Fire on the Mountain – Day 60 + 61: Zeroing in Lone Pine

pacific crest trail

Time off in Lone Pine was the usual – food, resupply, naps. I got my first real intense wave of hiker hunger and no matter how much I ate my brain wanted more. 

The road to Bishop after Kearsarge Pass is currently closed – that’s our next resupply after this Sierra stretch. The group I’m with has resupply there so they’re determined to get there, which could mean up to a 15 mile road walk. No fun. Hopefully the road will open again by the time we get there, as it’s closed right now for potential flooding and damage from the snowmelt. 
I also bumped into Karma and Nirvana in town. It was so good to see them again. 
Right now I’m at a trail angels house with Sole Sister, Co, LiterBit and Diggs. I spent the last two nights at the hostel and had expected we would leave today, but the group thinks we might be better to stay another night because of the high temperatures and high snow melt. Fine with me! And then not even an hour after we decided, we went outside to see a fire on the mountain and learned the road back to the trail and the trail itself has been closed for fire personnel and we would have had to stay anyway.
That said, between some stuff going on with family and not hiking, my anxiety is definitely spiking. I hadn’t even thought about anxiety since I’d been out here because the trail manages it so well. But it’s there, humming. 
If the trail is going to be closed tomorrow, too, we might try to hike Mt Whitney while we wait. I’m a little sad we aren’t on trail today for Hike Naked Day (June 21st.) But the group has mentioned skinny dipping, so maybe I’ll get to be naked in the wilderness anyway. 
Tonight I am grateful for the trail angel who is generously letting more than ten hikers crash in her air conditioned home, and to be with a group, and for hiking, where I can remember to breathe and that all I need is to take one step, then another. 

Getting High – Day 58: Cow Creek Tentsite to 10500′ Tentsite

pacific crest trail

PCT miles: 719.2 to 735.1
Miles: 15.9

I wake and am on the trail by 6:20. It is still strange to me that in this group I am the earliest riser. I only get a mile or so before my body makes me stop and eat breakfast, half a Biscuits and Gravy Mountain House that Natalie sent me. Still, I am happy to be hungry again. I eat and half heartedly wave away mosquitos and then continue up the climb, the first of the day, which goes to 10,600 feet – the highest I’ve ever been. I feel sleepier than usual and I’m not sure if it was poor sleep, too little food, the altitude, or a head cold coming, but it doesn’t especially slow me down. The group’s goal is Death Canyon Creek for lunch, but I keep finding myself stopping to eat and drink and rest. I reach Gomez Meadow, a short and flat 2 miles from the planned lunch spot, and it is too pretty and I am too tired to pass it up. I lay my Tyvek down and put my feet up. My group passes – “are you just going to stay here?” They ask. No. I’m just going to grab a nap first.
So I do. It’s the perfect temperature and I stay there for about 20 minutes and then I pack up and go. I feel a lot better after the nap and get to the water source quickly and chat with the group – Ko, Sole Sister, Couscous Balls, LiterBit, Fizzy, Whoopie and Thirsty Detour. I make half a package of mashed potatoes for lunch and eat them with bacon bits. These mountains are making me hungry and I make a note to prepare for that in the next section. 


We still have a 2000 foot climb before our planned camp spot at the top of the next mountain at 10,600 feet. I am the second one to leave because I like to get to camp and rest and go to bed earlier than the rest. I am making good progress when I run into Thirsty Detour. We’ve been watching big, fluffy clouds start to get darker all afternoon. 
“It looks like it might rain,” he says. 
“It can rain, just no lightning,” I say.
Rain it does, a steady sprinkle that is honestly super refreshing. I catch some cell service a mile from the top and call my dad to wish him happy Father’s Day and respond to some texts. I’m hoping there might be service at the top, too.
I finish the climb and I should be scouting for a good camp spot for us all but instead I hang out at the ridge and call Mark. The mosquitos are plentiful and Mark is stressed and upset and it is not a good conversation. There is a lot going on at home and I feel both guilty for not being there and glad that, for some of the first months of my life, I am trying not to jump in and save the day. It is also hard to translate the sense I have of the world out here to the problems of the “real” world – the trail rarely lets me worry about more than what is immediately an issue, and back home there are a series of hypothetical possibilities that may present themselves that everyone seems eager to turn over and over. 
I get off the phone and walk around with out my pack trying to find the best view. This isn’t something I normally do – I usually prefer to take the first viable option. Turns out the first viable option was the best view anyway and I set up camp. I’m starting to get a little worried that I’ll be camping alone (Thirst Detour continued on to meet his group and camp near water) – it’s taking them way longer than I imagined, especially Whoopie and Fizzy who are faster than I am and supposedly were leaving right behind me. But then I hear Whoopie and Couscous and eventually the whole gang is there. Couscous finds a great spot to watch the sunset and we bundle up in our rain gear and head nets to try to keep the mosquitos away. This is the strange mercy of the trail – worries about home rambling in my gut but sitting with new friends watching a sunset over a beautiful valley. 


