The Best Magic – Day 33: Islip Trailhead to Sulphur Springs Campground

 PCT miles: 386.1 to 406.7 (+1 mile of detour)Miles: 21.6

I don’t sleep well, waking every hour or so. I think it’s because it’s warm out, maybe 65 or 70 degrees. I finally start getting my things together around 515 and am on the trail by 6. Maybe I’ll do 20 today, I think. It’s a climb first thing and I am moving slowly and unenergetically. I see Yoav (sp?) and Dean and they offer me coffee but I pass and keep walking. Some 20 minutes later I hear them behind me so I step to the side and take a picture of the canyon I’m in front of. 

“Nothing can capture it, but it’s good to try,” Dean says.

“It’s all in your head,” Yoav says. 


Even now that I’m going downhill I’m still slow. I get to the Eagles Roost picnic area and lay on a picnic table for a little while. Fish Fry catches up and we start to hike the two mile road walk that skirts around the section of closed trail for an endangered frog species. Road walks are hard on the feet and I consider sticking my thumb out for a very short hitch, but there aren’t many cars and it’s not that far so I just keep walking. We see an abandoned ski lift and meet some dayhikers who offer us water. 

After the road walk, we enter a campground that will take us to a trail that will take us back to the PCT. Fish Fry stops for some water and I continue on until I see a bathroom and a pit toilet and take another break. I stay about 20 minutes but don’t see Fish Fry so get started on the trail back to the PCT. It’s a little foresty canyon and I can hear the sound of water and the trees smell so strong and amazing, like the best candles you’ve ever smelled. I get lost in my head, thinking I am actually a day hiker taking a stroll and later I’ll be going back to a camper van and my husband and be in a bed tonight. 

Which is also to say, the trail is lonely today. I haven’t seen anyone but Fish Fry and I don’t have cell service so I have no idea where anyone in the bubble I’ve been a part of has gone. On top of that, where are all the other hikers? Usually many have passed me by now and I know where groups are going so I can know where to sleep if I don’t want to camp alone. 

I reach water and eat lunch and I’d like to take another extended break there, particularly a nap, but the mosquitos are bad near the creek so I begrudgingly pack my bag up and keep walking to the Cooper Canyon Camp. There I spot a perfect picnic table in the shade and lay myself down and fall asleep for 30 minutes. When I wake back up the shade is nearly gone and Fish Fry has caught back up. We chat for a bit and I eat a little more and I tell him I’m only going to go another 5.6 miles, falling nearly 6 miles short of a 20, and then camp, and to tell Mousetrap as much if Mousetrap catches up. 

I pass some dayhikers who ask me about the PCT and my pack and the age ranges of hikers and then don’t see anyone else. My feet are sore and I’m looking forward to camping. When I get to Camp Glenwood, where I’m intending to stop, it’s empty. I’m about to set my pack down when I hear voices and boom, there’s a group of hikers I recognize – Blues Clues and Scissors and Lynn and more. Blues Clues had camped behind my so I’m confused how he got there. “We just roadwalked the whole way,” he says. The PCT had crossed over highway 2 several times – I wonder if this is why we didn’t see anyone. Scissors said she saw Mousetrap so he must have done something similar. 

I ask how far Lynn and Scissors going and it’s another 6 miles, where I’d planned to go but had been too afraid of the possibility of night hiking by myself, or even hiking at dusk. “Can I hike with you?” I ask, and they say of course. 

I try to keep pace with Lynn but she’s too fast until I catch up to her at a highway crossing, where she’s stopped to talk to someone in there car. She’s holding a soda. Trail magic! It’s a hiker from last year, Shepherd, and he’s got soda and watermelon. I sit on the ground (my feet are pounding and I was just going to try to push to camp so they’re happy for the break) and drink a soda and we chat with Shepherd who answers our questions about the upcoming desert section. It’s the best magic I’ve had so far.


Powered by soda, I manage to keep pace with Lynn even though it’s her normal pace and it’s my hustle pace. I have armpit chafe that is stinging bad so I put my hand on my hip like I’m a teapot and hike like that. Unfortunately I don’t have any fun poses for the ass chafe that starts to make its presence known. We pass a bunch of poodle dog bush and Lynn stops every once in a while to see how far we are from camp. At one of these stops I must have briefly had cell service because I get a text from Mark saying I should turn on my InReach because my dad is worried.

We get to the mile marker for camp and there’s a junction for horses and Lynn keeps going on the hiker PCT and so I follow her before we realize we have to take the horse route to camp. We turn around and see Scissors across the canyon and yell out to her so she doesn’t make the same mistake.

At camp my feet are impossibly tender and I try to stretch but I am very tired. I turn on my InReach and send a message to Mark and to my dad. I get my tent set up and cook by leaving a small space unzipped on my door so the bugs can’t get in. My food is almost done when I knock my pot over. I rescue it and only some of the alfredo goodness has spilled out but it’s still sad. Scissors and Lynn try to make me feel better – do you want some m&ms? Lynn offers – but really I just want to finish my food and go to sleep, so I do. 

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4 thoughts on “The Best Magic – Day 33: Islip Trailhead to Sulphur Springs Campground

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