Day 257: Almost there…


Direction: Southbound 

Trail location: 1925

Cumulative miles hiked 2019/2021: 2580

Cumulative miles hiked 2021: 578
Miles hiked today: 14.9
Elevation: 9047

High/low temp/humidity: 70/52/10

Spinning on the turntable: Cowboy Junkies: The Trinity Session

I’m totally digging the easy elevation gains and losses! Maybe, just maybe, I’m in better shape than I realized! One can only hope!

The trail seems to have “smoothed” out a bit and I’m now actually able to lift my head and look around for longer than two seconds. It’s nice to have a trail that’s back to primarily dirt and not dirt with embedded rocks, or cobblestones, or just rocks. My feet say “thank you!”.

Water is definitely on my mind today as I head into a much drier section. I’m so happy that I’m done before the desert section. Been there, done that! I spoke with a hiker early in the year and he said that it was 117F when he came through. Uh, no thanks!

There’s been a fair amount of sandy trail the last day or so. I’d put sand right next to cobblestones. Easier on the feet, but it takes more effort to move through the sand that it does to move through packed dirt. Thankfully, it’s only been a few miles total of sandy trail.

I’ve tried to think about what comes “next” after the trail. I’m drawing a blank. After two plus years of the PCT, plus about a year of pre-planning, thinking, pondering and daydreaming, life without a Pacific Crest Trail Thru-hike seems a little grim. Yet, there are other things that I’d like to accomplish that don’t necessarily involve a very long trail and aching feet. We’ll see. In any case, I’m not too focused on what comes ‘next’. Finish first, then think about it.

Noelle was very concerned about communication in this last section. Other hikers have told her that the Garmin’s don’t work up here, that communication is difficult/impossible, etc. We found that this section, just like the Northern Cascades, provided challenges, but we’re still able to message back and forth fairly easily. Actually, I’d say the Northern Cascades were worse with dense tree cover. In any case, we’re able to message pretty much at will. I’ve found that I tend to answer messages about every two hours during the day when I stop for a break, and at will when I stop for the night. I’ve needed to move the Garmin around to find a clear skyline a few times, but nothing that problematic. I think the Garmin “thing” is just a reminder to me that people can be a bit of fear mongers without even meaning to do so. I’ve been pleased with the Garmin connectivity. We pay about $50 a month for unlimited txt messages on each Garmin. We’ll trim the plan back to the $10 a month after we complete the hike. Good investments.

Today my water carry was about twelve miles. Unfortunately, the water source was a mud hole. I followed notes from Guthook and found a trickle of water about 1/4th of a mile off trail. It was a tiny trickle. I was so freaking happy! I collected a total of about 6.5l of water and moved on. The next confirmed water is 15 miles down the trail. I finished collecting the water around 12PM, at mile 12 for today. I had planned to stop at mile 12, but miles 12-15 are flat before a hill climb. I pushed on towards mile 15, but not before filling up my wafer bag and strapping it on top of my backpack. This was the first time I’ve gone old school and hauled water like this. I’m carrying about 6.5l of water and my hips are sending me distress signals. The extra water will allow me to camp with ease tonight and not worry about water conservation. The water dripped down my left side for most of the three miles, but I arrived in camp with 95% of the water still left in the bag. Good deal.

This is my last hill climb tomorrow. After this, it’s all pretty much downhill to KMS. I’m anxious to get past the hill climb.

I saw a SOBO tonight! Holy shit! He’s skipped about 550 miles of the trail so far due to fire closures. He was at Whitney when CA shut the trails, so other exiting hikers gave him all their food so he wouldn’t need to exit and resupply. Unfortunately, he’s a cold cooking hiker, so he has no stove. The food they gave him was the freeze dried variety that needs to be heated. He’s been trying to re-hydrate the foods while he’s hiking, but it didn’t sound like it had been too successful. It was really nice to just chat with another thru-hiker. We understand each other. I was concerned when he told me that yesterday he was ready to lay down on the trail and cry. Sounds like he wanted solitude so he opted for the SOBO trek, but he may have gotten a lot more isolation than he expected. I’ve struggled with it too, but perhaps not as much as he has. He said he was walking with his eyes shut for up to ten seconds and kind of in a trace/doze. He’s not sure what he’s doing when he arrives at KMS, continue to hike or get off the trail. I tried to encourage him, but offer him honest input on the water shortage challenges he’ll face if trail angels stop resupplying the water caches. It makes sense that they’d stop resupplying if the state of CA has closed all the trails. If there hadn’t been water caches in the desert section I’m not sure I could have made it through without night hiking the entire section. Anyway, it was good to chat with someone else, even if it was only for twenty minutes.

I’m about 26 miles from KMS. I’m planning on 15 miles tomorrow and 11 miles the day after to wrap this up. If the trail is kind, I may push it tomorrow. It’s a lot of downhill, so my pace should increase. A 26 mile day would be a tad extreme. We’ll see. (Plus, if I arrive in KMS after 6PM, the general store is closed and I won’t be able to have a hamburger, which I’ve been craving for weeks.)


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