0 In California (USA)/ Pacific Crest Trail

PCT 2018 Days 9-15

Day 9

Miles: 8ish into Warner Springs at mile 109

Health: My hands are wind burned really bad and hurt like crap.

Currently reading: The Neverending Story (finally finishing) & Galatians

We slept in until around 6:30 and all headed out around 7:30. We have the nice making of a little tramily and we all stuck together for the most part. KP and I are the fastest and we blazed on ahead. The trail was very interesting at this point as we were down from the mountains but not in the desert, so we found ourselves in beautiful meadows. It has been my favorite part of the trail so far. It was beautiful.

We made it to Eagle Rock which is a staple of the PCT. It is literally a big rock shaped like an eagle. Our Australian friends, Danni and Kye, laughed about how utterly “American” it is. We climbed up on the rocks and snapped lots of photos.

We then made our way to Warner Springs. This is a big stop for Thru-hikers. Warner is very hiker friendly and allows hikers to stay at their resource center. They offer bucket showers, bucket laundry, rides to the post office, a charging station and more. We set up our tents and quickly went to take showers (a bit unsatisfying to me, honestly) and cleaned our clothes. We then went to the post office to pick up our first resupply box. It was, as we thought, filled with way to much food. Hiker hunger hasn’t set in yet and we aren’t eating nearly as much as we thought we would. Now we just have extra weight.

For dinner, a group of us went down to the only restaurant in town. It was pricey and the service wasn’t the best, but we had great conversation. We all got lost in the dark on the way back to camp and found ourselves walking blindly through a cow field.

Sleep was good, no wind. I still hate the wind. Shut up, Pocahontas.

Day 10

Miles: 17.8 to Mike’s Place

Health: Everything is a bit sore.

Currently reading: The Neverending Story (finally finishing) & Galatians

Today was our longest hike yet.

We awoke at 5am and rolled out of Warner about an hour later. I was thrilled that all my footage and photos finally uploaded to Dropbox because I was running out of space of my phone.

The hike started out like a dream. It was flat and took us through dewy forests and cow pastures. We felt like we were walking through Middle Earth. I tried to get KP to agree to call each other Legolas and Gimli as our trail names but she wasn’t having it.

But that’s when it all changed. We started to go uphill. We went uphill and never really stopped for at least 10 miles. The sun was brutal and our packs were heavy. It was not so fun. We took many breaks and drank a lot of water although we had to conserve it because of a 12 miles dry stretch.

We did see our first rattlesnake today! KP almost tread on it but it rattled and slithered further under a bush. It was midsize and we both felt pretty excited to have seen our first rattler. We then saw another one further down but it was a baby and didn’t give us much mind.

Can you spot the snake?

Thankfully at one point we rounded the bend to some trail magic! A woman named Topaz and her two precious doggos were waiting in the shade with fresh fruit, cold drinks, baby wipes, and a trash bag. People who do trail magic really are who we should all be striving to be. She was spending her whole day sitting on the side of a mountain offering treats to tired hikers free of charge. She talked about how she is going to Thru hike next year so she’s paying it forward. I chugged a gatoraid and ate a banana while snuggling two puppies. It was lovely.

We said goodbye and pushed on. It was still miserable. I ended up far ahead of KP and waited for her at the water tank at Mike’s. We had been leapfrogging all the other hikers that day and we were all so glad to have arrived. Once inside Mike’s yard we were treated to some brick oven pizza. The ground was so hard and dry it was a challenge to get our tent stakes in. My tent has already taken a beating.

We have another long day tomorrow.

Day 11

Miles: 17.2 to a water cashe at mile 143

Health: I hurt while hiking but once I’m stopped I feel surprisingly well.

Currently reading: Tracks (finally finishing) & 1 Peter

I had a dream last night that I was bitten by a rattlesnake. Well, sorry Cinderella, a dream is not always a wish your heart makes. Let’s hope this isn’t prophetic. Although in the dream I was sitting in a closet and got bitten saving my sister, so I doubt all that will come true.

We awoke early and left Mike’s place. I think I prefer camping out in the bush and not an established camp site. Although I am very appreciative of trail angels who offer their homes. What a blessing.

