PCT Day 55 – Wednesday June 7
Mile 624.3 to 639.4
PCT Miles Hiked Today: 15.1
Feet Ascended Today: 3400
Feet Descended Today: 2406
Current Elevation: 6588
I woke up grumpy this morning. Have I mentioned yet that I am getting REALLY tired of the desert? Getting to sleep in a forest two nights ago was such a nice change, and then coming back to the desert again – the hottest desert we’ve encountered yet – has been hard. But I keep trying to remind myself that the desert section is almost over!! I’ll be reaching Kennedy Meadows, the gateway to the Sierra Mountain Range, at mile 700. And, given the record-breaking snow that we’ve received this year, I may be wishing for the desert again in the near future when I’m floundering in snow.
Last night I was awoken at around 3:00 am by some rustling sounds. I was cowboy camping and I could see a little rodent trying to get into my food bag, which was just a foot away from my head. I shooed him away and wondered what to do. I didn’t want to use my food bag as a pillow for fear that the mice might chew through my sleeping pad to get to it. So I took out my earplugs to listen for further sounds and slept fitfully, waking up at the smallest noise.
When I got up, I found that I had been lucky. The mice had chewed through Captain Underpants’ bug netting on his tent to get to a candy bar he was eating before he fell asleep. And they also chewed Monarch’s bandana. I am going to start hanging my food bag until I can get a new rodent-proof food bag.
My hiking shirt has recently developed some impressive holes in the armpits and down my back. I’ve been a little irritated about this, as I bought the shirt in Mt Laguna and haven’t had it that long. And it’s an expensive shirt too – it’s an Icebreaker wool shirt with a hood. At first I thought it was due to my pack straps rubbing the fabric, but now I’m starting to wonder if rodents have chewed the holes in it. I suspect they are going for the salt from my sweat. I’m going to have to get a new shirt now. Sigh.
I broke camp at 5:45 am and I was the last to leave. Everyone else got up super early to get a head start on hiking before the day got too hot. But I was wiped out after night hiking. I need more sleep when I’m hiking every day. So when I did finally hit the trail I was grumpy and slow. It was hot. Did I mention that I’m really tired of the desert?
I arrived at Bird Spring Pass around 10:00 am. The cache was fully stocked with water, granola bars, pop tarts, and external batteries that you can use to charge your phones – and it had shade! I knew that I had to climb a 1650-foot ascent after the cache and I wasn’t in a big hurry to leave. But eventually I motivated and started the climb. I made it about 2/3 of the way up the hill, and decided to take a siesta on a flat shady spot. Soon Sizzle, Sea Biscuit, Spider Mama and Tetris joined me.
I’d met Spider Mama and Tetris before but this is the first time that we’ve really hung out together. Spider Mama, who is from The Netherlands, and Tetris (from Denmark) met when studying in the same master’s program. They decided to hike the PCT together and share an enormous 3-person tent. Tetris brought along her Kindle and is reading through the Harry Potter series – and has been in the habit of reading chapters aloud to whoever happens to be nearby and wants to hear it. Other hikers take turns reading too. We relaxed in shade and soon Tetris started reading Harry Potter aloud on her Kindle. It’s very entertaining 🙂
We also decided that we need to watch a Lord of the Rings movie when we arrive in Lake Isabella. It turns out that the 5 of us are all giant Lord of the Rings nerds. Spider Mama even has a replica of the One Ring hanging around her neck. We started quoting lines from the movies from memory. I have no idea how we will manage to obtain and watch one of the movies but I hope we do as it sounds super fun!
I hiked on around 3:30 and finished climbing up the hill. The rest of the day’s hike was more or less flat and easier to walk. The scenery started changing again to include more trees, which was refreshing. I had hoped to camp by McIver’s Spring with Captain Underpants and Sunkist who were ahead of me, but I was pooped out from the heat. I found a nice campsite in the woods and set up camp by myself. Soon Spider Mama, Tetris, Sea Biscuit and Sizzle all joined me and we set up camp and watched the sun set.