Day 30

11.5 miles hiked

558.5 total
At exactly 6am two things happen: I see that it’s definitely light out, and notice someone is walking by me.  I pop up like a Jack-In-The-Box- Hello there!  Time to move.

I have to hike rest of hill which is just your usual morning slog.  As I’m about at the final summit I check Guthook because I saw something about a cache?  Where would that even be?  I look up- whoa, there is epic trail magic from local Robert, water, fruit, fresh coffee, chairs.  He’s been maintaining this for a few years, he said he doesn’t want this too publicized because he doesn’t want people to depend on the source, but he figured since people were showing up at his house pretty much out of their minds with dehydration (he mentions one guy who started walking down the side of the mountain since he was “sure” there was water at the bottom) he started keeping something set up for hikers so he didn’t have to keep driving them to the hospital or ringing rescue.  He says there used to be a lot more shade but like in so many areas we’ve seen along the trail, there was a fire and lots of trees are now dead.  Kinda a drag- I never minded the Green Tunnel of the AT in the first place, I am really wanting some significant canopy cover even just for a change.  Any forests we’ve seen so far are all conifer-dominant anyways.

I leave after everyone but catch up to Bang Bang and Deeds (or is it Dietz?  I’m not really sure)  For sure it is the worst wind yet. We are having such a hard time walking, there’s another wind farm of course.  This time there is no choice but just to push through, I take off my ball cap and replace it with my fleece hat to protect my head from the wind.  We do 9.5 miles in less than 3 hrs!  Get us off there arrrrrgh!

At the bottom Coppertone and Legend, two legendary (har har) trail angels are set up.  Apparently everyone else has met them a bunch of times but I guess I missed them.  Sorta like on the AT where I never met people like Miss Janet or Baltimore Jack (RIP, tho he was still alive when I started).  There is a girl named For Sure that I offered a hotel room to, but she seems not for sure.  I keep asking her to decide because there is one space left in Legend’s car, and I want to get out of there.  She finally says yes and we head over to the road to hitch.  It takes a while, but finally we do get a ride.

The Holiday Inn is kinda far from the center, but I will get a ton of points with a promotion they are running.  I want the points for post-trail life, I had enough last year to crash somewhere for two and a half weeks once I finished.  It’s a little expensive though and I think this is the last time I’m springing for something like this.  I feel bad though since it seems For Sure is annoyed how far it is.  Sorry!  More sorry comes when they won’t let us check in early.  Well, it’s fair, but I’ve never in probably the 50-60 stays I’ve had with them in recent years not been able to check in early (in this case, around noon).  We hitch back into town, getting a ride with a guy who is just back from his cabin in the Sierras; he’s got an ice axe and everything in the back.  He takes us on a tour of town telling us where all the great places to eat are but I have to keep telling him really we just want to go to the place where the grocery stores and Chinese buffet are.  “It’s not the best, it’s just ok,” he says.  “Um, kinda more concerned with quantity rather than quality, we are thru hikers” I tell him.  I guess sometimes hard for people to understand, I definitely note his suggestions though for after hiker hunger subsides.

For Sure ends up not being hungry and says she’ll meet me at the buffet.  I eat, it is definitely the best Chinese buffet I’ve ever been to; there’s prawns and green-lipped mussels for lawd’s sake!  I get huge plates with lots of garlic string beans and broccoli from the beef/broccoli; I am really craving veggies this thru. Finally I go to the grocery to see if I can track down For Sure, maybe she didn’t understand to meet?  I find her and there is another guy also confused how to get back.  I say let’s try dial-a-ride- we call and the guy says he can pick us up in 4 minutes.  Whoa!  Wait, is there time for me to get groceries?  I run in the store, grab some limon pepino gatorade, raspberries, a peach, a nectarine, and epsom salts.  The bus is just arriving when I come out, yay!

For Sure goes out somewhere she says she’s going to let me know where everyone is.  I take epsom salt bath #1 and fall asleep for a while.  When I finish I have no idea where For Sure is, so I go across to see what the convenience store has.  The Subway store is closed- shall I actually try Denny’s?  Eh, why not.