I go back to my tent. My head hurts – is it the altitude, my pack straining my neck, a head cold, stress? I’m not sure. Some of the others cook dinner and chat, but I put in my earplugs and pull my buff over my eyes and wish a goodnight to the world. “Let us know if we’re too loud,” Sole Sister tells me. But I find their company soothing up here on this mountain, and I fall asleep. 

Building a Sierra Tramily – Day 57: Kennedy Meadows Campground to Cow Creek Tentsite

pacific crest trail

PCT miles: 704.6 to 719.2
Miles: 14.6

I’m the first one of the group on trail at 6am – it sounds like they tend to start between 7 and 730, but I’m slow and afraid they’ll get far ahead and I also prefer the cool morning hours. I wish I was brave enough to get on trail at first morning light, but my brain goes crazy imagining the sleepy animals still wandering the trail so I don’t ever leave that early. And anyway, today I need the extra time because I have to pack my pack differently than I’m used to because of the 2 lb 9 oz bear can I am now carrying for the Sierra. 

The morning is beautiful and I’m walking under the trees next to the river. It’s so pretty that I think: this is like a day hike. My brain has decided that thruhiking is mostly business, rarely pretty, but somehow rewarding anyway. Dayhiking, on the other hand, is usually packed with pretty if lacking other rewards. So, what I mean to say is, the morning was so packed with pretty I could almost forget what I was doing. 

As the morning continued it started getting warm. The trail goes through several burn areas and meadows in this area which means lack of shade. I was sweating hard and happy I didn’t have to worry about carrying too much water since it was so readily accessible in the creek next to me. 

I was in one of these shade-less stretches when I saw the head of a snake in front of me. It didn’t notice me or was still too cold to care and didn’t seem interested in moving. I think it may have been a rattlesnake – the head seemed a little triangular and there seemed to be a diamond pattern on the back – but I couldn’t see its tail. Better safe than sorry, I walked a wide path around it. 


There was a bit of a climb and then the shade of trees and then I walked out into a meadow with a view of snow covered mountains in the distance. I felt so, so lucky and grateful for the change in scenery, for something so beautiful. The desert tends to be stunning at sunrise and sunset, but the in between can be rather harsh and one-tone. Here this meadow was in broad daylight looking as stunning as ever. 


I spotted Co sitting in the shade and joined her and shortly after LiterBit joined us too. We snacked and rested. I am really bad about packing too few snacks for the trail. I have plenty of meals but few things that are easy to grab. I think this every time but I’m still messing it up. 
We continued on, hiking similar paces, for the next few miles until we arrived at the Kern River. I found a shade spot but they found a better one, so after I ate my (big) lunch, I moved my pack to sit with them. They had a pretty view of the river and tons of hikers were there, floating in the water. Megaphone blew up his air mattress and floated which worked surprisingly well. We watched for a few hours before deciding it was too good to pass up and jumped in ourselves. Plus I hadn’t had a shower in 60 miles and it was good to rinse off. 


We’re showing off our armpit hair 

I got on trail first to head to our planned campsite. Again with walking through stunning meadows. It was still warm but not too bad. I got to the campsite quickly and set up and then the rest of the group trickled in. The mosquitos were bad and Whoopie built a fire and we sat on our bear cans, which was remarkably uncomfortable. I went to bed first and was happy to be among a big group of hikers again, their voices drifting in the background. 

