PCT Day 74 – Monday June 26
Mile 1491.1 to Fitzhugh Gulch Mile 1470.5
PCT Miles Hiked Today: 20.6
Total PCT Miles Hiked: 836.7
Feet Ascended Today: 3656
Feet Descended Today: 5727
Current Elevation: 2243.4
*Reader’s Note*. In an effort to keep my blog family friendly and to maintain the illusion, for my mother’s sake, that nothing but flowery prose ever escapes these lips, I am going to start using the word “corndog” in the place of swear words. So, when you see the word “corndog”, feel free to replace it with the expletive of your choice such as “gee willakers!” or “nerds!” or “gadzooks!”.
When I awoke this morning I felt a little groggy. I enjoyed hiking last evening but it meant going to bed later than I typically prefer. Seven hours of sleep isn’t enough for me when I’m hiking 15-20 miles per day. I sat up in bed and heard a muffled pop from underneath me. Puzzled, I looked at my air mattress. “Corndog!” I exclaimed. My corndog air mattress, which I’ve owned for less than a month, had blown a baffle. This is the same problem that I had with the last one. I like the mattress – it’s one if the more comfortable ones that I have tried – but this is ridiculous. I happened to have cell service so emailed the company that manufactures the mattress. Hopefully they’ll send me a new one but it will be difficult to coordinate as I keep bouncing around on the trail and it’s hard to know where I’ll be next.
I hit the trail around 7:00 am with plans to meet up with Monarch at the next water source which was located 8.5 miles down the trail. I wasn’t walking very fast this morning but the trail was shaded and cool in the forest which made for pleasant walking. There was lots of climbing today, but the hills were gradual and typically mixed both ascent and descent. Views of Mt Shasta and Castle Crags were incredible. We could see Mt Shasta when we hiked Mt Ashland, but we’re much closer to the mountain now and it really dominates the landscape.
When I spent 2 weeks hiking the Wonderland Trail around Mt Rainier last fall, I really felt like I got to know the mountain. I feel like Mt Rainier is an old friend now. I’m starting to feel that way about Mt Shasta. I like to think that I’m communing with the spirit of the mountain.
I stopped after six miles and Tetris, Spider Mama and Hitch walked by. It was good to be reunited with them! After her initial ride fell through, Hitch spent all day trying it get a ride out of Lone Pine and finally hitched a ride to Yreka and from there she got a ride to the trailhead. She arrived late in the evening and apparently hiked until she found “the mothership” (this is what we call Tetris and SpiderMama’s tent because it’s quite spacious). Woodstock decided she wanted to hike Mt Etna after all and found a partner to hike with, so she’s not currently hiking with our group.
We ate lunch at Squaw Valley Creek and stretched out on the moss-covered rocks on the creek’s bank to eat and relax. Butterflies were everywhere and kept landing on us and our backpacks and our clothes. We rinsed our shirts and socks in the creek and laid them in the sun to dry. I could barely keep my eyes open and found a shady spot to power nap.
We stopped at another creek 3 miles up the trail to filter water as Squaw Valley Creek was pretty muddy. We took off socks and shoes and let our sore feet dangle in the water as we relaxed. One of my hiking partners was feeling in need of a shower and decided to rinse off in the creek even though it was only about 6 inches deep. Much to our surprise, she whipped off her shorts and underpants and sat, bare bottomed, right on the creek bed. Hiking with only female partners has its advantages as we don’t have to worry about some conventions. However, right after she sat down, a solo male hiker came by and stopped to fill up on water. The rest of us were in hysterics as she had to wait with her butt in the creek until he moved on. She even had a conversation with him which had us laughing even harder. She was quite relieved when he moved on so she could remove her now ice-cold butt from the water.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. We decided to push for 20 miles and so I was in go mode – even though I was tired I just kept slowly putting one foot in front of the other. The only interesting thing that happened is that I saw another rattlesnake, but I’ve seen enough of them now that it’s not a really big deal any more.
When I arrived at our rendezvous point, Fitzhugh Gulch, I was dismayed to see that all the conventional camp spots were already taken. I was exhausted and not inclined to hike 3 miles to the next “official” camp site. Thankfully, when I rounded the corner, I saw that my hiking partners had set up under some trees by the creek. I was grateful to join them and set up my tent of I could hide from the mosquitoes.
As I got into my sleeping bag, I heard another pop. Gah! My corndog sleeping pad blew another baffle! I tossed and turned all night long, unable to sleep. Sadly, I’m 4 days away from the nearest town and stuck with this crappy mattress until then. Gaaahhh!