It’s 10:30. In winter thru-hiker time, that’s effectively 2AM on a work day.
I arrive at the spot that supposedly has great campsites.

I see nothing.

I do happen upon some horses. They’re extremely quiet, as I almost run into one.
They all look up, still chewing.

Yo.

They look back down and return to grazing.

Well. No campsites here.

Sigh.

Fortunately, it’s fairly warm at this low elevation. While I wouldn’t walk around in a t-shirt, my fingers have all their dexterity without any gloves.

Back on the trail, the map says that a river is not too far away. That should be a decent place to camp. I can just WHAT. THE. F%#!

In the darkness, I couldn’t tell the difference between dirt and deep mud.

We’re definitely near water.

My left foot is now completely immersed in mud.

Ugh.

Well we can just WHAT. THE. F%#!

Removing my foot from the mud was easy. Unfortunately my shoe stayed behind.

I look down with the headlamp. There is no indication of where my last step was.
Or where my shoe is.

Goobers.

The only way to get leverage enough to get to the shoe is to place my other foot in nearby mud. At the very least, I can make it more shallow mud. The shoe will be caked, but not necessarily lost.

At this point, there’s really no reason to keep my left foot out of the mud, so I stick it back in and search for the shoe.

Nothing.

I consider leaving the shoe behind.
No, I can’t do that. I need the shoe.

I bend down and start searching with my hand.

Stir.

It’s...gone.

Stir.

There it is. I pull it out, and toss it out of the mud.

I step out of the mud completely, and then, reinsert my muddy foot into the muddy shoe.

Wonderful.

I’m extremely thankful at this moment that it’s not freezing, raining, or icy.

I slop down towards the river, and it’s not clear where the path goes, but there are some flat spots on the opposite side of the river.

I cross. Set up my tent.

It’s 1AM.

I toss off my mudcakes, take off my muddy socks, and poor water over my feet to remove the bulk of the dirt.

This is where I would change my socks to my clean sleeping pair, but they had holes in them, so I threw them out in the last town. So, no clean socks.

Everything is still dirty, but this is good enough for now.

Now I can sleep. Tomorrow I’ll worry about everything else.
The mudcake abyss