Denny’s is actually super good.  I don’t think I’ve been to one in 15-20 years but this one has like a billion GF options and the food is pretty fresh.  I get an awesome avocado bacon burger on a gluten free English muffin with a bunch of veggies on the side.  Thus full, I head back to the hotel and pass out again.

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Day 29

16.9 miles hiked

547 total

I am successful with my cowboy camp and even manage to git on the road 4:30 or so.  4 miles to the faucet!  On my way there and notice more wind turbines and take a zillion photos, one of these will make it to my Facebook page.  It’s not too windy!  Haha, famous last words on the PCT.

I’m not really hungry and have enough water so I push on to Tylerhorse Canyon where I know I am going to need siesta hardcore.  I’m slow on the ascent, not just bc of ascending, but bc of ¡WIND!  Holy Batman lotta wind again.  Well, at least it’s keeping things cool.

I make it to the canyon a little before 8:30 and there’s a good little stream.  What I do not see is shade.  I scout around the immediate area and jam my mattress between two juniper bushes with my umbrella blocking additional sun.  I read a little (just downloaded a new DK Holmberg book!  Currently my favorite fantasy author) and then sleep a bit.

Around 11 I wake, the sun is doin’ its thing and I need to find shade again.  I see this tree of trail and go over to investigate.  Everyone’s there, 3 tents!  I set up cowboy and crash hard.  I wake later and see that the S-band (a bunch of the guys have trail names starting with S? I just made that up now) as well as Bridget/Whole have showed up.  People start to leave, I am the last one out at 6pm.

I want to do 8 more miles but there is this big hill looming.  I sit in the valley before the last big up, 4 miles, take a long break.  A few more?  I see a snake after a mile.

After another mile I find this unmarked tent site.  I am kinda over the wind and there is a spot on the other side of the tent site, next to a huge dead juniper, that has little wind and blocked from 2 other sides from other juniper.  It’s also 4 inches from the trail.  Exactly my style.  I roll out my stuff, enjoy the extra sleep!  I need it!

Day 28

13.3 miles hiked

530.9 total

Wooooo made it to hikertown I am still hiiiiiigh on exercise-induced endorphins and adrenaline!  And coke, but not the powder, the cancer-causing kind in a bottle.  Holy shit holy shit holy shit I just hiked 39 miles.  The owner is not there but there is another hiker who shows me the cat therapy area.  A kitten almost immediately jumps under my dress at my crotch, wow.  Guess it is pretty stinky down under.  A shuttle is leaving in 15 minutes great!

I order the gordito burrito which is basically 2 burritos.  My intention is to pack one out but actually I eat it all in 10 minutes?  Right.  The cafe is super random, there’s this hangout room where you could theoretically buy poker chips and beers.  They must be doing bonkers tho, locals and hikers in and out all day.  The new owner started marketing to hikers as soon as he took over a year ago.

Back to the hostel, owner is still not there, it is super rando, new people I have never seen before (I guess that’s redundant).  Part of me says to stay bc it’s cheap and also “Delay The Sierras” but I am still super hopped up on adrenaline.  I go back to the cafe, order an iced coffee and tacos.  “I don’t know how to do this, are 3 and a half shots of espresso ok?”  Wheeeeeeeee guess who’s about to night hike.

 

Little bit of crossing farms first and then go.  I make two really shitty videos that are not making it to this page.I have been waiting for this the entire trip, I am so excited, that actually it doesn’t even matter that actually it’s not all that great, but hey!  It’s flat and suuuuper windy and cool in the desert.  This means I can hike reaaaalllllly fast, like almost 4mph, and also sing all the songs.People are starting to drop like flies.  I see Bridget and Tyler struggling to set up their tent in the wind.  It later nearly collapses on them.  I roll by, singing Lauryn Hill badly but with enthusiasm.About 4 miles before the water faucet I just crash.  Goodbye, caffeine-and-adrenaline high!  Well, I knew it would happen.  I set my alarm earlyish planning to siesta at the next water source, Tylerhorse Canyon.

