CDT Day 6

Day 6 Lordsburg to 101 (16.4)
Gah town and interwebs! There are still lots of emails and writing and messages to respond to so I spend the morning sorting all that.
 I spend too long and get scared everytime I look outside and see how hot and bright it looks.
Finally out just after 10 and commence a road walk out of Lordsburg. Hot. Bitumen. Glass. Rubbish. Dogs barking. Hot.
Finally the trail veers off under a barbed wire fence and into another great wide deadly desert. I think this is the last of the great wides for a while.
It’s really hot. And there is no shade. The plants are tiny and are not helpful at all. I’m getting really hot and kicking myself for such a late start. I imagine that the trail is like a mario game and when I hit a sign as I go by cold cans of soda will fly out. Mmm cold. Mmm liquid.
It’s getting stupid hot. I keep looking at my watch and it is creeping up and up. 34, 36, 38.
I finally see what might be a tree off trail. I’m not supposed to veer off the trail in this section as the trail only owns 10ft either side of the path, but I’m sweating too much and don’t have enough water for this heat. I bunker down in the dappled shade and wait.
So much shade!
So much shade!
I’m still waiting. How is it 330pm and the temperature still climbing??? 38.8
I’m still sweating just sitting here. I take stock of my water situation and I have about 1.2L for 6 miles. Normally this would be plenty but I am feeling too hot, my heart is beating too much because of it and there is no shade in sight.
My mileage calculations change over and over for the day as I won’t be hiking soon. C’mon clouds!
I watch whirly whirlys form in the distance, listen to flies and bees buzz around me. I wish I could nap but there’s only room for cross legged sitting. I daydream about cold drinks and iceblocks and swimming pools.
Dust-nados are always on the horizon somewhere here
Dust-nados are always on the horizon somewhere here
I can still see Lordsburg in the distance! Gah of the hwy was closer I would totally hitch in for a cold drink then hitch back out.
Finally I’ve had enough and decide to brave it. I ration  my water – one sip every 15 minutes. It’s dizzy hot. I try not to panic because that will only make it worse so I just stare at guthook  (hiking app with maps, water sources, elevation) and will the miles to tick down. I read and re-read the water report. There is a possibility of water in 2 miles, amd another source half a mile after that. Please let there be water at the first one!!!
The trail finally leaves the great wide flatness and starts to meaner into some hills. The climb is a good distraction and there’s even trees here! Treeees!!!  Then somehow I’m at the water. The tank is dry. But there is another rusted covered tank and I lift it to find…. water!!! Manky water with floaters but I don’t care. I filter a litre and add some electrolytes and sit and sip slowly. I know it won’t be good for me to guzzle, plus I am drained of all energy to contemplate guzzling. As I’m sitting on the edge of the tank a cow wanders up and stares at me accusingly. I try to show her where I got my water from but she doesn’t understand. I also try to explain there is another water source in half a mile but she just stares at me then wanders off to hide under an inadequate tree. Poor cow.
I take my manky litre and march on to the next better water source. All her cow friends got the memo and they are guzzling water from the tank. There are about 50 cows and I can’t get close. Crap!!! Water report says great water at a windmill in another mile. So I march on again.
I get to the windmill and there is nothing. Not a drop. I search for a tap or some magic button and there is none. Nooooo. The water report is usually very reliable. I’m so thirsty I could cry but I have no tears.
So…the next water is in 3 miles. I have no choice but to keep on. At least the sun is setting now and it’s much cooler. I pass the 100 mile mark. I have no energy for proper celebration, but take my obligatory selfie.
I last about a mile and call it a night. My mileage is pitiful but I had no choice with the heat. I have about 100ml left of my litre so I take one sip and leave the rest for morning. Crossing fingers, toes and praying to the water gods overnight.
I reach down to my pack to press my SPOT to notify that I’ve made it to camp and it’s not there! The clip and the velcro it should be attached to are there, but no SPOT. Crap crap crapola. It must have come loose on one of the scuttles under barbed wire fences.  Poo. I’ll have to sort out another when I have phone reception- this trail is too sparsely populated for me to feel safe without it.
Blergh. Pooey day. But now I’m on an actual trail with actual trees so yay! 2 miles in the morning till happiness.

