Despite the camp seeming not buggy at all, the mosquitos came out after I laid down and were on a total rampage. They basically kept me up all night, biting everything they could. In the middle of the night I eventually got up and pulled out my tent, wrapping it around my body as a bivy to guard against more winged invaders. They made sure I was always on alert.
This morning the sunrise was incredible. The smoke from all the fires, plus the condensation in the sky created a fire red glow behind Mt. Shasta, and I was perfectly positioned to witness it. Scotty and the rest of the hikers I camped with were already up and out by 5am. I dragged ass packing up and didn't hit the trail until 7am. I had cell service to I made sure to call folks before I left. I hiked solo the majority of the day, and the weather became dark and cloudy, with some rays of sunshine coming through followed by light showers. I haven't had much rain on the trail, but Im grateful for the overcast keeping the hot sun in check.
My knee pain didn't get any better with rest last night. Once I got going this morning, it started to progress. I played mental games with myself trying to get the pain to go into the back if my mind. Maybe Im just a crybaby or Im not tough enough to hike through it - but this is beginning to really concern me and affect my morale. Plus hiking solo makes it a little harder. "My FUCKING IT BAND. FUCK YOU. FUCK YOU." - the little voice in my head started saying. I decided that today I was only going to shoot for 20 miles. But the trail was mostly gradual climbs and flat traverse through rolling wooded hills. The sky was black with clouds by now even brought in a nice cool breeze. It's beautiful up here, I just wish I could see Mt. Shasta a little better. The trail winds around ridges and across ranges most of this section, and Mt. Shasta is always the biggest thing in the backdrop. No matter how many miles you walk, this massive peak is always looking at you, it doesn't seem to get any smaller or further away. It rivals the elevation of Mt. Whitney, and it's definitely the tallest thing around.
Cruising down the trail, I came around a corner and saw Bear Box laying in his sleeping bag on the dirt. I knew something was wrong - its not common to find a hiker napping in his bag in the middle of the day. I stopped and checked on him. He was suffering from some kind of stomach illness as well, and had been vomiting the whole morning. He packed up and we hiked together for the rest of the day.
My knee progressively got more painful and my attitude was headed for the gutter. At this point, I legit don't want to be here. I am not enjoying the hiking anymore. When I got back on the trail after my desert injury, I promised myself that if this moment ever came - where I was no longer enjoying myself, I would quit. Plain and simple. Other factors began to erode my thinking: I miss hiking with my Sierra crew - the Lazy Fucks. It feels like ever since Tahoe, we have scattered in the wind and broken apart. Some folks are a week behind, some folks are a week ahead. I miss home and everyone near it even more. I started getting into my head too much.
By 2pm I had already hit my 20 mile goal for the day. But it is so terribly boring out here that stopping for the day just isn't an option. Scotty eventually caught up to me and we decided to push for 30 miles, making it one of the longer days on the trail for me. At camp, I got cell service and checked my IG account to find that my family (20+ relatives) had a pool party and posted a picture holding up a sign that read, "WE MISS YOU MIKE." If I quit now, I let them all down. I have to keep going but I'm worried about my knee. We'll just have to see how I feel tomorrow.