July 21, 2022
Campsite at mile 1487.5 to Mt. Shasta via I-5 ramp at mile 1501.2
I didn’t sleep well again last night. I love being alone in the evening and morning every now and then, but I definitely don’t sleep well when I know I’m on my own. I don’t know exactly how Jumbo or Tribute would go about protecting me if a mountain lion or bear ambled into camp like my brain imagines, but somehow it’s less scary knowing they’re there. Still, I think it’s a good exercise to camp alone, and I’m glad to have had these past couple of nights to myself.
I move slowly despite waking up pretty early. I’m going to try to catch the boys before the road, but I am just not rested enough to get moving as early as I want to. I make a coffee and a Nutella wrap and enjoy it as the sun starts to poke through the trees. Then I get everything packed up, stretch, and start moving.
I don’t usually listen to music in the morning, but I feel like it today. It helps me rocket up the hill. It doesn’t take long until I crest a slope and see Jumbo and Tribute packing up their camp. Jumbo is really quiet and not acting like himself. He says he felt terrible yesterday and now thinks he might be getting sick. Oh no. That’s bad news bears.
I stand and chat with them as they pack up, then we start going together. However, Jumbo is moving really, really slowly and I’m ahead for the whole 11 miles left to town. I listen to some music, then a few SYSK episodes—one on absinthe and the other on waterbeds. God, I love that podcast. It’s like two old friends you’ve known for years tagging along for life’s journey. Love ya, Josh and Chuck.
There’s an incredible view of Mt. Shasta after a little while. I can’t believe we’re so close after looking at this mountain for so many days! She’s lovely and majestic and robed in white. The only thing taking away from my joy today is the fact that I keep walking through spider webs. This really is the AT right now, isn’t it?
We cross the 1500 mile mark and sit around it for a minute, but we aren’t taking photos at mile markers anymore because we missed the 1100 one back in the Desolations and broke the tradition. It still feels like a pretty big deal, though!
The last few miles drag. Finally, we reach the road where we’ll access the town of Mt. Shasta. Another hiker named Wicked is waiting there for a trail angel, and he says there’s room for 4. Our ride arrives shortly and we head towards Shasta. Jumbo is uncharacteristically quiet in the car. When he talks, his voice is gravelly and quiet. Oh no. This is seeming pretty bad.
We get dropped off at an Indian restaurant that apparently has an unlimited buffet. It is an odd place. It feels like we’re walking into someone’s house. There’s not much decor, and there appears to only be one guy working there. He is super enthusiastic that we’re there, though, and he explains that they’re putting the finishing touches on the buffet food and that it will be ready soon. It’s pretty good when we finally get it. It’s all vegan, but it’s tasty and filling. I have a Kingfisher beer and instantly have nostalgia for the summer I spent in India and drinking huge Kingfishers on the rooftop of Ashoka restaurant in Dharamsala. It always brings it right back.
We amble over to the gear store after that. I have to replace my socks AGAIN. I can’t believe this trail has been so rough on them. I also get a new Kula to replace the one that mysteriously disappeared right before the Feather River. While we’re sitting in the store, Spice walks in! She gives us hugs and we catch up about the last bit of trail. It’s great to see her again!
We make a trip to the Rite-Aid and then the Starbucks, where we see a few other folks we know and chat with them for a while. I love this about towns! It’s so much fun to meet back up with people you haven’t seen in a while.
We finally decide that we’re going to stay in town. Jumbo says he’d prefer to sleep in a bed if we’re going to be staying, so we book the last room at a motel on the road leading out of town. Then we go resupply, and in addition, I get my now-customary treat: a little container of cherry vanilla Brown Cow yogurt. I sit outside the store eating it. Jumbo comes out. “You know, there are certain things in thru-hiking that you can just be comfortable with,” he says, “and one of those is you eating yoghurt outside the grocery store.” (Note the spelling and please imagine him saying yah-gurt instead of yo-gurt).
It’s 0.8 miles to the hotel and we simply cannot be arsed to walk that, so Jumbo goes full sad boy eyebrows “help I’m English and I’m poorly” on a woman in an SUV, who turns out to be very nice and gives us a lift. A lifesaver! At the motel we settle in hard, plugging in our stuff, playing music, taking long, luxurious showers. Tribute had the genius idea to get a bath pouf for scrubbing, and it feels so amazing to actually work on my legs and have all the dirt come out.
By the time we’re done with that, it’s late and most things are closed. We go to a saloon whose website suggests that they have food, but they don’t. They do, however, have a nice dance floor with a pole. We move on and end up at Casa Ramos for Mexican and margaritas, which turns out to be an excellent decision. I get loopy and Jumbo and I talk about books and music. Then we make our way back to the hotel, where I promptly fall asleep on the actual bed.