Today was probably the most physically difficult day of my life. We had so much up and down all while the sun beat mercilessly down on us. It was also a long water carry so our packs were very heavy. I was trying to conserve water but then felt dehydrated. It was a thin line to walk. Just as I was starting to worry about water I rounded a brutal bend and saw a tent set up. Trail Angels! Indeed, there was a nice guy who set up a tent filled with fruit and water and some snacks. We chilled there for a while and appreciated the shade more than anything.

Once we pushed on we moved at a snails pace. I thought KP was so far ahead of me she’d make it to the water source an hour before me, turns out she was only about 10 minutes ahead.

You think about a lot of strange things when walking for eight hours a day like, “How does a harpist read music?” “How long does it take a lizard’s tail to grow back?” Does anyone know that?

I was finishing up a book about a woman who crossed the Australian bush solo back in the sixties and just as I was crawling up the hottest of the hills she was describing the Australian desert heat. I’ve never related so much to a book in my life. Great book, by the way. It may help you understand Thru-hikers if you’re interested in why we do what we do.

One guy we were hiking around was faster than me and he kept asking me if I was ready to give up on the trail yet every time I stumbled to the next water source. I was about ready to punch him in the face by the fourth time. Where’s the encouragement? I’m not giving up because of one difficult day. Difficult days are what give you trail legs. The desert is a big training ground for the more challenging sections like the Sierras and Washington. I swear he may get a cactus to the face if he keeps up his tomfoolery.

We set up camp by the last water cashe for a few miles and had a great dinner and conversation with a fellow hiker we just met at Mike’s named Safari. We’ve met some of the most interesting people already. And some of the most annoying.

Day 12

Miles: 17.5ish. That includes waking to and from the Paradise Cafe and a mile down to camp.

Health: I feel ok. Upset stomach for part of the day but not to bad.

Currently reading: Hindsfeet on High Places & 1 Peter

My alarm awoke me from some dream about having to beat up Freddie Kruger because he wasn’t doing his job properly. What is wrong with my brain?

We strolled out of camp at about 6:30. Everything hurt. We walked about 2.3 miles and landed at Muir Woods, a quirky little stop on the trail complete with lemonade, small library, and outhouse. There were also photos and quotes from Walt Whitman, Henry David Therou, and the main man, John Muir. The outhouse was even called the Muir Jon. We grabbed some water and signed the logbook and continued on. Eight miles sounds so short but it’s not. We walked forever and finally made it down to the road to walk to the Paradise Cafe a mile down the road. There was a small water cashe complete with coconut water (SCORE!).

There is a fire closure about 16 miles down the trail from here so lots of hikers opt to skip it and hitchhike into town from the cafe. We are not going to do that. We won’t be skipping any open section of the trail, especially since there is an alternate route that adds less than 4 miles. We still wanted some lunch though.

We arrived and ordered some burgers and raspberry sweet tea. Apparently this is the best burger on the PCT. I got a garden burger so I guess we’ll never know. A few friends joined us and we discussed a plan. Some were hitching and some were hiking.

We left at about 12:30, just as the sun was hitting its hottest point. The miles dragged on and on. We saw one black rattlesnake which looked very put out by having to move out of our way. I think our bodies are just screaming at us for a break. We haven’t taken a proper zero yet which is a bit ridiculous but we will be in Idylwild. We got a hotel and everything. We inched along like snails. We talked about what fruits and vegetables we were craving. We both want oranges which is odd because neither of us care for them so much in our normal life. Finally we got to our next water source and camp site, but unfortunately it was a mile off trail and down hill. That’s gonna suck in the morning. The water was a bit sketch with hundreds of flies buzzing around it but our campsite felt like Narnia.

We ate some cold grub. We’re both stove-less, so our meals aren’t the most exciting. I had a bean burrito that made me think of my true love, Taco Bell. Maybe I’ll have sweet dreams tonight.

Day 13

Miles: 16ish, maybe. We did so much walking I don’t even know.

Health: Sooooo tired.