Day 27

39.4 miles holy schnikes!!!!!!

517.6 total

“Okay, everybody get in a picture.”

“It takes you a month to get here, the butt is a bonus.”

Well, now I know why it’s called Casa de Luna.  Pretty much sums up the morning.  Breakfast, lounging, wanting food, talking about random things with random people.  I guess a lot more of this happened on the AT bc of the shelters; I never got in a group here.  I don’t think people actively dislike me or anything, at least I hope.  Story of my life.  For some reason people have “heard about me” tho, and I have no idea if that’s good or bad.  Meeting a dude named Bass Bone, I’m 100% sure he named himself, further confirmed by the fact he confides in me that no one on trail knows what that means.  But still!  SUPER unusual for someone of that world to be out here.  He grew up in a different time, for sure: went to state U (sure there was a good teacher there), won audition for local good-sized orchestra soon after, boom, a career and making a living.  He plays in Brass Band of Battle Creek so I’m sure he’s a great player, but still:  this sorta thing doesn’t happen so much these days.  I know some people who play there so ask him to say hi.

I ask if he wants to go to the cafe for a burger, he’s down but needs to wait for his buddy (a Dutch sound technician) to take a shower.  I admit I’m jealous; why am I always alone or around people who don’t have common interests so often.  Ok, get over it.  The burgers are fantastic, maybe best in trail so far.  The fries definitely are, no contest, but the piece de resistance is the chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich using a 100-yr old recipe, including pecans.  The guys go for it too, and we are soooo not disappointed.

I head back and gluten/dairy-fog out on a hammock for a while.

I wake after a bit and finally for whatever reason I seem to be approaching escape velocity.  I finally pack, buy a beer off Bass Bone, and I’m gone.  I have a craaaaaazy idea in mind and my engine is gathering speed, let’s do it!  It’s the hostel to hostel to hostel challenge, I made it up in my head.  Can I hike 39 miles??  I go to the cafe and buy a large iced coffee.  3…2…1…blast off!

I don’t even know what to tell you about the next 19 hours except I started slow going up the hill out of town, it was windy again but not awful, I am so sick of Jamiroquai, I am delirioso, apparently night hiking makes you miss all the flies, also I just couldn’t be bothered to grab water, I seem to need half as much when night hiking.  I left town with 3L for this reason.  I nap for a couple hours at some sketch trailside spot about halfway thru.

The next morning is sunny but not too bad; the wind makes it not feel really hot which is good bc it’s too windy for an umbrella!! Haha.  

About 7 miles before the end I am starting to crash a little, I also need to poop but there hasn’t been a good spot.  I scout down the road a little.  I don’t find a good poop spot but I DO find a half-full 1L bottle of coke.  Hmmm.  I look at it, it looks new.  I open it, pssst!  Whoa!  Still carbonated.  What the hell, I take a tiny sip.  It tastes not old and not contaminated.  I take a slightly bigger swig.  I wait, I feel fine.  Screw it.  I down it, thus ascending (descending?) to a new level of hikertrash.  Wow, I mean, just wow.

The last 7 miles obviously go pretty good.  The terrain goes up and down and people later talk about it being a roller coaster but I know what the real trail roller coaster is on the AT, way worse than this.  It is sooooo windy on the last stretch which joins a dirt road.  It is just overall, incredibly windy on the PCT.

Finally I get to the intersection, I guess Hikertown is to the right.  I am greeted by this, it looks like a ghost town.

Day 26

12.3 miles hiked

478.2 total

I set my alarm for 4am.  It goes off.  Mwaaaahaha, like I’m getting up.  Sorta toss/turn nervously with that early morning cold nausea feeling.  I pull my hat down over my eyes and snooze.  I think just one hiker passes.