Nero at Kennedy Meadows – Day 56: Kennedy Meadows General Store to Kennedy Meadows Campground 

pacific crest trail

PCT miles: 702 to 704

Miles: 2

I woke up and tried to get my blogs posted while fewer people were on the wifi. Legend was in the parking lot pouring coffee so I chatted with him and some hikers and then Legend drove us down the street to Grumpy Bear’s for breakfast. Grumpy Bear’s has one breakfast option: Eggs, bacon, potatoes, and a massive (“all you can eat”) pancake that was about the size of a medium pizza and about four quarters stacked thick. I barely finished a fourth of my pancake, but the breakfast was delicious. Right down the road from the restaurant is thru-hiking legend Yogi (of Yogi’s PCT guide) and her online (and in her home) gear shop Triple Crown Adventures so I walked over. Yogi and her partner Worldwide were so welcoming and helpful and cheerful. I got a second headlamp (a lot of early morning hiking likely in the Sierra), fuel, a dry bag for my sleeping bag and puffy for the stream crossings and a handful of other stuff. 


I went back to the restaurant where a hiker named Neon was trying to complete the Pancake Challenge – eating a pancake that was about the size of an extra large pizza. I hitched back with Thirsty Detour to the General Store and got my packages from the store – an ice axe and a bear can and food and a headnet. A lot of hikers also got new shoes. I’d told myself I didn’t need them because I’d “only” gotten them in Big Bear – but I’m realizing that was nearly 400 miles ago. Still, they’re holding up okay and I might try to take them to Bishop and have replacements sent there. I’d sent myself some peremethrin and sprayed down my clothes to try to keep the coming mosquitos at bay.
At Kennedy Meadows I tried to talk to several groups I’d hiked with before to see if I could start hiking with them, in preparation for the Sierra. It was a really weird feeling – people have already often established their groups and seemed hesitant to add another person, though they were trying to be polite about it. I saw one guy who seemed to be in a similar position (he hikes faster than me so grouping with him wouldn’t work) get straight up turned down by someone after he asked about joining them. It was a really lonely feeling to realize I was group-less, and I was honestly feeling afraid I might not be able to find a group that goes my speed or near it that would be going to the Sierra.
So I was hemming and hawing about whether to hike out tonight – one group who had seemed willing to hike with me said they were heading out this evening – or tomorrow, when some other people I knew were headed out. I’d basically decided to leave the next day when I saw tonight’s group – LiterBit and Co (and Sole Sister, who was elsewhere packing) – waiting to leave and I decided to grab my pack and join them.
That turned out to be an awesome decision. Sole Sister even seemed a little excited to have me come, which was sweet and a relief from the hesitation I was feeling from other groups. Not to mention, they knew about some trail magic by the trail head, so we all headed there and were fed barbecue, fruit salad, bread, veggies and brownies by hiker Megaphone’s (who I’d never met before) parents. 
From there I hiked out with another girl who was walking with the group, Hikepedia, and we hiked the 2.5 miles to the Kennedy Meadows Campground. It was a beautiful night and dark and we heard strange noises in the distance and I was glad not to be alone. At camp we giggled as camping children in the distance tried to scare each other and would scream. 
The group has shorter days planned for the next three days into towns, which I appreciate because there are some big climbs to 10500 feet. After that we’ll be in Lone Pine for a day or so before going back to trail to tackle Mt Whitney and enter the real (gulp) Sierra. I’m hopeful this will be a good group to hike with.

