It hasn’t been that long since our last post, but in real time almost two months have now passed since we reached Bluff on the Te Araroa back in mid-March 2019…
As it turns out, this was more than enough time to jump headfirst into our next adventure 😉
As some of you may have already seen from our most recent Instagram photos, we will be heading to the US to hike the Pacific Crest Trail this season!
After much discussion, we decided that if we were ever going to do the PCT, there wouldn’t be a better time than right now – coming off the back of the TA we already have a good base level fitness, and we have our gear choices and daily hiking routines pretty much locked down.
For those of you that may not have heard of this trail before, the PCT is a super iconic 4,200km wilderness trail, running along the US west coast through California, Oregon and Washington. The trail’s southern terminus is on the Mexico/US border, just south of Campo, California and its northern terminus on the Canadian/US border on the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia.
The PCT is widely regarded as the pinnacle of long distance hiking.
Hiking the PCT has been on Leigh’s bucket list for a number of years now, but it was only really after hiking the TA that Adam started to give serious thought to hiking the PCT.
Leigh will start hiking solo from the US side of the Mexican border at the end of April 2019. Adam will remain at home in Australia for an extra month and a half to manage some work commitments, before joining Leigh at the start of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California for the remaining 3,000km of the trail.
The PCT is a considerably different trail to the TA and will bring with it many new challenges – whether it be the longer distances, the more extreme conditions (including snow and desert), the larger numbers of hikers on the trail, or the animals that we may encounter (rattlesnakes, bears etc).
We are really looking forward to facing these challenges and learning a lot along the way.
We hope you can follow our journey, either via our regular blog updates, or on Instagram (@adamleighandthetrees)!
Monday 10 June 2019
Location: Mile 612
Distance travelled: 19.2 miles / 31 km
I enjoyed a beautiful bright red sunset from the comfort of my tent this morning. I love sleeping without the fly, being woken by the rising sun.
I walked slowly this morning as the trail climbed out of wind farm country and into the pine forest mountains. I have enjoyed the wind farm but it was nice to have a change of scenery, the views were spectacular.
The trail undulated throughout the morning, the incline of the trail wasn’t steep but in hot weather it was tough going. This section of trail is largely an easement through private farmland. I had read about cows on this particular stretch but only spotted one in the bushes that morning.
I hit the 600 mile marker this morning, even after slowing down my pace it feels like the miles are rolling past now. It won’t be long before I’ve hit 700 miles and I’m up in Kennedy Meadows.
I reached the main water source just before lunchtime and enjoyed a nice long relaxing break in the shade. Taking frequent breaks helps me to get through the day when it’s so hot out here in the desert.
After lunch the trail continued to climb, first through pine forest, then through a section which appeared to be recovering from fire. It was some of the most spectacular scenery and views I had seen in weeks. Although it was hot and I was tired I was still feeling so content to be there seeing it all.
This section of trail is one of the longest dry stretches of the PCT, there is a 45 mile (72km) stretch without a reliable water source. This means carrying an extremely large, heavy amount of water. There are a couple of water caches which have been set up by local trail angels but given the amount of hikers coming through and the remoteness of the area it is not advisable to rely on them.
Before leaving the last reliable spring I filled up with 6 liters of water, taking a gamble on there being some water at the next 2 caches. Worst case, if I find either empty, it should be enough to get me through by night hiking and avoiding the heat of the day.
To make the most of the cooler hours I walked a few kms in the cool of the afternoon and found a lovely campsite with views out to the high Sierras, just as the sun was starting to sink in the sky.
There was one other person at the campsite when I arrived, a single older man. As soon as I approached the camp site the man said to me ‘you carrying plenty of water?’ I was instantly irritated. Not only was I tired and hungry but I’d been experiencing quite a bit of this sort of thing on trail from older men over the past 6 weeks. For some reason, they see a solo female hiker and assume you either need help or don’t know what you are doing without having any knowledge of your experience. Without even saying hello this man felt it his duty to quiz my preparedness. I responded to his question ‘yes, how about yourself? Are you carrying enough water? At which point he instantly changed the conversation to his cell coverage and I walked off to find a camp as far away from him as possible.