I get up way too late at 6, cram my stuff in my bag, and eat a protein bar as I walk.  It doesn’t feel like it’s going to be an oppressively hot day, but I want to make the most of the cool morning time.  For whatever reason I’m slow though; I keep stopping; at one point I dump out almost everything in order to find and then replace my phone battery (which I later realize was NOT actually dead, the brightness was just dimmed).  It’s 9am before I get to the halfway point, a nice bench next to a sign showing winners of the Leona Divide 50k ultra race.  Next to this sign is a horrific amount of flies, I mean, like, eleventy billion.  There have been flies off and on all morning, but nothing like this.  I eat my snack with a nervous eye to my right as the cloud inches closer ever so slowly.

I manage the next 6 miles in a bit over 2 hours.  I guess a bit more energy between the snack, fly avoidance, looming nearness of town, and ever-warming sun.

I wait approximately one minute for a hitch.  A truck pulls up.  The driver knows where Green Valley is, asks if I’m going to the Andersons’.  He knows all about the PCT because his son did it last year. In fact, his son apparently holds the single day record for the PCT – 62 miles – achieved in Oregon last year.  Wow.  Well, hopefully that bodes well for Quickstart’s and my goal of doing Oregon in 2 weeks.

I arrive at the Andersons’.  This place can best be described as the complete opposite of Hiker Heaven.  There’s a dirty futon on a shipping pallet in the driveway, under some sort of shade awning, with some random old couches and plastic chairs everywhere.  4 porta-potties greet you at the entrance (they are mostly full yum), along with coolers for yer beers.  On one side is a table for food types and a charging station, along with a stove/oven unit that is hooked up (yes, outside, next to the driveway).  Country Gold is a volunteer, he gives me the entry tour.  Pretty chill guy with an amazing Southern accent and some of the skinniest legs I’ve ever seen.  Really amazing attitude, he helped out before at Hiker Heaven and this year when thru-hiking he got to Casa de Luna, saw they needed help, and stuck around.  “I just saw they needed some he-elp,” he says, “Y’all know this will always come back to you when you least expect it.”   Right on.

I plop myself down on a couch, soon enough there are impromptu hot dogs with ALL the fixin’s.  Amazing!  I take a shower, there’s not really much in the way of soap (I manage with an almost-empty bottle of facial scrub I find) but it’s super refreshing after a hike. Reroute is there along with a bunch of other hikers I never met before.  We immediately start talking humously about a bunch of necessary subjects like the undead, you know, just typical hiker banter.  I’ve been even more solitary this year than on the AT, though not on purpose?  Just seem not to run into people all that often for very long.  It’s a good time.  One guy, Gandhi, says I am an unbelievably intelligent talented woman.  This is super awkward because I don’t even know this guy and is he buttering me up?  I have a wierd vibe from him, he says he’s broken fasts with beer before.  Speaking of beer he wants one of the good ones I got from the store (sorry guys, if I’m gonna F up my intestines, it’s going to be with something better than Coors’).  I say ok if he can throw me a buck or two.  Sure.  Later he takes another and doesn’t give me any money, and in the morning I find my last beer I was keeping cool for the next day was gone.  What was that about giving again?  I guess I need to be more generous, not expecting anything in return.  And maybe keeping my spare beers sequestered away if I really didn’t want anyone to take them.

We are all hanging out and gearing up for Taco Salad.  I am so excited because Tacos and Salad are both two of my on-trail craves.  Sadly, Taco Salad is the least salad-like salad I have ever seen.  Your vegetable choices include canned tomatoes, olives, chopped onions, and some shredded cabbage.  I imagine that wierdo Spoon Boy from the Matrix saying “There is no salad….”  Oh well.  Quantity over quality folks, and!  it’s still pretty awesome.  Terri, the owner, stands by with a huge piece of wood, slapping people if they have their plate over the fixin’s.  She apparently is not afraid to use it.   We all hang and drink beers and then eventually it’s time for bed in the manzanita forest of our dreams.  Just the best campsites so far on the whole trail- this forest goes behind the house for miles apparently.  I pick a little alcove near the front and crash.

