410.6- 25.1 miles!!
I went to sleep with great intentions of getting up and out of bear country quickly. My alarm goes off at 445am but I decide an extra hour sleep sounds much more appealing. It’s a chilly morning so for the first time on trail I make myself some hot oatmeal in the tent vestibule while snuggled in my quilt. I’m in a quiet little forest surrounded by tall trees and hot brekkie is perfect. I would love to do this every morning, but it takes time and I I’m always keen to get up and out quickly.
I cross a dirt road and the trail descends quickly to a road crossing with a little trailhead stop containing toilets and rubbish bins! The excitement!
The official PCT is closed in this section indefinitrly due to a rare yellow frog. There is an attempt by the officials to create an alternate, but this is 24.7 miles to hike for a 5.8 mile closure. I opt for the alternate alternate which is a 7 miled road walk. Not pretty or exciting, but not a stupid extra 18.9 miles. The alternate is also not maintained, so there are a lot of fallen trees and washed out sections of the trail.
The road heads up and I wish for a car to come by that I can hitch with. My excuse is that road walking is dangerous (there’s no shoulder along a lot of this road and it winds around a lot of bends)…but there aren’t any cars that pass me so my dangerous argument goes out the window. I just don’t like hiking on bitumen. It bloody hurts.
My next water source is inside a campground that the alternate passes through. I find the working tap, fill up and filter my water while trying to get some charge into my phone from my solar charger. Another hiker rocks up, Sam/ Two Patch who tells me he just zeroed in Vegas with a crew after hitching from Cajon Pass. Now that is a good zero!
I kick on and the real trail starts again a couple of miles. I know I’m somewhere near the 400 marker so I sit briefly to check HalfMile (the amazing maps and app off the PCT. It tells you exactly what mile you are at on the trail). I hear people coming chatting loudly, so I’m now in that awkward space where I was about to stand and leave, but if I leave now it will look like I’m avoiding them. So I wait and meet Rodrigo from Mexico and Just Kyle (his response when asked if has a trail name) from San Francisco. So I jump up amd head out behind them and we all pass the 400 mark together! Woohoo! Dance dance time 🙂
The verandah of a little locked up camp house of some sort is the chosen spot for lunch, as it also has water there.
I feel like I’ve just stepped into the set of a PCT tv show -meeting characters and learning about a bunch of others. Kyle and Rodrigo ask if I’ve seen a bunch of people -Sam who I just met and Serena who I actually met in the supermarket in Wrightwood. They were all in Vegas together and have some animated stories. Serena (aka cookie monster) turns up shortly thereafter. We hang out in the shade of the building cooking food and waiting out a bit of the heat of the day.
We all head out together around the same time. I feel a little strange like I’ve just crashed someone’s party, but it’s when I was leaving anyway. There is a little water cache that I take advantage of a few miles away – the water from the lunch spot was yellow and very hot.
We spread out as we hike up the mountain and some pretty scenery.
I’m done by sunset -it’s been a long day and I find a gorgeous spot at the top. I put my tent up, Kyle and Cookie keep walking a little ways. I have enough light and time to stretch and massage feet for once without promptly passing out as soon as my tent is up. Rodrigo eventually makes it to the top and camps there too. Then finally Sam (who everyone was sure was walking ahead of them) arrives. The whole TV cast! I pull out my sleep pad and sit on it outside my tent as we chat, eat bits of food then off to sleep.