The Final Mile on the PCT

Soooooo it appears my grand plans of blogging all of my epic walk were more like an epic comedy of errors (involving logging trucks, broken screens, crashed computers and insurance).
The quick facts:
– I finished!
– Hands down best and hardest and most amazing thing I have ever done
– I have all my blog notes and they will be making their way into the universe in the future (you’ll have to wait and see!!!)

And NOW I am sitting in a hotel room in Lordsburg having finished the first 85 miles of the Continental Divide Trail! That’s right, I am a glutton for punishment… and epic adventures 🙂
I’m raising funds for Sea Shepherd and Animals Australia, so if you are garnering a wee bit of enjoyment out of reading along I encourage you to pay that back in the form of a few dollars.  Fundraising page is in the menu.

You can see lots more of my PCT pics over on instagram , you can read a little article Elephant Journal published that I wrote, but I will leave you with what I decided to do with the final mile to the Canadian border on the PCT.

The Final Mile To US Canada Border on The PCT from Rebecca Mercia on Vimeo.

Keep reading for the adventures of Snakebite on the CDT!

Snakebite vs The Giant Hill

Day 34

I’m up and out from my sandy bed at 430am. I don’t take any breaks but I’m going really slowly today! The light is gorgeous across the scrubby valley and as I round a corner I hear voices. I don’t see anyone so I stop and listen for a second and finally locate the owners under a tree up ahead. It’s Goldenrod and Crazy Lamb!
They passed me during the night and have are just finishing packing up so I wait for them and we all hike on together.

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There is a possible water cache up ahead at Bird Spring Pass, but in the last trail register there was a note from a trail angel saying it will no longer be stocked as the access road was washed out in the flash floods a few days before (the day we left Tehachapi). The girls find a nice shady spot before the road to rest, but I’m keen to see if there is anything at the cache. I turn the corner and see chairs!! How I love chairs. When I get closer I see that there is still a bit of water in the cache, and a container with some tortillas, peanut butter, and some external batteries to charge your phone while you hang out. AMAZING! Trail angels are so thoughtful.

I waste a bunch of time under the spikey Joshua Tree, not looking forward to the 500m elevation gain of the next couple of miles. It’s a nice steep climb, but the hardest part is that it’s completely exposed… and HOT. I do everything I can think of – eat a bit of food, go to the loo, charge my phone, have a wee nap. The girls and Yorkie have all passed me and I can procrastinate no more. WAIT yes I can. I remember back at the last trough water source 5 Fingers gave me some magic powder. After hearing me say that I have no caffeine with me, he offered me some of a workout powder that he swears by to get up hills. He warned me not to take it all if I’m not used to it. So I mix half into my little talenti container and gulp it down. I think I’ve had about 2 coffees the whole time I’ve been out here, so it takes about .25 seconds before the caffeine hits my bloodstream like gummy berry juice. I pick up my bag and GO. I bounce up the hill like an energiser bunny. I stop halfway up to drink the rest of the drink mix and barely even notice the climb. BOUNCY BOUNCY BOUNCY! WHEEEEEEE!

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I get to the top expecting there to be crowds with streamers and balloons and horns, all cheering in my amazing climb! Did you see that climb??? Most amazing climb in the history of this particular hill. You win all the prizes!!!
But no. *sigh* I pat myself on the back and march onwards, determined to make the most of the magic powder in my veins. There’s a small possible water source at the top and off the trail a ways. I still have enough from the amazing caches, so I continue on.
I take a little nap off the trail under some anorexic trees, and spend a lot of the time moving my sleeping mat with the shade so I don’t cook. I force myself to get up around 3pm but it’s too bloody hot. So I hike for 30 minutes then find another insufficient tree to lie under.
Finally at 5pm I’m out again. Sloooooowly. All the magic powder is gone 🙁

Slow slow slow up and down some strange little bumps/ hills along a dirt road. The road is nice and I’m looking around when I suddenly see a giant rattler up ahead – eating a rabbit!!! EEEPS. The road is wide but I can’t decide if I’m safe to pass by because he is occupied with food and won’t care about me, or if that will make him extra pissed off that I’m going to pinch his food… so I decide to bush bash instead. I give him a wide wide berth and halfway around the scratchy scratchy bushes I realise that there’s every chance I’ll step on a snake out here where I can’t see them…. and memories of when I was bitten by a snake come flooding back! eeeeeeeps. There’s nothing for it but to hurry up and pay extra attention.