Day 25

11.4 miles hiked

465.9 total

I wake up pretty much normal time.  Try to sleep/can’t/eat rice Chex and drink coffee.  When the first town shuttle leaves I hop on, half out of boredom.  I order sweet potato fries and sausage as I don’t love breakfast foods, along with more coffee.  They are huge orders and I take half back with me.
More not-blogging, reading rando stuff on the interweb, there’s rumors of 400 hikers stalled in Kennedy Meadows due to the massive snows but no one can verify.  I eat a cucumber and tomato with hummus, listen to Dragonfly and Pickles work on a song called “Everybody’s Got A Butthole” for about 5 hours.  Puppy stitches a patch on my dress; she seems really irritable and says she’s been doing 16 hr days.  I realize after I leave I should’ve bought a beer for her or something rather than just thanks, shoot.  Finally someone says it’s 4:30, I hurriedly pack everything (my stuff is all over the place), eat the rest of the Chex, and head to town on the 5pm shuttle.  I have one last salad at the restaurant as well as a giant Americano which is the fuel I will need: I’m going to try to night hike as far as possible the 24 miles to Green Valley where there is another hiker-friendly trail angel.  

Maybe at 7:45 I head out.  Somehow I didn’t realize there was a 2 mile roadwalk.  Sweet!  I actually love roadwalks.  I check more things on the internets. Finally I hit the trail proper.  I see another couple up ahead go on some trail off to the right.  Hmmm…where they goin’?  I check my GPS, well, I’m on the trail.   Ooooooook.

I start heading up at a relaxed pace.  I don’t stress as much about my speed when night hiking as I feel like any of them are bonus miles.  I pass other hikers, everyone is in bed already.  Not me!  I’m trying for Vampire Mode, although I’m dubious it will last all night.  It is awesome though as it’s bright enough to hike without a headlamp.  What a yin way to live.  Defeating the heat not through force but by avoidance, embracing the coolness of the night, its dim but sufficient light.  I can see my shadows but can’t manage to capture it on film.

I start getting sleepy though after midnight, and aim for a tentsite about halfway through the slog.  There’s already tents there so I set up a cowboy in a space under a manzanilla next to the trail, hoping to get up early and polish off the rest.

Day 24

10.2 miles hiked +.3 from KOA

454.5 miles total

Well, a big mile marker today- today I will arrive at Hiker Heaven, a sorta hostel place that is the home of a couple named the Saufleys who have transformed their backyard into some sort of thru hiker paradise.  First a quick 10 miles through some pretty exposed area.  Some of the other girls leave at 5, I don’t manage it until closer to 6.  I look down at the hibachi table as I’m leaving; there’s a huge pile of Bud Lights.  #fukyeahmerika

The trail passes through a super sketchy area by railroad tracks.  Wanna refill from the river here?  Yeah, right.  I have to put my umbrella up to block the sun really early, around 7am.  Usually it’s not until 9 or 10, but there is just no shade here.  And it’s heating up!  Definitely don’t want to dilly dally.  I’m making ok time, even pass someone, though Daydreamer and one or two others pass.  Right before I get to the highway tunnel underpass I see a lizard in the trail.  Now, we see about eleventy billion lizards on the trail on a daily basis, but this one is different.  They usually skitter off with the approach of a hiker, but this one is bloody defiant.  I mean literally.  It is definitely dripping blood at the mouth.  Some poor beetle must have met its demise.  I slam my poles down and it doesn’t move.  Guess I’m going over.

In the tunnel I say hi to two dayhikers going the other way, then sit down with Daydreamer and some others taking a break.  Some of these guys night hiked, did some massive miles already.  I finish my Chinese food while they hike off.  I’m getting better at accepting where I’m at.  Sounds like some new age yoga mom bullshit, but it’s healthy for me.  Definitely spent way too long on the Westside but what can you do.

It turns out that one walks right into the town of Agua Dulce.  I sit down at the local cafe with other hikers who are just about to order breakfast.  I don’t like breakfast foods and order a salad instead.  I’ve gone through different cravings on the trail and lately it’s been for vegetables.  We banter with the waiter who is really quite funny.  The other hikers show good form in immediately ordering lunch after finishing breakfast.  Really a funny crew; I like hanging with them.  I decide to take advantage of a lift over to the house instead of another meal immediately, however.