Tuesday 11 June 2019
Location: Mile 612 to Mile 639.8 (Bird Spring Pass)
Distance travelled: 18.8 miles / 30 km
I felt like I’d woken up on the wrong side of the air mattress today. It might have been the early start or the fact that even though I started hiking at 5.30am it was still scorching hot out. Maybe it was my heavy pack, laden with the best part of 6 liters of water.
I felt like a slow moving desert camel making my way along the trail. Although the climbing wasn’t steep the trail undulated all day. It was frustrating to be climbing in such hot weather with such a heavy pack.
I feel like it was a shame for me to be in such a bad mood because the views were the most beautiful that I’d seen over the last few days. I could see all the way out to the Sierras and potentially even the snow capped Mt Whitney in the distance.
I was eager to make it to the first water cache earlish this morning. I wasn’t sure whether there would be water at it or not so getting there early would give me time to make a decision about what to do if it was empty.
I felt relieved to find the cache had been recently stocked by the incredible trail angel who has undertaken the epic task of managing it. It is a long dry not to mention hot stretch of trail and with around 50 hikers coming through each day the cache could be going through 150 liters of water a day.
My spirits were lifted by the water. I drank some while I was at the cache to rehydrate then topped up the water I was already carrying so again left with a very heavy 6 liters.
I got back on the trail and as I started walking, spotted a stationary car beside the road a mile or so from where I was. I got prematurely excited thinking the car must be parked by the trail head doing trail magic! I was very very wrong, the trail took a bend to the right and veered away from the road, the car and any potential trail magic.
It was up and down through proper desert vegetation throughout the day. I spotted several lizards and a couple of small snakes, no rattlesnakes though. One of my favorite lizards are a large beige/ gold lizard with brown spots. They remind me of tiny little leopards.
While stopped for a break under the shade of a Joshua Tree I found a tiny little birds nest. It was super cute. Unfortunately there were no baby birds in it.
During the day I passed the 1000km mark which a hiker had marked out in the dirt. It was nice to see my efforts in kms rather than miles for once, it seems so much shorter in miles.
The afternoon was spent on undulating trail through joshua trees. The views were breathtaking but so was the heat, I had to take a nap with my lunch in the afternoon to try to recover a bit before tackling the climbing again.
Thankfully the last couple of miles down to robin bird spring were downhill so I cruised into camp in the cool of the day. I got a great little camp spot sheltered by a large rock with views over the pass. It was perfectly positioned so I could see the sunset and sun rise the following morning.
I was even happier to find the cache full of water, it seemed to be newly replenished. It’s not so nice drinking hot water from plastic bottles, I hate to think what all of the exposure is doing to my body but sometimes you don’t have too much choice.
Unfortunately I had run out of gas the day prior so I’d be cold soaking my couscous for dinner. The sun had finally come in handy for something! A little time in the sun and my dinner was fairly warm.
I was in my tent, enjoying my couscous and watching an episode of grace and frankie when Graham rounded the corner. It wasn’t long and Jeff also rocked up to camp. They had done a big 27 mile day. It was nice to see them one last time and we spent the evening chatting. I was exhausted after a long hot day in the sun and slept very soundly.
It was my mums birthday today in Australia, I managed to send a message during the morning but it was 3am Sydney time and way too early to phone. Unfortunately I didn’t have reception at bird spring pass to give her a call. That is one of the tough things about being on trail. You never know when you might be able to get in touch.
Saturday 8 June 2019
Location: Mile 577.2
Distance travelled: 15.2 miles / 24 km
The supermarket I resupplied at in Tehachapi was the biggest on trail supermarket I have visited yet so I went a little overboard with my shopping. The upside was fresh berries and an apple for breakfast this morning, a delicious change.
It was windy overnight and still windy when I woke up but I guess that’s what you get when you camp under wind turbines in the middle of America’s biggest wind farm. I slept with the fly off and my earplugs in and managed to get a decent rest.
Despite my need to slow down and walk shorter days i was still up early to walk in the cooler part of the day.
It was only a few miles of walking to finish off the section between willow springs road and highway 58.
There was a few miles of road walking and a railway crossing to contend with.
As I approached the crossing a huge fright train came through, sounding its horn. It was a long train and I had to wait 5 minutes or so for it to pass by before I could cross.
Having crossed the highway I thought that I was leaving the windfarm behind me but as I climbed my way up a hill towards the next mountain range I realised the wind farm continued.
It was unbelievable how large it spanned.