Currently reading: Hindsfeet on High Places & 1 Peter

We set our alarms for 3:30am and it was painful pulling ourselves from our warm bags. The night was quiet and peaceful and I could hear the wind high on the ridge and I was so glad we were camped in the valley. We had a mile hike up out of the valley before even hitting the actual trail but the desert stars kept me entertained. We hiked quickly for about an hour or two and then the sun started to come up and the elevation got higher which slowed us down. The views were breathtaking, this is a gorgeous section of trail. Brutal, but gorgeous. The first fire closure is at the end of this stretch and so many hikers opted to hitchhike from the Paradise Valley cafe to Idyllwild and skip it. We didn’t want to miss the 16 miles of open and supposedly some of the most beautiful sections of trail, so here we are. We ended up at about 6900ft and then had to decend 1200ft in two miles and go back up 1200ft in another two miles. Crazy ups and downs. Lots of hikers decided to forgo the last two miles because they didn’t want to go up another 1200ft. Again, why? Two more miles! It’s hard but so is the rest of the trail.

It actually didn’t end up being as hard as it first seemed. I think our baby hiker legs are beginning to emerge. Once we finally got to the fire closure and we knew the worst was over we formed a little group of hikers (KP and I, Mike, Darren, and Smoke Beard) and we all set off for the campground seven miles below.

We refilled water at a stream and then walked the longest 4.6 miles ever through forest and desert. When we reached the road we got picked up in two shifts by some trail angels who took us the remaining 3-4 miles of road walk we thought we’d be forced to do.

We had a nice and well deserved lazy afternoon of swapping trail stories and coming up with hiking inventions. I got a secondary trail name of Bun Bun because of what I call bunny rabbits and KP may have gotten her trail name of Mother Hen. It was great to just chill out and have great conversation with people who understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. Most of the hiking community has been incredible.

Now for some much needed zzzzz’s.

Day 14

Miles: Probably 2 walking around Idyllwild.

Health: Feeling good.

Currently reading: Hindsfeet on High Places & 1 Peter

We slept in. By slept in I mean I woke up naturally at 5:30 instead of setting an alarm for 4am. It was cold last night. I can’t wait to have my warmer things.

We were lazy today and took our time breaking camp. Mother Hen, Darren and I decided to hitch in to Idyllwild while Smoke Beard and Mike walked the seven miles in. We got a hitch easily and the man gave us a tour around town. We were dropped off near the supermarket and quickly ran into Danni & Kye. We still had to wait to check into our hotel so we went to the coffee shop in town. We found more of our hiker friends there and had great conversation over second breakfast.

We then went to check in at the hotel to find out the house was a couple miles away so the man offered to drive us in his enormous truck. The house was a bit of a disappointment but it had a hot shower so it’s all good. I immediately jumped in the shower and it felt SO DANG GOOD. I then FaceTimed my Mum and we talked for a long time. We had a lot to catch up on.

We then headed out to do laundry and make a few stops. We washed clothes, I bought some tyvek since my ground sheet got destroyed, and we had lunch. Idyllwild is so freaking cute. I love it here. It’s pretty much my parent’s dream retirement town.

The six of us had dinner together. Danni made vegan curry which was delish. We stayed up until 10pm talking (way past our bedtimes). Then to sleep in a real bed!

Day 15

Miles: None!

Health: Feeling good.

Currently reading: Hindsfeet on High Places & 1 Peter

I slept until 6:30, which was sleeping in for me. I ate a banana muffin and that orange I had been craving. Jason woke up and told us he had been awoken by a spider crawling across his face. I’m thinking we may need to burn the house down.

Today was a lazy day with just a bit on the agenda. I started by hand washing some of my clothes and then deciding what I needed from resupply.

We started by sending some things home at the post office and stopping by the pharmacy. I bought some hand warmers to throw in my sleeping bag at night. Next we went to the library, outdoor store again, and had lunch at a Mexican restaurant. So many nachos.

Next was resupply. I hate buying food because it’s so bloody heavy.

When I got home I called my family because it was my nephew’s 3rd birthday. He’s so big now!

The rest of the evening was spent packing up and showering one last time. It feels odd to be getting back out on trail, but I’m excited!

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