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I make it make to the road, which turns into a soft sand trail. I’m bumbling along watching the footprints in front of me trying to figure out if they belong to Goldenrod and Crazylamb. Then I see a fat snake track in the dirt as well, taking up about 1/3 of the trail…in a split second my mind goes from “hmmm that’s a big arse snake track” to “SHITE it’s on TOP of the footprints” to “SNAKE SNAKE SNAKE!” Second rattle snake for the day! The big bugger slides off the trail in front of me to the side and hides about 10cm from the edge in a tiny brush area. He’s all coiled up and rattling at me, clearly unimpressed that I have interrupted his evening stroll (slide?).
I’m pumped full of adrenaline, heart is going crazy and feel a bit nauseated. The snake is still there. So close to the trail. How on earth am I to get through??? I’m determined not to have another deep creek vs snake episode, and the only way through is going to be to RUN past the snake. So I back off a little, listening carefully for the rattle to stop. It finally does and I stand there psyching myself up for the run. I’ll have to pass by firmly within striking distance so it takes me some time to get the courage! But light is fading. Finally, it takes all my courage and a giant deep breath and I make a run for it. VICTORY! I keep running for a Looooooong time after I pass it.

Pumped full of adrenaline I’m determined to make it to Walker Pass tonight. According to guthook, Walker Pass is a popular spot for trail magic; I can think of no better way to finish a loong hot stretch than with a cold cold drink. mmmmmm.

My headlamp is on and the light is fully gone by now but I still have about 7 miles to go. Thank goodness it’s downhill. I’m all spooked by snakes, so I comfort myself by singing a medley of EVERY SINGLE DISNEY SONG I KNOW. ON REPEAT. FOR 7 MILES.
This has to be the longest descent ever, through some strange sandy trail and trees. I can see lights in the far distance that are teasing me and I hope it’s the walker pass campground. Then I see something lying on the trail but my mind is in the frame of GO GO GO so I just run right past the little skinny red striped snake that is lying lengthways agains the hill. 3 snakes in one evening????? Too many thank you. I would like less. Less snakes is my preference.

Finally, with aching aching legs and no voice left I find the campground. I bumble around and find a table with some water which I greedily gulp. I’m exhausted and trying to figure out where to camp but I can see hiker slugs (hikers cowboying in sleeping bags) around and don’t want to be that asshole that wakes everyone up in the middle of the night with my headlamp, so I don’t really search too far. I find a little spot that’s a bit away from everyone, set up my stuff cowboy style (I’m too freaking tired to care about snakes etc on the ground… strangely), and watch the epic stars circle above as I fall into a dizzy dehydrated sleep.

Snakebite vs Day 33

594.23 – 618.52

24.29 miles

Today I’m up crazy early to reach the next water source before I get cooked. Thankfully I was not eaten by a mountain lion – a thought that ran through my mind as I was in my hidden spot.. no-one would have found me for months or years… eeps! Some crazy night hikers passed me during the night – I heard their voices echoing up to my little spot. It’s either early rising or late hiking in the desert. I hike with my headlamp on and of course I see a bazillion better spots about a mile down the road. Bugger.

The sun streams beautifully through the pine trees and the air is lovely and fresh. I pass a little dirt side road and see 5 Fingers and 2 identifiable slugs fast asleep. Then I hit the 600 mile marker! YEOW! And then the second 600 mile marker…and the third. BAH. Everyone seems to have the need to leave their own incorrect mile markers out here.

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After the obligatory selfies I make it to the first water source and climb up over a fence and up a hill a little to get to a spot that is clear and easy to fill from.
There are a couple of other hikers camped here (one named Big Boy Scout… I can’t remember the others), all rising early and keen to get to the next water too. It’s a never ending race – must do the miles to get to the next water, to get to the next water, to get to the next water… to, you know, not die.