The wind remained strong throughout the afternoon so I decided to choose a well sheltered campsite for the evening and set up early.
The trail into camp was a dirt road and in the afternoon sun I almost missed seeing a huge snake laying across the trail. I was one foot distance from stepping on it but the snake didn’t flinch at all. It was an impressive size, skinny but well over a meter long.
It was a good reminder to watch where im walking, particularly in the afternoon.
I got into camp early and settled in for the afternoon. It was relaxing. I watched a movie and napped. I think I can get used to these lower mileage days.
Sunday 9 June 2019
Location: Mile 577.2 to Mile 592.8
Distance travelled: 15.6 miles / 25 km
It was more wind turbines today as the trail continued along a dirt road through the wind farm.
I am amazed at the expanse of the farm. It feels like I’ve been walking through it for a week and it’s still going!
Once the trail deviated from the dirt road and back into single trail I was rewarded with beautiful mountain and valley views.
I walked through sections of trail blooming with wildflowers, from the beaver trail cactus to the California Poppies. They were beautiful.
It was another warm day and the water sources are few and far between on the section of trail up to Walker Pass so I took time to stop in the shade and cool down while I could.
It was another short day, 15 miles. It feels weird and a little wrong stopping so early in the day when there is still plenty of light until 8.30pm but it is also nice to relax and take it easy while I have the chance.
Thursday 6 June 2019
Location: Mile 558.5 to Mile 559
Distance travelled: 0.5 miles / 1km
I had planned to wake up early this morning, hike 8 miles to Highway 58 and then get a bus into Tehachapi for a zero or two. Unfortunately the morning buses didn’t line up for me and because I’d booked a hotel room in town for the night I didn’t want to wait around for the afternoon bus. I wanted to check in early and make the most of the hotel room. So I waked just under a mile to the Willow Springs trailhead where I hitched into town.
A lovely gentleman named Wayne gave me a ride into town. He was on his way to the city to file a case about receiving a medal for his service in the airforce. He had initially driven past but when he noticed I was on my own doubled back to give me a ride. He is a local in the area, with a plot of land where he lives off the grid. He was already aware of the trail and has picked up several hikers in his time.
The trip into town was about 15 minutes. After stopping for petrol Wayne dropped me off at the hotel and bid me farewell. I promised I’d send him a photo from the finishing monument.
It was still very early, way too early to check into the hotel but I went in anyway so I could leave my bag with reception while I went to the local bakery to get something to eat. The hotel had a huge hikerbox which was overflowing with quality pickings. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t rifling through someone’s resupply box so I asked the receptionist if that was the hiker box. She looked at it with exhaustion ‘oh there is more stuff’. It was a mess, overflowing onto the floor. ‘Yeah, looks like it could do with consolidating’, I said. She asked me If I would mind sorting through it for her. ‘I would LOVE to’ I replied. Not only do I love sorting, organising and getting rid of rubbish but it would also let me thoroughly look through everything in the boxes. I threw out 3 bags full of rubbish, collected an arm full of good stuff for myself and organised the boxes into 3, gear, food and hygiene. I felt so satisfied.
The lovely receptionist, for ‘helping her’ then gave me an upgrade and let me check into my room early. It was as if all of my Christmases had come at once.
I spent the day doing the usual town things of eating, washing and resupplying. I checked out the local bakery for a sandwich and cinnamon bun and had my first Dunkin’ Donut.
I satisfyingly sorted through my pack to strip out all of the cold climate gear I could send through to Kennedy Meadows to cut down my pack weight for a little while including my microspikes and some extra food I was carrying. I made the most of my hotel room, spent the night eating and watching movies in bed. It was pure bliss!
Friday 7 June 2019
Location: Mile 559 to Mile 562.5
Distance travelled: 3.5 miles / 6 km
It felt like I was sleeping on a cloud last night in the comfy hotel bed with pillows that were incredibly the right level of soft and firm. The only thing getting me out of the bed was the complimentary breakfast with eggs, English muffins, muffins, bagels, waffles, cereal, yoghurt and most importantly coffee. I did my best at trying some of everything before conceding defeat and heading back to the room to digest, pack and catch up on blog writing while fitting in one last movie. Check out wasn’t until 12 so I took my time.
