Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Miles: 32.8 (+0.75 for side trail to Collossal Cave)
Elevation gain/loss: 3303′ gain, 4965′ loss (corrected)
I was awake at 3:30am, and hiking by 4am in the dark. I was glad to get off the ridge and away from the whipping 30-40 MPH wind. I stopped only a few tenths later to scoop and filter water in the dark. Two people camping nearby were awake, and they checked in to make sure I was okay. They were having a rough night too, and just knowing that it wasn’t just me helped me feel a bit better.
It was an overcast day, with tons of clouds and very little sun; it warmed up a bit later in the day but it never got hot. I tramped along, trying not to think about my miles too much. Toby had offered to help me out, so he called Collossal Cave, talked to them, and they agreed to leave my package in the bin that holds their trash cans so I could pick it up after they’d closed at 4pm. I know I wouldn’t make it before they closed and didn’t want to be stuck waiting until they opened at 9am the next morning. I was excited to know that I could pick up my package and keep going, making some extra miles. I was nervous about Saguro National Park, and making it through the 18 miles in one day without being closer to the park (the park boundary is 10 miles from Collossal Cave).
The trail wandered past a few paved roads and then under the highway; it did some weaving around private property and under two train trestles. I had to cross a few creeks, and had good access to water for the entire day. I also didn’t need much water because the temperature was so much cooler than usual. The day felt more manageable; as it turns out, FarOut was much closer to GaiaGPS’ estimated elevation gain, so I think it felt easier because the elevation were a closer match to reality. During the day, I made the decision to push my day 7 Airbnb in Oracle to day 8, thinking I wouldn’t get there in time and that the extra day would help me feel less panicked and give me permission to not push myself so hard.
I made it to the slightly confusing maze of side trails around Collossal Cave around 4:30pm and found my way up to the cafe and shop by 4:45pm. As I got there, two employees were walking towards the parking lot. I didn’t stop them or talk to them, assuming that someone had left my package out and that they were probably facilities folks and not cafe employees. I met another hiker who was charging her electronics by one of their outlets, and set up my things to charge. Then I went over to the cafe to retrieve my package and found that it wasn’t there. They hadn’t done what they said – there was no package. I was stuck, waiting until 8-9am the next day, losing 5+ hours of daylight to their mistake.
I was immensely frustrated at the delay, and I also had maybe 300 kcal left of my last resupply so I was hungry. However, while the cafe had locked the bathroom doors, they’d left everything else unlocked – the refrigerator and the ice cream freezer were both open and there was a water fountain. They did have a few video cameras set up at various points, but I wasn’t sure if they were running. I debated for a while, and decided that I’d eat a restrained dinner from their supplies and document what I ate so I could pay them back in the morning. I had a Sprite, a big muffin, and an ice cream sandwich cookie. It was windy and I needed to wait for them, so I cowboy camped on their terrace, using the museum building as a wind break. I was out of view of their cameras, and found a secure place to pee overnight.
Once I accepted that I couldn’t do anything to change the situation, I was able to settle down. I found a working hose and bucket, and did a quick rinse of my socks, Kula, and underwear. I set them out to dry and with the wind’s help, they were dry before I went to bed. There were chairs and tables everywhere, I could charge my electronics overnight, and I did really need some rest. The only thing missing was wifi – their wifi wasn’t functioning. Overall, it wasn’t a bad place to get stuck for the night.