It’s super duper organized!  There’s a bunch of different geodesic tents set up for different activities: internet/charging, clothes repair and shipping, clothes and towels for showering.  Hikers are spread out all over the backyard that also has chickens and dogs ranging around; there’s also a trailer with a kitchen an tv/Netflix setup.  There’s a computer in the garage to ship parcels.  A volunteer former thru hiker named Puppy gives rides to town every few hours.  Basically?  Everything a hiker could possibly need.

I plug in my devices to charge, take a shower, change into borrowed town clothes.  I take the 3pm shuttle back to town to figure out resupply since my box was lost in Acton.  The store is out of so much, no tuna packets at all!  I don’t know what to do; I buy some things and plan to raid the hiker box for the rest.  I can’t decide what to do, should I eat grocery food or not for dinner?  Someone walks out with a rotisserie chicken and The Kid and I learn from a worker at the store it was the last one.  I go back to the restaurant, eat a burger.  This time it’s not overrun with hikers, I hang out with the waiter who stays a good 40 minutes after his shift ends to hang out and a waitress.  The waiter is super cool; what’s he doing in a little town like this?  Actually he wants to move to Canada: Canmore, specifically.  I played a gig there years ago when I was a fellow at the Banff institute.  He’s actually never been there, but I give him my impressions.   Also notice his ring- he and his wife are originally from the area.  Aaaaand, #endcrush.

I go back to the house and head to the TV trailer where I can charge and write my blog at the same time.  But they’ve got a movie on, War Dogs, and it’s freaking fantastic.  I put the blogging aside to concentrate but 007 sits down and starts asking twenty questions about my world travels.  I want to talk to her but I really want to focus on the movie now, I have to ask a couple times if we can talk later.  The movie ends, someone puts on Goodburger but leaves, I eat about 4 bowls of discounted/slightly expired Rice Chex with almond milk I got from the grocery store, get back to blogging.  007 comes back and puts another good/complicated movie on, Babel.  I have to focus on the various subplots and again have to ask her to stop asking a zillion questions, I feel bad but sorry?  She’s seen it a bunch of times already.  Apparently the movie is a chick flick because all the guys leave and at one point there are 6 girls on the sofas, WTH.  An older dude comes in and chastises us, “I came out here to get away from all this stuff!”  Whatever, dude, HYOH.  I haven’t had consistent internet in a long time, and never (as an adult) a TV, and movies are just as cultural for me as the people I meet; I so rarely watch them in real life.  The movie finishes and I’m quickly to bed on a cowboy camp.  For some reason everyone is clustered together but I’m alone by a big tree- it’s easy to sleep!

Day 23

25.7 miles hiked + .3 to Acton KOA

444.3 total

I wake 5ish in the morning, already I can feel the sun heating up.  Gonna be hot!  I get ready quickly and am on trail by 5:20.  I forgot there’s a little uphill right at the start and I am just sucking at it, have to take breaks to catch my breath.  A trail runner comes by, is concerned.  He does not seem too convinced that I’ve managed a couple thousand trail miles breathing like this.  What can I do?  It only gets minimally better as I get more in shape, but Western doctors found nothing wrong with me.  I see him on his way back and he’s clearly surprised that I am way out ahead of some other hikers I’ve since passed.  What can I say? I’m about twice as fast on flat/downhill as uphill.

This trail is not helping things, however, it’s just incredibly overgrown.  Seriuously, people?  This is me on the trail facing forward.

Anyway I go on, start crusing.  I get to a part where it crosses a dirt road.  I look for where it goes back to the trail, but I don’t see a sign.  I guess it joins?  I don’t know, I’m rocking out to music, and following, then passing another girl who is still on the road.  I look at my GPS, I’m like 500 feet off trail.  Whoops.  I head around the bend where it should be a little closer and try to peer around for the trail.  I can’t see it anywhere.  In the meantime the other girl pulls up.  It’s Susan, aka 007 (tho bashful about this); she also thru’ed the AT last year.  I’m about to turn back and Susan to bushwhack when we see a hiker way above us.  The trail!  The trail!  Whoops.  Gotta pay more attention.

