I wake around 5:30 (again! I was never this consistent on the AT). A few people are up, it’s yucky outside. Someone says it’s raining, but I realise it’s just the wind blowing the rain from last night around. I try to psych myself up for hiking as I eat some snacks and down a jar of protein drink I mixed up. By 6:30 I’m on the street hitching by myself, no one else seems eager to get on trail. I get a ride pretty quickly and after a few miles it’s sunny again. I’m on trail by 7. At the underpass I sign the register, which I forgot to do the day before, and find a pair of awesome/ugly shades. Sweet.
These shades prove to be critical as I ascend because, surprise, surprise! It’s crazy windy again. I adjust layers a few times, I don’t even know what the temperature is. “Are you hot, or cold?” “I’m wind.” I almost put my poles away a few times as the wind is so strong I’m afraid they’ll blow out of my hands.
Eventually I settle on a sort of ski look with my dress and capilene hoody zipped up over my fleece hat and the glasses. They have become critical because they prevent the wind from making my eyes constantly tear up. My wind jacket, acquired newly for this trip, is not the best- I get sweaty pretty easily in it. Maybe I’ll switch that out permanently for the shades.
Even though it’s a relatively big climb I mash some miles out with few breaks. I take a picture of a rainbow in the distance which is about the last thing I expect to see on a windy/sunny day in the desert. I don’t start seeing people until a good 10 miles in, people who,are resting or got some cell reception. I tell myself I’m not breaking for lunch until 15 miles in at the 3rd gate cache, and I get there just before noon. I roll out my pad and eat, and read a historical fiction book about a Polish refugee in New Zealand. Before I know it it’s nearly 1:30. 10 miles! I got this. I plan to break at “Small Cave” listed in Guthook halfway there.
It’s getting more and more overcast, before I know it clouds are misting in at eye level. What is this, New Hampshire?
I pass a couple people and finally arrive at the cave. Well, it’s a small cave. Awkward Selfie Time!
As I’m sitting there eating a protein bar, my buddy from the AT, Kalamity, rolls on up. Yay! She’s been trying to pound out some miles on the North Country Trail this winter but kept running into obstacles. She contacted me about the PCT and I highly recommended she do it. She’s crushing it as expected. Her name is back to Pamplemousse, from a previous AT hike.
“The trail’s super cruiser. It’s not what I expected,” I say.
“Yeah, that part before was like the Whites!”
“That’s exactly what I thought!” I reply.
“Barack Obama would’ve loved this,” she says. Barack Obama is her boyfriend who hiked the AT with her last year. Barack Obama is a thin white guy with sorta strawberry blond hair who pretty much looks the opposite of the real Barack Obama, but that name was a lot easier to remember than his original name of Kwisatz (from Dune), so??? He’s working and saving up money right now and couldn’t join the hike.
Pamplemousse/Kalamity says she is pretty much ready to be done for the night so she might have to push on ahead, but surprisingly to me, I have no problems keeping up the pace. Yay! We stop at the 100 mile sign someone put on the trail with rocks. 10 feet later there’s another sign. And another a few feet later.
“I guess I’d better take a picture.”
After making goodbyes at the camp before the road, and giving a New Zealander some “non-dead-rat water”, I head over to the Mountain Valley Retreat center for my box and where I’ll hopefully spend a night or two on exchange. I made the reservation earlier and am a little sketched out; the place seems a little deserted. But I finally get someone on the phone and she comes right out. It’s a super nice setup, there’s a teepee and yurts and cats and gentle Alt-therapy types. Yay! Soon, Chery, the owner comes, with groceries. Do I want dinner? I look at the bag full of leafy colorful vegetables, drooling. Um, yes, please.
Dinner is awesome and fresh with as much as we want. There’s one other guy staying there currently, an Aussie from Tassie who is recovering from a potential stress fracture on his foot. Chery gives him some cranial-sacral treatment and some cold laser therapy. I’m trying to keep up with the conversation and say something useful but I’m just pretty drowsy and head off to bed before hiker midnight.