After a little brekkie of my awesome granola in my little ziplock baggie (nice cold soy milk from the powder I mixed into every granola bag, with the water from the stream) while sitting under a tree I head out about 830am and hike on to mile 608. The water isn’t far so wouldn’t normally warrant a stop, but it’s the last reliable water for 50 miles, so I have to make sure I fill up there.

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The hike in is really nice, walking through a park of pine trees. The water is .8 mile down a dirt road in a nice trough with a good flow. Yorkie and Atilla are there hanging out in the shade. There are some nice trees to nap under – so I set up a little camp, drink a tonne of water, air my feet out, wash some socks in the little stream that comes out the other side of the trough, and fall asleep. I wait out heat of day under pine trees and wake up an hour or so later to the sound of “Snakebiiiiiite” whispered from the other side of the trees. Goldenrod, Crazy Lamb, 5 Fingers and Boyscout are all there!
The rest of the gang only made it as far as the first water; they got there late so they are waiting out the heat there.

I drink more and more water, borrow Atilla’s solar charger to add a bit more juice to my phone, then finally leave at 5pm. It’s still bloody hot but I have to get the miles in.

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Turns out there is a water cache at Kelso road! So much beautiful water. I make dinner there as the light disappears and the wind picks up.
I see Yorkie and Atilla’s headlamps bobbing up to me, and they pass me by while I’m eating.

With my headlamp on I hike another 4 miles to 10pm. I find a flat spot off the trail in sand and pass out under best stars I’ve seen yet. Life is good.

Snakebite vs The Hottest Day

13.june 23.23miles
570.9 – 594.23

We are firmly in one of the scariest sections of the desert for me. The next 50 miles the water is very scarce so we have to time our hiking for early morning and late evening only, and carry a LOT of water each time. We didn’t quite make it up as far as we’d hoped last night so I’m up early and on the trail by 5am. Still not super early but I needed sleeeep 🙂
 
Tara appeared in the night, having night hiked in with Sam (who continued on to find Cookie who hiked further than us).
It’s a windy, leg burning climb to wake me up. The extra water weight is killing my shoulders- I don’t think my pack is rated for this much weight! I pass a bunch of hikers hidden under trees either cowboy camping or in their tents. I’m not sure who they are (new people!)- it’s cool we now know our friends by our tents and our footprints.
By 630am it’s clearly evident it’s going to be a burner.  I cover up EVERYTHING- full burqua plus a coat SPF 100000 suncream. I look like some kind of ghostly, desert-dwelling bank robber. All of the sexy sexy clothes to attract the hiker boys.

I’m now out on an exposed gravely ridge, heading downhill, with the sun biting. I’m headed for the spring and a siesta! All of a sudden my pole collapses and I stack it towards the mountain (not off the side thankfully!!) And get myself a nice gravely cut down my leg. Bugger.

I’m passed by speedy long legged Kyle, super focused and determined Jae, and crazy Mexican-ballad-singing-at-the-top-of-his-voice-whilst-running-downhill Rodrigo. It’s not long until we are at the spring, and there is water here!!! Hooray!!! Except that means I’ve carried 6kg for no bloody reason. Grrr.

There is another group here at the spring that zoomed past us when we were faffing about in the mud yesterdsy. They night hiked all the way in and are now headed out a few miles. Crazy- it’s  too hot already for more hiking!

We all pull out our sleeping mats, get some water and eat some food before passing out into a glorious nap. At some point Chloe ans Ceili arrive, then Cheech and Chong, Sam and Cookie and Tara! All of the people 🙂

Some trail angels arrive and hand out little bottles of water! Phenomenal. I’ve decided that my sun umbrella is not worth its weight and am posting it away, but get everyone to sign it while we are hanging about. Sam takes a liking to it and falls asleep with it,  so I leave it in his safe keeping until the next town.

I get antsy and end up leaving at 315pm just after the twins (Chloe & Ceili. Not actually twins -they wear matching Wesleyan Running Shirts) despite  Rodrigos yells that it is too early and I will be sorry.
Turns out it’s too early and I am very sorry. So hot!!! All the trees disappear and I enter a burn zone where there was a recent fire and NO shade anywhere. Nada. I can feel the heat through my shoes and reflecting off the ground all around me. I think this might actually be some kind of giant desert version of a Hansel & Gretel thru-hiker oven. I pass by a little camp of tents and tarps set up by the speedy group that left this morning. Their attempts do nothing to block the sun and I wonder if I should check if they have actually roasted. Or at least roll them over and baste them for the giants.