And Then the Desert Was Over – Day 55: Fox Mill Creek to Kennedy Meadows

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PCT Miles: 683.1 to 702.2 (+.7 to the general store)
I have intentions of getting up at first light and setting out, but it’s chilly which makes me slow. Instead Nobody and I head out around 6. We have 19-something miles to cover to get to Kennedy Meadows today and it feels like it’s going to be a warm day. Luckily (and unluckily) much of the day is downhill or flat. Lucky, because hot is easier downhill, unlucky, because miles of downhill (at least six today) is brutal on the feet.
But first there is an uphill, and even with two poles I am not as energetic as I was the day before. It is slow going. At the top, I’m desperate for some shade and I stop. Nobody decides to look for shade a little ahead and I say I’ll catch up – I don’t. Later, he tells me he waited for me 3 separate times and I never caught him. He says my trial name should be Putter, because I just putter along. I don’t hate it, but it reminds me of golf, so I decline.
I do catch him again at the water source, Manter Creek, where yesterday there were reports of a rogue bear. We don’t see a bear, but I’m not able to relax in the way I’d like because the ants are insane. The good news is: my hunger is back, loud and consistent. Mark brought me yogurt covered pretzels and I eat them with enthusiasm with every meal. 
We get hiking again but it’s hot and a burn area and by the time we reach the trees I need another break. It’s like the desert really wants to have one last hurrah. Nobody says he’ll meet me at the water 2 miles ahead but when I get there there’s no shade and I don’t see him and I stop under the first shade I see just off the trail. Later he tells me he waited for me several times again, likely right ahead of where I stopped. Oops!
After the water I stop to quite literally pick my nose and look to see a big snake hiding in the shade. Yikes! But it doesn’t look like a rattler so I take a picture.
And then I hit the 700 mile mark. I missed the 600 mile mark, and 60 miles, but it still feels big.
And then I arrive at Kennedy Meadows. There is a round of applause which makes me happy and I see a group I’d chatted with before, Soul Sister and LiterBit and Ko and they wave me over and I sit and chat with them. They let me know the store is closing so I run inside for a Snapple and a fresh, cold water. The grill is closed which means I have to eat the beans and rice in my food bag for dinner. I find some tortillas in the hiker box and add them to the plan. 
Around 8 I head to my tent and cook dinner. I manage to spill most of the cooked rice on the ground which is a huge bummer, so I cooked some more and added beans and ate and it was actually pretty tasty. I am just happy to be hungry again.
Now I have to figure out when and who with to hit the Sierra. Wish me luck!

Post-Family Blues – Day 53: Walker Pass to Spanish Needle Creek

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PCT Miles: 652.1 to 668.7
Miles: 16.7

My stomach has one last hurrah in the hotel toilet. At least I hope that’s the last of it.
Mark drops me off at the trailhead at 7:30 and it is so very, very hard to let him go.
My body feels rested and strong but tired. The first two, then the first four miles speed by. I am not thinking about the trail much at all, but about how bad my heart hurts.
Why am I doing this? Seems to be the question of the day. I fantasize about going home and curling up on the couch. Between skipping 60 miles, approaching the “end of the desert” (the terrain I’m most comfortable with), the Sierra looming, Mark’s visit, being in between trail families… I am feeling very mixed up. What is it I really want out of this hike? If I skip around and just do the parts that interest me, would it be better? Am I looking for something that is impossible for a trail to provide? Has the trail already given me what I needed?
But I also know this is what days-out-of-town can look like, and there is nothing to do but try to be kind and patient with myself, and to hike. 
I’m sitting for a break when I see hiker Mark, a doctor I’d camped with back on the Idyllwild alternate. We make small talk and I’m glad to see a familiar face. 
I take frequent breaks once the sun makes an appearance. My goal for the day is 16.7 miles. I feel a weird mixture of incredibly strong and incredibly unmotivated. I stop for water and there’s a group of hikers there and I chat with them. They’re going to the same campsite I am which is comforting. 
On the climb out of water to camp, Campo comes hiking up behind me. We catch up and he hikes on. I see him again at camp and we talk a little more. I tell him how I’ve been trying to write my “I quit” post all day in my head. I don’t really want to quit. Not yet, anyway. It is hard to keep your momentum out here when you’re reminded what it feels like to be safe and loved and have things be easy.
I gather water and go to bed. He’s trying to hike another ten miles or so tonight. I curl up in my tent and text Mark through my Delorme and he tells me the sewage pipe at the house collapsed and everything is backing up and overflowing. He’s had a rough week. At least I know now if I went home I still wouldn’t be able to use a toilet. 

Day 50, 51, 52: Off Trail Recovering, Happy Birthday to Me

pacific crest trail

(Internet isn’t strong enough for photos, will try to update later, although there aren’t many.) 

Saturday Mark, Mark’s sister and mom, and I go to breakfast in Lake Isabella. Whoopie and Harvest finish up their plans to get to Bakersfield while we’re gone. My head pounds from dehydration and lack of food. At breakfast I have to make myself eat – I eat French toast and bacon and drink orange juice but can’t touch the eggs I’d ordered extra of. 