Once I’d checked out I headed to the post office to send forward my warm clothes, microspikes and a little extra food I’d overbought. Along the way I stopped in at one of Tehachapi’s delightful little antique stores where I found the perfect birthday gift for my mum. It’s not easy to find birthday gifts on trail so I felt like this was meant to be.
After sending off my parcels I headed back to the bakery for a sandwich and cake where I saw my old trail buddy Graham. I started the trail with Graham but hadn’t seen him since leaving Big Bear 2 weeks ago. I’d heard the counter lady call out an order for a Graham and I thought, I bet that’s him. Sure enough, it was!
We caught up on each others adventures over the last 2 weeks. It turned out that my other friends, Sarah and Jeff were only a few hours behind him on the trail. I had already decided to head back out on trail and arranged a ride with a local trail angel so I wouldn’t get to catch up with them that night but assured Graham I would see them on the trail the following day.
Adam isn’t due to arrive in Lone Pine until the 24th June. Lone Pine is really only just over a week of walking away for me but given the current level of snow in the Sierras and North of the Sierras it makes sense for me to slow down and wait for Adam on the 24th rather than flipping forward for a few days of walking to head south which we had originally thought to do. We had always planned to walk the Sierras together.
Given I’m slowing down and planning to take some extra zeros I expect the others will overtake me shortly.
I headed back to the hotel where I’d left my pack. It turned out that the trail angel, Fran who was giving me a lift out to the trailhead had also agreed to give another couple a lift out and they were also at the hotel. They were ready to leave early after Fran had taken them on a round trip to the post office so we ended up heading out to the trailhead at around 4.30pm.
Fran’s dog, Little Guy also came with us for the ride. He was the friendliest little Chihuahua I’ve ever met! He spent most of the 15 minute car ride on my lap. It had been a while since any doggo cuddles so it was good to get my fix until the next town 😆.
I had a short but incredibly windy 3.5 mile walk through the windfarm. I’d seen a note on guthooks about a ‘partially’ sheltered campsite behind a juniper bush beside the trail. The description was right. I found the site. It is semi sheltered but the winds are still strong so I slept without the fly. I guess strong winds should be expected when trying to camp in a windfarm.
It was nice to be set up and in the tent early. I enjoyed the changing colours of the sunset from my bed until the glowing lights of the city began to appear on the horizon. Although a hotel bed would have been comfy and a little less gusty, you can’t beat views like this.
Tuesday 4 June 2019
Location: Mile 517.6 to Mile 534.9
Distance travelled: 17.3 miles / 28 km
After deciding to night walk the next long, dry hot section of trail I was excited about the prospect of a sleep in this morning but for the life of me, I couldn’t. I was wide awake at 6am. Even after a sleepless night, the strong winds were making creepy noises and shaking my trailer all night.
It was a lazy day, I got a lift into the cafe for a breakfast burrito and remained at the cafe until I was ready to hike out. I watched movies all day, ate ice cream and a token serving of fruit before having another burrito for good measure.
I set off on the trail just before 6pm, aiming to tackle the infamous LA aqueduct in the coolest part of the day. It was still above 30 degrees Celsius when I hiked out.
The aqueduct began as an open canal before converting into a closed pipe which then went underground, what I initially thought was the tarmac of a service road was actually the top of the aqueduct. Every so often there were access points to the water below, large concrete blocks like huge plugs to the water below. They made handy resting spots for breaks. Some people even camped on top, safeguarded from any cars coming past during the evening.
It was my first time night hiking since starting the PCT. I was initially nervous about it but as the sun began to sink in the sky a feeling of absolute joy swept over me. It was one of those moments where everything feels perfect and as it should be.
The sunset threw brilliant oranges across the sky and the Joshua Trees began to turn into shadowy figures surrounding the trail.
It was a brilliant starry sky with the moon making only a sliver of an appearance.
Even without a full moon for light I was able to hike without my headlamp for most of the night. The aqueduct was flat and easy to walk on with minimal trip hazards.
I thought I would find the long stretch boring but in the dark of the evening all of my other senses were heightened and I felt present.
During the night I spotted several kangaroo mice hopping about in the sand on the side of the trail. In the torch beam they became confused and didn’t know which direction to run in.
The winds picked up as the evening progressed. I was hoping it would ease up so I could find a nice place to camp around 11pm. It was wishful thinking, the trail lead me through a windfarm with the wind turbines whirring overhead and their lights flashing red warning planes of their existence.
