Despite my anxiety, there was no more rain during the night. We’re not thrilled about having to pack up a wet tent and I’m really not happy about putting my feet into wet socks and shoes (in the interest of space and weight, I’ve only packed three pairs of socks for 6 days of hiking and don’t want to delve into my spare socks so early in the hike).
Once I get over the initial shock of the wet socks, it’s not too bad; the temperature is in the 70s and we’re moving around, cooking breakfast and packing up, so my feet are warming up nicely.
Our campsite sits on Topaz Lake and while we couldn’t appreciate it last night, this morning we enjoy the view over the calm little lake bordered with trees and granite.
Somehow we forgot which way we came into camp last night and we waste half an hour trying to find the yellow sign that designates the camp trail back to the main, blue-blazed trail. We finally get back to the main trail and are headed up the stony slope that is now a stream. We’re both wearing our rain pants and jackets just because the trail gets narrow in places and the foliage is soaking. Again, we don’t have a lot of spare clothes.
We come down the slope and reach Kirk Creek. There used to be a bridge straight ahead but, according to our Friends of Killarney trail guide, it washed out years ago and now we have to walk 1 ¼ miles due west to a new bridge before walking back 1 ¼ miles due east and picking up where the old bridge crossed. One online guide I read said that we’ll be able to make great time on this easy, very flat section.
Maybe we would have, if it hadn’t been for all the rain! There are more mud and deep puddles in this section than we ran into yesterday. It’s what my brother Matt would call a “bog slog” and slogging is what we’re doing. Our feet are muddy and wet, and while our rain gear is keeping us from getting wet from the outside, the temperature is warming on this sunny day and we are sweating so much that even our “breathable” rain gear is soaked on the inside. We quickly take off our jackets, applying bug spray on our arms.
But still the slog continues. We are moving so slowly. We have 10 miles to cover today and even though we left camp at 8:30, we’ve only made it to the far side of the old bridge at about 11:30 a.m. Three hours to cover 3 miles! At this rate, we’ll be in camp at 6:30 tonight. No way.
We stop so I can exchange my rain pants for shorts. I keep thinking there must have been an “I Love Lucy Episode” where she was wrapped in plastic to lose weight; that’s what I feel like anyway, like I am melting. I am hot and anxious about how slow we are going, how long it’s going to be before we get to camp and how much I am HATING this hike. What have I gotten us into? Why are we doing this? This is awful. The trail is wretched. There are no views. Just mud and water and more walking and we are only on day 2 of a 6-day hike.
I have what I call “a meltdown.” Poor Walt. I have a huge lump in my throat and I’m crying and not able to explain why I’m crying. How can I explain that I planned this hike; I’ve been looking forward to this hike; I really want Walt and I to enjoy it and even though he’s not complaining, there’s no way this is fun for him and now I’m making it worse by sobbing.
Now, this is not my first hiking meltdown. My brother Matt and my longtime hiking buddies Wally and Nicole have all experienced my hiking meltdowns (Wally being treated to an epic 2-hour one on the Santanoni Mountains). Walt’s seen me cry, of course, but he usually gets to see me happy on the trail. Walt asks me if I want to turn back. As scared as I am about going forward, turning back seems like an even worse choice. Walking back through 10 miles of muck is just not an option.
Like most of my meltdowns, this one passes fairly quickly (see exception above). I have a snack, move some things around in my pack and we’re off again.
We run into a woman with two teen-age girls who are all heading out; too many blisters, too much wet, too hard. My anxiety flares again but Walt reassures me; we are better prepared. Our feet don’t have blisters.
We are still making very slow time in the mud. I should feel better, having taken off my rain gear and cried out some of the anxiety but I actually don’t feel well at all. I start burping (a common occurrence for me on the trail) and then stop and throw up (not a common occurrence).
Ok. Now I’m scared. I tell Walt I don’t know what to do. I certainly don’t want to be ill in the middle of the woods but, again, I do not want to walk back through the mud. He says we should walk a few minutes and see how I feel.
Surprisingly, I now feel fine. Not sick. Not incredibly anxious. I guess I’ve made my decision: I’d rather go forward and hope the trail gets better and the faster we go, the sooner we get to camp and can put this day behind us.
After a short break for Gatorade – the sweating in the rain suit combined with the vomiting really took it out of me – we continue on at a slow, steady pace. We start hitting some steeper uphills and finally wind up at our campsite (blessedly just 50 yards off the main trail), again on a small lake, at about 5:30.
We set up camp, fix dinner and collapse into our tent before 8 p.m. So glad the day is over.
BTW I have not a single picture from this day and am very grateful that Walt doesn’t either.