For the rest of the day we lay around the hotel. I take a long nap. I am happy to be with my husband, cuddling, which he does even though I may be contagious.
For dinner I want mashed potatoes and we find a place, expensive though it is, and go there. I have salmon and mashed potatoes and salad. My stomach isn’t happy, but it handles it. In the hotel room, we watch Bridget Jones’s Baby and my legs are restless from not walking for two days. 
Sunday is my birthday. Mark hands me a box full of dehydrated meals from my friend Natalie, cards and words of encouragement from family and friends. My dad has given me a card with some cash and pictures of my mom because it’s what I asked him for and I look at the pictures and cry. It feels good to cry, like I needed it, and I am happy I get to do it near someone who isn’t disturbed by my tears, who doesn’t need an explanation, who knows they are not his to fix. 
We go to breakfast in Kernville. I order two pancakes and fruit and can’t eat all of it. I miss my hunger and my cravings. We wander looking for an outdoor shop but don’t have much luck finding the things I need. At some point Mark says: We can stay until Tuesday, if that’s okay with you. And of course it is. I am so happy to have him here, and I could also use the extra day to recover. We decide to move to Ridgecrest for the final day, where his car is, and a Walmart is.
I learn that nearly everyone from the group I’ve been hiking with has decided to skip the Sierra, and also that they caught a hitch and are in town. 
Karma is in town so we pick her up and take her to Kernville and she buys me a cup of tea for my birthday and we catch up. We’ll likely be in Kennedy Meadows and she says I can join her group which I would love, but I can only imagine they are much, much faster than I am. 
I eat delicious spaghetti for dinner from That’s Italian in Kernville and we all share a Creme brûlée. At the hotel we watch Moana. 
Monday we pack our things and drive to Ridgecrest. I don’t eat breakfast but I’m hungry for lunch so we go to a strange Mexican restaurant that has some of the most expensive fajitas I’ve ever seen. I order a burrito and its good and I manage to eat all of it. Afterward we go to Walmart and then we hear back about Mark’s car: a $5000 repair, not worth it. We swap rentals to one that can be dropped off in a Phoenix and go to Thai food for dinner.
All the while I realize I am leaning toward getting back on trail at mile 652, 60 miles past where I left it.
It’s making me reflect a lot on what my intentions for the trail are. I came out here because I wanted to do something hard, really hard, but I also wanted to be gentle with myself while doing it. I didn’t want to bully myself through miles. I wanted to try to live in that liminal space where you push yourself but are still forgiving. And I am really happy to say I have been doing that so far, and I have also been able to do every mile of the trail.
But I can’t go back to where I was picked up (miraculously, in the middle of nowhere) at 592, I would have to go 23 miles past it to 615. And I don’t especially want to go to that spot, either. It’s not that it is a “hard” part, though it is, a long waterless stretch in theory though I’ve been told there are currently plentiful caches. Its not even that I want to stay with the group I’ve been traveling with, who I may or may not catch up to. It’s just that there’s this little voice in my gut saying: It’s okay. I know you wanted to walk the whole thing. But this one, you lost. Forgive yourself. Let it go.
I didn’t come out here to be a purist. I did come out here to do something hard. I also came out here to try to balance doing the hard thing with doing the kind thing, taking care of myself, listening to what I really needed. 
In the real world, no one is going to be less impressed that I’m missing 60 miles of the trek. No one at home will argue whether I’m “really” a thruhiker. Only the internet and a small group of hikers would make a fuss. But it’s still hard to let go of the miles. 
I am also recognizing that part of what keeps me out here is just how much I don’t know what to do when I get home. I’ve been having the distinct feeling of not wanting to leave Mark but also a sinking feeling of, but what would I do back home?
I’m headed toward the Sierra where hiking outside of my experience level awaits, much of the group I’ve been walking with is disbanding, and the future of my hike is a question mark. Much of the sense of habit and safety I’ve been able to establish on trail is dissipating and that’s unnerving. I feel like a Lost Girl. But out here, at least the Lost Girl has a job to do. 

Day 50, 51, 52: Off Trail Recovering, Happy Birthday to Me

pacific crest trail

(Internet isn’t strong enough for photos, will try to update later, although there aren’t many.) 

Saturday Mark, Mark’s sister and mom, and I go to breakfast in Lake Isabella. Whoopie and Harvest finish up their plans to get to Bakersfield while we’re gone. My head pounds from dehydration and lack of food. At breakfast I have to make myself eat – I eat French toast and bacon and drink orange juice but can’t touch the eggs I’d ordered extra of. 

