Day 33 & 34 – Hunger, heat and a desert in bloom
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.