Just before midnight I arrived at Cottonwood Creek and found a perfect camp spot on a flat bed of sand just off the trail. It was still a little windy so I left the fly off of the tent and enjoyed a breeze as I slept. After a big day I slept incredibly soundly despite the wind. It was nice to be sleeping warm for another night.
Wednesday 5 June 2019
Location: Mile 534.9 to Mile 558.5
Distance travelled: 23.6 miles / 38 km
Sleeping with the fly off I thought the sunrise would wake me before my 5am alarm did but I was so snuggly in my tent the light didn’t wake me. I needed a coffee this morning so I took my time to have coffee and something to eat before heading back out on trail.
It was a fun experience waking up in a wind farm. After camping in the Mesa wind farm a few weeks back I didn’t think I would ever camp in a wind farm again but here I was. It was a lot less daunting walking it in the morning rather than the evening. Everything was a lot less spooky looking.
I was moving by 6am and my departure coincided with that of 2 other hikers whom I hadn’t previously met, Salad and Twinkle. I hiked with them through the windfarm and down to Tylerhorse Canyon.
Tylerhorse canyon was an oasis from the heat of the morning. I took a good long break, filled up with water and ate my oats.
From Tylerhorse canyon it was going to be a long hot climb up the mountain. I was aiming for a shaded tent site where I could sleep for a few hours before setting off again at 5ish.
Halfway during my climb up the mountain the heat got to me again. I sat down for a rest in the shade and ended up falling asleep.
Waking up from my microsleep I continued on to find the most incredible little camp which a local trail angel had converted into a hikers oasis with a water cache and all. I was intending to go half a mile further to the next campsite but couldn’t go past the cute little setting. Two southbound hikers were also enjoying the shade, water and umbrellas. I chatted with them on and off for a couple of hours, they provided me with some helpful info on the water sources coming up for me northbound. These ladies had the right idea. They hike short days and every night watch a movie as they cowboy camp under the stars.
At 4.30pm I decided it was probably time to get back on the trail. There was still a bit of heat left in the day but I wanted to make sure I got into camp before sun down.
The trail was mostly downhill from the little oasis with views over the epic Tehachapi Pass wind farm. I would later find out that it is one of the biggest wind farm in the world.
I’ve met quite a few hikers who don’t like hiking under the wind turbines but I find them interesting, its a change of scenery and it’s not often you get to experience something like this so close up.
Along my way I stopped to have dinner with a view, taking in the wind farm below.
Back on trail I saw two separate snakes taking in the last of the afternoon sun. The first was very skittish and made itself know before I was even within 2 meters of it. It rattled a very long rattle. I naturally stopped to check it out but it wasn’t too happy when I didn’t move on as warned. It eventually started to coil up and point it’s head at me. I decided I’d probably pushed it too far by that point and continued on.
The second snake was the polar opposite of the first. I’m not entirely sure whether it was a rattlesnake. It was super chilled, sunning itself across the trail. I tried unsuccessfully to get it to move on and resorted to walking off trail around it.
As the sun started to lower in the sky I had pretty views over the windfarm, Joshua tress and desert foliage being lit up by the pink sky.
I spent the night camped half a mile before willow springs trail head under a giant willow tree. It was extremely pretty and a warm clear night so I left the fly off to enjoy the view and the breeze. As I was settling down I could hear what I think were rats running around and squeaking in the bushes. I made sure I slept with my food bag right under my head so I could hear any attempts on my food during the night.
Sunday 2 June 2019
Location: Mile 493 to Mile 511.5
Distance travelled: 18.5 miles / 30 km
I woke up early this morning to get a head start on the sun and walk some miles in the relative cool of the morning.
I was happy to find that my food bag had survived the night hung in a tree. No bears visited our campsite in the end.
The morning’s walk was pleasant, through pine forest lined with wildflowers. I love walking through pine forest, its cool, protected and there are always plenty of critters about. I spotted lots of squirrels darting across the trail.
The miles went by quickly in the morning and by mid morning I had reached a big milestone of the trail, the 500 mile mark. It crept up on me. 500 miles is roughly 805km. It feels good to have reached this mark and I feel proud of how far I’ve come but it’s crazy to think that I still have over 2,000 miles ahead of me.