For the rest of the day we lay around the hotel. I take a long nap. I am happy to be with my husband, cuddling, which he does even though I may be contagious.
For dinner I want mashed potatoes and we find a place, expensive though it is, and go there. I have salmon and mashed potatoes and salad. My stomach isn’t happy, but it handles it. In the hotel room, we watch Bridget Jones’s Baby and my legs are restless from not walking for two days. 
Sunday is my birthday. Mark hands me a box full of dehydrated meals from my friend Natalie, cards and words of encouragement from family and friends. My dad has given me a card with some cash and pictures of my mom because it’s what I asked him for and I look at the pictures and cry. It feels good to cry, like I needed it, and I am happy I get to do it near someone who isn’t disturbed by my tears, who doesn’t need an explanation, who knows they are not his to fix. 
We go to breakfast in Kernville. I order two pancakes and fruit and can’t eat all of it. I miss my hunger and my cravings. We wander looking for an outdoor shop but don’t have much luck finding the things I need. At some point Mark says: We can stay until Tuesday, if that’s okay with you. And of course it is. I am so happy to have him here, and I could also use the extra day to recover. We decide to move to Ridgecrest for the final day, where his car is, and a Walmart is.
I learn that nearly everyone from the group I’ve been hiking with has decided to skip the Sierra, and also that they caught a hitch and are in town. 
Karma is in town so we pick her up and take her to Kernville and she buys me a cup of tea for my birthday and we catch up. We’ll likely be in Kennedy Meadows and she says I can join her group which I would love, but I can only imagine they are much, much faster than I am. 
I eat delicious spaghetti for dinner from That’s Italian in Kernville and we all share a Creme brûlée. At the hotel we watch Moana. 
Monday we pack our things and drive to Ridgecrest. I don’t eat breakfast but I’m hungry for lunch so we go to a strange Mexican restaurant that has some of the most expensive fajitas I’ve ever seen. I order a burrito and its good and I manage to eat all of it. Afterward we go to Walmart and then we hear back about Mark’s car: a $5000 repair, not worth it. We swap rentals to one that can be dropped off in a Phoenix and go to Thai food for dinner.
All the while I realize I am leaning toward getting back on trail at mile 652, 60 miles past where I left it.
It’s making me reflect a lot on what my intentions for the trail are. I came out here because I wanted to do something hard, really hard, but I also wanted to be gentle with myself while doing it. I didn’t want to bully myself through miles. I wanted to try to live in that liminal space where you push yourself but are still forgiving. And I am really happy to say I have been doing that so far, and I have also been able to do every mile of the trail.
But I can’t go back to where I was picked up (miraculously, in the middle of nowhere) at 592, I would have to go 23 miles past it to 615. And I don’t especially want to go to that spot, either. It’s not that it is a “hard” part, though it is, a long waterless stretch in theory though I’ve been told there are currently plentiful caches. Its not even that I want to stay with the group I’ve been traveling with, who I may or may not catch up to. It’s just that there’s this little voice in my gut saying: It’s okay. I know you wanted to walk the whole thing. But this one, you lost. Forgive yourself. Let it go.
I didn’t come out here to be a purist. I did come out here to do something hard. I also came out here to try to balance doing the hard thing with doing the kind thing, taking care of myself, listening to what I really needed. 
In the real world, no one is going to be less impressed that I’m missing 60 miles of the trek. No one at home will argue whether I’m “really” a thruhiker. Only the internet and a small group of hikers would make a fuss. But it’s still hard to let go of the miles. 
I am also recognizing that part of what keeps me out here is just how much I don’t know what to do when I get home. I’ve been having the distinct feeling of not wanting to leave Mark but also a sinking feeling of, but what would I do back home?
I’m headed toward the Sierra where hiking outside of my experience level awaits, much of the group I’ve been walking with is disbanding, and the future of my hike is a question mark. Much of the sense of habit and safety I’ve been able to establish on trail is dissipating and that’s unnerving. I feel like a Lost Girl. But out here, at least the Lost Girl has a job to do. 