It’s not until about 530pm that it feels like it might be an ok time to hike. Oh well. I catch up to the girls and have a mini boulder-shaded rest with them before hiking on.  There’s a beautiful big open field, but I want to get a couple more miles under my belt and feel like a solo night so I keep going.
Stupid idea. My bad-camping-spot karma kicks in and I can’t find anywhere to camp. The light is disappearing so I grab the next ok spot I find, which is up a hill on the side of the trail. It’s actually not a bad spot, nicely protected but on a bit of an angle. It’s a gorgeous cowboy camp kinda night so I say goodnight to the stars and sleep.

Snakebite vs The Water Carry

Day 31 Tehachapi to top of giant hill.

The door to the hotel room opens and lets in an unwelcome blast of light. Morning already? Getting up already?
The lure of the all you can eat continental brekkie is enough to get all the little hiker trashes out of bed one by one, myself included. I munch on delicious banana and peanut butter on toast and terrible watered down oj while marveling at Lance Bass being a newscaster on the tv in the corner.

After brekkie Yorkie and I make the mile and a half walk down to the supermarket to sort out our resupply. It takes me soooo long  -everything is in different aisles than I’m used to, I don’t know the brands, and I spend too long reading labels I don’t understand. Eventually I emerge with way too much food and we manage to hitch a ride back down the road.
I indulge in hummus, veggies and green juice while spreading my food all over the bed, trying to make some sense out of it.
Once my bag is packed I march over to the post office with Cheech and Chong to post my pants back to REI (stitching all came undone so I’m using their awesome return policy!) my solar charger to my sister for safekeeping. It is nowhere near anything else in town and involves a dodgy railroad crossing where there isn’t one.
An older gentleman strikes up a conversation about the trail, and I manage to yogi myself a ride to the library where I become a member and use their computer to attack some blogging.

Starbucks is the meeting place for everyone. It’s raining and we keep getting emergency flash flood warnings pop up on our phones. Too much dilly dallying from everyone and I’m antsy to get on the trail so I dig out my phone with the photo of the trail angels phone numbers. The first one I call offers two cars and will be over right away. It continues to blow my mind how amazing the community around this trail is.

Jae, Kyle, Rodrigo and I pile in, and collect Chloe and Ceili on the way. Ratatouille comes along for the ride to see if he can find his phone at the trailhead (he lost it on his way in).

As we all pile out Justin is there with some others and comes bounding over to warn there is no water at the first water spot. Crap!!! This means a big heavy carry, and we have a big giant hill. We fill up to whatever our capacity is (mine is 6L!!! Others are taking 11!!!) and drink as much as possible from the cache that is maintained at the bottom. Kyle passes around a watermelon (he carried a watermelon…) and we brace ourselves.
Our trail angel is excited to point out that this is the point that Cheryl Strayed started her hike (and Reece Witherspoon).

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And we start. Slowly.

The afternoon storm has left a trail made of thick mud in its wake. We try and bypass as much as possible, duck under a barbed wire fence and back to avoid more, and eventually give in and trudge through. This ilicits a stream of expletives from Rodrigo that goes on forever and is hilarious (Jae videos it. Hours of entertainment).

Slowly we make our way up the hill as the sun is setting. The colours and light are stunning. We can see lights of the wind farm blinking red in the valley of the desert below. The storm is a distant memory and we have only our huffing and puffing, and the click of our hiking poles sounds as our soundtrack.

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As I get to the top I find Chloe and Ceili in front of an awesome little cave made by bent over trees.  Perfect dinner amd camping spot. We munch on food, chat and set up our sleeping mats cowboy style (except Jae and Kyle who hide in their tents from a possible storm repeat). Beautiful stars above. Sore shoulders but a great day.