The sun had heated up by the afternoon and I really felt its effects. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to walking in the intense heat. Taking plenty of breaks in the shade helps but I find the renewed energy wears off relatively quickly when I step back out on trail.
There is cafe coming up in the next days walking, the thought of a good breakfast and an ice cream sandwich has been spurring me on. I wanted to make sure I walked far enough today to have a short walk to the cafe in the morning so I can enjoy a second breakfast. I have been ravenous with hunger over the last few days, eating a lot more than normal (which is already a lot) so a big serve of eggs will be good.
I ended up finding a small single campsite tucked into the bushes on the side of the trail. It will be nice to have a quiet night on my own. I know no one else will be able to come by late in the evening and set up camp right beside me.
Monday 3 June 2019
Location: Mile 511.5 to Mile 517.6
Distance travelled: 6.1 miles / 10 km
It was nice to wake up this morning knowing I only had 6 miles to walk until I reached Hiker Town, from which, an ice cream and a breakfast burrito were only a short car ride away.
Hiker Town is a slightly strange yet wonderful world smack bang on the PCT. I would later find out that Richard the owner was formerly a producer at Disney. Richard bought the land years ago with the intention of developing it, before he knew about the PCT. When his wife found out about the trail, she committed to helping hikers and bit by bit they built hiker town. A little ramshackle village of containers fit out like a country and western film set. They now maintain the property throughout hiker season, driving people back and forth to the cafe and store that they also own, feeding, cleaning and housing thousands of hikers each season.
It was a pretty morning walking through the rolling hills, watching the sun rise as I walked.
The closer I got to hiker town the more the scenery changed. I began descending into the desert floor and was blown away by the spectacular scenery.
Over the past few days I had begun tiring of the same scenery, mile after mile so the golden grasses and vibrant orange Californian poppies growing vibrantly in the distance were a welcome change.
I felt like I was in proper American desert country now.
As I reached the a junction where the trail intersected a major roadway I was surprised to learn that I was still walking through hunt club owned property. Although out of season I was glad to be leaving it as I crossed the road and headed straight for Hiker Town.
On arriving at Hiker Town I was greeted by Bob who let me know a shuttle to the cafe would be leaving soon. At this point I had intentions of eating and chilling for the rest of the day before heading out later that night to tackle the infamously hot dry section of the LA Aqueduct.
I was waiting for the shuttle when Rich, the owner of Hiker Town invited me inside. He generously fed me waffles, apple and coffee while I was waiting for the shuttle to the cafe and market. Exiting the house I found 15 people loaded up in trucks and cars ready to leave. Apparently I had received special treatment. It was very nice indeed. It was over the waffles and coffee that I decided to stay the night and hike out the next day. This place was too good not to make the most of.
I was driven to the cafe by one of Richards business advisors who had come in for a meeting. I was filthy and stunk and was being dropped off by a Jaguar. It felt so wrong to be sitting on the leather seats.
I felt like I was in some alternate universe or paradise. When I arrived at the cafe, Rich gave me a free ice cream as I wandered the store picking up a few resupply items.
I spent the afternoon eating and relaxing, watching movies before heading back to Hiker Town to find a bed for the night. Unfortunately all of the little themed houses were occupied but I managed to nab the last available bed in the back of an old camper trailer. It was a little grubby to say the least but it was nice to have a roof for the night. It worked out perfectly because it ended up being an extremely windy evening, even the trailer was being blown about by the wind.
I wasn’t going to bother doing my laundry since it had only been a few days since I’d last washed but when Bob offered me the washing machine I went for it. To have fresh smelling clothes is an absolutely luxury on this hike!
Friday 31 May 2019
Location: Mile 454.5 to Mile 471.4
Distance travelled: 16.9 miles / 27 km
It has been a couple of weeks since I’ve had a good omelette breakfast so I was super excited about having a town breakfast before I headed out on trail this morning.
I was lucky to catch a ride down to the cafe with a volunteer who was helping out at the Saufley’s. This man hiked the PCT last year and was paying forward the kindness others showed him by trail angeling up the whole length of the PCT. It is super kind of him and a really beautiful way to pay the kindness forward. I hope I see him further up the trail.
I had heard good things about the local cafe, Homemade. It was exactly as you would expect it, delicious home cooking, American sized portions and of course, bottomless coffee. My omelette was served with toast and potatoes and was enough to feed 3 people for breakfast but I ate the lot.