First Slackpacking of the Trail – Day 47: Tehachapi to Windy Mountain Campsite

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Pct miles: 558 to 570.8

Miles: 12.8
I wake up and manage to eat some continental breakfast and while everyone is still in bed I do our laundry. We slowly get our packs together for checkout, and then I drop mine off at Rachel and Mousetrap’s room and head back to the grocery store. I get the rest of what I need and then ask the grocery clerk where to get a good salad and she points me across the street to a place called Henry’s, which doesn’t disappoint. I leave and go to stick my thumb out when a mother and son who were also eating at the restaurant ask, “Do you need a ride?” and take me back to the Best Western. Tehachapi has been amazingly hiker friendly.

Back at the hotel I organize myself and then take an Uber to the Post Office and mail myself food to Kennedy Meadows. I’ll likely have to get some more things from their store, but at least it’s the bulk of what I’ll need. It’s crazy that Kennedy Meadows is less than two hundred miles away.

At the post office I stick my thumb out and a man in a truck with his tiny dog pick me up and take me back to the hotel. I hang out in Rachel/Justin/Mousetrap’s room and take a nap until Camp is ready to go – he and I are going back to where we got off the trail so we don’t miss miles, while everyone else we hiked in with are skipping ahead by 8 miles.

He and I stick our thumbs out and walk toward town and it doesn’t take long before none other than Legend picks us up. Legend has to go by the airport first so he takes us there and we talk with some other hikers. He tells us that a lot of people are “slackpacking” this section of the trail – doing it without their full pack – because he offers to drive their packs to them by 9 pm. It doesn’t take Campo and I long before we decide this is an awesome idea.

We get to the trailhead and Coppertone is there, too and we sit around chatting. My stomach starts to churn and I have to run down the trail – I have a bout of diarrhea. But, I tell myself, I bet this is the end of it, my body getting rid of the last of whatever’s pissed it off.

We stick around for Legend’s spaghetti dinner and then head out with just a water bottle and a trekking pole. It’s actually one of the most pleasant hiking experiences on the trail so far. Campo and I have great conversation and even though he could be going faster he chooses to stick with me. We get to the highway where Legend will drop off our packs just before dark. Another hiker who’d been on trail with us slackpacking is going back to town – he’d been in town for two weeks nursing a sprained ankle, but it was still giving him trouble. He’d been hopeful it was better but his body had other plans.

Legend dropped off our packs and we get walking. For a couple of miles we’re just above the highway on mostly flat ground. It’s dark, and again, though Campo could easily walk faster, he’s sticking with me because I’d shared that I’m not a big fan of nighthiking. I’m grateful, because I’m trying to make something like 57 miles in three days, including this day, when it’s already dark. The farther I can get tonight the fewer miles I’ll have to do to meet Mark for my birthday.

But the wind is insane. I’m sometimes taking one step just to take three steps to the left and right to try to regain my balance. We end up making it only a few miles up the climb before I spot some tents and trees and decide to set up camp for the night. Campo continues on.

The trees don’t help much and I’m grateful, though honestly surprised, that my tent poles don’t snap in the wind. I don’t get much sleep.

 

 

Day 46: Zero In Tehachapi

pacific crest trail

The nurse practitioner I meet is nice and says she can do a bunch of tests but she suspects it’s my diet causing the cramps and that I may be a little constipated. She recommends a handful of vitamins to get supplements for and tests me for a UTI just in case – “there’s a little blood in your urine but you’re probably just dehydrated” – and sends me on my way. I feel satisfied with this, happy to have some kind of answer. 

Mountain’s friend is in town and he gives us all a ride to Pho, which I eat happily even though my stomach is still bothering me. I take the leftovers and then go shopping for a resupply, but I haven’t done any thinking about what I want and so wander the store for a while before paying, knowing I’ll have to come back because I haven’t gotten enough food, but I have gotten the vitamins the doctor recommended. 

I put my stuff back at the hotel and then walk down to see Wonder Woman. The movie only cost $4 and it was so good and such a treat. When the movie’s over I find the group and I sit with Campo, Shade, Twerk and Rawhide as they eat burgers. Afterward we find everyone at the jacuzzi so I borrow Rawhide’s shorts and put on my bra and go hang out with them. Tarantino had caught up with us but he’s leaving the trail for a little while to visit his fiancé in Texas. Harvest, a girl I’ve been bumping into, sticks her feet in the water near me.


From the jacuzzi I order cheesy bread from the pizza place down the street and then go pick it up and call my family. I can’t eat much of it and give the rest to my group and then I go to bed.