I chat with Susan as we head towards the North Fork Ranger Station, where everyone plans to lunch and siesta.  She is pretty mild mannered and also extremely bad-ass, having not only done the AT but also some other solo travels as well, including a bike ride from South Africa to Tanzania.  Wow!  She is doing the Peace Corps in the fall as is my friend Nick; she’s going to Morocco, however, rather than Macedonia (her 2nd choice).  Then I see the station way off in the distance, realize I have to poop, and rush off.  Whoops, sorry for being rude.

After my detox I head over to the shade, where hikers are gathered like migrant animals at rest.  Oh wait, we are that.  After a while I realize everyone is drinking sodas- the ranger station has them for sale!  I get a root beer which is not something I ever crave but seems really amazing at the moment.  I try to sleep but the wind is just blowing dirt in my face.  After a while I give up, pack up, and hike off.  8 miles to go, I can do this!

It’s too windy for the umbrella and I’m feeling not TOO hot so I go for a while risking sunburn.  But it’s quite hot!  And some uphill I didn’t think would affect me so much, not to mention dodging all the poodle dog bush that can give you a burn.  But sure enough I started slowing down.  I wasn’t feeling too frustrated but then Daydreamer caught up and passed, then some other hikers.  Oh well.  Let it go, the KOA isn’t going anywhere.

I get down to the road not too late, around 6.  It’s been another big day for me, I am pretty pumped.  I go to get yet another soda (soda multiple times in one day!  What is this trail?!) and Gatorade, it’s hot and I’ve earned it, sugar be damned, and also the box I’ve mailed.  They don’t have it.  I don’t understand, I mailed it from LA, double checked the address.  It’s the second box gone missing.  Well, I didn’t save the confirmation and there’s nothing I can do.  

So I do the only other thing one CAN do in this situation: get everyone together for a group order for Chinese.  There’s no cell reception but my new phone apparently works on Wi-Fi?  I almost lose the connection but in place the order.  It’s happening!

In the meantime a ton of hikers congregate.  We’re not the only congregation here however; there’s some sort of Korean Catholic church festival going on.  A rock band is playing unintelligible songs but finally goes into “Hotel California” and jams out.  There are also random Mexican families blasting banda music, associated White trash locals, others of Eastern European descent who take over our preferred campsite, cowboy camping with huge pillows and comforters.  The band stops and Korean karaoke starts, and these guys are not talented (they also don’t let me join in).  Well, if it couldn’t get any weirder, it does: it’s movie night at the KOA and we all have to suffer through A Bee Movie starting Jerry Seinfeld, who we unanimously agree is the Worst Voice Actor Ever.

The movie ends but the party is just getting started for a group of Korean parents partying near their hibachi.  I pull my fleece hat over my eyes to blackout the flood light that is pointed in my direction.  I sleep.

Day 22

26.2 miles hiked

418.6 total

This morning I’m kinda tired, f it, I’m starting late.  I don’t actually get myself on trail until 7.  The Burkhart trail leading back to the PCT is really nice, with some rare things called shade and water nearby.  But once on trail it goes uphill, not steep, but I draaaaaag, take a million breaks, go slow.  By 11 something I finally make it to Camp Glenwood.  There is water, and two other hikers, and a picnic table in direct sun.  Well, guess I’m taking lunch early.  The other hikers are pretty cool and have a good amount of hiking experience between them.  Eventually however, it’s time to go.  I aim for a small spring where I take a 1.5 hr break.  It’s hot!  I’m feeling ok though, so will try to get to the Fire Station as I hoped, that has both water and a privy.

I start to move faster as the sun gets lower in the sky.  I don’t see anyone pass me, guess the other hikers stopped earlier.

I get down to the station around 8, yay!  Very happy I pulled off the 26 miles.  Time to crash, I gotta do the same again tomorrow.  Annnd, fail.  I cowboy camp right next to the loudest snorer, I don’t have time for this.  I set up my sleeping bag directly on the path down the hill, F it.  Goodnight!