Snakebite vs Day 30

Tylerhorse canyon 541.5 to Tehachapi 558.5

We survived the night! The storm never came but the wind was crazy all nightm It wasn’t the best sleep in the world with three of us in there, but better than my tent would have been making crazy noise all night.
I climb out of the canyon with the view of the wind farm below. It’s all very exposed along the trail today and I can see the sun coming along, ready to start cooking us. Tehachapi is the goal today for resupply and showers. Not too far but a hustle to get there before the hottest part of the day.

There’s a big burn area to walk through, which is always depressing, but I round a corner and see trail magic!!! APPLES! Beautiful fresh apples, water, chairs to sit on. There’s a picture of what the area looked like before the fire and it was gorgeous. I sign the register, put on more suncream, hide my head under my bandana nd march on with Kyle and Tara just ahead.
It’s hot already and I plug in my podcasts to distract me as I go fast down the descent. No breaks for me! The magic power of cold drinks awaits!
I zoom down the mountain, running where I can. I sign the register at the bottom (“Embrace the suffering!”) where a local ‘trail angel’ has listed all the things they will do for you and the exorbitant prices…pretty sure that’s a ‘trail business’, no angel-ing about it.
As I enter the carpark there’s a great list of local trail angels and their phone numbers! High fives Tehachapi! I walk into the carpark and am about to head to the road to hitch when I see a cop car slow down on the rd and pull in. I’m not sure if hitching is allowed here ( there are some strange rules about hwys) so I stay put. He pulls right up to me and offers me a ride! Woohoo! My good hitching karma is still in full force 🙂
We chat for the duration of the drive, he recommends some restaurants and hotels. Such a lovley guy. I thank him profusely as he lets me out at the place I’ve sent some packages.
I have new pants from REI (I ordered some new ones as my current ones stitching is coming undone, and they are a bit big making them rub against my hips under the hip belt and huuuurt!), an external battery, new camera battery charger  (yay photos!), and insoles (new cushiony goodness!). It’s Christmas!!

I start the walk down the rd to the Best Western where Kyle, Yorkie and Alex are checking into a room, and a lady pulls ovee and offers me a ride! It’s literally only two blocks, but she insists as she doesn’t like the look of the guy behind me. So nice of her 🙂

We all pile into our room and do all the clean things. This hotel wins the prize for best shower so far. Glorious! I do laundry, which eats up a lot of the time, and half watch a terrible movie on tv.

The others eventually rock up and we hit the hot tub and pool area. I meet a couple of great Canadian kids (yep, I’m that old I’m referring to people as kids) Chong, who are 18 and 19 and we all adopt as little brothers.

After hanging around the hot tub for too long dinner is a fizzle because all the restaurants close at 8! We manage to get into a diner, but we are all so tired after being in the heat there is very little conversation.

We squeeze Jae and Cheech into our room as well, so there are 6 hikertrashes crowding in. I hope no one snores!!! Earplugs in, I escape off the bed and choose the floor instead as a more roomy option.
Goodnight!

Snakebite vs Day 29

Hiker town 517.6 to Tylerhorse canyon 541.5 23.9 miles

We are up in the dark and get all our gear sorted with our headlamps on. My pack is so amazingly light I feel like I can fly 🙂
Once all the heavy stuff is deposited with the van, Ceili Chloe Rodrigo and I set off towards the aquaduct with Yorkie and Alex about 10min ahead.
The light is gorgeous this morning as we walk past the open part – it’s a giant channel of water, that is covered over with concrete quickly and we are walking on it and beside it.
It’s just a long straight road of gravel and concrete. We pass the time telling life stories, discussing ultimate dinner party guests, and generally asking 1000 questions of each other. It’s not often you can walk side by side and easily chat on the trail,  so it’s awesome to have 4 of us in a row. We leave messages in the dirt for the others, have speed walking races…and then it gets HOT. The only shade is from Joshua trees which are not the most hospitable trees around.
We take a couple of short breaks where Kyle and Tara catch up, but there is no real respite from the heat so we just keep going. More jokes, stories, cartwheels, random fun things.
The creek we are headed for is inside a wind farm and the giant fans crowd the horizon.
We finally arrive. There’s no creek but a bridge to hide under from the sun, and barrels of water for us.
Our stuff isn’t there. Eeps. We finally find a signal and find out Jae is in the car with it all having a break this morning. The gear was all put into a horse truck that is supporting some PCT horse riders. They are lost. They are in the wind farm somewhere but it takes them a looong time to find the bridge.
It’s still so hot. With our gear back, some food in our bellies, and the wind providing loud white noise, one by one we fall asleep under the bridge.
Best trail nap ever.
I wake about an hour later to find us all sprawled out on the group in different stages of sleep or waking.
We pack up and out slowly. The wind is insane. I keep getting pushed over and can’t step forward. The destination for tonight isn’t too far away but it is hard hard work! I have to adjust my pack because the ends of the straps keep slapping me in the face. Sometime along the way clouds start accumulating and looking pretty mean.
So now we have insane wind and menacing clouds. We go as far as we can to Tylerhorse canyon to fill up on water. Now the rain is spluttering in so our grand plans of 100 mile (well…that was probably a bit ambitious) day with our easy slackpack start are ruined.

