Beck vs The Snow

Day 3: 9miles -Cibbets Flat to Mount Laguna

Suddenly it is bright outside. I check my watch and I’ve managed to sleep for a glorious 10 hours.
But it is still raining. I high five my tent which, with the assistance of some rocks on the pegs, withstood the crazy wind and rain.
Canada won’t come to me, and I can’t have two lazy days in a row so I do the pant shuffle (swapping thermals for hiking pants) and get dressed in my mini-space. I stuff my sleeping quilt, clothes and other bits and pieces I don’t want to get wet inside a rubbish bag (trash compacter bag) and then genius-ly place spare rubbish bag over the top of my pack as a poor man’s pack cover. My rain pants and thick gloves are due to be picked up at a post office later on when we are ‘supposed’ to hit colder weather, so my rain jacket will have to do. This is the part of the trail that is supposed to be scorching heat with blazing sun. It was overcast all day yesterday so my solar charger had no chance to charge up my phone. No big deal except that my maps are on my phone. Crap.
The tent is so cold my hands are frozen by the time I finish rolling and packing it up. I can’t feel my fingers but can’t do anything about it so just finish and march on out.

It’s an up hill climb all day long and it gets more and more windy and rainy. I’m hiking in all the layers I have kicking myself for being so wimpy and wondering what I’ll do when I get to really cold weather.
Then I turn a corner and there is snow. Snow, eh? I think. That’s cute. Just a little. But the little turns into more. And more. And the wind picks up again.
I’m now completely saturated from the waist down. I can’t feel my hands inside my soaked gloves so I’m trying to flex my fingers as I’m hiking,  which isn’t easy when carrying poles. I pass a tent that is set up- someone smarter than me stayed in bed.
The terrain changes from the rocky incline and I find myself in a lush pine forest.
It’s a nine mile walk total to Mount Laguna and I start fantasizing about what wonderful trail angels (people who do amazing generous things for hikers) I might meet there. My dream trail angel has a hot shower and a laundry for me to use.  My to do list when I get to laguna is get rain pants from the outfitters,  have shower,  eat hot food, buy resupply and hike on. I play this over and over in my head as I march on taking no breaks.  My hands aren’t working and it takes me forever to open my hip belt pocket to get to my trail mix. Unfortunately the trail mix is inside a zip lock bag that my bumbly hands can’t figure out.  I get it and just pour into my mouth- my hands clearly not up to the task. I have to use my poles to hike faster, but decide that getting there won’t be any good if Mr fingers have all snapped off so I stow the poles and put my hands in my pockets.
It’s really pretty as I cross over streams and through lush green grasses and trees. But all I can think about is walking faster and faster. My feet are now totally numb slushing through icy cold snow and I’m pretty sure I’m doing all kinds of damage to them as I stumble stumble forward.
Hot shower hot food hot shower hot food. I say it over and over. 
Finally I come to a dirt road which I remember is one of the final markers- only about a mile to go
Two crazy trail runners run past me.  “Where are you headed? ” they ask,  “mount laguna” I reply. “I think I’ve heard of that” one says.  Huh I think. I’m pretty sure we are now in Mt Laguna or right next door “there should be a turn off just up the hill” I gesture behind them “did you see a trail or a sign?” “No I haven’t seen anything, but about a 1/4 mile back where you came from there’s a campground with hot showers,  you should check there”.
What the fing f. I missed the turn??? How could I have done that??
I turn around and follow them for a few minutes then stop and try and see if I can get anything on my phone. 3%. Cmon pct app, show me where I am. 2%. Searching for gps. 1%. Town turnoff is .2 miles back where I was headed. Phone dies. 
Stupid runners. I get to the sign and it’s a bloody big sign with an unmissable road, about 3 minutes past where I saw them. Lesson of the day- only listen to pct hikers on the trail. Grrrr.
Then I have the campground to contend with. A stupid collection of circular roads with ridiculous wilderness-inspired names to make the weekenders hiding out watching tv in their giant giant rvs think they are communing with nature.
Stupid roads. Stupid campers. Where is the stupid exit???
Hallelujah I step out onto the main road and right there with angels heralding it’s presence is the Pines Lodge. Hot things! I stumble towards it and a tiny bubbly blonde with a microphone pops her face in front of me. Nooo! Don’t you know there are hot drinks, shower and dry clothes about to happen???
“Were you walking out in that?” She asks with a grin. No, I just decided to take an ice bath fully clothed. “Can we interview you?” Sure. I have no idea what I said,  and no doubt look like some kind of drowned hobo covered in my plastic bags.
I fall inside and get a coffee to-go so I can walk up the road to the outfitters and get some dry pants. The restuarant is full of hikers! Some have been there two days having been caught in the weather- the owners let everyone move the tables to the side of the room and sleep on the floor last night and will again tonight. There’s a massive fireplace, so this sounds like a brilliant plan to me!  It’s a reuinion with nearly everyone I started with at Campo, plus a bunch I’ve never met.
Up the road the outfitters is small in size but is packed to the brim with EVERYTHING. You could kit out your entire hike, including food from here. I get rain pants, waterproof socks, waterproof gloves and grab a bunch of bars for my resupply. Yay all the shopping done! One of the guys from day 1 is here getting a new tent already – his is not waterproof. I’m happy my little notch withstood the test,  but am jealous of the weight saving his fancy new cuben fibre tent would provide. At nearly $600 for the cuben fibre I’ll stick with mine for now!

There is a wait list for the shower so I sit shivering, eating a dodgy veggie burger and trying to warm up for the next 90ish minutes. When I finally get in the shower is divine! It’s far from 4 seasons but all I care about is the hot water. I want to stay there forever but have been given strict 8 min instructions and the lady is scary.


My clothes are already soaking so I take the chance to wash them with some random mens shower gel left in the shower.
  Back in the restaurant I get introduced to a game called Hive, chat about random things and basically just sit in a daze for a long time because the snow has zapped me of all energy.


When dinner time rolls around we have musical entertainment! He’s got the Elvis lip thing happening and kind of reminds me of the guy from Red Dog. We get a mix of country and folk ish songs. I sing along to the Johnny Cash and feel like I’m truly in Merica 🙂

We get ordered around, the tables and chairs are stacked,  our wet clothes are spread out in front of the fire and finally about 11pm all the little hiker slugs are spread out across the floor, cocooned in sleeping bags and overdue for  zzzzZzzzzZz …..


*no photos of the snow sorry! Too cold for that- my fingers weren’t working!

Lesson #1 of the day- don’t listen to runners on the PCT, only hikers!
Lesson #2 of the day- get a backup battery

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