PCT Day 36 – Friday May 19

PCT Day 36 – Friday May 19
Sulphur Springs Trail Camp Mile 406.6 to Mill Creek Fire Station Mile 418.6

PCT Miles Hiked Today: 12
Feet Ascended Today: 1935
Feet Descended Today: 2213
Current Elevation: 4895
Steps: 37357

I’m currently camped at a day use rest stop at a major intersection of the Angeles Forest Highway and I feel like a hobo. Cars are whizzing by loudly and there’s a nasty smell wafting over from the pit toilets. I am directly under some giant power lines and there’s a constant low humming that sounds disturbingly like rain pattering my tent fly. But I’m tired and I don’t want to go any further today. The Mill Creek Fire Station is 200 yards up the hill and has a water spigot, electrical outlets and shade. But they don’t allow camping so we are down here.

The View from our Hike Today


Dr Pain and I only hiked 12 miles today. It’s a frustratingly low number. But I was feeling super wiped out today. I woke up at 6:30 and thought everyone around me was packing up to leave so I quickly started getting ready to go. When I got out of my tent I realized that it was some other hikers nearby who were packing up and my group was still all asleep. Blerg.  
I walked over to a picnic table and sat down sleepily with my pack all ready to go. Dr Pain found me over there and was surprised I was already packed up. He saw that I was still really sleepy and suggested I lay down on the picnic table and try to get more sleep.

“I need 45 more minutes,” he said. I took that to mean that he was going back to bed for 45 minutes so I layed my sleeping bag on the picnic table and got comfy, trying to sleep for 45 more minutes.  

When I woke up the second time I was even groggier than before. My gear was strewn all over the picnic table and I hadn’t eaten breakfast or filtered water. I looked up to see Dr. Pain completely packed up and ready to go. That’s when I realized he meant that he needed 45 minutes to get ready, not 45 more minutes more of sleep. Oops.

Another Photo from Today’s Hike


I was groggy and out of it the rest of the day. Today was just a struggle. Maybe I didn’t eat enough food or maybe it was just too hot. Or maybe I’m fighting a bug or something. I’ve been waking up and coughing at night but don’t seem to have any symptoms during the day. I don’t know.
I hiked to the Tom Jones 20 Greatest Hits album (my new favorite jam) to try and get myself psyched up but it didn’t really work.

We took a morning break around 9:30 or 10:00 and stayed longer than planned because we finally got cell reception for the first time in a couple of days. I suddenly realized I had to answer the call of nature, and cursed the fact I wasn’t feeling this inspiration a couple of hours earlier when there were some lovely pit toilets nearby. I walked over the side of a hill, and tried unsuccessfully to find a private spot to dig a cathole that wasn’t infested with Poodle Dog Bush. Eventually I gave up trying to find something hidden and just went for it out in the open, hoping no one looked down the hill.

We were soon back on the trail again but I was feeling shaky and lightheaded around 11:30 so we stopped for a long lunch break. I ate a tortilla with Colby jack cheese and albacore tuna and drank a bunch of Gatorade and fell asleep under a tree. (I bought a bunch of Gatorade powder at Wrightwood and it’s my new favorite thing. Water is so much more delicious now!!). We got up a little after 1:00 and I slowly powered on, hiking slowly but steadily the last 8 miles to our next water source – the firehouse.

This Snake Does Not Want to Move


Snake CloseUp! Does anyone Know What it Is?


On my way to the firehouse I came across a snake on the trail.  I see snakes all the time but usually I just see their tail ends as they slither away from me as fast as possible.  This snake was 3 feet long stretched across the trail and did not move at all when I approached.  This is a bit unusual.  I waited a few minutes and then started talking loudly and throwing small pebbles in its general direction to get it to move as I didn’t want to step over it.  It finally moved after about 5 minutes.

We had hoped to take a break at the firehouse and get a few more miles in today but I was done. A bunch of hikers including Sizzle, Sea Biscuit and Dr Pain were all there, relaxing on some picnic tables in the shade and filling up on water. I sat at a table, panting and generally incoherent for about 15 minutes until I caught my breath.
We bid goodbye to Sizzle and Sea Biscuit who were getting picked up by friends and going to L.A. for a couple of days. It’s Sizzle’s birthday on Sunday and they have some shenanigans planned. I’ve really enjoyed their company and we exchanged info, hoping to run into eachother again later down the trail.

Saying goodbye to Sizzle at the Firehouse


Saying Goodbye to Sea Biscuit at the Firehouse


And then my day got even better because the SloBo’s arrived! Tater, Apocalypse and Alladin arrived, having hiked a not-very-SloBo-like 20 miles to get here. Yay! We gave eachother big sweaty hugs and all set up camp together by the stinky pit toilets, taking care to avoid the Poodle Dog Bush that seems to grow all over this area.
We are planning to hike the next three days together into Agua Dulce which I’m very much looking forward to. 

Cooking Dinner with the SloBo’s: Potato Volcano (Tater), Dr. Pain, Apocalypse, Alladin


And now to catch up on my sleep. Let’s hope these earplugs can block out some of the highway traffic. Except that I’m hungry again so maybe I’ll eat a little snack first. 

Ok I just ate a Blueberry Crisp Clif Bar while laying down in my tent with my head on my pillow and my eyes closed. This seems like a great way to choke to death but I seem to be doing this a lot lately. Hm.

The Stinky Pit Toilet at the Mill Creek Picnic Area. The Second Grossest Toilet on the PCT So Far

4 thoughts on “PCT Day 36 – Friday May 19

  1. Katie,
    Your posts reflect your changing conditions and circumstances. I hope I am not out of line in giving you my 2 cents. Here goes. I am familiar with the wisdom that long distance hikes can be divided into thirds. The first is the physical journey. The body adjusts (or not…) to the demands of pain, discomfort, lack of sleep, and constant thirst and hunger. Doubts creep in and, if left unchecked, can be difficult to overcome and may lead to suspending the journey. Depending on a persons physical conditioning at the beginning plays a major role (though no guarantee…) in how this period is managed. The next third is mental as one learns the physical demands can be overcome as the body gains strength and trail knowledge is accumulated. Barring any serious injury or illness that terminates the trip this stage is filled with different kind of self doubt. ‘I’m not sure this is for me.’ ‘Everyone seems to be in better shape and feeling far less pain.’ ‘This is far enough. I didn’t REALLY want to do this in the first place’. In this case the body will do what the mind tells it to do but the mind is challenged with seeing the need to continue. This is the most fragile third of the journey and when most people give up. And THIS is the part of the journey that depends most on the relationships one has established along the way for support, guidance, and strength. And the final? Spiritual. Not necessarily religious (but could be) but an awakening of the joys of what one has accomplished and secure in the knowledge that after coming this far ‘I CAN DO ANYTHING!’. And you can. People will take strength and guidance from you in ways you never thought possible. YOU are a champion and people will look at you differently. And when you have returned you will have gained the respect of those around you (even though they you will have little understanding of what you have been through). You will stand a little taller, be more sure of yourself, and know that when the next adventure comes you will be ready and able to face any challenge thrown your way. Keep on trucking’ young lady.
    Roy

    Like

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