I felt slightly uncomfortable to say the least when I had to cinch the belt of my pack around my mid-section when it was time to hike out.
I was on the road by 9am and the sun was already scorching. The first couple of miles of trail were literally road. I was grateful that a local church had put out a cooler of iced water 🙏. I was only a mile in but had a rest in the shade and drank an entire 500mls in one go.
It was a day of sunshine, views and wildflowers. I had made the hiking more difficult than it needed to be by accidentally packing food for 5 days instead of 3. I’d misread my planning spreadsheet. But at this point it’s all good training for the Sierras.
The new tights I’d express ordered to the Saufley’s worked a charm. It’s hot wearing leggings but it beats the chafe.
I needed multiple rests during the day to cool off and recover from the heat so it was a slow day of hiking. Normally I will walk 2.5 to 3 miles an hour but today it was less than 2. It convinced me that tomorrow I need to get up early and get started before the heat sets in.
After a long lunch break I was getting my hiking poles sorted as I began hiking again. I was looking at my hands, sorting out the straps of my poles rather than at my feet and I twisted my right ankle on a rock which was jutting out of the trail. I was equal parts in pain and annoyed at myself. I needed a minute to rest it and work out how badly I’d hurt it. It was fine to walk on but was definitely uncomfortable for the rest of the day. When I took my shoes off that night I could see it was a little swollen and potentially a little bruised. I slathered it in Voltaren cream hoping for the best.
Throughout the afternoon the heat continued and I spotted 2 snakes sunning themselves on the trail. The first was a sweet little thing who took a while to realise I was there. The second looked as if it had recently eaten lunch, with a huge bulge in its middle it was digesting in the sun. I felt bad for disturbing it. With a stomach that full it looked as if it would be uncomfortable to move. It looked a little like I felt this morning after eating a mammoth breakfast before hiking out of town.
With the late start to the day and the heat I had a short day walking. At 5.30pm-ish I found a cute little camp and set up for the night. It was nice having plenty of time to have dinner before the sun went down. Later in the evening a larger group of hikers showed up, disturbing the peace of myself and another girl who had camped in a little grove under the trees. Thankfully they chose not to camp right on top of us but unfortunately seemed to have forgotten how far their voices travel.
Saturday 1 June 2019
Location: Mile 471.4 to Mile 493
Distance travelled: 21.6 miles / 35 km
Somehow, when I thought it couldn’t be possible, my hiker hunger has grown exponentially. Maybe it was the weight of 2 extra days food in my pack or maybe it was the knowledge that it was in there which made me exceptionally hungry but I was ravenous all day today. So hungry that I ate 2 lunches and pilfered my remaining 3 bags of trail mix to eat all of the M’n’Ms and Reeces Pieces.
It was another warm day and while I got off to a relatively early start on the trail the sun felt like it was scorching the minute it rose in the sky.
After a couple of weeks of regular, reliable water sources the water on this section of trail has been a little more sparse. The main source I would be filling up from today was the Green Valley Fire Station. They allow hikers to come into the residential section of their compound to fill up bottles. It was an interesting place to fill up on water that is for sure.
With the consistent heat of the last few days I have also consistently been spotting snakes, I saw another smallish rattlesnake sunning itself on the trail today. It was super chilled, moving away slowly when it heard me coming.
I also spotted the cutest little Horny Lizard. It was one of the smallest ones I have seen on the trail yet. It camouflaged well with the sand and grit on the side of the trail and stood still just long enough for me to take a photo.
I spent the afternoon climbing in the sun. The views were spectacular but it was hard going.
I was relieved to make it into Camp at the end of the day. I arrived at a fairly large campsite where I was pleasantly surprised to find only women camping there. It was a first for me, 6 women hikers at a campsite and not a man in site. I was grateful for it as we began discussing whether we should hang our food that evening. A bear had been visiting an established campsite 5 or so miles up the trail and had been trying to steal people’s food there. I had a strong feeling that this was due to a combination of car campers leaving food out and overflowing garbage bins but two of the women were pretty adamant about hanging their food so we all followed suit. It was my first attempt at the practice so I was glad to have the other ladies around, not to mention internet reception so I could use a bit of Google support. I managed to successfully hang my food bag, feeling a little nervous that although it may be safe from bears it may be more accessible to squirrels and rodents up in the tree. Only morning will tell.