Day 21

28.9 miles hiked

393.2 total

Okay…so today is Baden-Powell day!  There’s 13ish miles to go first before the big ascent, but they don’t look TOO bad.  I want to get to Little Jimmy camp at least because I have a friend from LA that I have not at all concrete plans to meet up and/or hike with.  Is this too crazy to arrange at the last minute?  Who knows.

I get a late start as Henry offers even more trail magic (chocolate donuts and fresh coffee!!) but 6:30 or so isn’t all that bad.  I take a short break around 9 to charge my phone at the Grassy Hollow Visitor Center.  The very nice volunteer asks if I heard anything at Guffy Campground last night. No, and why, I ask?   Appppparently there had been a mountain lion up there stalking around.  Sweeeeet.  Well, time to push on.

I get to the parking lot before the 3.7 mile ascent to the peak of Baden Powell.  I eat more food than I am hungry for, telling myself like some sort of mantra, if I eat these things, my pack will be lighter and I will have more energy to get up this thing.  Here goes!!!

I hyperventilate myself up the hill, taking a few seconds to catch my breath every switchback or two.  I get to the near top, where the final spur is, I check my time.  3.7 miles in an hour 45.  A bit over 2 miles an hour.  How did that even happen, I sounded like I was gonna die.  Time for obligatory photos!

I left my pack at the base of the spur trail and come back to retrieve it and take a lunch.  The tree is 1500 years old!

While I’m doing this I decide to try for a cell signal.  I get it and am able to arrange a meet up with my friend Erin…I think?  Not sure if all the messages went through, I guess we’ll see!  With only 8 miles to go, it means I will definitely have time for a siesta before she gets to Islip Saddle 6-6:30ish.

I get to the parking lot just before 5.  On the final switchback there’s a rattlesnake, eek!  No photos folks.  That brings my count to 3: 2 pinkish red ones and this one, which is black.  This drama finished, I set up my sleeping apparatus on one of the picnic tables.  Many hikers are confused.

“Uhhhh, are you sleeping here?”

“Well not tonight, obviously.  Just for siesta!”  I guess it never occurred to people to sleep on a picnic table before.  Or to take siesta at 5, rather than stopping for the day.  6pm passes and then 6:30, they all seem really dubious that my friend is coming.  But she does!

I haven’t seen Erin since she left I band we played in maybe 7 years ago?  We actually weren’t especially close but I always thought she was cool, and knew she also liked hiking and herbalism.  She totally hooked me up with water, a smoothie, and most importantly, fresh coffee!  I’m not really sure if we are going to night hike like she proposed, but better to be safe then sorry.  It’s soon 8, are we going to hijr?  I assumed she wouldn’t want to hike and she thought I wouldn’t want to hike but actually we both want to, do we power up Mt Williamson.  She takes a nice selfie of us that she posts to facebook later, but I think mine is better.  

An hour later we separate to go our own ways.  I hike down a sorta sketchy path on the more exposed side of the mountain.  I see several tentsites, but I am feeling a big day.  I keep going.  Hell, why not do the Endangered Species detour roadwalk too?
It’s a perfect night for a night hike, with a clear sky and half moon that is super bright.  Soon enough I’m at the campground where the road connects to a trail that runs back to the PCT.  There are a lot of campers up still sitting around fires, one of them comes over to talk to me.

“Hey, what are you you doing?  Are you lost?”

“Huh?  I’m hiking the detour, on the PCT.”  I explain about the Endangered Species detour.  He is confused, I’m doing PCP?  He keeps shining his flashlight directly in my face.

“Hey man, do you mind with the light a little?  It’s the PCT, the Pacific Crest Trail, not PCP.  That’s a drug.  You know, the hiking trail that goes from Mexico to Canada?”  He doesn’t, he’s “new to this camping thing” and still obviously suspicious of me.  I go to put my food in the bear box and he freaks out.  Well. I guess in California each campsite gets their own bear box, pretty luxury if you ask me.  Sorry!  I find some spot to camp away from everyone else and crash.  Hoping to get up early and do 2 26 days to get to the KOA.