We set up camp in the insane wind. My tent does no want to cooperate, then Jae with his giant giant tent offers space for us with dodgy non-wind loving tents (my tent is actually fine in high wind with 2 extra guylines…which I don’t have). So Tara, Jae and I pile into his party tent for a squishy but non-fwapping of tent fly night.

Snakebite vs Day 28

500.5 to 517.6 (Hikertown)

It turns out that the dirt road that was so perfect in our tipsy exhausted state was actually on a slope. My night was spent sliding down my groundsheet towards my feet and I kept having to crawl back up again!
It was still so awesome sleeping under the stars and I think my tent will be getting as little use as possible (weather permitting).

Everyone is up pretty early and off. It’s a drizzly day which starts with a small climb up and not many water sources. I have enough water to get me to the horse trail camp spring at mile 508, just in time for second breakfast (second breakfast is an important meal and should exist everywhere. Not to be confused with mornos/elevenses which come afterwards). The rain is soft and actually nice to hike in. I put my pack cover on but don’t worry about the jacket and enjoy the cool cloud that surrounds me.
The  horse camp has a table – gasp! One by one Tara, Jae, Kyle, Sam, Ceili and Chloe all turn up and crowd around the table at the campsite for brekkie, and then depart in the same fashion.
It’s a nice descent through some pretty flowers and trees. There’s no great rush but I enjoy trying out my new ‘run down the hills’ technique. My podcasts are plugged in and it’s a lovely hike.

Eventually I make it out to the road crossing, and find the strange little world of ‘Hiker Town’ on the other side.
It is simply bizarre. It is a collection of little buildings  that house beds, set up to resemble a little town of sorts. There is a flower shop, a prison, a doctors office, a town hall….it’s equal parts fascinating and creepy.

Chicken Fat and Lobo are there, as is speedy Kyle and the Canadian Honeymooners Snack Attack and Bambi.
I cook some yummy tabouleh for lunch that Little Foot and Raven gave me back in Wrightwood, and then they turn up at hikertown! Yay great to see them.

There are big clouds rolling in, but it is hot. I try and nap with little success -too hot and too many flies. We all congregate around the porch of the ‘town hall’ and try to hide from the fat drops of rain that are starting to fall.

Our next terrain is along the LA Aqueduct.and we mull over our options while lounging and clearly not wanting to movie. It’s going to be long and hot with 18 miles of no water and fully exposed.
The original plan is to start the hike tonight, but rumour abounds that it is horribly windy and dangerous to camp on as cars zoom along the road at night. Many hikers do the whole thing at night because of the exposure. So we have our excuse to stay put and be lazy and a few of us plan on a crazy early start in the morning instead. Then the fabulous ‘trail provides’ and we are offered a slack pack to Cottonwood creek! This means taking as little as we want with us and the rest will be dropped off in 18miles for us to collect. I still have to take my pack to house my water and snacks, but empty everything else into a garbage bag. YAYAYAY! This is amazing and means we can start little later and will be walking like Olympic speed walkers! ZOOM ZOOM!

I find myself a place to sleep in the garage, along with Ceili, Chloe, Rodrigo and some new friends Attila, Yorkie and Alex. We attempt a movie on Rodrigos mini iPad but alas it does not want to work.

So off to sleep I go, excited by all the speediness that will come in the morning.

Beck vs The Yellow Frog

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.