agreed sadly. "But once I realized it wasn't trail magic, I consoled myself with the outhouse."
Small amenities quickly became big delights on trail.

After lunch my speed improved, despite the pain from blisters. I kept up well all afternoon and though the last two miles of the day were brutally uphill, I managed to keep up a conversation with Treekiller and ignore the burning in my legs. When we camped at the top of the hill we toasted to 27 miles covered today and Treekiller's 36th birthday with some rice crispy treats. When we talked about our highlights from the day, mine was hiking my longest mileage day yet - and after a month off trail! Everyone cheered, and exhaustion finally gave me a full night of sleep.