Day 9 – Saturday April 22
Mile 86.6 to Montezuma Valley Road Mile 101.1
PCT Miles hiked today : 14.5
Feet Ascended Today: 2240
Feet Descended Today: 1946
Current Elevation: 3485
Every night on my PCT hike so far, I wake up at around 3:00 am and have to pee. Without exception. This morning was no different, except that I laid in bed for a couple of hours not wanting to get out of my warm bed. I kept thinking that maybe I would magically fall back asleep without having to leave my tent first. Nope. I don’t know why I always try to fight it. It’s a losing battle. Sigh.
I woke up early and watched the sunrise from my tent as I hadn’t affixed the rain fly last night. I was on the trail by 6:30 am. It was forecast to be 90 degrees today and I wanted to get an early start before it got too hot. And I was thirsty. Today was the first time I had to carefully ration my water. I had 4.5 miles to the next water cache, and I only had about 1 liter left. So I elected not to cook breakfast until after I hit the cache. Hikers aren’t supposed to rely on caches for water as they can run dry pretty quickly, but I heard from some southbound hikers the previous day that the cache had plenty of water so I was confident there’d be water when I got there.
The hike to the water cache went quickly. I ambled along taking pictures of cacti and flowers as I walked, as the plants looked especially pretty in the early morning light. At the 3rd Gate, I followed a spur trail downhill and there was a cache! Trail Angels left three large pallets full of 1 gallon water bottles (thank you!). There was a 3 liter maximum so I filled up 3 liters and hoped that would be enough to the next water source. We relaxed in the shade a couple of hours, cooking breakfast and putting off the inevitable.
While we relaxed we met Greg, who was section hiking over the weekend and handing out fruits and vegetables to thru-hikers. He planned to hike in some outrageous shiny gold shorts tomorrow and showed them to us. Teehee. I hope we run into him tomorrow as that looks like a crazy awesome outfit.
I left the 3rd gate water cache at 11:45 am to tackle the next 9-mile stretch. This section of trail included a 700-foot climb in direct sun, which was maybe not the smartest move on a 90 degree day. Some hikers prefer to hike at night on especially hot days, and if the temperature was any hotter I probably wouldn’t have hiked. But I thought I’d give it a try. I affixed my umbrella to my backpack so I could leave my hands free for my trekking poles and started up the trail.
It was slow going. I could only hike for an hour or so and then would start to feel light-headed and sometimes even a little nauseous. So I took frequent breaks in the shade to drink water and eat snacks. I also has some electrolyte tablets which I took as well.
Garnet Turtle caught up with me in the afternoon and we hiked past the 100 mile marker together. 100 miles! I couldn’t believe it.
The last few miles of the day included a steep descent and I was feeling some pain in the top of my right foot. It’s not the first time I’ve dealt with this particular issue. I experienced a similar foot pain last year when I hiked the Wonderland Trail. I was already seeing a physical therapist at the time because of my hip surgery so he switched to focusing on my foot instead of my hip. I had a bone scan and determined nothing was broken, and my physical therapist gave me some exercises to help work the muscle there. I never did quite sort out how to deal with the issue, though, and was feeling worried that the pain was cropping up again.
We hiked on towards the next water source where the PCT intersects Montezuma Valley Road and set up camp there. There were lots of other PCT hikers also camped there and we ate dinner together. The spot is close to a trailhead and some trail angels were cooking food for hungry hikers. But I had already eaten and was too tired too move.
Blister Report: blisters are noticeably better since my day off in Julian. I also learned to remove the dressings at night, drain any fluid, and sleep with bare feet so they can dry out. Then I put the dressings on in the morning. This has been helping a lot. I still need to spend about 20 minutes each morning applying dressings and twisting like a pretzel to reach the ones on my heels but they don’t hurt anymore. I’m running low on first aid supplies though so Daniel is sending more to me (thanks baby!). Regular band-aids don’t work and sweat right off so I’m using leukotape which works like a charm.