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PCT Day 54 – Napping Under Joshua Trees in the Mojave Desert

Last updated Mar 25, 2020 | Published on Jun 17, 2017

I awoke just after 5:00 am this morning and the first thing I noticed was the cold. It was much colder than it had been in a while! I guess the temperature was due to our higher elevation and proximity to a creek. It was hard to leave my sleeping bag and we were slower to motivate than usual. I was the first to leave camp at 6:45 am which is much later than normal.

Sunkist Cozy in her Sleeping Bag

From here on out the water situation is a bit tricky. The next reliable water source on trail is McIver’s Spring at mile 643.8 – which is a 36-mile water carry. Yikes. There are some water sources off trail but they involve a lengthy walk (one is 4 miles which means an 8-mile round trip walk). There are also some water caches, but it’s risky to rely on those – unless someone is dedicated to maintaining a cache, 100 hikers could come through in one day during peak season and drain it quickly. We did have it on good authority from a southbound hiker that a cache at Kelso Road (mile 615.9) had a large supply which had been recently restocked. Another cache was reported to be located at Bird Spring Pass (mile 630.8) but we knew fewer details about it and it seems less reliable.

Hooray for Trees!

I loaded my bag with 4 liters of water, hoping to grab a few more liters at Kelso Road, and headed out. After a few miles the trail began decreasing in elevation and the landscape changed to high desert again. Boo. And it was HOT today – much hotter than yesterday. The lack of wind made it seem much hotter. My right foot started hurting a little – the first time since Casa de Luna – so I decreased my speed.

I was hiking by myself when I looked up to see an animal the size of a mid-sized dog cross the trail. He had something in his mouth and didn’t seem in a big hurry. I had time to get out my camera and take a few pictures. I showed the photos to another hiker named Grey Ghost who identified the animal as a Coyote. Cool! I’ve never seen a coyote before.

It’s a Coyote!

When I arrived at the cache, I was alarmed to discover that it was almost empty. There were about 10 hikers at the cache, filling water bottles and standing under umbrellas as there was no shade. I drank a liter on my way to the cache, and was down to 3. I grabbed an additional 4 liters for a total of 7 liters, which is my maximum carrying capacity. I felt a little guilty for the hikers coming in after us as the cache was almost dry, but I was going to need all that water if the next cache was empty.

Trying to Find Shade at the Water Cache

Monarch Strikes a Pose

Seven liters of water equals 14 pounds and I really felt it when we started again. It was too hot to continue hiking so we looked for a spot in the shade to wait out the hottest part of the day. We found a stand of Joshua Trees about a mile further up the trail and flopped down in the shade, trying to avoid the sharp pokey leaves. It was hard to believe that the day started off cold at our campsite this morning. As the afternoon wore on, the sun moved across the sky and kept peeking out behind the branches of the tree. I eventually tied my tent’s rainfly in the branches of the tree which helped to block the sun. I hope the pokey leaves of the Joshua Tree don’t damage my rainfly.

Our Break Spot. These are Pokey Trees!

Makeshift Shade Devised from my Rainfly

We hid in the shade for the entire afternoon, miserably swatting at fire ants and flies. It was hot and uncomfortable. And we were anxious about the upcoming waterless stretch. We talked about night hiking, but I’m not a nocturnal person and don’t really function after about 10:00 pm.
As we were packing up to leave around 6:00 pm, Sizzle and Sea Biscuit walked by our shady spot. They reported that the Kelso Road cache was refilled while we napped this afternoon, and that the driver (Devilfish) was heading over to the Bird Springs cache to fill that one as well. Cool! What a relief.

A couple of miles before reaching our campsite, we found Sea Biscuit, Sizzle, Spider Mama, and Tetris sitting together at a picnic table and reading Harry Potter. “Hey, it’s the Slo-Bo’s!” said Sizzle.
I countered that we weren’t *actually* part of the “official” Slo-Bo gang, as they were a day or two behind us. “We’re more like Honorary Slo-Bo’s” I said.

“Then you guys should be called the Hoe-Bo’s” said Sizzle (or maybe it was Sea Biscuit, I can’t remember). “Short for Honorary Slo-Bo’s”. Haha. I love it. Because we look like hobos. And because we can call eachother hoe’s. Haha.

Sunset in the Desert

It was so much more pleasant to hike in the evening. We hiked until 10:00 pm and watched the sun go down. The moon is almost full tonight and we didn’t need to use headlamps. I had eaten beans for dinner and was hiking in the lead spot, and unfortunately was very farty. My poor hiking partners had to endure my farts, but we now refer to them as rainbows because – well I am a Unicorn 🙂

The 1000 Kilometer Mile Marker! That’s 621 Miles.

I am so utterly stinky right now. I need a shower in the worst way. My shirt has salt streaks on it from my sweat and is developing holes where my pack rubs against it. I guess I need a new shirt. Also I think I may be about to lose a toenail – the middle one on my right foot. Or maybe the toenail is just bruised. We’ll see.

PCT 2017 Stats

PCT Day 54 – Tuesday June 6
Mile 607.1 to Mile 624.3

PCT Miles Hiked Today: 17.2
Feet Ascended Today: 2227
Feet Descended Today: 3048
Current Elevation: 5575
Steps: 5847 (this seems a little off)

For more on my experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, visit my Pacific Crest Trail 2017 page:

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Hi, I'm Unicorn!

I am an avid hiker, traveler, and adventurer who is on the mission to explore hiking trails around the world.  I’m also obsessed with National Parks, long-distance trails and other outdoorsy things.

I hope to share this knowledge with you and inspire you to explore new hiking trails too!


    • Unicorn

      Yeah! I was wondering that now that I’m looking closer at it. Thanks Craig.


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