Like most mornings, I was up at 330a.m., so I can be make the trail by 4a.m.. This time, however, I was particularly looking forward to this hike. The mountains received some much needed rain.
Strapping on my trail runners and doning my pack, I set foot on the trail a little past 4a.m.. The trail was still dark and would remain so until about half past six. Armed with only a photon II and what moonlight there was, I proceeded down the trail.
Almost immediately, I knew my 20 mile hike was going to be a slog. The mud caked so thick on my trail runners, I swear I would grow two inches every ten paces. The mud also made me feel like I was carrying weights attached to my shoes. And because of the lack of traction, I was sliding with every other step. To say it was annoying is an understatement. I constantly found myself shaking off the mud, as best I could, every few steps.
Though, the trail was dim, I could almost tell what section of the trail I was at just by the aroma of the surrounding vegetation. The sweet pepper scent from the nearby pepper trees was so strong it overwhelmed the senses. In another section of the trail, the smell of maple syrup was so strong, I knew pearly everlasting—cudweed—was nearby. similar happened with the fennel, California Sagebrush and others.
I began to ascend the first of several PUDs (Pointless Up Downs). And, as was par for this morning’s hike, my mud logged trail runners were making the ascent slow, slippery, and just an overall bear to deal with. I would literally shake my feet vigorously with every other step just to shake off the mud. It was in one of those desperate attempts to release my feet from the mire, that I accidentally shook a bit too much and my shoe went flying.
“Oh crap!” I muttered lowly as I tried to maintain my balance on one foot.
The very thing that had me lose my shoe—mud—was also the very thing that prevented it from going over the side of the hill. The shoe was so heavy from the mud, it actually just came short of the edge.
“What do I do?” I thought to myself. The shoe is out of reach and I’m standing in mud with my shoeless foot dancing just above the ground, as I fought to maintain my balance… Of all the times to be without my trekking poles this was not it.
Eventually, I gave in to the silliness of the situation and just conceded a loss, planted my shoeless foot on the ground and walked over to my shoe.
Other than continue my 20 mile slog, the rest of the hike was pretty uneventful. Oh, other than the fact I almost got sprayed by a skunk, startled by a coyote, dive bombed by a sparrow, and stumbled across fresh bobcat tracks and scat.
—Damn, I can’t wait to do it all over again tomorrow morning.