Day 9 & 10 – A walk in the clouds
Tuesday 7 May 2019
Location: Warner Springs (Mile 109.5) to Mile 122.7
Distance travelled: 13.2 miles / 21 km
I’d initially had intentions of getting up and away early today so I could walk enough miles to camp near a water source but after the TP ran out in the bathrooms last night I had to use my hiking TP and took it as a sign. I should have a lazy morning, wait until the resource centre opens, buy some more TP, have a coffee and recharge my phone. Once I had made that decision I felt much more relaxed.
So that was my morning. I had a second breakfast of a cinnamon pop tart and coffee while I was waiting for my phone to charge and didn’t end up walking out of the resource centre until after 10am. Graham had finished what he needed to do at the post office so we hiked out together. Jeffery was still doing a couple of things at the resource centre so we told him. We would catch up with him later in the day.
The weather was a mixed bag, it was freezing cold, cloudy and windy until we made the decision to start hiking. Upon which the sun came out for the 5 or so mile hike across the valley floor to the foothills of the mountains.
After 5 miles we stopped for lunch by a pretty stream and filled up on water. We were joined by Sarah, another hiker we had been running into over the last week. I have a sneaking suspicion she could be slowing merging into our trail family. It would be nice to have a girl to hike with for a while. Just as we were getting the last of the water we would need for the afternoon Jeffrey joined us at the lunch spot and all little group was reunited again.
All stocked up with water like camels we began our climb. I donned my brand new sun runner hat, beige in colour and complete with neck flap and side of face flaps. I looked around at the group, ready to leave and they all looked at me, “what are you preparing for? Desert storm?” and so the first suggestion of a trail name was thrown my way. Let’s see if it sticks.
We would be gaining around 2,000 feet in elevation during the day but the switch backs made the climbing gradual gentle. The weather changed as we began our climb, the sun disappeared behind clouds and all of my views were obscured. I was happy to have found the connector for my ear phones during my time in Warner Springs and listened to an audio book for the afternoon. With no views to look at while I climbed and with a heavy pack filled with water for the night of dry camping ahead, I was happy for the distraction.
We had a short day after the late start and after 13 miles found a camp big enough for all 4 of us to fit into. We enjoyed a good chat over dinner before calling it an evening to retreat into our tents and sleeping bags and escape the cold.
Wednesday 8 May 2019
Location: Mile 122.7 to Mile 142.9
Distance travelled: 20.2 miles / 33 km
After having fallen asleep in cloud I woke up in cloud to a cold morning and a dripping wet tent. I had camped under some trees thinking it would protect me a little but instead they gathered moisture and dripped it all over the tent. Lesson learned. It was a bitterly cold morning so I packed down fast, keen to get moving so I could defrost my hands and start to warm up.
It was so cold that I hiked the first hour of the morning uphill in my puffy and rain jacket. I was walking in cloud for the first 4 miles. Mikes place was the first stop of the day, just as I approached the turn off the sun was starting to burn through the thick morning mist.
Mikes place is a slightly strange institution among PCT hikers. They offer water from their water tanks after a long 17 mile or so dry stretch of hiking, the also offer at their house, camping, pizza and food by donation. We were keen not to get stuck there of an evening having heard it can be a party house but thought there couldn’t be much harm in dropping by in the morning.
Graham had already arrived by the time I walked in. It looked like the place was recovering from a big night the previous evening. Apparently they had 30 hikers stay over. Scott who is running the place said they ate enough pizza for about 50 hikers. No surprises there though. We weren’t planning on staying long, just enough time to wait for Sarah and Jeff to catch up, charge our phones and fill up water.
Scott however was starting to cook a huge omelette feast and eventually we all caved in, one by one until we were all eating. We had all said that we should eat the food in our packs rather than spending money but the smell was too delicious to resist.
By the time we had filled up water and were back on the trail it was almost 11am. We had an 18 mile stretch ahead of us to make it to the next water source. It was the goal of the afternoon but I wasn’t sure how I was going to go with that distance in the heat after such a late start.
The heat got hotter as the afternoon wore on and with the realisation that I probably wouldn’t make the 18 miles I decided to conserve enough water to dry camp the night.
I had a few breaks along the way to take in the beautiful distant mountain views, conserve energy and water by resting in the shade. I saw a few new colours of cactus flowers and a new colour of lizard throughout the afternoon.
I also spotted my 4th snake of the trail but sadly it was also a little common snake, still no rattle snakes. At around 6.30pm I decided I would walk for another half hour before I looked for a camp site. I was climbing up over a hill and wanted to make sure I was out of the wind and in a protected spot for the evening.
I ended up in a sandy dry river bed just off the trail. It wasn’t marked as a camp spot but looked as if it had been previously used. The spot is quite close to a couple of roads. Being my first night camping on my own since starting the trail I was feeling a bit nervous but convinced myself that really it isn’t any different to camping with a group.
After a long on the trail and a long afternoon in the sun I got into bed quickly, keen to rest up for another big day ahead tomorrow. My feet are tired after such a long day and I annoyingly have a couple of blisters developing on my big toes. I’m sure I will sleep well tonight.